- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Spain Guide (PDF)
Expats will need to have the appropriate visa for Spain prior to their arrival. As Spain is a Schengen state, a large number of foreign citizens don’t need a visa for short-term visits or business trips.
Visit and business visas for Spain
Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and nationals belonging to one of the countries on the Spanish government's designated travel list are afforded visa-free entry and the right to a 90-day stay. They would simply need a passport that is valid for three months from the final date of travel; neither a visit visa nor a business visa is required.
This list includes Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the US, but does not include India or South Africa, among others. Citizens of countries not appearing on the list must apply for a Schengen Visa to gain entry into Spain for tourist or business purposes.
Applying for a Schengen Visa for Spain
Those who secure a Schengen visa can travel in Spain for up to 90 days within a six-month period, from the date of entry.
Those who wish to apply for a Schengen visa will need to gather the required documents, complete a visa application form and submit their paperwork to the Spanish consulate or embassy in their home country before travelling. Processing times can vary, so expats should be sure to submit their application in due time before their departure date.
If applying for a Schengen visa to travel to Spain for business purposes, it is necessary to include a letter of invitation from the Spanish business party and a letter from the applicant's employer stating their duties in Spain. If attending a conference, proof of registration and accommodation is required.
In some cases, applicants may be asked to provide additional documents at the discretion of the Spanish embassy or consulate.
►Work Permits for Spain gives info on the paperwork needed to work in the country.
►For more on residency and working in Spain, see The NIE Number and Residency in Spain.
"When I moved to Spain I got a job with a fixed contract in a Spanish company. After contributing to the Social Security system, and being from a European country, getting a residence permit was practically automatic. Things have changed a lot since then.
"I've done all my legal, residential and financial admin myself over the years. I find that it is important to actually understand the intricacies of the process. I like to know what I am signing and what implications it may have.
"In Spain, the most important document to obtain at the beginning of your time here is called the Padron. It's a register to show that you live in a specific municipality. This document then allows you to request further documents and permits."
Read more about the expat life of Molly, a British expat who's lived in Spain since 1998, in her interview with Expat Arrivals.
Are you an expat living in Spain?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Spain. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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