Find out how to go about being correctly registered to live in Spain…

In 2012 the Spanish Government introduced new legislation requiring all EU citizens wishing to stay in Spain for longer than three months to prove that they have the sufficient financial means to support themselves and any dependents. They may also be required to provide proof of private or public healthcare insurance.

This page includes information on the following areas:

Registration and the Residence Certificate

Under Spanish law any EU citizen intending to stay in Spain for more than three months is obliged to register to be added to the Central Register of Foreign Nationals (Registro Central de Extranjeros) at a Foreigners’ Office (Oficina de Extranjero) or local police station (Policia Nacional) if there is no foreigners’ office in the area in which they intend to reside.

Registration Certificate as an EU Resident (Certificado de registro como residente comunitario) is issued. This document certifies residence in Spain and includes the holders name, address, nationality, and foreigners tax identification number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero – NIE) along with the date of registration. Once issued this certificate is valid indefinitely as long as the applicant’s personal circumstances stated on the application remain the same. If for example the applicant is to change home address, get married or divorced, a new application is required.

Note: Prior to the introduction of the Residence Certificate in April 2007, foreigners were required to submit a separate application for an NIE. This is no longer necessary, as application for an NIE is incorporated in the residence certificate application process.

How to register

Within three months of arrival in Spain, application for a Residence Certificate must be made at the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or local police station in the province of intended residence. In some areas, an appointment can be made in advance.

Proof the residence certificate administration fee has been paid is required before it can be issued. Request a payment form (Modelo 790) at a National Police Office, then make the  payment  at a Spanish bank. The bank will stamp the form as proof of receipt. This receipt then gets taken back to the administration office so that they can proceed with the application. The fee charged is €10,50

The following documents are required in order to apply for a Residency Certificate:

  • Valid passport or national identity card
  • Photocopies of a valid passport or national identity card
  • Two passport sized photographs (although these may not be required)
  • Proof of address in Spain
  • application form EX18 (Solicitud de certificado de registro de residencia comunitaria)
  • Proof that payment has been made (a bank-stamped Modelo 790 payment form). If an NIE number has previously been assigned, take the certificate as proof of payment.
  • Proof of valid healthcare insurance (or European Health Insurance Card EHIC)

It is important to note that more documentation will be required in accordance with the applicant’s circumstances.

Employees / Postings abroad:

  • Valid identity card or passport
  • Certificate of employment or confirmation of recruitment from employer


  • Valid identity card or passport
  • Proof of self-employed status such as registration on the Mercantile Registry (Registro Mercantil)


  • Valid identity card or passport
  • Proof of comprehensive health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to support themselves

The Residence Certificate is a piece of paper or a laminated card showing the NIE number. It is not an identity document and the certificate should be carried with identification (such as a passport) at all times in order to be considered valid.

Providing Evidence of Financial Means and Healthcare Insurance

Legislation that came into force in July 2012 requires all EU Citizens who wish to live or stay longer than three months in Spain to provide evidence of sufficient financial means to support themselves and any dependents. They will also be asked to provide evidence of having public or private health insurance.

The British Embassy in Madrid has created an unofficial English translation of the Spanish Ministerial Order which details these residency requirements and the documentation.

If all paperwork is in order, the Residence Certificate is issued immediately and is valid indefinitely. However, the relevant police or foreigner’s office should be notified of any change to personal status (marriage, divorce, change of address) using the same form EX18 and following the same process.

If relevant documentation is missing during the application process, there is a 10 day window to provide the correct information before the application process expires. After this period a new application form needs to be submitted.

When applying for a residence certificate it is advisable to be accompanied by someone fluent in Spanish as most local authorities or administration centers do not have English speaking staff. In some areas applications can be made via appointment and only on certain days of the week. Alternatively, an application can be made via a solicitor by giving them power of attorney to carry out the process. Please note; power of attorney documents are not accepted in some local police stations.

Family Members of EU Citizens

The rights of the EU citizen are extended to their family members (irrespective of nationality). This includes the spouse by marriage, a partner by civil partnership (or marriage equivalent), dependent children under 21 and dependent grown children and parents.

Application should be made for a Residency Card for EU Citizen Family Members (Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión) within 3 months of arrival at the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or local police station in the province of intended residence.

The following documents are required in order to apply for a Residency Card for EU Citizen Family Members (others may also be requested):

  • Valid passport (or a copy of a renewal application)
  • application form EX19 (Solicitud de certificado de registro como residente o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Union)
  • Proof of family relationship with the EU citizen (such as a marriage certificate, proof of partnership registration, birth certificates for children)
  • Identification (passport) or DNI (Spanish citizen) of the EU family member
  • Three recent colour passport photographs

If a marriage certificate is used as proof of family relationship, the Spanish authorities may insist that it is only valid if issued within the last 90 days. If the applicant’s marriage certificate is older, it may be possible for them to confirm its validity via the embassy or consulate of the issuing country. In this regard, Spain may be acting against EU directives.

Important note for those moving to Spain with children.
EU citizens with children of school age should register at their local town hall on arrival. A valid passport, tenancy agreement or title deeds, utility bill and birth certificates are required. A temporary residence certificate notification will be issued allowing parents to apply for a school place. The documentation required varies. Also see the Guide on Certificado de Empadronamiento.

The Golden Visa

Spain is now granting ‘Golden Visas’ or (Property Visas) to non-EU citizens on condition that certain investments are carried out in Spain.

These investments include the purchase of property over 500,000 Euros, capital transfer of at least 1 Million Euros into the Banking System or Spanish companies, creation of a business venture leading to job creation, local economic development or scientific/technological innovation or investment in Spanish Debt Bonds of at least 2 million Euros.

Renewal of the Residency Card

A residency card will remain valid indefinitely so long as personal circumstances (name, address etc) remain unchanged.