EU citizens are legally allowed to live and work in any country within the EU, without the need for a visa or special permit.
All they will have to do to be legal in Spain, is to register for an NIE number at their local Oficina de Extranjeros (Office of Foreigners) and then apply for a Certificado de Registro.
Americans and other non-EU nationals will not find it as easy. They will have to apply for the relevant visa and permit and this can be a tricky process and can take a long time.
Here is some information on how to legally emigrate to Spain for non-EU nationals:
The process of emigration to Spain includes:
1. Applying for a tourist visa – A tourist visa will allow non-EU nationals the opportunity to stay in Spain for a period of up to 90 days in a 6 month period and so can be used for researching areas and job opportunities. Citizens of countries that have an agreement with Spain, like US citizens, will be able to visit Spain as tourists without the need for such a visa.
2. Residency Visa – To actually live in Spain, non-EU nationals will require a Residency Visa. There are different categories of visa depending on your circumstances – working, retired, investor etc. See your Spanish Consulate for details and advice regarding which visa is right for you. The Consulate will also be able to tell you how long the process is likely to take and what documentation you will need.
You are likely to need these basic documents for all types of visa:
- - Your passport.
- - Passport photos.
- - Medical certificate.
- - Criminal record certificate.
- - Birth certificate and marriage certificate.
- - Photocopies of all of your documents.
3. Residence Permit – This permit is required by Non-EU nationals who want to reside in Spain. Hire a gestor to help you because Spanish bureaucracy can be complicated and frustrating if you don't know what you are doing. The permit needs to be applied for within 15 days of arriving in Spain. It will need renewing on a regular basis.
4. NIE – All foreigners who own property in Spain or who are residing in Spain, temporarily or permanently, must apply for an NIE number at their local Oficina de Extranjeros (Office of Foreigners). This number identifies you to the authorities and will also be your fiscal (tax) number.
5. Certificado de Registro – This replaces the Residencia and must be applied for by people living in Spain for longer than 3 months. Fines can be imposed on people who do not register. This is also done at the Oficina de Extranjeros – ask a gestor to help you with this.
You should check everything with the Spanish Consulate in your home country before deciding to move to Spain to make sure that you have up to date information. When you arrive in Spain, you should register with your Consulate so that they know you are in the country and help you in times of emergency.
This article is a guide on how to legally emigrate to Spain and is not a substitute for checking with your Consulate and getting proper advice.