Madrid Visas & Permits

As a foreign resident, what is my status in your country?
Nationals of non-European Union countries who wish to live and work in Spain require a work permit and residence permit, or only a residence permit if they are not planning to work.

US citizens and those of the majority of South American countries can visit Spain for a maximum of 90 days out of 180 as tourists without a visa or work permit. Other countries will require a tourist visa.

EU citizens can stay in Spain without a visa or work permit for up to six months, during which time they must obtain a residence card if they wish to stay longer. 
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What kinds of visas are available?

  • Residence Card and Work Permit for those planning to live and work in Spain
  • Residence Card for those planning to live, but not work in Spain
  • Tourist Visa for non-EU citizens planning to visit for a prolonged period, but not to live or work in Spain

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What is required to obtain these visas?
The work permit must be applied for by the employer in Spain. Once the work permit has been granted, a special visa must be obtained at the Spanish consulate in the home country or last place of residence. In order to apply for the work/residence visa, the following documentation (original and two photocopies) is required:

  • Passport valid for a minimum of six months and photocopies of photo and personal information page
  • Four recent pictures, passport size
  • Original certificate of good conduct issued by the police department of the city or cities in which the applicant has spent six months or more during the last five years
  • Original medical certificate of good health and absence of contagious diseases, drug addiction and mental illness, issued by a doctor. The employee (not the accompanying family members) must have the doctor verify that there is no evidence of any health condition that would prevent the employee from engaging in the proposed labor activity in Spain. This medical certificate must be typed and signed by a medical doctor.
  • Valid job offer from a company located in Spain. This job offer must have been filed with the Ministry of Labor in Spain. YOUR EMPLOYER HAS TO MAKE SURE THE N.E.V. NUMBER IS STAMPED.
  • For the spouse of the applicant, marriage certificate, legalized by the Apostille
  • For the children of the applicant, birth certificate, legalized by the Apostille


The residence permit (Tarjeta Residencia) can only be applied for after arrival in Spain and once the work visa has been collected.

For a non-EU citizen, please note that the process of obtaining the work/residence permit can take several months and even up to one year.
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Are spouses permitted and/or likely to find work?
A spouse is permitted to work if they have obtained the appropriate work visa. However, please note that within the last two years the Spanish government has seriously restricted the granting of work visas to non-EU citizens, therefore, obtaining a work permit can be difficult.
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What are the main forms of identification and how does a newcomer obtain them?
The Spanish ID card is the D.N.I. and N.I.E. (Numero de Identificacion de Extranjeros/Foreigners Identification Number) and is obtained through the local police station (Comisaria). This will be required for many formalities associated with your residence in Spain (such as importation of household goods, banking, insurance formalities, etc.)

For EU citizens, the residence permit is compulsory; however, the process is quite straightforward (with three trips to the police station) and can take up to six weeks to obtain after presentation of the required documentation. 

The following steps must be taken to obtain the N.I.E.:

Contact your local police (Comisaria) station to make an appointment. It is important to mention the number of cards you are applying for, as one card for each family member (including children) is required. It is common to be given an appointment date a few weeks, or even a month later.

Once you have been advised of the set appointment date, you will need to bring the following documentation (original and two copies):

  • Passport
  • Family record book
  • Three recent passport-sized, color photographs of each applicant
  • For non-EU citizens, the work visa authorizing the stay in Spain
  • For EU citizens, the work contract of the member of the family posted in Spain for professional reasons
  • Accommodation rental/purchase contract


Fingerprinting: Each family member will be required to place an index finger print on his/her own card.

If all documentation is in order, you will be given a future N.I.E. number. 

Note: The N.I.E. and D.N.I. are required in order to import furniture or buy a car. If the transferee is not in possession of the N.I.E. when the furniture shipment arrives in Spain, a cash deposit or a bank guarantee for the declared value of the shipment has to be taken out to cover the period of time until the work and residence permit is presented to the customs authorities.   
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Are there any other important permits I must obtain, or places where I must register right away?
Once you have found a place to live, you should register at the local town hall in order to obtain the Certificado de Empadronamiento (registration certificate). This document may be required for some official formalities (i.e., importation of household goods from abroad, etc.). In order to obtain this certificate, you must go to the local town hall and present the following documentation:

  • Application form
  • Passport of each family member
  • Family record book
  • Proof of residence in Spain (i.e., rental/purchase contract, Tarjeta Residencia, telephone/electricity bill, etc.).

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What items should I avoid bringing into the country?
You should avoid bringing in firearms and drugs. Alcoholic beverages are subject to duties/taxes.
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Is there anything else I should know about entering and remaining in the country legally?
It is also advisable that you register at your local embassy/consulate, as registration provides a record of citizenship and can be an important reference in the case of an emergency.
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Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.