Long-term residency for EU Citizens in Spain

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In terms of obtaining residences, EU citizens, including Irish citizens and citizens from other member states of the European Economic Area and Switzerland, will be able to obtain a European Union registration certificate if they wish to reside in Spain for more than three months. Provided that they meet the required conditions.

This permit, however, will be a temporary one. Unless they have already obtained a temporary visa and have lived legally in Spain for five years. In that case, they can apply for permanent residency, allowing them to work and live in Spain indefinitely under the same conditions as any Spanish citizen.

What is a permanent residency in Spain?

Permanent residency refers to long-term or indefinite residence, which you can request once you have lived in Spain for five consecutive years without interruption.

When you obtain it, it does not matter what type of temporary residence card you have. You will have the same residency and employment rights as a Spanish citizen.

Benefits of the permanent residency

The benefits of having a permanent residency in Spain are the following:

  • You are able to work as an employee or self-employed
  • You are allowed to bring your parents
  • There is no need to demonstrate economic means

How to obtain a permanent residency card?

To acquire the certificate of permanent residence, you must go to the Immigration Office or a police station within the province where you have previously established a residence and request an appointment in person. It must be requested five years after your initial residence has been granted.

Certificate of permanent residence: How to calculate your years in Spain

A person needs to know their legal residence time in Spain to request a long-term residence certificate, Spanish nationality by residence, or any other procedure that requires proof of a specific period of residence in Spain.

Therefore, it is important to consider the date of the first residence decision in Spain. You can also obtain this information by requesting a Certificate of Residence from a police station, which will detail all past residences.

How to obtain Long-term residency in Spain

Obtaining this certificate is very important since not all residence visas count the same amount of time. To calculate the years of effective residence, you must adhere to the following rules:

  • Each year resided in Spain with a residence permit counts as one year.
  • For those who have the EU blue card, the years of residence in other EU countries are also counted as one year for the purposes of effective residence in Spain. However, you must have resided in Spain during the last two years in order to apply for permanent residence.
  • Years lived on a student visa will only count as 50% of its original total duration (i.e. 2 years on a student visa will count as 1-year residency).

Documents and requirements to get permanent residency in Spain

The documentation you need to obtain permanent residency is as follows:

  • The corresponding form, together with the fee paid.
  • A copy of a valid passport or identity document
  • Accreditation of the assumption of permanent residence.

Among the requirements to access permanent residency, the main requirement is to have resided legally and continuously in Spain for five years. Still, there is the possibility of obtaining it before this period in the following cases:

  • Those who have been self-employed or employed by someone else for at least three years and have reached retirement age with the right to receive a pension.
  • Workers who have lived in Spain for at least 2 continuous years and have ceased their activities because of a permanent disability.
  • A self-employed person whose works in another EU Member State but whose residence is in Spain, and for the past three consecutive years, has been operating in Spain.

To prove legal residence for five years, the applicant can do it through any of the following cases:

  • A history of employment or self-employment.
  • Sufficient economic resources for the applicant and relatives. Not burdening Social Security and possessing public or private health insurance contracted in Spain or another country with coverage.
  • Having studied at a public or private center with public or private health insurance contracted in Spain or another country that provides full coverage in Spain with sufficient resources for themselves and their families.
  • Citizenship of a member state or a family member of a citizen of the Union or European Economic Area.

What is the duration of the process?

The Immigration Office will verify compliance with the corresponding requirements once all the documentation has been submitted and the corresponding fee has been paid. After, they’ll issue the EU citizen with the corresponding certificate of permanent residence, which contains all their personal information such as nationality, address, foreign identity number, date of registration, and ‌the permanent nature of the residence.

After receiving the residency certificate request, it must be issued within three months.

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Tax implications as a Spanish resident

In most cases, obtaining temporary or permanent residence in Spain, also known as a civil residence, usually has tax implications. According to the rules of tax residence and following Article 9 of the Income Tax Law, these are the criteria to consider taxpayers who have habitual residence in Spanish territory.

Article 9 Taxpayers who have their habitual residence in Spanish territory:

It will be understood that the taxpayer has their habitual residence in Spanish territory when any of the following circumstances occur:

1. Staying more than 183 days, during the calendar year, in Spanish territory. This period of stay in Spanish territory will be calculated based on sporadic absences unless the taxpayer proves their domicile in another country.

The Tax Administration may require proof of stay for 183 days in a year in countries or territories considered tax havens. The period of stay referred to in the previous paragraph does not include temporary stays in Spain that are a result of free cultural or humanitarian collaboration agreements with the Spanish public administrations.

2. Indirectly or directly, their activities or economic interests are centered in Spain. If the non-legally separated spouse and the dependent minor children habitually reside in Spain, it will be presumed that the taxpayer has his habitual residence in Spanish territory unless proven otherwise.

Golden Visa Spain Maria Soledad

Maria Soledad Sala – Immigration Specialist Lawyer

Some of the tax implications will be the following:

  1. The tax return in Spain is a tax levy on the worldwide income of all taxpayers (ex-pats) living in Spain–it is known as the Personal Income Tax (IRPF or Declaración de la Renta). This includes pensions, shares, bonds, rental income, bank accounts, dividends, personal income from work, and more. You can read more about these tax implications at the following link: Tax return in Spain
  2. To check if you must complete Form 720, you can read about this form at the following link: Form model 720
  3. You must file Form 714, including all your global assets and economic rights, to pay the Wealth Tax. In Andalusia, the Wealth Tax has been eliminated since 2022, although the government will enact a new tax. For more information regarding this tax obligation, we recommend reading the following article: Andalusia scraps wealth tax for residents and non-residents

Schengen area and Spanish residence as a citizen of the European Union

The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have agreed to abolish controls at their borders, thereby allowing the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital. Here are the countries that are integrated: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Looking at the list of member countries, you may notice that not all EU member states are part of this list. It is crucial not to mix them up since some EU member states do not belong to the Schengen Area.

The main difference between the two is that the EU is a political and economic union composed of member countries, while the Schengen Area is a group of member countries that allows for the free movement of people.

Having said this, a foreign citizen with a residence permit in Spain can travel to any Schengen Area country but not to any European Union country. If the citizen wishes to travel to a country in the European Union that is not part of the Schengen System, they should check to see if the said country in the European Union requires a visa from their original country.

On the other hand, if you are a citizen of the EU community and live in Spain, you will be able to travel freely around the European Union and across Schengen countries. However, if you are not an EU citizen but you are residing in Spain, you must note that you won’t be able to stay over 90 days in the country mentioned above.

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Long-term residency for EU citizens: Frequently Asked Questions

As a rule, the difference between residence and nationality lies in the rights it grants. For instance, with residence, you are entitled to reside and work in Spain, but with nationality, you are also entitled to vote. Meanwhile, the permanent residence does not grant you the right to obtain a Spanish passport, but it does give you the right to be a resident of Spain.

As a result, we can say that a permanent resident is a foreigner who can live in Spain on a long-term basis without being granted the rights that citizens of Spain have.

The residence time in Spain will vary depending on whether the residence is temporary or permanent. With a temporary residence, you can stay for more than 90 days but less than five years. After five years, you will be able to renew your residence for a permanent one that will grant you the right to work and reside permanently.

As we have said before, once these five years of uninterrupted residence have elapsed, you can choose to renew it for a permanent residence, granting you the right to reside and work permanently.

Purchasing a Spanish property does not require the purchaser to be a resident since it can be purchased as a non-resident who spends less than 90 days in the country. If you wish to live in Spain, you can convert the purchased home into your permanent residence, in which case you will have to apply to the local town hall in your area.

We help you get your permanent residency in Spain

As part of our services, we can assist you in obtaining your permanent residence, ensuring you are aware of all the formal requirements the police will ask you to complete during your appointment to renew your residence.