Passport, Visa & Permits to Barcelona


This section is intended for reference only. We strongly recommend that you contact the embassy directly for the most up-to-date information that pertains to your specific situation.

Within the EU, Spain has the second highest immigration rate by percentage. According to the Spanish government there are around 6 million foreign residents in Spain. Minorities include Romanian, Moroccan, Ecuadorian, Colombian, British, Bolivian, German, Italian, Bulgarian, and Chinese. The high rate of immigration helps maintain the population as the birth rate in Spain is only half the replacement level. However, the steady flow of immigrants has caused noticeable social tension.


You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. The process and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave. Your passport must be valid 6 months beyond your intended stay. Minors are allowed to travel on their parents' passports up until aged 15 years.


A visa is a stamp or endorsement placed by officials on a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country. Visas are obtained from the Embassy or consulates.

Who needs a Visa?

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. For EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) citizens, an officially approved ID card or passport is sufficient for entry.

Only nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area. These visa-free visitors may not stay more than 3 months in half a year and may not work while in the EU

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Macedonia
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Vatican
  • Venezuela

Basic Requirements of submitting a Visa Application


Applicants should submit the application in person at the consulate. A visa application should be lodged at least 15 calendar days before the intended visit (as this is the normal processing time) and cannot be lodged earlier than three months before the start of the intended visit. An application lodged less than 15 calendar days before the intended departure may be accepted, but the applicant should be informed that the processing time may be of up to 15 calendar days.


    General Requirements (may vary slightly from country to country and what visa is desired):
  • Valid passport (at least 3 months past your intended departure date)
  • Valid health insurance
  • Application form
  • Current passport photos (at least 2).
  • Proof of the purpose of your stay
  • Confirmed lodging
  • Sufficient funds to cover the costs of your stay and a return airline ticket

How much?

A visa fee of €60 is payable to the Consulate of Spain. This fee is non-refundable, even in the case of an unsuccessful visa. There is no charge for the spouse and/or dependant's of an EU citizen. However, proof of the relationship must be submitted at the time of application.

Types of Visas

Schengen Visa

This visa is issued for a short stay (tourism, participation in a summer language course) of up to three months per half-yearly period. Holders of a Schengen Visa must leave the country again after three months at the latest. This means the Schengen Visa is not a suitable instrument if you wish to study, work, or stay in Spain.

There are three basic types of Schengen Visa.
Type A: Airport transit visa
Allows transit in the international zone of airport transit. The visa does not allow access to the Schengen territory.
Type B: Transit Visa
Allows the holder to pass through one or more Schengen states in order to get to another state. The necessary duration for this transit cannot exceed 5 days.
Type C: Short Stay Visa
Allows entry into the Schengen territory for a maximum uninterrupted stay of 90 days over a period of six months. The visa can be issued for single or multiple entry. In the event of multiple entries, the total duration of the different stays spent in the Schengen area cannot exceed 90 days over a period of six months.

An applicant submits a visa application in person to the Spanish Embassy or Consulate-General. The applicant's documents must be truthful and complete. Inaccuracies may lead to the revoking of the visa or residence permit and the person has to exit the country.

Tourist Visa

A Tourist Visa is for people traveling with the purpose of tourism, staying at a hotel or in a rented flat.

Visitor Visa

A Visitor Visa, or (Schengen Visa, type C) is for people who wish to visit relatives or friends, staying in their homes. A visitor visa is available for stays up to 90 days stay (within six months).

Business Visa

A Business Visa (Schengen Visa, type C) is for people invited for business reasons by a company based in Spain.

Student Visa

A Student Visa is for people who intend to study in Spain. This type of visa allows you to study or do research work in Spain for periods exceeding 3 months. U.S. citizens do not need a visa to study in Spain for less than 90 days.

The application must be submitted in person by you or through an authorized representative (it must have a notarized authorization) and not by mail. By submitting your student visa application you can also apply for the visa for your spouse and children under 18 years of age. Applications for this type of visa will neither be accepted more than four months in advance nor less than 7 weeks before the departure date.

    Additional documentation to basic requirements:
  • Letter of acceptance as a full time student from Spain's University/School - name, address and registration number of the school with Spain's Department of Education (Ministerio de Educación de España), proof of full payment of tuition, duration of the program, subjects of the study and hours of study per week which must be no less than 20
  • Proof of financial means during your stay - Letter from the University or School in Spain or in the USA assuming full financial responsibility during your stay (this is often included into the acceptance letter) OR proof of financial aid or scholarship for at least $1,000 per month for room and board OR notarized letter from your parents or legal guardians assuming full financial responsibility for at least $1,000 per month for room and board OR personal bank account statements showing at least $1,000 per month of stay.
  • Certificate of Absence of Police Records (only for stays of more than 180 days) issued by the Police Department from the city/cities where you have resided more than six months in the past five years. This Certificate must bear the “Apostille of The Hague Convention” (Contact the Secretary of State of the issuing state).
  • Medical Certificate (for periods longer than 180 days) - Doctor's statement (issued within 3 months from the application date) ,on a doctor or medical center letterhead, indicating that the student has been examined and found in good physical and mental health to travel to study abroad and is free of contagious diseases.
  • Notarized authorization from both parents and a copy of the applicants birth certificate showing parents names (only if the applicant is under 18 years of age).

Applicants must submit originals and copies of the documents. If your documents are accepted to process the visa they will not be returned. If granted your visa will allow you to study in Spain for the requested period of time, as specified on the visa sticker. If your stay in Spain is for a period longer than 180 days you will have to request, within one month of your arrival in Spain, an authorization for the completion of your studies as well as the proper student ID card from the Police Department in Spain (“Policia Nacional”).

This visa will allow you for transit in the Schengen countries to and from Spain up to a maximum of 5 days (total).

Work Visa

Members of the EU are free to work and contribute in other EU countries without a work visa.

A Work Visa (national visa, type D) is for non-EU citizens who intend to work in Spain. All foreigners wishing to work in Spain need a special residence permit, regardless whether an employment contract has been concluded by a Spanish or foreign company or whether the work is paid or unpaid. Activities of temporary and interim employment agencies also require a work permit. A work visa must be obtained before entering Spain.

Documents must be submitted to the Subdelegación del Gobierno. Documents and service will be somewhat complicated and in Spanish, and it is recommended to hire an immigration lawyer.

    Additional documentation to basic requirements:
  • Official application form signed and stamped by the employer.
  • Official job offer form signed and stamped by the employer. The job offered must be full-time, and for at least 10 months.
  • Original official company fiscal identity document (CIF)
  • Official company social security inscription document
  • Certified originals from the Tesoreria General de la Seguridad Social and the Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria proving that the company is fully up to date in its tax and social security payments.
  • Official certification that the job on offer has already been advertised in the official Provincial Unemployment Office and that no suitable European candidate has applied.
  • Document describing the services offered by the company and why a non-European should be employed to work there.
  • Original and photocopies of degree transcripts/certifications and credentials, with the official seal of convalidation of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture

If you plan to renew your contract after it has expired, you will have to leave and apply for a new work visa. Often a 1 year permit is issued to EU applicants, as such candidates can repeatedly renew even these 1 year permits. Legally, EU applicants have the same status as Spanish applicants when applying for jobs (employer does not need to justify hiring them, and must hire them in preference to non-EU/non-Spanish applicants if skills are equivalent).


NIE Number

A worker needs to first register for their NIE number before being able to buy property, a car, sign-up for insurance, enter into a contract for the supply of electricity, water or a telephone line, or contribute to social security. The NIE number, Número de Identificación de Extranjero, is a tax identification number.

    To register:
  • Get a form at the nearest National Police Station in the Departmento de Extranjeros (Foreigners Department). There can be long lines, so try to arrive early. Call for more information, Tel. Tel: (+34) 952 923 058
  • Supply documentation of passport and photocopy, address in Spain written justification of why you need the NIE (issued by an accountant, a notary, a bank manager, an insurance agent a future employer, etc.)

Upon submitting an application, you will receive a stamped photocopy of the application and your passport will be returned. Applicants should receive their NIE from one to six weeks. Notification of an issuance of a number is not automatic, inquire directly with the office to find out when it is available.

In the past, many people avoided registering for a number and contributing to the system, but this has been corrected by the many necessary services that now require everyone to have a number.

Tarjeta de Residencia

The Tarjeta de Residencia Card (Residence Card) incorporates a NIE, personal details and a photograph/fingerprint. It is necessary for transactions where someone wants to see a proof of current physical address in Spain. This may be for formal services such as setting up a bank account, or at a video rental store. The Ministerio de Politica Territorial administrates the dispersion of permits.

All EU and EEA citizens and their family members have the right to live and work in Spain, but if they remain in Spain longer than three months, a registration certificate as an EU resident is required.
Non-EU/EEA Spouse and Dependent Family Members are legally registered partner and dependent family of an EU citizen in Spain are entitled to the same rights as an EU citizen to live in the country. Within three months of arrival, application must be made for an EU Family-member Residence Card (Tarjeta de Residencia de Familiar de Cuidadano de la Union). Non-EU/EEA Citizens staying in Spain for a period longer than three months must get a Residence Card (Tarjeta de Residencia) residency permit.

    Documents Needed:
  • Current passport, plus copy
  • 3 recent passport photos
  • Completed application form, plus 3 copies

A medical certificate may be necessary depending on country of origin and recent residency. In some cases, an employment contract, proof of financial stability, medical insurance, or proof of matriculation in an accredited school may be necessary.

The Tarjeta is valid for five years. Non-EU applicants are granted an initial Residencia for one year, which is usually extended to five years on renewal.


Spanish legislation recognizes two types of nationality:
Spanish nationality by origin (nacionalidad española de origen)
Spanish nationality not by origin (nacionalidad española no de origen

By Origin

Spaniards by origin are:

  • Individuals born of a Spanish parent
  • Individuals born in Spain of foreign parents if at least one of the parents was also born in Spain, with the exception of children of foreign diplomatic or consular officers accredited in Spain
  • Individuals born in Spain of foreign parents if neither of them have a nationality, or if the legislation of either parent's home country does not grant the child any nationality
  • Individuals born in Spain of undetermined filiation; those individuals whose first known territory of residence is Spain, are considered born in Spain.

Not by Origin

People may apply for Spanish citizenship if:

  • Resided in Spain for at least ten years
  • Resided in Spain for five years as a refugee
  • Resided in Spain for two years if the individual is a national of a country of Iberoamerica, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, or if the individual is Sephardic (i.e. a descendent of the Spanish Jews, expelled in 1492)
  • Resided in Spain for one year if they were born in Spanish territory, did not exercise their right to their nationality by option within the established period of time, been under legal tutelage or protection of a Spanish citizen or institution for two consecutive years, married for one year to a Spanish national and are not separated legally or de facto, widowers of a Spanish national if at the time of death they had not been legally or de facto separated, or those born outside of Spain if one of their parents or grandparents had been originally Spanish (i.e. Spanish by origin).

The Ministerio de Justicia administers the system. Those taking Spanish citizenship must renounce nationality with their country of origin (unless you're from Latin America, Portugal, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Andorra and in some other specialized cases).

  • Birth certificate
  • Consular certificate which states your former nationality
  • Criminal records and military status in home country
  • Police certificate stating the time of your residency in Spain
  • Registration in Spain

Dual Citizenship

Dual Citizenship is possibly for certain countries that have an agreement. For example, citizens of Latin American countries like Andorra, Portugal, the Philippines, or Equatorial Guinea may acquire dual nationality. On the other hand, UK citizens are required to renounce their previous citizenship, but this is not allowed by the UK. This means that you would then have two nationalities (but not dual nationality) as Spain would not recognize the UK nationality. US citizens, if they do not intend to relinquish their US citizenship, may renounce their US citizenship to the Spanish government as required to obtain Spanish citizenship, but still retain their US citizenship. In general, citizens from countries outside of Latin American countries cannot maintain dual citizenship. Consult a legal professional for individual advice.

Update 19/06/2012


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