Visas for Spain  

As Spain is a Schengen state, many foreign nationals don’t need a visa for short-term visits or business trips. However, those nationals not on the Schengen visa-waiver list will need to apply for a visa prior to arrival in Spain.

In order to live and work in Spain, some nationalities will need a residence and work permit. European Union (EU) nationals can live and work in Spain without a permit, but they will have to register as residents if staying in the country for more than three months.

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work visa

Citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and nationals of countries on the Spanish government's designated travel list, such as those from the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, are afforded visa-free entry and the right to a 90-day stay within a 180-day period.

Citizens of countries not on the list must apply for a Schengen visa to enter Spain for tourist or business purposes. This visa allows for trips of up to 90 days in a 180-day validity period.

Non-EU nationals wanting to work in Spain will need to obtain a residence visa and work permit. There are two main types of work permits in Spain, the Cuenta Ajena, for those who have an employment contract with a specific company, and the Cuenta Propia, for those who are self-employed or freelance workers.

The Cuento Ajena work permit application is generally undertaken by the hiring company. Once a job has been secured and a contract has been negotiated, the employer will request certain documents from the prospective employee and will submit a work permit application to the Spanish Ministry of Labour on their behalf.

After the work permit is approved, the Spanish government will send the expat a copy of the application, with the official stamp of the office responsible for their permit. Next, the applicant needs to collect all the documents required to apply for a work and residence visa, and submit them to their nearest Spanish embassy. Expats should keep in mind that many of these documents will need to be translated into Spanish and certified.

Once the work and residence visa is granted, the applicant can then make arrangements to enter Spain within the timeline designated by the visa. Expats are usually granted a three-month entry window.

After arriving in Spain, expats can pick up their work and residence permit card, a simple bureaucratic process that merely requires an application form and passport. The card must be applied for within 30 days of entry at either the Foreign Nationals Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or at a police headquarters.

Work permits are generally valid for one year and are renewable, provided the expat still meets the original requirements. After five years, expats will be able to apply for permanent residence in Spain.

Those moving to Spain as a dependant or non-worker only need apply for a residence permit, and not a work and residence permit. This permit is largely linked to the validity of the work permit obtained by the applicant’s working partner.