When making plans to live or work in Spain, ensure that you have a valid passport – with a visa if necessary – and the appropriate documentation to obtain a residence card or work permit.

The free movement of workers within the European Union (EU), including Spain, became effective on 1st January 1992 and on the 1st January 1994, the 12 EU countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK) plus six former members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) formed the European Economic Area.

Spain no longer refuses a residence card to any EEA citizen, or his family members and dependants, even when they aren’t EEA citizens.

The EEA allows the free movement of goods, services, capital and people between member states and any EEA citizen has the right to live, study, work or start a business in Spain.

Citizens of non-EEA countries must obtain a visa from a Spanish consulate in their home country before coming to Spain to work, study or live.

It is advisable to carry your foreign identity card, passport or Spanish residence card (or a certified copy) as you may be asked to produce your identification papers at any time by the Spanish police or other officials.

If you don’t have them you can be fined, although this is rare these days. All Spaniards must, by law, carry an identity card. For foreigners, a residence card is the equivalent.

Prior to 2003, all foreigners wishing to take up residency in Spain had to apply for Residencia – a residence permit – whether they intended to work or not.

The new Royal Decree 240/2007 of the 16th of February states that EU citizens must apply for a Resident Certificate after three months. For Nerja, the New EU Residents Certificate must be applied for at the National Police in Torre del Mar, Avda. De Andalucia 3. It is open Monday to Friday, from 9:00 to 14:00. Tel: 952965085.

To apply for the New EU Residents Certificate you need the following documents:

  • Residents Certificate Application Form (original & copy)
    (Available at Nerja Foreigner Residents Department)
  • Passport (original & photocopy)
  • Census Certificate from the Town Hall
  • 2 photographs

It costs €6.70 and is paid on application.

All documents must be presented in person, but can be collected by an authorized person.

Those Foreign Residents who applied for their Residence Cards before April 1st will have to go to the National Police Station in Málaga, C/ Virgen del Gran Poder, 40.

Non EU Residents can apply for their Residents Card at the National Police Station in Málaga.

The residence card bears a fiscal number (NIE) (Numero Identificación Extranjero) which must be quoted when opening a bank account or paying Spanish taxes. All residents and non-resident homeowners must have a NIE.

Spaniards have a NIF (Numero Identificación Fiscal). It is useful to apply for a NIE (takes a few days) before applying for a Residence Card (takes a few months) so that it is easier to open bank accounts and set up contracts.

Visas for non EC citizens

Citizens of non-EEA countries, including non-EEA spouses and other non-EEA dependants of EEA nationals, must obtain a visa from a Spanish consulate in their home country before coming to Spain to live, work, or study.

There are various categories of visas including employees, students, retired pensioners, investors, employees of multinational companies, those performing cultural or sporting activities or those merely wishing to extend their holidays over 90 days.

Non-EEA nationals planning to take up residence in Spain must obtain a ‘residence visa’ before entering the country.

This visa is stamped in your passport, which must be valid for a minimum of six months. Applicants for visas living in a country other than their own country of origin must have been resident there for at least one year.

Applications must be made in person or by an authorised representative.

The documentation required for a visa application depends on your reason for coming to Spain, but will include: passport, photographs, proof of private health insurance, proof of financial resources and employment contract.

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