Permanent residence in Spain as an EU citizen

Permanent residence in Spain as an EU citizen: when and how?

“What happens after 5 years of residency in Spain? Do I have to apply for this “residencia permanente” . If so, where”?

I was once asked this question. If you are also interested in an answer or want to know what other options you have to stay in Spain as an Union citizen legally for an unlimited period of time. Then you should go on reading.

The right for permanent residence in Spain, the necessary requirements and the application procedure are described in detail below (with notes).

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How do I acquire the right of permanent residence in Spain as an EU citizen?

The good news. You automatically acquire the right of permanent residence (“residencia permanente”) after a continuous legal stay of at least 5 years in Spain.

No application is required.

However, you can apply for a confirmation of the right of permanent residence (so-called permanent residence certificate). Art. 10 Real Decreto 240/2007

In some special cases, you may acquire this right before 5 years have passed. If this is the case, you will find out below.

What is the permanent residence certificate?

A document (“Certificado de residencia permanente”) that confirms your right to reside in Spain indefinitely without any further conditions.

This certificate looks the same and has the same name as the registration certificate (“Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión”).

The permanent residence certificate also contains your name, nationality, home address, foreigner’s identification number (N.I.E.), date of registration and, in addition, the status of permanent residence as an Union citizen (“residente comunitario con carácter permanente”).

Contrary to the registration certificate, this document is not compulsory.

However, the permanent residence certificate can be useful if you have to deal with the authorities or for administrative formalities. The authorities may no longer require proof of employment, sufficient resources, health insurance, and so on.

Who is entitled to apply for this certificate?

Citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who have the right of permanent residence in Spain.

In this article briefly called EU citizen or Union citizen.

Note

Since BREXIT, UK citizens must comply with the general non-EU immigration process.
If you want to know which authorisation is required in your case to live in Spain, then simply take benefit of my expert assistance service.

Do my family members also have the right to permanent residence?

Yes, the same rights apply to your family members (e.g. spouse, children, etc.) from an EU country.

They are also entitled to permanent residence in Spain, provided they have legally resided there with you as an EU citizen for an uninterrupted period of 5 years.

Family members from an EU country can therefore also apply for a permanent residence certificate.

Your family members from a non-EU country also have the right to permanent residence. However, the legal requirements in this regard are different and they must apply for a permanent residence card.

When do I have the right to “residencia permanente” ( requirements)?

Art. 10 Real Decreto 240/2007

If you are in any of the following situations:

A) Normal case

Situation 1

You have legal residency in Spain for a continuous period of 5 years.

The continuity of residency is not affected by the following reasons:

  • temporary absences (less than 6 months per year)
  • longer absences due to compulsory military service
  • a single absence of 12 consecutive months for important reasons such as pregnancy or birth of a child, serious illness, work, vocational training or a posting to another country.

B) Special cases:

Before the end of the 5-year period, you have the right to permanent residence in Spain if one of the following situations applies to you:

In all situations, you must be working (employed or self-employed) in Spain.

Situation 2

  • Stop working due to reaching the planned retirement age with pension entitlement according to Spanish legislation

Situation 3

  • Stop working due to early retirement

Provided that (in situation 2+3) you have been working in Spain for at least the last 12 months and have resided in Spain continuously for more than 3 years.

The 3-year residency requirement (in situation 2+3) does not apply

  • if your spouse (or registered partner) is a Spanish citizen or has lost their Spanish nationality after the marriage or registration as a registered partner.

Situation 4

  • Stop working as a result of permanent incapacity to work and residency in Spain for more than 2 years without interruption

The 2-year residency requirement does not apply if

  • your disability is the result of an accident at work or an occupational disease that entitles you to a benefit payable in full or in part by an Spanish public authority.
  • Your spouse (or registered partner) is a Spanish citizen or has lost Spanish nationality after marriage or registration as a registered partner.

Situation 5

  • Carrying out the activity in another Member State after working in Spain for 3 consecutive years and having a continuous residency in Spain and retain your residency in Spain by returning to Spain daily or at least once a week.

Situation 6

  • You are a family member from an EU country and have stayed in Spain with the Union citizen who was a (employed or self-employed) worker.

Provided that the EU citizen has acquired the right of permanent residence before the 5-year period ends (see above).

Situation 7

Widow or widower

  • You have resided in Spain as family member from an EU country with an EU citizen
  • and the Union citizen dies in the course of his/her working life before having acquired the right of permanent residence in Spain, provided that :
    • the EU citizen had resided in Spain continuously for at least 2 years at the time of death, or
    • the death was due to an accident at work or an occupational disease, or
    • the surviving spouse of the EU citizen was a Spanish citizen and lost Spanish nationality as a result of the marriage to the deceased.

Do you have any Questions?

What is the application procedure for the certificate?

When can I apply (deadline)?

If you wish, you can apply for a permanent residence certificate after the legally required deadline has passed. As already mentioned, there is no obligation to do so.

  • Normally: after 5 consecutive years
  • In special cases: after 3 or 2 consecutive years or no annual deadline

Where do I have to apply (“responsible authority”)?

In person at the immigration office / Non-nationals office (“Oficina de Extranjería”) or, failing that, at the relevant police station (“Comisaría de Policía”) of the province in which you have the residence.

What does the “residencia permanente” cost?

Fee: 12,- € for the year 2024

Payment of this fee is done using the form: Modelo de tasa 790, código 012 (“Reconocimientos, Autorizaciones y Concursos”)

Steps to pay the fee:

  • Access the form on the website of the National Police (“policia nacional”)
  • Fill in the form. Click on the item “Certificado de registro de residente comunitario o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano de la Unión”.
  • Download the filled-in form (“Descargar impreso rellenado”) and print it out
  • Go to a bank and pay in the amount. (Please note: cash payments at the bank where you do not have an account are only possible on certain days and times)

Later, hand over the form (with the bank’s payment confirmation) to the relevant authority together with the other documents.

Note

You have to pay the fee at a bank before the application can be processed.

What documents do I need to submit (required documents)?

Important Note and tip

Make copies of all documents and enclose them. Show the originals at the time of presentation of the application.

In all cases:

1) Official application form

Modelo EX-18 – “Solicitud de inscripción en el Registro Central de Extranjeros_Residencia ciudadano de la UE”. in duplicate, duly filled in and signed. You can also obtain this application from the responsible authority.

2) Confirmation of payment of the fee by means of “Modelo de tasa 790, código 012”

3) Valid Passport or identity card

4) Proof depending on the situation you are in (see above requirements):

Situation 1

  • Registration certificate (“Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión”) for a minimum period of 5 consecutive years in Spain.

In this case, usually you do not need to show any additional proof, as Non-nationals Office (“Oficina de Extranjería”) will check this officially.

Situation 2

  • Proof of pension entitlement (“Documentación acreditativa del acceso a la jubilación”)
  • Confirmation from the Spanish social security authority that you have worked in Spain for the last 12 months (“Certificado de vida laboral expedido por la Seguridad Social”)
  • Registration certificate for a minimum period of 3 consecutive years of residency in Spain

Situation 3

  • Proof of entitlement to early retirement (“Documentación acreditativa del acceso a la jubilación anticipada”)
  • Certificate from the Spanish social security authority confirming that you have worked in Spain for the last 12 months
  • Registration certificate for a minimum period of 3 consecutive years residency in Spain

In case of exemption from the 3-year period of residency :

  • Proof of marriage or registered partnership with a Spanish citizen, or that the citizen has lost Spanish nationality after the marriage or after registration as a registered partnership.

Situation 4

  • Proof of stop working and permanent incapacity to work (“Documentación acreditativa de la incapacidad permanente”)
  • Registration certificate for the minimum period of 2 consecutive years of residency in Spain

In case of exemption from the 2-year period of residency :

  • Proof of incapacity for work due to an accident at work or an occupational disease with entitlement to a pension from the Spanish authorities or
  • Proof of marriage or registered partnership with a Spanish citizen, or that the citizen has lost Spanish nationality after marriage or after registration as a registered partnership with the worker.

Situation 5

  • Proof of a work activity in another Member State
  • Proof of return to Spain daily or at least once a week
  • Registration certificate for a minimum period of 3 consecutive years of residence in Spain
  • Confirmation from Spanish Social Security that you have been working in Spain for the last 3 years

Situation 6

  • Proof of the family relationship with the EU citizen
  • If needed, proof of economic dependence on the EU citizen (maintenance payments)

Situation 7

  • Death certificate of the EU citizen together with
  • Registration certificate of the deceased EU citizen, which shows an uninterrupted period of residence of at least 2 years in Spain or
  • Proof that the EU citizen died in the course of their professional life and, if applicable, of an accident at work or an occupational disease or
  • Proof of loss of Spanish nationality as a result of marriage to the deceased

Is it necessary to translate foreign documents?

Foreign public documents must usually be translated into Spanish or into the language that is also recognised by the authorities in an autonomous community (“Comunidad Autónoma”) in Spain.

Required translations must be carried out by a sworn interpreter authorised in Spain.

legalisation or a Hague Apostille may also be necessary.

Certain public documents are exempt from legalisation or apostillisation in accordance with EU Regulation 2016/1191.

In this case it is sufficient to attach a multilingual standard EU form as a translation aid.

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Is an appointment needed?

At present an appointment for foreigners (“Cita previa de extranjería”) is required.

Appointments can be made via

  • Internet: on the website of the public administration (“sede electrónica de las administraciones públicas “). To do this, select the province in which you live and follow the instructions. If the corresponding procedure is not displayed, it is not possible to make an appointment online.
  • Telephone: 060 (number of the General State Administration) or the appropriate number of the authority where you are making the application.

Tip: Before you go to the authority, make sure that you have all the necessary documents for the application. It can take time to get a new appointment.

How long does the procedure take?

Once it has been verified that you fulfil the corresponding requirements, you will be issued with a confirmation of the right to reside permanently in Spain (“residente comunitario con carácter permanente”) as soon as possible.

Note

As this certificate does not include a photo, it is only officially valid with an identity card or passport.

Can I lose the right to permanent residence?

Yes, you can lose your right of permanent residence in Spain if you stay outside Spain for more than 2 consecutive years. Art. 10 Real Decreto 240/2007

Conclusion

If you have been legally resident in Spain for a continuous period of 5 years, you and your family members have the right to permanent residence in Spain (“residencia permanente”).

If you work (self-employed or employed) in Spain and fulfil the above-mentioned requirements, you can acquire this right before the 5-year period comes to an end.

You can then (but do not have to) apply for the permanent residence document.

You are still uncertain?

Then simply take benefit of my online expert assistance.
Economically from the comfort of your own home,
you will receive a law-based and comprehensible assessment
of your specific situation.
This gives you more clarity, more legal certainty and more time.

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12 thoughts on “Permanent residence in Spain as an EU citizen: when and how?

  1. Guten Tag – wir leben seit 2014 in Spanien und besitzen auch die grüne Residencia – müssen wir diese 2024 in eine residencia permanente umwandeln, um den Aufenthalt von 10 Jahren nachzuweisen? Vielen Dank

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