Residence card for family members

Who needs the residence card for family members?

If you are a family member of an EU citizen and come from a non-EU country (third country)

and you are accompanying or joining the EU citizen in Spain,

then you must apply for a so-called residence card for family members of an EU citizen (“tarjeta de residencia de familiar”) after 3 months. Art.8 Real Decreto 240/2007

In the following expert article, you will learn valuable facts about the residence card and everything you need to get it successfully .

My first advice would be: Learn Spanish (at least the basics) before you come to Spain. Many things will be easier for you. Apart from the fact that English is usually not understood (especially by the authorities), Spaniards really appreciate it when you speak to them in their language.

I learnt Spanish through Mosalingua and I can really recommend this school (advertising):


What is the residence card?

A document with the purpose of identifying family members of an EU citizen who do not come from an EU country with regard to their legal situation in Spain.

The residence card proves your right to reside in Spain as a non-EU family member.

The exact Spanish name is “Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión“, in the following short: residence card.

This card is issued on application and states the name, nationality, photo, N.I.E. (“Número de identidad de extranjero” /Non-national identity number), the date of expiry and the type of permit to stay in Spain: “Régimen Comunitario familiar ciudadano Unión“.

Who is entitled to apply for this card?

Art.8 Real Decreto 240/2007 and Art.1 Order PRE/1490/2012

The family members of a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland who do not hold the nationality of the aforementioned countries (short Non-EU country) and who acquire the right to reside in Spain for more than 3 months.

In the following, I will briefly name the entitled persons as “family members” or “family members from a non-EU country”

You can find out who is considered a family member under Spanish law in my specialised article Residence in Spain: What you should definitely know?

What are the requirements for the residence card?

Art.7 Real Decreto 240/2007

As a family member, you must have the right to reside in Spain for more than three (3) months.

You acquire this right if you

  • accompany or join an EU citizen in Spain and
  • the EU citizen has the right of residence for more than 3 months or he is already registered in the central register of foreign nationals.

To find out about the procedure for obtaining the certificate of registration as an EU national, consult the end of this file

If the requirements are met, the entitled family members will be issued with this residence card upon application.

Do you have any Questions?

What is the application procedure for the residence card?

Art. 8 Real Decreto 240/2007

Who can apply for it?

The entiteld family member of the EU citizen in person.

In the case of minors: Application by the legal representative and proof that the minor is present in Spain.

„Failure to comply with the requirement to apply for a residence card may make the person concerned liable to proportionate and non-discriminatory sanctions“ Art. 9 Directive 2004/38/EC

When do I have to apply (deadline)?

Within a period of three (3) months from the date of entry into Spain.


If you are staying in Spain for longer than 3 months, you are obliged to apply for the residence card as a family member of an EU citizen. You can stay in Spain without the card until the 3 months have passed.

Where do I need to apply (responsible authority)?

At an immigration office (“Oficina de Extranjería”) or, failing that, at a police station (“Comisaría de Policía”) in the province where the family member establishes his/her residence or intends to stay.

What does the residence card cost?

Fee: €12 for the year 2024

The payment of this fee is made by means of 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 completed 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.


This fee must be paid before the residence card can be processed and issued.

What documents do I have to submit as a family member (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.
  • Official application form: (Modelo EX-19 – “Solicitud de tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la UE”) in duplicate, duly completed and signed. You can also obtain this application from the responsible authority.
  • Confirmation of payment of the fee by means of “Modelo de tasa 790, código 012”
  • Passport (valid)
  • 3 recent colour photos with white background. Size 32×26 mm
  • Registration certificate (“Certificado de registro”) of the EU citizen you are accompanying or joining, together with proof of identity (passport or identity card)
  • Proof of the family relationship with the EU citizen (e.g. birth certificate);
  • Proof of valid marriage (marriage certificate) or registered partnership (issued no more than 3 months before the application is submitted by the responsible authority) or
  • In the case of a unregistered partnership (“pareja no registrada”): Proof of a stable partnership and in a long-term relationship with the EU citizen, as well as proof of the period of conjugal cohabitation (of at least 1 year without interruption) or, where appropriate, the birth certificate of a common child.

Proof of the family member’s dependence on the EU citizen:

  • Descendants older than 21 years or the direct relatives in the ascending line: Proof of maintenance
  • Other family members: Proof of the degree of kinship and the granting of maintenance. Or proof of cohabitation in the country of origin (credible proof of cohabitation for an uninterrupted period of 24 months in the country of origin) or proof of serious reasons relating to health or disability.

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?

The residence card must be issued within 3 months of submission of the application. Art. 8 Real Decreto 240/2007

In any case, you will receive a temporary confirmation that the application for the residence card has been submitted. This confirmation is sufficient to prove legal residence in Spain until the residence card arrives.

How long is the residence card valid for?

Art. 8 and Art. 14 Real Decreto 240/2007

The card is valid for

  • five (5) years from the date of issue or
  • the expected period of residence of the EU citizen if this is less than 5 years.

The period of validity of the residence card for family members expires if you are absent from Spain for more than 6 months in a year.

This period of validity is not affected

  • by absences of longer duration from Spain due to the fulfilment of military service or
  • by a single absence of no more than 12 consecutive months (non-renewable) due to pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness, studies, vocational training or professional secondment to another country

This expiry due to absences also does not apply to holders of a residence card with a professional relationship to non-governmental organisations, foundations or registered associations that officially represent a benefit to the general public. Provided that the holders carry out research projects, provide development aid or humanitarian aid abroad for these organisations.

An exception to this rule is the implementation of study programmes that are funded for a certain period of time.

How can I renew my residence card?

As a family member of a European Union citizen you must apply after 5 years for the permanent residence card (“tarjeta de residencia permanente”).

Can I lose my right of residence?

Art. 9 bis Real Decreto 240/2007

Family members enjoy the right of residence as long as they fulfil the necessary conditions.

In special cases, where there are reasonable doubts, the competent authorities may verify the fulfilment of the said conditions. Verification is not carried out systematically.

The use of social assistance (“asistencia social”) in Spain by the EU citizen or their family members does not automatically lead to expulsion.

Under no circumstances can family members be expelled if they are

  • employed or self-employed workers in Spain or
  • looking for work in Spain (in this case, they must prove that they are still looking for work and that there is a real possibility of an employment contract)

What happens after the divorce or death of the EU citizen?

As a family member, do I lose the right of residence if the EU citizen dies or leaves Spain or if the marriage or registered partnership is annulled? Art. 9 Real Decreto 240/2007

This depends on various circumstances and conditions.

The following situations have no effect on the right of residence of family members from a non-EU country (i.e. they do not lose the right and the residence card remains valid):

1.) The death of the EU citizen

  • if you resided in Spain as a family member before the death of the EU national.

The death of the EU citizen must be notified to the relevant authority. The departure of the Union citizen leads to the loss of the right of residence.

2.) The death or departure from Spain of the EU citizen

  • if the children are in Spain and are enrolled at an educational centre to study: Until the end of the education period, no effect on the right of residence either for said children or for the parent who has actual custody.

3.) Divorce or cancellation of the registered partnership

If any of the following circumstances apply:

  • the duration of the marriage or registered partnership of at least 3 years until the start of the divorce or cancellation of the registered partnership court proceedings, of which at least 1 year can be proven to have been spent in Spain, or
  • custody of the EU citizen’s children is granted to the ex-spouse or ex-registered partner on the basis of a mutual agreement or a court order, or
  • in the case of visitation rights of the minor child by the ex-spouse or ex-registered partner (established by a court order or mutual agreement between the partners), if the said child is in Spain and the said order or agreement is final.
  • The existence of particularly difficult circumstances, such as domestic violence or exposure to human trafficking during the marriage or registered partnership.

The fact of divorce or cancellation of the registered partnership must be reported.

Do I have to report changes?

Yes, you must notify any changes relating to your nationality, marital status or place of residence to the relevant authority where you reside. Art. 14 Real Decreto 240/2007

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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2 thoughts on “Who needs the residence card for family members?

  1. Vielen Dank für diesen hilfreichen Artikel. Wird für das Familienmitglied auch Nachweis einer Krankenversicherung verlangt? (Ich (EU-Bürgerin) selbst habe Residencia und SIP Karte, kann meine Partnerin aber erst bei mir mitversichern, wenn sie die Aufenthaltskarte hat.)

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