how to get papers in Spain?

Last update : January 2020

In which cases can I get a temporary residence permit when I am in irregular situation in Spain?

Arraigo social if:
• you are able to prove that you have lived 3 years and one day in Spain
• you don´t have a criminal record
• you have a work contract confirmed for at least one year
• you can prove you have family relations with other foreign residents or
• you can prove you have integrated in Spain with a report from the Ayuntamiento (city council) of your place of residence.

Arraigo laboral if:
• you can show that you have stayed permanently in Spain for at least 2 years
• you have no criminal offences
• you can prove that you have worked for at least 6 months.

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Arraigofamiliar if:
• you are the father or mother of a minor who has Spanish nationality, only if you take care of the minor and live with them or you have the parent-child-obligations.
• Your father or mother are/were of Spanish origin (see below more explanation)
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If you marry someone who has nationality in one of the European Union member states you can apply for a Community Resident Card ( Tarjeta de Residente Comunitario ). This is the residence permission that all European Union citizens have in Spain. This permit allows you to work for yourself or another person and must be renewed every 5 years. To apply for marriage you must go to the Civil Registry Office ( Registro Civil) in a municipality in which one of you has had ‘empadronamiento’ for at least two years. The basic steps of the process are the following:

1 Go to your corresponding Civil Registry Office. There you will be given a Marriage application form, which includes the documents which will be required of each person. For the person with Spanish nationality it’s simple: you just have to present a copy of your Documento Nacional de Identidad (National Identity Card), a birth certificate and a certificate confirming you are single or divorced (both of which you can get in the same Civil Registry Office) and a certificate of ‘empadronamiento’ for the last two years.

If instead of Spanish nationality the person has nationality of another European Union country they must present a Passport and a Community Residents Card ( Tarjeta de Residente Comunitario) instead of a DNI. The person who is not from the European Union needs to present more documents.

The documents required may vary by Civil Registry Office, but the most usual requirements are: A simple copy of passport, birth certificate from the country of origin (translated and stamped), a certificate from the country of origin confirming that the person is single or divorced (translated and stamped), a copy of your criminal record certificate (translated and stamped) and a certificate of ‘empadronamiento’ for the last two years. For all these documents it will be necessary to deal with embassy or consulate of the country of origin: to find out the address of yours call 010.

2 It’s not essential, but if you want to live independently it’s advisable that you make what’s known as a ‘separation of assets’ (seperacion de bienes). This is an officially signed document that means that after the wedding each person continues to maintain ownership of their personal property and that the debts of one cannot be transferred to the other. You’ll have to pay for the official signing but it can help to avoid headaches in the future. You have to hand in the ‘separation of assets’ document before the wedding. Ask in the Civil Registry Office when is a suitable time. The only exception is Catalunya (and therefore Barcelona): there, following the ‘Pret Civil Catalá’ , the default marriage situation is a separation of goods. So if the wedding is in Catalunya and you’re marrying a Catalan person you don’t need to take any extra action.

3 When you’ve collected all the documents and filled in the marriage application form you have to hand it all in to your corresponding Civil Registry Office. In the wedding application you have to give the address which will be the marital residence. You also have to indicate the place in which you want the wedding to take place: in this case you don’t have to get married in the same municipality where you have ‘empadranamiento’. In fact, if you’re in a hurry its better to choose a town with few inhabitants.

4 After some months (it can vary between 3 and 9) they will call you from the Civil Registry Office to tell you if the marriage application has been approved. If so, you can pass to the next step: call the ‘ayuntamiento’ of the town where you wish to hold the wedding to request a date. Make sure to find out if you need to bring the approved documentation on the day of the wedding or before hand.

5 On the day of the wedding dress well and celebrate in style. Make sure they give you a family book (libro de familia ) and marriage certificate (Certificado de matrimonio).

6 Once you’re married you can request a Community Residents Card. To do this bring your family book and Marriage Certificate to the office of ‘Extranjería’.
There they will tell you what additional documentation to bring to make your application (it varies according to area and time period). You have to renew it every 5 years.

7 Don’t forget to get ‘empadronamiento’ at the address that you put on the marriage application form as your marriage home. It’s possible that you receive a visit at this address, to confirm that you really love each other. But before this can happen remember:
• That before such a visit they have to inform you of the visit;
• That this very rarely happens, unless you decide to apply for Spanish Nationality: in this case the most typical thing is not a visit but an interview with each partner individually;
• That love is a very complicated and there are many ways to love someone: you don’t have to live with your partner or know everything about him or her, although the more you know the better.

8 If you’ve married someone with Spanish nationality, after one year you can start to apply for Spanish nationality, if that’s what you want. If you decide to get a divorce before that time, to avoid losing your residency documents after the divorce you’ll have to apply for a change of permit, from the Community Residents Card to the normal immigrant’s Residency Permit.

I married a spanish citizen in my country. What can I do to live with my partner in Spain?

First you have to register the marriage in the Spanish consulate of your home country so that it will be part of the spanish Registro Civil (register of births, marriages and deaths). You may have to wait 1 or 1 and a half years for it to be processed.

You also apply for the visa (if you need one) in the spanish consulate to go to Spain. If you are in Spain you have to go to the office of “extranjería” to get the corresponding permit for family members of an EU-citizen which allows residence and work as employee or self-employer. After 5 years it is necessary to renew it.

If I register as a “pareja de hecho”(common law couple) with a spanish citizen, can I regularize my situation?

Yes, the “pareja de hecho”(common law couple) is comparable with the marriage thanks to a sentence of the supreme court.

What requirements are necesary to constitute the “pareja de hecho”(common law couple)?
• copies of ID, NIE, passport
• to be of legal age (over 18 years)
• a certificate from the country of origin confirming that the person is single or divorced (translated and stamped)
• empadronamiento of the person who lives routinely in Spain
• not to be related to each other (from the same family)
• voluntary declarartion stating that you wish to be married in the Civil Registry Office
• if there was a divorse before: the courts sentence.

And if I divorce or cancel the “pareja de hecho”(common law couple) with an EU-citizen?

In order to not loose you resident permit you have to have lived together for at least 3 years. If you divorce before your status will change to the foreign persons situation. That’s not the case if you separate, that’s why the recommendation is not to divorce but to separate.


What is the long-term residence permit?

This permit allows you to live indefinitely in Spain and work with the same conditions as people with Spanish nationality.

Who can apply for a long-term residence permit?

Persons who are in the following situations:
• If you have lived in Spain for five consecutive years with a temporal resident permit
• If you were born in Spain and lived in Spain, with a temporary residence permit, for three consecutive years before your 18th birthday you can apply when your turn 18.
• If you have been Spanish for origin (see explanation above) and you lost your Spanish nationality.
• If you are stateless or a refugee in Spain
• If you are a minor and have been under the responsibility of a public institution (unaccompanied minors) for the last three years

Where to apply for the long-term residence permit?
• In the office of “extranjería”

Howcan I renew thelong-term residence permit?
• You must renew it every 5 years and you should apply within one month of the expiry date. Applications for renewal are accepted upto three months after the expiry date with sanctions. Take care: After three months of the expiry date the application will be denied.

What is the EU long-term residence permit?
• With this permit it should be possible for foreign persons to live and work in any EU-country. Also it should give you certain social-economical rights of EU-citizens and protection against expulsion.
• The EU-member states can deny the status of long-term residence for reasons of public order or public security. The refusal cannot be justified with reasons of the economic order.
• But in reality, in many European countries it is very hard and often impossible to get a work and residence permit. Persons with EU long-term residence permits have to find a job that nobody from the EU can do, which is complicated.
• Persons can be expulsed back to Spain, not to their home country.

I have the long-term residence permit. How can I convert it into the EU long-term residence permit?
• Now, the long-term residence permit automatically serves as a EU long-term residence permit. It’s not necessary to make any changes. If you get or have the long-term residence permit ask for a copy.

If a foreign person has the residence and work permit and wants to go to their home country. How long can she/he be outside of Spain?

  1. With the temporary residence and work permits, it’s possible to leave Spain for 6 consecutive months or upto one year within the period of 5 years.

  2. With the permanent or long-term residence, it’s possible to leave Spain for 12 consecutive months or 30 months within the period of 5 years.

In which circumstances can I loose my residence permit?

• if you have not applied for renewal
• if you are outside of Spain for more than six consecutive months within one year.
• if you break the requirements that enabled your residence permit, including the sufficient financial means.
• If you loose your passport or similar document like valid registration certificate, which formed the basis for obtaining a residence permit. There is an exception to this, if you can confirm that you made the necessary arrangements for the renewal or recovery of such documents.
• If you loose or change your nationality


Who can apply for spanish nationality?
• All foreign people who have been residen in Spain for a certain time can apply the spanish nationality. That means that you have lived with a residence permit in Spain. Also persons who are spanish by origin (see below more explanation) can require the spanish nationality.

Who can adopt the spanish nationality through residence?

• If you have lived legally in Spain for 10 consecutive years, that means that you have had a residence permit for 10 consecutive years, you have the right to require spanish nationality.
• The time to receive that right is less if you fulfill the following requirements:
• All persons who were born in Spain can apply for Spanish nationality if they fullfill one year of legal residence
• Foreign persons who are married to a spanish person, only if they are not seperated officially, can apply for spanish nationality if they have one consecutive year of legal residence.
• Political refugees or those who received asylum, can apply for spanish nationality if they require five consecutive years with a legal residence.
• All natives of a south or central american country, Andorra, Filipinas, Guinea Ecuatorial, Portugal or Jewish people, need to require two consecutive years with a legal residence to apply for spanish nationality.
• All foreign people who were born outside of Spain who have a mother OR father OR grandmother OR grandfather who were spanish by origin (see below more explanation) can apply for spanish nationality if they have one consecutive year of legal residency.
• All foreign people who have a child who was born in Spain and who have one consecutive year of legal residency can apply for spanish nationality for their child.
• All foreign people (minors) who have been under the responsibility of the spanish state for two consecutive years, can apply for spanish nationality if they continue having a official tutelage.
• The widower of an spanish person can apply for spanish nationality, if they were not separated in the moment of the death and if the couple had lived before legally for at least one consecutive year in Spain.
• All persons of a latinamerican country can have their original nationality aswell as the spanish one. For them the double-nationality is allowed.
Where do I have to apply for the nationality?

• You have to present the application for the spanish nationality, in the registery office of births, marriages and deaths of your district.

What is “Nationality by origin”?

• “Spanish Nationality by origin” is given at birth.

You can receive the Nationality by origin if:
• You were born of spanish father OR mother
• You were born in Spain of foreign parents and one of them was also born in Spain
• You were born in Spain of foreign parents, in the case that they don’t have any Nationality or if the legislation of their country won’t give you any Nationality
• You were born in Spain of unknown parents

Do children who were born in Spain get spanish Nationality?
• The children of foreign parents who were born in Spain are given the same nationality as their parents. But if the legislation of the parent´s country won’t give the children any Nationality its possible to apply at the district office of empadronamiento for their spanish nationality.
• Otherwise, if children who were born in Spain have lived legally with a residence permit for one consecutive year, their parents can apply for spanish nationality for their children.

In what circumstances is a foreign person who’s marriage or civil partner has received Spanish nationality?
• That person is than a family member of an EU-citizen and can get the corresponding permit for 5 years which allows residence and work as employee or self-employer.


Where to present the status of statelessness?
• You can present the status of statelessness in the office of “Extranjería”, the police office or the office for asylum and refugees.

Which are the documents to present?
• application of the status of statelessness (la solicitud de estatuto de apátrida)
• name of the person applying and if needed their representive
• reasons, petition and facts in clear form
• place and date
• signature
• document of identity of the journey or the explication for not having it
• place of birth
• relationships
• place and time of habitual residence in another state

Important advice
you have to apply within one month of entry into Spain. In the case of minors already in Spain, their guardians have to apply within one month of realizing that they are in a status of statelessness. If you make the aplication after one month or if you have a expulsion order, the aplication may be unfounded. Whilst applying you can have a provisional stay in Spain.

How is the proceeding if the person applying is minor?
• Their reprensentive (tutela) has to inform the fiscal ministery and present the aplication for the minor