Visas in Spain: everything you need to know about work and residence visas

There are many reasons why you may want to enter in Spain, but whatever yours is, this article should be of your most interest to you. In the paragraphs below, you will find an explanation of the different visas that can be obtained to enter Spain, and which of them you should obtain, depending on your needs and interests. 

As a general rule, to enter Spain you will need to have a valid passport and meet a series of requirements, such as not being subject to express prohibitions, accrediting sufficient means of support, or presenting the corresponding documents according to the purpose and conditions of your stay in the country. Also, except in cases provided for in international agreements or European Union (“EU“) regulations, you will be required to obtain an entry visa. But how do I know which visa I need? 

Organic Law 4/2000, on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration (“OL 4/2000“), establishes the types of visas that Spanish authorities may issue and that will guarantee the legitimacy of entry and stay in Spanish territory. The types of visas established by the regulation are the following: 

  1. Transit visa: this visa entitles you to transit through the international transit zone of a Spanish airport or to cross Spanish territory. 
  2. Stay visa: this visa entitles you to an uninterrupted stay or for successive stays for a period or sum of periods whose total duration does not exceed 3 months per semester, starting from the first entry.
  3. Residence visa: this visa entitles you to reside without exercising any labor or professional activity.
  4. Residence and work visa: unlike the previous one, this visa entitles you to reside and work in Spain. For this purpose, the interested party will be given a term of 3 months from the arrival in Spain to register in the Social Security system. In case of not fulfilling this requirement, he/she will be obliged to leave the national territory.
  5. Residence and seasonal work visa: this visa entitles you to work as an employee for a period of up to 9 months, within a period of 12 consecutive months.
  6. Study visa: this visa entitles you to stay in Spain to carry out courses, studies, research or training work, student exchanges, non-working internships or volunteer services, which are not remunerated for employment.
  7. Research visa: this visa entitles you to stay in Spain to carry out research projects within the framework of a hosting agreement signed with a research organization. 

To obtain a visa, you must apply to the diplomatic missions and consular offices of Spain, which will issue it if the conditions are met. If the visa is granted, it will entitle you to present yourself at a Spanish border post and request entry, as well as to remain in Spain according to the situation to which the visa was issued. 

In cases where you have been granted an authorization to stay in Spain for a period of more than 6 months, you will also be required to obtain the Foreigner’s Identity Card (“TIE”), a unique and exclusive document intended to provide documentation to foreigners in a situation of legal permanence in Spain. This card accredits the legal permanence of foreigners in Spain. It is personal and non-transferable. 

The TIE must be applied for in person within 1 month from your entry into Spain, or from the date the authorization is granted or becomes valid, unless you are the holder of a seasonal residence and work authorization, which will exempt you from this obligation. The application for the card must be made to the Documentation Unit of the National Police. To do so, you will need the Foreigner Identification Number (NIE) and the following documentation (for the initial application): 

  • Official form EX-17 (original and copy) duly completed and signed. 
  • Passport or travel document with the entry stamp, sign or control mark made at the border post. 
  • A recent photograph, in color and white background, passport size. 
  • Visa. 
  • Resolution of concession of the authorization that justifies the issuance of the card (for certain cases, such as those of the Entrepreneurs Law). 
  • Proof of payment of the corresponding fees. 
  • Proof of affiliation and/or registration with the Social Security, if applicable. 

The validity of the TIE will be the same as that of the authorization or recognition of the right that justifies its issuance, losing its validity at the same time as the authorization or right in question. When this happens, the document must be handed in at the police station or at the immigration offices of the place of residence. 

Apart from the usual procedures, there are other ways to obtain visas that allow you to enter and stay in Spain, and these are the cases provided for in Law 14/2013, to support entrepreneurs and their internationalization. This law allows the Spanish authorities to issue visas for certain investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals and researchers, workers who carry out intra-company movements, or teleworkers of an international nature. 

It is important to note that there are international agreements signed with many countries that exempt their citizens from obtaining visas to enter Spain and the EU, so that may affect you favorably. In fact, most of the countries of the American continent do not require a visa to travel to the EU. 

What if I am a citizen of another EU member state? 

Nationals of other EU member states will only be subject to the rules contained in OL 4/2000 in those aspects that may be more favorable to them, compared to the EU regime. European treaties recognize the free movement of persons within the borders of the EU and the Schengen area, so EU citizens do not require visas to enter and stay in Spain. 

Royal Decree 240/2007, on entry, free movement and residence in Spain of citizens of the member states of the European Union and other states party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, regulates the conditions for entry, exit, free movement, stay and residence of EU citizens in Spanish territory.  

This Royal Decree establishes that citizens of other EU member states who intend to live in Spain for periods of more than 3 months must apply for registration in the Central Register of Foreigners. Such application must be submitted within 3 months from the date of entry in Spain (by submitting Form EX-18), with a registration certificate being issued immediately. Also, if you have resided legally in Spain for a continuous period of 5 years, you will have the right to reside permanently, in which case you will be issued a certificate for such purpose. 

In conclusion, the reasons for wanting to visit Spain are very diverse. Therefore, whether you come for leisure or professional reasons, different rules will apply depending on the nature of your stay in the country and your nationality. It is essential that you inform yourself well in order to follow the appropriate legal procedures. 

This publication does not constitute legal advice. 


How can LAW4DIGITAL help you? 

At LAW4DIGITAL we are lawyers specialized in digital business. We provide comprehensive legal advice to digital companies. We help you with online legal advice. 

We will keep you updated about digital business. In any case, you can contact us by sending an email to, calling (+34) 931 444 820 or filling out our contact form at 

We look forward to seeing you in the next post! 

Law4Digital Team. 

Subscribe to our Newsletter!