Registration procedures and residence permits


As a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you only need to show your valid identity card or passport to enter Spain. You are entitled to remain in the country for three months to find a job or set up as self-employed. If you have still not found a job after three months, you are entitled to stay for longer provided you continue seeking employment.

If your family members are not citizens of the European Union, the EEA or Switzerland, they must apply for a residence card for relatives of EU citizens if they plan to stay in the country with you for more than three months.

Necessary documents

After you arrive in Spain you have a period of three months in which to apply at the Oficina de Extranjeros [Foreign Nationals’ Office] or at a police station for registration in the Registro Central de Extranjeros [Central Register of Foreign Nationals]. You will need to present your valid passport or identity card and pay a fee.  The Office will give you a registration certificate with an NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros) [foreign resident identification number]. This procedure has replaced the former Community resident card system.

For identification purposes, any non-national wishing to pursue any economic, professional or social interests in Spain must have a personal, unique and exclusive NIE [foreign resident identification number]. This number is provided automatically when a person registers at the Foreign Nationals Register, but it may also be applied for separately.

Persons who are not from Switzerland or an EEA member country require a residence permit to live in Spain. For further information please contact the Spanish embassy in your country of origin or go to the portal of the Secretariat-General for Immigration and Emigration of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security.

Registration in your local area:

This formality for proving your residence in Spain is done at the local Ayuntamiento [city/town council]. For this you will need to show the rental contract for your accommodation or your electricity or water bill, etc. as proof of address.

If this is the first time you are working in Spain, you must obtain your own Social Security number. You can arrange this yourself or your employer can do it on your behalf. To do this you must go to the Social Security office with the following documents:

  • Application form (TA-1)
  • ID card

You will then be given a Tarjeta de la Seguridad Social [Social Security Card], which you must show at your local health centre so that you can be assigned a doctor and be issued a tarjeta sanitaria [health card].

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