Spanish tourist visas

This is our guide to the various Spanish Visas in existence, note this is only a guide and you should always seek professional legal advice if you intend to apply under one of the schemes. This information is provided mainly for UK nationals, since the UK left the EU some significant changes have come into effect, however because of the Covid pandemic many of these passed unnoticed, that is not to say they did not take effect. If you hold a UK passport you are strongly advised to become aware of the various changes and how they might affect you when travelling.

If you only make one or two visits to the EU for a holiday in any given year the changes are unlikely to have any impact on you. If however you make frequent visits, either for work, or pleasure, then you must make sure you follow the new rules.

A Spanish Visa is your permission to enter Spain for a set period of time and for a particular purpose.  If you happen to be a national from an EU/EAA state then you only need to carry and show a valid national identity card, or a valid passport.

The usual visa required to visit Spain for a holiday is a type C visa.  UK nationals do not need to apply for this visa as the UK has an agreement with the Schengen zone, however although you do not have to apply for the visa the visa requirements still hold. These are:

  • A valid passport or travel document. Valid for at least six more months beyond your planned date of exit from Schengen, and issued within the last 10 years.
  • A visa – if you are subject to the Spanish visa regime.
  • Proof of accommodation. A document that shows where you will be staying during your time in Spain.
  • A return or round-trip ticket. Or proof of onward travel, if you do not plan to return to your home country upon the end of your stay in Spain.
  • Documents proving your purpose of entry.

You may, or may not, be asked for any of these documents by border police, but understand that border police can deny entry to Spain if they think there is anything wrong with your documents or your purpose of entry.

If you are entering Spain and you are not a national of an EU/EAA state or a UK national then you should apply, in advance, for a type-C Schengen Visa. This allows you entry into the Schengen zone for up to 90 days.


Other Spanish visas

Spanish Golden Visa/Spanish Investor Visa

This visa is issued if you purchase property with a purchase value of at least €500,000. You can also buy shares in a Spanish company or make a deposit in a Spanish bank - there are predefined minimum levels of investment.

Most often, this visa is issued when you purchase property that meets the criteria. The Golden visa allows the holder and their family members to obtain residency in Spain and visa-free access to the Schengen zone.


Residence Visa - Non-lucrative   (NLV visa)

This visa is issued to individuals who have a reliable, and on-going, source of income and also have substantial savings who wish to reside in Spain.  Most often this is used by people looking to retire in Spain. This visa does not permit work of any kind, and there can be no support from the Spanish state. You must apply for this visa in your home country - you cannot apply for this in Spain.


Residence visa to work in Spain

A work permit must be issued by the Spanish employer. This permit is then used to apply for a residence visa with the right to work. The application must be made in your home country.

In addition there are many various visas relating to student study, official business etc. Full details are available from the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your home country.


NIE numbers (Número de Identificación de Extranjero)

All foreigners, resident or non-resident, who remain in Spain for a period longer then three months must register with the authorities and obtain their unique NIE. It is important to stress that holding an NIE does not grant any special status, it does not give you the right to enter Spain.


TIE cards  (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero)

This is the government issued foreigner's identity card, it is only issued to foreigners with the right to reside in Spain. It is sometimes called the residency card for that reason. UK nationals who hold a TIE can enter Spain freely, their British passport will not be stamped so long as they present their TIE.