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What to know about Staying in Spain – Relocate as a US Citizen

What to know about Staying in Spain – Relocate as a US Citizen

Need to get away for a while? What you need to know about staying in Spain

The best things about living in Spain such as football, tapas and summer siestas are real benefits. However there are a few things that aren´t well understood.  Spain was not included in the “Seven Countries Study,”  which highlights the advantages of the infamous Mediterranean Diet. So Spain cannot make its claim its that officially.

You may think it´s tricky, complex or even impossible to live in Spain as a non EU citizen. Or even spend an extended time in this Mediterranean country. For Americans relocating to Spain is possible. You just have to follow the correct process. So if Spain becomes an attractive option as an escape or a fresh perspective, here are the requirements for staying in Spain.

Paella at El Parque in Almeria Spain

Schengen Area + Rules for Staying in Spain

Spain is a member of Schengen. Meaning that within this area travellers don´t pass through border control. You can travel over 25 countries in this Schengen area with free movement. Getting rid of the queues and delays which moving from one country to another makes weekend trips stress free. Travelling from cities in Spain to European destinations is affortable and efficient.

Travellers who are from outside the Schengen zone are allowed to be in Spain for up to 90 days for tourism or business. This must be within a 180-day period. So this means that after the 90 day period, you have to wait 90 days until returning to one of the Schengen countries. A lot of visitors to Spain think that they can hop over to Gibraltar or Morocco for a weekend and then come back. This is incorret so you need to read up on the specific rules. 

Seis Perlas El Campello Restaurante Alicante

Move to Spain from US – 3 months or longer

You are set on spending time in Spain but you want to stay longer.  3 months as a tourist doesnt fit in with your plans. So first make sure your passport is valid. This is important during the time for which you are requesting an extension, as well as plus six months beyond the final date of your requested extension.

You will also be required to show that you have the finances to fund your time in Spain. That means you must be able to demonstate you have 10 percent of the gross minimum interprofessional salary (SMI). Or alternatively €108 multiplied by the number of days by which you are extending your stay. So, if you want to stay another 90 days, you’ll have to multiply €108 x 90 days. This totals €9,720. You will need to prove that you have those funds.

The next step is slightly open to interpretation, you must supply an accredited “exceptional reason” for extending your stay. Amongst the exceptional reasons are:

  • humanitarian circumstances; you require medical treatment;
  • or a family situation requires you to stay.

These examples are from a legal team with expertise in these requests. This application for the extended stay is subject to approval by the Spanish authorities. When you submit all the documents straight away, the approval for the extension is more likely. 

Documentation for US Citizen to Stay in Spain

The supporting documentation continues with form EX-00 (Solicitud de autorización de estancia y prórrogas). This includes payment verification of form 790 Código 012. You must pay this fee to apply to extend your stay. You must show the evaluating authority proof that you’ve paid the fee. Payment can be done at most banks. (morning timetable usually). The cost is €17.49 and then €1.06 is added per day of the extended time you stay on.

Make sure that you have travel insurance with validity until the end of the extended period too.

A return ticket to your country of origin. Or proof of admission to another destination within the extension period finalizes the list of required documents to apply for a short-term extension.

Quick Checklist

  • Valid Passport
  • Accredited exceptional reason for extending your stay
  • Proof of funds to support yourself
  • Form EX-00
  • Proof of payment for form 790 Código 012
  • Valid Travel Insurance Policy until end of the extended stay. 
  • Copy of Return Plane ticket or proof of admission to another country.

Beach in Nerja Balcon de Europa Costa del Sol Spanish Trip

Apply for temporary residency to Stay in Spain

Temporary resident status means staying in Spain for a more than 90 days but under 5 years. This application is more detailed. Overally you must prove that you have the economic means to support yourself. That you have health insurance, and that you don’t have a criminal record.

It is key to understand that there is not just one way to get approval for residency. Online there is a lot of information which is vague or incomplete. In this process you will need to be patient. Often you will need to visit the governmental office many times to get the documents presented and approved. Some of these offices have limited appointments and long queues. 

The first step is to apply for the TIE identity card. In Spanish its called Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero. You will need to complete the form EX-17 and pay  €16.08 together with form 790 Código 012. To get this done properly you will need the original passport and a also copy of your entire passport; proof of funds (According to the Government website a minimum monthly income of €2400): valid health insurance; proof of accommodation; a translated copy of your police record (if any); and two recent passport photos.

Frigiliana views to Costa del Sol

Move to Spain for a Year and Beyond

It’s important to note that temporary residency has a few categories.

  • Residency that’s non lucrative;
  • Residency to unite families; 
  • Residency with the exception of work authorization.

Currently the most sought-after options are the non-lucrative NLV and the one called Golden Visa as featured in this post. If you need help to know which is best option for your stay in Spain, a good option would be to find a good lawyer in Spain who specializes in Extranjeria. If you prefer to go through the process yourself then start by making an ppointment at your office for Extranjería. They will give you the current requirements all at once.

When you are going through this process arm yourself with patient and dont expect quick results. You will get there in the end. After you manage to make the move, Spain has an excellent quality of life and the efforts will have been worthwhile. 

This post is a guest collaboration by US CitizenWendy Booher is a freelance marketing and communications professional living in Granada since 2009. A lifelong off-road cyclist, what attracted her and her husband to Granada was the Sierra Nevada mountains, the vast network of dirt roads lacing the entire Iberian Peninsula, and the opportunity to ride year-round.