How to enter Spain as a Tourist and Obtain Spanish Residency

Yes, it is possible to enter Spain as a tourist and obtain Spanish residency. This article will discuss several ways to do this. However, we must first establish the following:

The 90-day rule

The 90-day rule specifies that any foreigner can stay in Spain as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days every semester (whether or not a tourist visa is required by his or her country). Before the expiration of this time period, he or she must return to his or her home country and depart Spain. Otherwise, the foreigner will be in an irregular situation if he or she stays in Spain for more than 90 days. This is critical because, in the vast majority of situations, you will not be able to get Spanish residency if you are in an irregular situation (it is a fundamental requirement). To put it another way, if you want to get spanish residence by arriving as a tourist, you must complete all necessary processes within your 90-day stay as a tourist, and never after.

If you want to apply for a regular work visa as an employee or self-employed person, you must start the process in your home country. Simply put, you cannot apply for a work visa straight from Spain. What you may do, however, is visit Spain as a tourist during the 90 days of your stay and use these three months to locate a job and find any firm willing to hire you. After three months, you must return to your home country to process the application.

However, there is an exception: if you apply for a work permit under the entrepreneurship law (entrepreneur visa or highly qualified permit), you will be able to do so directly from Spain.

From tourist to legal resident

To change from tourist to resident in Spain, you must first transition from a tourist visa (needed by your country of origin) to a Spanish residency and/or work permit. Because certain residence permits, such as non-profit residence, can only be requested at the Spanish consulate in your country of origin, carrying out this entire process directly from Spain without returning to your country of origin implies that there are a series of limited paths that you can take.

The following are spanish residency permits you may acquire as a tourist while in Spain.

Community Card

If a person marries or registers as a domestic partner in Spain, he or she is eligible to apply for the Community Card. This is a five-year residency which permits you to lawfully live and work in the nation. The essential condition is that you are lawfully married or in a domestic relationship. One of the primary benefits of this procedure is that it may be completed entirely within Spanish territory.

If your marriage or civil union is already registered in another nation, you will only need to produce the marriage certificate and apply for Spanish residency. It is critical that the certificate be issued in any European Union country in order for it to be recognized. However, if you have not yet officially formalised your relationship, you can enter Spain, file as a domestic partner or marry, and then apply for an EU card.

Keep in mind that Spain has 17 autonomous communities and over 8000 city councils. City Councils may enact their own rules concerning the Registry of Common Law Partnerships. In the Community of Madrid, for example, you must reside with your partner for a minimum of one year. Many towns need you to be registered with your spouse for at least one year. However, there are municipalities that do not demand this length of cohabitation.

Student Card

With changes to the student law, it is now possible to obtain your student visa both from your place of origin and directly from Spain. A person who enters Spain (perhaps as a tourist) can enroll in a center of higher education and then apply for a student card. The most crucial thing to remember is the time constraint.

To be granted a student visa straight from Spain, you must begin the application process before the conclusion of the second month of your tourist stay. Typically, the resolution takes around 30 days. It is advised to have one or two higher education institutions in mind before going to Spain, and that you utilize the first month to visit them and speak with the admissions team. You can apply for a student visa once you have a confirmed spot at the university, which is not the same as residence.

You will be required to show proof of financial capacity to live in Spain. If you have family members who will accompany you, you must provide proof of financial means for yourself and the rest of your family. You must also have private health insurance for yourself and accompanying family members, which will also furnish you and your family a medical certificate. Applicants must also have a clear criminal record.

Golden Visa

The opportunity of acquiring residency after investing was introduced to entice foreign investment. Many incentives are provided to non-European investors in order to make the procedure advantageous and appealing. In Spain, you can acquire a golden visa or an investment visa after a tourist visa.

Foreigners who invest a minimum of 500.000€ in real estate in Spain are eligible for an investment visa. It is a two-year residence which is renewable and allows the primary applicant and their family members with whom they can apply jointly to live and work lawfully in Spain.

Highly Qualified Professional

The permit as a highly qualified worker is issued to foreigners who will work in a firm with a technical role that needs extensive expertise and training. These are generally management positions, and the most crucial prerequisite is that the job offer pays at least 50.000€ per year.

You must provide documentation that a major firm or a company in the technology industry is hiring you, that your professional preparation such as a university degree is linked to the position for which you will be recruited, and you must have a minimum of three years of experience indicating that you have the appropriate expertise for the industry for which you will be employed. The resolution is quite quick, and desirable results can be achieved in 20 working days. You can also include your spouse and children in the application.

Entrepreneur Visa

The entrepreneur visa is a work permit also covered by the Entrepreneurs Law. This residency is designed for entrepreneurs who want to launch a completely new and technical firm in Spain. Its criteria are fairly complicated in terms of the business concept, which must be properly stated in a comprehensive business plan. As a tourist, you can obtain this visa in less than three months if you are certain about your business proposal and it would benefit the Spanish economy.


Arraigo is the procedure through which a foreigner might gain residence in Spain if he or she has resided irregularly for a certain amount of time. Although we previously stated that it is critical to apply for residence before the 90-day tourist visa expires, in order to acquire the arraigo, one must have lived in Spain for considerably longer than that period without a legal residency.

There are 3 categories of arraigo, each with its own set of requirements:

  • Arraigo familiar – if you are in Spain irregularly and are the father or mother of a Spanish child (born in Spain) under the age of 18, or if you are the child of a Spanish citizen of origin.
  • Arraigo laboral – if you have been residing in Spain without a residence permit for two years and have been working sporadically for a firm for the previous six months.
  • Arraigo social – if you have been residing in Spain sporadically for more than three years and obtain a job offer.