Travelling to Spain

Visas for Spain
Updated 2021-08-13 12:50

You're thinking about a new life abroad and all the opportunities it can bring, but before you relocate to Spain to live, work or study, you'll have to find out whether or not you need a visa.

The answer will depend on your nationality and personal circumstances. Under the terms of the Freedom of Movement Act, you do not need a visa or other permit to live, work, visit or study in Spain if you're a national of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland. Your national identity card or passport is sufficient. However, foreign nationals arriving from other countries will need a visa and sometimes a work permit.

Typically, individuals from non-EU/ EEA countries need a short-term tourist visa to stay in Spain. This is valid for a maximum of 90 days during a 180-day period and is also known as a Schengen visa.

Schengen Visa (Short Term)

Spain is a member of the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 countries that have abolished passports and other controls at their mutual borders. The Schengen tourist visa allows visitors to travel throughout the Schengen area for up to 90 days.

To be eligible for this travel document, you must fulfil the entry criteria listed below:

  • Be the holder of a valid passport or a short-stay visa, if one is required.
  • Be able to prove you have a legitimate purpose of travel, such as tourism or business.
  • Possess the financial resources to cover your stay and your return
  • Hold a travel insurance policy to cover any healthcare expenses during your stay. For example, repatriation for medical reasons.

However, citizens of more than 60 countries don't need a Schengen visa, provided they have a valid passport (in some cases, a biometric passport).

Visa-exempt countries include Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, the Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Uruguay and Venezuela. The complete list can be found on the Schengen Visa Information website.

If you are from a non-EU/EEA country that is not on this list, you can apply for a visa at the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country. In addition to your passport or national ID card, you will be asked to bring documents supporting your stay and proof of sufficient funds to cover your costs while in Spain.

For more information about the Schengen Visa, visit the Schengen Visa Information website.

Long-stay visas in Spain

If you plan to live, work or study in Spain for longer than three months and are not a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will need a long-term visa. There are different types, depending on the reason for your stay and include a work visa, a student visa, an internship visa, a highly qualified professionals visa and a residency visa. For more information, contact the Spanish embassy or consulate in your country.


Following Brexit, the UK is now a non-EU country.

Good to know:

If you're going to live long-term in Spain, you will need to apply for a Foreigners' Identity Number (N.I.E - an abbreviation for Número de Identidad de Extranjero). You can do this at police stations or the Oficina de Extranjeros once you are in Spain or through a Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country. The N.I.E. is needed to open a bank account, pay taxes, work, buy a car, connect to utilities, start a business and much more.

Airport transit visas

An airport transit visa entitles non-EU/EEA nationals to enter the country to change flights at a Spanish airport. It permits the holder to stay in the international transit zone while waiting for their next flight. This visa does not allow holders to leave the transit area. You can find a list of countries requiring an airport transport visa on the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation website.

Useful link:

Ministerio de Trabajo, Migraciones y Seguridad Social (Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.