The Law in Spain : Why It's a Good Idea to Apply for Spanish Residency
If you are planning to live in Spain permanently, it makes sense to apply for residency. Not only will your presence in the country be officially above board (many expats fly under the radar, whether through conscious choice or by simply not knowing the procedure), but you will also be benefiting your local council, and you will be entitled to pretty much the same rights as a nationalised Spaniard. If your intention is to live in Spain for more than three months in the year, you are – by law – required to apply for a Spanish Residency certificate if you are an EU citizen.
Where to Register
To do this, you must register yourself at the Registro Central de Extranjeros (Central Register for Foreign Nationals), which is usually done at the local national police station (“policia nacional”). They will issue you with a registration certificate, which not only certifies your residence but also contains important personal information, so you will need to provide the authorities with various documents.
(You are advised to register within three months of your arrival.)
What You Need to Provide
Your residential rights in Spain extend to your most immediate family, which includes your spouse by marriage, a partner by a civil partnership, children under 21, grown-up children and your parents.
You can register for a Spanish Residency Card for EU Citizen Family Members at your local national police station, where you will need valid passports for each family member, proof of the family membership and three recent colour passport photos, and have them sign the EX19 application form, downloadable here (in Spanish).
Evidence of Financial Means and Healthcare
Legislation was introduced in July 2012 to plug an administrative loophole that had enabled millions of EU citizens to move to Spain to take advantage of the country’s excellent healthcare, while many others travelled here without viable financial means to support themselves.
It should hopefully not be a concern for most people looking to buy a property or work in Spain, but the guidelines are still worth bearing in mind.
All EU citizens who wish to live or remain in Spain for more than three months may be asked to provide evidence that they have sufficient financial means to support themselves for an initial three-month period. They may also be asked to provide evidence of their public or private health insurance, or clarify/declare any longstanding health issues that require regular treatment.
Spain’s decentralised system of government means that each autonomous community (such as Andalucía) manages its own budgets, and calls upon each province (Málaga covers the Costa del Sol) to closely monitor who, and how many people, live there.
With the Costa del Sol being the transient place that it is, officials find it incredibly hard to keep track of the population, so by registering you are making yourself visible to them, which works in your favour in a number of ways – chiefly, that Málaga can apply for more government funding when it is able to prove that more people live there. This means, for example, more money for road and infrastructure improvements.