Coronavirus Effects on Foreigners Living in Spain

How will all the expats in Spain be affected by Coronavirus?

With the current uncommon situation, you may have tons of doubts. The covid-19 is completely affecting your life.  But this article tries to bring updated information to make your stay easier. 

We are going to extensively explain all the effects that coronavirus is producing on foreigners living in Spain. Furthermore, we will outline all the info you need in order to stay legally protected and act now in case you have to.

Stay up to date with the latest entry  and travel restrictions!

After many months under a lockdown that imposed severe restrictions throughout the Spanish territory, it finally ended in May 2021.

After the progress in vaccination and the general improvement in the number of infected people, Spain is gradually getting back to a situation that seems to boost social life and the economy.

Thus, it is already possible to have lunch and dinner out in all the different autonomous communities, in addition to participating in the vast majority of cultural and leisure activities with very few restrictions.

Finally, the legal procedures that were previously bogged down are gradually regaining their former efficiency and speed.

Can I travel to Spain?

After a long wait, the European Union together with its 27 member countries has decided to open its borders to the international community. 

Thus, you can now enter Spain as a tourist as long as you meet one of the following two requirements:

  • You have been vaccinated with one of the vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization and/or present a negative PCR test taken within the 72 hours prior to your trip
  • You are a resident from one of the countries recognized as safe and don’t have the entry banned
coronavirus effects on expats in Spain

How is the coronavirus going to affect me as a foreigner in Spain?

That is what we are going to answer throughout this article.

There are two different areas in which the coronavirus will affect your life as an expat in Spain:

First of all, the virus will affect your options to deal or contact with the foreigner’s immigration office, any police station, or the civil registry. 

All the administrations that link the foreigner with the country are completely closed. There is nobody who can attend you as a foreigner right now face-to-face.

This means that any immigration procedure you had programmed or you needed to undertake is now on hold. 

Furthermore, the current situation with the covid-19 will impact your possibility to enter or leave the country

Many borders are locked down, and you may no be able to enter Spain if you are abroad, or leave the country to go back to your main residency.

We will now explore those two areas in greater detail.


Do you have any doubt? Ask anything to our lawyers and get an instant answer here:

Impact of Coronavirus on Spanish immigration procedures for foreigners

If you had an appointment with the immigration office to renew your TIE or residency card, or any other kind of scheduled activity, those are now canceled

No return authorizations are being issued, no fingerprints are being recorded. The same with any kind of interview appointment, like those required for arraigo. Those are all suspended.

For the duration of the alert state, all immigration procedures will be paralyzed. You can’t process any file or have an appointment in person.

Furthermore, all deadlines suspended, both in procedural and administrative matters. And that is also true for the time deadlines regarding immigration appeals against visa decisions that were active.

However, pending applications will be resolved, and renewals are possible if done online.
Many procedures were done online even before the start of this crisis, those are still possible.
But let’s answer all the specific questions we are receiving from our clients.
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Possibility to use your residency resolution with the same validity as the TIE

The immigration offices have collapsed. Trying to make an appointment for the TIE seems to be mission impossible.

However, the Ministry of Justice has implemented a new measure whereby from now on, favorable resolutions issued by the immigration office will have the same effects and validity as the foreigner’s identification card.

In this way, once you receive such resolution, you will be able to use it as a substitute for the TIE, not having to wait until you get the appointment without being able to make any important legal arrangements.

Flexible entry for foreign couples not married to EU citizens

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the Ministry of the Interior have recently approved a measure to make entry into Spain more flexible

If you are a non-EU citizen in a relationship with an EU citizen, if but you are not yet officially married, you can now enter Spain without any problem. 

You will simply have to follow a specific procedure to obtain a certificate from the Spanish consulate, after sending the necessary documentation. 

You can find here all the information and requirements to enter Spain as an unmarried couple to join your European partner here.

Are the immigration or police offices open?

Some of them. 

You can still formalize some of the procedures and attend to the administration office provided that you have an appointment.

But not all procedures. 

For example, if you want to pick up your residency card, that is something possible. But you will need to check which police office you must attend to do it, as it is highly probable that in your city some are closed and there is just one open.

On the other hand, in some cases you can still get fingerprinted: if you have a real need to do so. For example, if you need your card for working reasons.

Furthermore, the civil registry will be also opened for marriages and childbirths that were scheduled.

All expired residence permits have been extended 6 months

According to the Government’s Public Announcement on the BOE published on May 20, 2020, any authorization or residence permit that has expired (or will do so) during the state of alarm is extended.

That is, if you are residing in Spain and your card is going to expire in the next few days, or has expired during the state of alarm, it is now valid for an extra 6 months.

It has not expired. And those extra 6 months start counting once the alarm state is over (even if it expired yesterday or 2 weeks ago, the extra time starts counting from then).

This is also true if your card has expired during the 3 months before the alarm state started (from December 14th onwards).

As an important note, you do not have to carry out any specific procedure with the immigration office. This extension is automatically applied.

However, those tourist visas that expired during this period is extended for just 3 more months, limited to Spanish territory (not to the whole Schengen Area). The same applies to study visas.

Once the state of alert ends (we still do not know when), this measure will be extinguished.

But what happens if I had an appointment already scheduled?

If you had an appointment with any public administration institution, it is now suspended

Therefore, any appointment for fingerprinting, return authorization, European Union certificates, or pledge of allegiance for nationality procedures are temporarily canceled.

This does not mean it is canceled forever. Once the situation is normalized again, you will recover your appointment and proceed with your immigration file. 

Even though we do not know exactly how it will finally work out, people who had an appointment and that has been now cancelled due to the coronavirus will have preferential treatment and will be able to get their appointment earlier.

Make sure to check your mail in order to find a notification stating the cancelation of your appointment.

Appointments that have been canceled

Under the current situation, the appointments for all the residence permits that were presented at the foreigner’s office have been canceled:

This means that this initial applications must be done online entirely. You will have to present a number of specific documents and some personal ones.

A special online platform has been created for any lawyer to submit this types of applications.

Procedures you can't undertake right now

To make things even clearer, here is a list of the procedures that you CANNOT do right now:

  • NIE
  • Fingerprint registration
  • Return authorization
  • EU certificate

In other words, all the paperwork and procedures that were carried out at the police. 

Can I get an appointment with the immigration or police office?

You can still get an appointment for any immigration procedure that must be carried out face-to-face. 

But bear in mind that the soonest you can get that appointment is September. And all those who had a canceled appointment have now preferential treatment, so the delay to formalize your file will be notorious.

In order to book your appointment with the immigration or police office, you must do that online.


What should I do if my residency card is about to expire and I need to renew it?

This can seem dramatic at first. Your TIE or residency card can be about to expire, and you cannot renew it, as any immigration procedure is paralyzed. Hence, you would become illegal in Spain.

But things are not that bad.

A Royal Decree has been approved, talking about the interruption of time limits for processing public sector procedures (including any public administration, without exception).

What does this mean? That you can still submit your renewal application, and you can do that online.

And for the renewal to be valid, you must start it before the expiration of your card (60 days before) or 90 days later. The renewal process can be carried out without any problem. The only thing you won’t be able to do now is the registration of your fingerprints. 

So our recommendation is that you contact our lawyers and let us be in charge of everything. You just need to send us your documents scanned, and we will present them online so you are legally covered.

My tourist visa is about to expire and I can't leave the country. What should I do?

Chances are that as a foreigner visiting Spain, your tourist visa is about to expire.

As the borders are closed, you will not be able to leave the country, which will mean that you will become an illegal person in Spain. What to do in this situation?

Good news. Your tourist visa has been extended for 3 extra months, starting to count once the alarm state is over.

And this will be valid as long as your visa expired from the 31st of December until the end of the state of alarm.

How to apply for your residency card renewal or citizenship NOW (without waiting)

However, even though all procedures have been suspended, the administration does work remotely. Therefore, you can still submit your application or renewal telematically.

So ho to proceed?

You just need to contact our team via email ([email protected]), and we will manage the application for you.

You just need to send us by email a copy of your passport, residency card, census or padron if you have it, and we will pay for the fee online and submit the application.

Hence, everything will be done as usual.

Once you submit your application, you’ll get a receipt. With that, you are legal in Spain. Then, no matter how long the immigration office takes to proceed that application, you would have already done your homework and would be legally covered.

I appealed to a specific procedure and haven't gotten any response yet. Is it normal?

Yes, that is completely normal.

As we have already mentioned, all the immigration and legal procedures are now paralyzed, so government clerks will start working on your appeal once the coronavirus crises vanishes.

And what happens now with the nationality exams?

As we have seen throughout this post, the exams to obtain Spanish citizenship are also cancelled. 

The CCSE tests organized for March and April have been postponed to May and June.

On the other hand, the DELE exams for April and May have been canceled. They will be relocated as soon as possible.

What happens with my application that is in process?

All procedures or requests what are being processed will be resolved. The idea is that they get resolved quickly during the upcoming days.

Thus, if you submitted your application before the start of the alarm state, you will receive a favorable (or negative) response in the next days.

We cannot guarantee how long will that take, but you will still get a response.

Coronavirus and the current cross-border situation

You may now have a clear understanding of the current situation with all the legal procedures any foreigner has to undertake while in Spain during coronavirus times

Yet there is another crucial aspect we must also tackle: your ability to leave and enter the country.

Can I travel and enter Spain if I am abroad?

No. If you are a non-resident foreign citizen, you are not allowed to enter Spain now.

Only those who are Spanish nationals (or residents) will be able to come back to their origin country, where they will be attended.

Furthermore, we find the situation of those residents who went back to their home country with a return authorization, and it expired. 

Can they travel back to Spain?

Yes, if your authorization to come back has expired during the state of alarm, it is still possible to enter the country.

And if my residence permit expired while abroad, can I re-enter the country?

Let’s assume that you have a residence card or entrepreneur visa that has expired while you were abroad.

Can you re-enter Spain?

Yes, simply with your passport (it must valid), and your residence card (even if expired).

If it has expired during the state of alert or during the 3 months prior to its beginning, you will not have any problem.

Can I leave Spain during Coronavirus If I am a foreigner?

If you are under your tourist status, yes, you can leave the country. In any other case, you are not allowed to.

But you must also understand your origin country situation and laws. Because they may have forbidden your entry. 

Nevertheless, you will always be able to enter the country you have the nationality from.

For any doubt you may have... Seek online assistance from our lawyers

At Immigration Lawyers Spain, our doors will be always open. But with the main difference that those doors are now online. 

As we already mentioned, the Immigration Office is still working, even though not physically. That enables you to get your appointment or present your application online. 

And our team is ready to help you with doing that. You just need to scan your documents (with a scanner or with any phone app), send them to us, and we will manage the rest.

That will make sure you still comply with the corresponding law and you avoid any future problem with the Spanish authorities. 

And, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We will make sure to answer in just a couple of hours.

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47 Replies to “Coronavirus Effects on Foreigners Living in Spain”

  1. Thank you for the information. What if my Autorización de Regreso expires next week? Won’t I be able to enter Spain with my expired Autorización de Regreso?

  2. How much is your fee to renew TIE. We are two persons that have to renew before the 18 of July.Also a third person who has to ask for long-term residence being a EU citizen (italian) and having been living in Spain for five years

  3. The expiration day is extended until the end of the current situation in Spain.

  4. Hi, I’m a UK national resident in Italy, but currently living in Spain. I was about to start the process of becoming resident when coronavirus hit. Can I still conduct the process online? In the meantime, what happens if i get stopped by police while going for groceries? Will they ask for an address? I’m staying with a friend and don’t want to inconvenience them in any way by giving out their information.

  5. Hi Jen, yes you can! If you send us an email at [email protected] we will guide you step by step on how to submit your application online right now. You won’t have any problem if the police stops you.

  6. I have an NIE and am renting in Malaga with a rental contract. We were due to go to Spain at the end of this month but that is on hold for now with CoronaVirus and Lockdown. Do you think that we would be admitted to Spain with an NIE in a few weeks or are we better off to wait for a month or two until it is all settled down? We are probably better off to wait until the Lockdown is over completely. ? I will be back to you for the Residency Application then. Thanks

  7. As you are not a resident in the country you wouldn’t be allowed to enter, so in that sense, it would be much better if you could return once the situation has come to an end.

  8. Adding to the question of Patrick Honan above, I am in the same situation with NIE, however, my entry validity is only from March 1 to June 13, with June 13 as latest date for me to arrive, my flight is supposed to be on April 1 but that is now canceled with the lockdown.

    My question is, what if by June 13, the lockdown is still not lifted, will my visa and NIE deemed expired already and I would not be allowed to enter using the visa even if during those period there was a lockdown?

    Thank You.

  9. Good day sir.iam from Nigeria and i got visa for family reunion but now that we have problem of coronavirus and Will don’t know the time that we stop if my,and i only have three months to enter Spain if my visa expired what can i do.thanks

  10. Hola
    Soy costarricense, estaba haciendo un semestre aquí, tengo residencia en Alemania de estudios, y quiero regresar el martes, es posible para mi salir de Madrid?

  11. Hello, we are from Canada. Our three month stay will expire in a couple of weeks. As we cannot leave the country at this time due to the COVID 19 restrictions we need to extend the time limit on our stay. How do we get an extension?

  12. Mientras tenga la entrada permitida en Alemania, no habrá ningún problema en salir de España.

  13. Que los plazos administrativos están suspendidos, por lo que significa que este tiempo de Estado de Alarma “no cuenta”. Esto se traduce en que tienen más días para entrar. All the administratives deadlines have been suspended, which means that the time inside the alarm state does not count. Hence, you have more days to enter Spain. Ideally on June this will be solved, so you would be able to enter.

  14. I was in the process of renewing my NIE before the lockdown. I am a student. It is close to 90 days since my NIE expired, will i get deported? I am from South Africa

  15. No, you wouldn’t become illegal in Spain. A Royal Decree has been approved, talking about the interruption of time limits for processing public sector procedures. This means that your NIE expiration date is automatically extended until things become normal again. You can stay in Spain without being expelled.

  16. Hi. my husband have a long stay Visa because I arrange the paper as petition in Barcelona Spain we have a flight month of April 21uts cancelled and the Visa going expired this month of May 4. Spain and Philippines is lockdown because of Corona virus. What can we do now ??? We want to stay more month here until the virus is gone… That’s why we want to renew the Visa please help us we cannot go out here in our place because is lockdown also… Assistance and guidance we need us

  17. In order to enter into Spain your husband must check if there is any flight from Philippines to Spain. Also, even the card is already expired, due to the Lockdown all the administrative periods were suspended, so he will be able to enter back.
    Anyway, he can ask to the Spanish Embassy in Philippines to ask if he needs to provide anything else at the border.

  18. he tenido un NIE de residencia y trabajo (Ley 14/2013) desde Octubre de 2017. Debido a que mi contrato y NIE expiran en octubre de 2020, me gustaría solicitar una Autorización residencia temporal por circunstancias excepcionales. Arraigo laboral” (ley 4/2000). Debido a la situación con el Covid, he estado fuera de españa desde hace 2 meses y se que uno de los requisitos para aplicar a la autorización es no haber estado fuera de españa por más de 90 días. Por este motivo me gustaría saber si pueden ayudarme a aplicar desde ahora, aún cuando faltan algunos meses para que mi NIE actual expire. Además, me gustaría saber que tan importante sería que logre volver a España antes de los 90 días

  19. Debe tener en cuenta que las residencias por circunstancias excepcionales están dirigidas únicamente a las personas que se encuentran en situación irregular en nuestro país. Si tiene tarjeta de residencia no lo puede solicitar.

    Puede pedir otro permiso antes que hacer el arraigo.

  20. Hi,

    Am I able to enter spain with a provisional NIE (no resident yet) and a work contract+employer documents?



  21. Hello:

    My tourist visa expired the 26 of Febreaury 2020. As I read in your post, im entitled to an extension of 3 monthts after the state of alarm is over. Is that correct?
    However I would like to ask for a student Visa since I am starting a Master in Ocotober in Madrid.

    How can my situation affect the acceptance of my student Visa Request? How should I proceed?

    Thanks in advance for your help and the information provided.


  22. Hi, I am pre settlement status of the UK, I’m here in a Camper van, wanted to buy property buy lockdown put a stop to that. I need to drive back to the UK via France, can I do that and what documents do I need. My van fully comprehensive insurance comes to an end for being in Europe at the end of July so want to try head back ASAP as house deal is no longer valid.

  23. You can enter into Spain if you have a tourist visa or in case you come from a country whose citizens do not need visa to enter.

    The non-resident NIE is not sufficient to enter.

  24. All the tourist visas that expired during the Estate of Alarm (since 14th March) were automatically extended up to 3 months more from the date the state of Alarm will finish.

    If you want to apply for an initial student visa, you have to do it until 30 days before of the expiration date of your visa.

  25. Hi,
    I am a student here in spain who studied for more than 6 months and has a TIE. My TIE just expired on May 30, even though my course is finishing this week on June 5. What I want to know is how long can I stay in Spain afterwards: is it 3 months or 6 months? Because i am reading long term residence permits are extended for 6 months. And would it start after the state of alarm is over or during the state of alarm? It’s just that I am getting a lot of mixed information and faccts and want to get it straight once and for all.

  26. We cannot answer to this question as this is something that French authorities should reply you since you must cross his borders to the UK.

  27. Dear Sir /Madam
    Good day
    Many thanks for valuable information on above.
    Please kindly note I applied for my two years residency on January 2020 which confirmation was received later and due to urgency of my personal matters I needed to leave Spain on mid January 2020. Also I got return authorisation letter valid till 14.04.2020 as my Return flight to Spain was on 18.03.2020 considering my residency card was going to expired on 12.03.2020.
    I have got my answer on above which I can return back to Spain with my old documents however my question is how immegration and airlines in my country will accept these documents? Are they aware of new rules?
    Your prompt reply would be highly appropriated in this regard.
    Warm regards

  28. buenas tardes queria preguntar sobre el nie, veran soy estudiante y me graduo a finales de junio mi nie se vencio este 30 de mayo y antes de podercomenzar a renovar mi nie la cuarentena comenzo. yo llame al telefono de extranjeria y me dijeron que los que se les expiraba el nie durante el estado de alarma tendrian automaticamente renovado hasta el siguiente año en mayo 13 2021. quisiera saber si esto es cierto y si aun se aplica si me graduo este 30 de junio ya que mi visa es de estudiante.

    tambien el nie de mi novio se vence el 6 de septiembre y el se gradua conmigo en junio, si mi nie lo extienden lo puedo pedir a el como pareja de hecho?

  29. Due to the Estate of Alarm the student visas expired during this period were automatically extended up to 6 months more. It will start counting these 6 months from the date the Estate of Alarm will finish. Please note you do not have a long term residence permits.

  30. Hi,
    I am EU citizen with my home and family here in Spain (empadronado). I would wish to visit one of my children in Denmark at the end of June but am worried about returning to Spain. I have my passport and my paper NIE but what else should I bring for re-entry into Spain and will this be possible? Kind regards Nicolas Olszowski

  31. In order to enter back you must show your passport and your residence card expired. If you have any doubt related with the travel you should ask the airline.

  32. Las tarjetas de residencia y estancia por estudios que hayan expirado durante el Estado de Alarma han sido automáticamente extendidas hasta 6 meses más después de que finalice el estado de alarma.

    Si le caduca la tarjeta más tarde, no gozará de este plazo extra.

  33. You just need to show the passport and your residence permit.

  34. Hello, we moved to Barcelona from the USA end of February on our long term non lucrative visa to begin working on applying for our TIE. I have my NIE and Empadronamiento. I am trying to get an appointment to get my TIE. The issue I have is I need to go back to the states end of June to July 9 for medical/doctor visits and tests but am concerned I will not be allowed back into Spain where my family is. I was advised I could get an Autorizacion Regresso. Is this true and if so how do I go about it?

  35. Hello. I’m an American citizen on a student TIE which expired 31 May but has been extended due to the State of Alarm. I have a nómina which is valid from 1 October until May for the next school term. Since Regresos are not being issued, but my TIE is still valid, would I be able to travel to another country in the EU and return to Spain (since I’ve only been in the Schengen Area for the past two years – I haven’t returned to the States) or will my American passport cause an issue regardless of living in Spain for the last two years?

  36. Hi,
    Many thanks for the information provided. I would like to confirm my understanding. I have Permiso de residencia / Inicial altamente cualificado (ley 14/2013) and it expires on 3/07/2020, after the state of alarm. Does it mean that it is automatically prolongated for 6 months from June 21 and i can legally travel within Schengen zone and home country that is outside of EU for next 6 months without any “Autorización de Regreso” for my way back to Spain? Kind regards, Yulia

  37. You can try to do the authorization of return at the police station of your city to get that document to enter back.

  38. Even your residence permit was automatically extended up to 6 months you cannot use it to travel to any other EU Estate. The “renewal” is only valid for Spain.

  39. Hello.

    My student visa will expire on July 23. Can I stay in Spain longer? Or do I have to leave on July 23?

  40. Only the residence permits expired during the Estate of Alarm (until 21rst June) were automatically extended up to 6 months more. In your case, as the card expired on July is not extended for this period.
    If you want to travel you should ask for an authorization of return.

  41. Hello!
    I am a U.S. citizen (in Spain through a student visa) and my NIE will expire on 01-09-2020.
    What are my options as my upcoming school year starts on the 7th of September? Since my visa did not expire during the state of emergency do I have to return to the U.S. to renew it? Or is it possible to extend a student visa from Spain? Thank you for your time!

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