How to Enter Spain as a Tourist and Get the Residency

enter Spain as a tourist and get residency

A doubt many of you may have. Can I enter Spain as a tourist and get a residence permit? The answer is yes, and in this article we are going to teach you exactly how. 

Because there are 7 different ways to enter as a tourist and stay for the long run. But, conversely, that is something you cannot do with all the available visas.

So you must be well aware of your options if you would like to avoid an application rejection. 


As a tourist, you can’t get the Spanish work permit. At least not the regular one (we will explore the other options later on in this article). 

And this may be one of the questions we get asked the most. 

If you would like to apply for a regular work permit in Spain, being as a self-employed individual or as a worker for a company; you must initiate the application procedure at the Spanish Consulate in your country of origin

Not directly while in Spain. 

Do you need more information about this immigration procedure? You can have access to the rest of the requirements about the work visa here.


Do you have doubts? Get personalized advice from one of our immigration lawyers: 

The 7 ways to get your residence permit as a tourist

Let’s now move to the 4 options that you have to get your residency as a tourist

You would choose one path or the other depending on your current situation. That is why it is crucial to understand the main requirements of each of the following options.

Bear in mind that for any of the following to work out, you can’t get the entry denied when first moving to Spain.

1. student visa

After the latest update on September 2019, you can now get your student visa directly in Spain as a tourist. 

This means that you can travel to the Spanish territory, find a university, enroll and secure your spot, and directly get your student residence authorization

Nevertheless, important caveat here. Not all courses/studies and centres will work

Bear in mind that you must have a spot confirmed at a higher education center, like a university. 

Furthermore, in order to get this visa while in Spain, you must initiate the application before the last month of your legal stay period

So if you have a 3-month tourist visa, start the application before the 2nd month has ended. 

In regards to the requirements, you will have to demonstrate the possession of sufficient economic means (including those of your relatives if they come with you), and having contracted private health insurance.

how to enter Spain and get residency

2. work permit as a highly qualified worker

In the first section we mentioned how is not possible to get a regular work permit in Spain as a tourist. You must start the process from your country of origin. 

Nevertheless, there is a specific type of working visa that does allow you to get the residency while in Spain. 

We are talking about the work permit as a highly qualified worker

In that sense, we are facing a residence authorization which is somewhat difficult to get

It is geared at managers and workers occupying a technical position. So one of the main requirements to get this work permit is to demonstrate you possess enough professional preparation:

  • Having finished a masters or university degree related to the job you have found
  • Demonstrating a minimum of 3 years of experience on that given field

Furthermore, your earnings will also be a crucial factor. Because the job position you get offered must pay you over 50.000€ per year

You can learn more about the specific requirements of the salary for the highly qualified work permit here

Finally, the company hiring you must be a big corporation or be inside any technological sector. 

The response after your application is quite fast (within 20 working days), and you can bring your family with you


get work permit as a tourist in Spain

3. family member of an eU citizen

Let’s move to the third option, one that is used for the vast majority: getting your residence permit as a family member of a European citizen

This situation is applicable to those who have direct relatives (parents or children) who are Spanish citizens. 

Furthermore, if you don’t, you can also constitute a civil partnership or marriage with an EU citizen, and get your permit afterwards. 

In that sense, nowadays constituting a “pareja de hecho” to get residency is one of the most recommended paths for all non-EU citizens.

Bear in mind that your partner must be working on a company or as an “autonomo”/freelance. If not, you must submit proof of having sufficient economic funds plus a private health insurance contract. 

The Community Regime does not require you to enter under any specific type of visa, therefore you can get this type of residency as a tourist. 

In that sense, there will be 3 different options:

get residence permit being a tourist

You are already married

One of the main requirements to get the permit as a European family member is to submit the marriage certificate

This certificate must be emitted by any European Union country in order for the application to be valid. 

So if you constituted marriage/civil partnership at in any European country that is not Spain, you can simply enter with your partner as a tourist and start the process.  

You are not married

But what happens if you haven’t yet constituted marriage?

No problem. You can still enter Spain as a tourist, register your civil partnership (easier than marriage), and get your permit during the 90-day period of your tourist visa. 

You will have enough time for everything, and no need to leave the country

Nevertheless, there is something to take into consideration. 

Because in order to register yourself as a “pareja de hecho” in Spain, the applicable requirements will depend on each Autonomous Community. 

Some of them, like Madrid, require you to live at least 1 year with your partner in order to legally formalize your relationship. 

You wouldn’t be able to get your residency as a tourist. 

Nevertheless, others like Barcelona just require you to be registered together in your town hall, therefore making the process possible. You can learn how to get your empadronamiento here.

Click here to discover all the requirements and legal procedure to register your civil partnership in Spain.

You have Spanish direct relatives

Let’s say, for example, that your son or daughter come to Spain to visit you with a tourist visa. 

Then, if you can accredit the kinship relationship, that you are a Spanish citizen and that she will start living with you, you can easily apply for her residence permit. 

4. Entrepreneur Visa

Having an innovative business idea that depends immensely on advanced logistics or technology and with the ability to boost the Spanish economy can also open the doors to get your residence in Spain.

Thus, the entrepreneur visa, although it has some requirements that can be difficult to meet since the administration is quite critical with the business ideas it accepts, can be another alternative that does not require you to leave the country after visiting it for the first time.

5. Golden Visa

The golden visa has become in recent years the preferred alternative for investors looking for a simple procedure without many requirements. 

By investing a minimum of 500.000€ in real estate you can obtain your residence for 3 years; and you can carry out the whole process with your tourist visa without leaving the country.

6. arraigo social

And, finally, the last option to get your residency as a tourist in Spain: arraigo social

As you may know, the arraigo procedure is ideal for those who have spent at least 3 years in Spain illegally (without any kind of permit). 

This time frame will be the first requirement. 

Then, you must also demonstrate that you have a job contract or that you are working as a self-employed. 

And, finally, if you want to get the arraigo, you will be asked to proof your integration with the Spanish community (maybe by having Spanish relatives who reside in Spain and/or taking an exam).

You can access our article with the 8 tips that will help you get social roots effectively here.

7. Visa for remote workers

This last residence permit on the list, also under the Entrepreneurs Law, is the most recently created and one of the most advantageous.

This 3-year visa is designed for foreigners starting to work remotely from Spain (or for digital nomads), either as independent professionals or as employees of a company. 

In terms of requirements, only 20% of the total income is allowed to come from Spain; and the applicant’s academic profile must have higher education studies in prestigious universities.

You can find all the details of this visa here

Get your residency as a tourist

We are here to help you out. 

Our specialized team of immigration lawyers will answer all your doubts and help you prepare your application documents. 

If you want to enjoy a successful application that does not get rejected… Let us be in charge!

Get in touch with our lawyers and let us guide you step by step:

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enter Spain as a tourist and get residency

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