If you are planning to travel to Spain and you are going to stay with a friend or relative while in the country, keep on reading. Because you will have to request an invitation letter, and in this article you are about to learn everything you need to know about this important document. We will analyze what this “carta de invitación” is exactly, where and how to apply for it, requirements, and most importantly: how much it actually costs.
Before diving into what is the cost of processing a letter of invitation and its process, let’s first fully define what is the main purpose of this document and when will you use it.
As we have already seen in one of our article about the requirements for entry into Spain for tourism purposes (i.e. for less than 3 months), whether we have to apply for a visa or not, there is an accommodation requirement.
That is, you must demonstrate that you have a place to sleep for each and every one of the nights you intend to stay in the the country.
This can be demonstrated through a hotel, hostel, Airbnb or apartment booking confirmation.
But in certain cases, the foreigner stays at a relative’s or friend’s house. How do you prove it then?
That’s when the invitation letter will be required.
This letter is the document that must be used to prove that you have confirmed accommodation at the home of this relative or acquaintance, as he will be the one who will request it and notify the authorities that he is inviting us to stay for certain days/weeks at his house.
Many people think that it is a handwritten document that we can create ourselves, and that is a wrong idea. As we will see in the following sections, the document is official and must be granted by the police.
Is an invitation letter mandatory to enter Spain?
Unless you have confirmed accommodation in a hotel, hostel or apartment (and you can prove it), the invitation letter will be mandatory to enter Spanish territory as a tourist.
Obviously, we are talking about a mandatory document for non-EU citizens, as EU citizens do not need it.
In that sense, the border authorities are very strict with this requirement, so if you do not have accommodation confirmed through this document, you won’t be able to enter the Spanish territory and you will have to return to your country of origin.
Where will this document be requested?
If you come from a country that requires a visa to enter Spain, you must present this letter of invitation at the Spanish consulate in your country of origin when applying for a tourist visa (therefore, your host must send it to you before that).
On the other hand, if you do not need a visa to cross the Spanish border for tourism purposes, the police may ask you for this “carta de invitación” when you arrive in Spain by plane (just when crossing the Spanish borders).
It is absolutely essential to have this letter if you plan to visit the country and do not have a hotel or similar accommodation, otherwise you could be imposed a significant monetary penalty.
Do you have doubts about this document? Then ask our immigration lawyers here and get an immediate answer:
Who can apply for it?
This question is key in the process; as a foreigner planning to visit Spain cannot apply for the invitation letter directly.
It will be her relative or friend with whom she will be staying in Spain during her stay who must apply for the letter of invitation.
That is to say, the owner of the property or holder of the rental contract.
This is so because it is she who is really inviting us to her home, and this letter functions as a “declaration” to prove that we will indeed be welcomed during our stay.
In this sense, there are 3 different groups of individuals that can legally request it:
- Spanish nationals
- EU citizens who live in Spain on a regular basis.
- Non-EU citizens with residency in the country.
Once this letter has been requested, it should be sent to the country of the person planning to visit Spain so that it can be used in the visa application or at the border entry.
It is very important that the original document is sent, as a copy would not be valid.
Can I enter Spain directly with this document?
Many foreigners think that since they have an invitation letter, they can enter Spain directly, without having to apply for any extra document.
And here it is important to clarify since the reality is not like that.
The letter of invitation is not a document that allows you to travel to Spain directly, since it is simply the proof that verifies one of the requirements to enter Spanish territory as a tourist.
Thus, even if you have your letter of invitation, you still have to meet the other requirements for entry into Spain, such as having financial means (100€ per day), medical insurance, and round-trip plane tickets.
Where can I get an invitation letter and which are the requirements?
The invitation letter is requested at the police station closest to the inviting party’s residence.
The first thing to do is to make an appointment to go to the police station.
You must select your region, and then choose “POLICIA – CARTA DE INVITACIÓN”:
On the day of the appointment, you will need to submit the main documents to request this letter:
- Document that certifies that you are the owner of the property or the holder of the rental contract.
- Townhall registration document (empadronamiento)
- Copy and original of your DNI, or in case of being a foreigner resident in the country, of your TIE
- Copy of the passport of the foreign guest (the one who will be staying at your home and travelling to Spain).
- Filling in the application form that you will be given at the police station or that you can download here.
- Payment of the corresponding fee, the cost of which is shown below.
Unlike some years ago, it is no longer necessary to prove the relationship between the guest and the host, nor to prove financial means.
Nowadays the procedure is much simpler.
How much does it cost?
But there are several aspects to take into account.
First of all, these fees are updated and their price varies every time new General State Budgets are modified and approved, so it is common for the price to increase over time.
On the other hand, keep in mind that this is not the only fee to be paid.
These 74,31€ must be paid on the day of the appointment at the police station, at the same time that you submit all the necessary documents.
However, once we are called after a few days to come back and pick up the official document, we will have to pay an extra amount.
This amount varies according to the police station, but is usually around 6 and 7 €
Can I enter with an invitation letter and apply for a family member of an EU citizen Card?
Let’s now analyze a very common situation that could generate considerable problems.
First of all, we must announce that it is totally possible to enter Spain through a letter of invitation (the usual case would be that of the couple that invites the non-EU citizen to Spain), and once in the Spanish territory to carry out all the procedures to apply for the family member of an EU citizen visa.
And, if all the requirements of the family visa are fulfilled, the residence would be granted favorably.
Nevertheless, although the procedure is possible, if it is carried out through this entrance with an invitation letter, there could be certain problems for the Spanish or EU citizen who is inviting the foreigner.
By requesting the letter of invitation, the issuer is assuming certain responsibilities: basically, she assures that the foreigner will return to her country of origin once her stay is over.
That is why, if the foreigner overstays and enters an irregular situation, she would be violating her responsibilities, and that could lead to a sanctioning process that, although it does not always happen, could result in fines of between 600 and 2000 euros.
Thus, although it is totally possible to enter with a letter of invitation and successfully obtain the community card, the Spaniard/EU could suffer important fines.
Our recommendation, then, is that the entry is made without an invitation letter: by having confirmed accommodation in a hotel, Airbnb, or similar housing option.
How long does it take to obtain your invitation letter?
The truth is that the Spanish law does not establish a fixed or exact period of time for the processing of the invitation letter, but it establishes that it will be processed in the shortest possible time.
In practice, this means that it will depend to a great extent on the police station where we request the document, taking into account that those located in large cities are usually busier and therefore may be a bit slower in that sense.
However, it usually takes no more than 20 days to be processed.
Since the time will vary, our advice is simple: plan ahead and order as soon as possible.
Do not wait until the date of the trip is near, and if possible request this document 2 months before the foreigner has his flight to Spain.
For any other questions, remember that our expert immigration lawyers are at your complete disposal: