Would you like to enter and visit Spain? Then most likely you will need a tourist visa. In this article we will explore everything you need to know about Schengen visas: if you actually need to apply for one, how to do it step by step, requirements and more!
What is a tourist visa in Spain?
A tourist visa is the term that foreigners usually use to refer to a Schengen visa; that is, the visa that allows citizens from outside the EU to travel, enter and visit this region.
If you want to visit Spain for a maximum of 90 days, you must apply for a Schengen tourist visa.
Nevertheless, this document or permission is not granted for any specific country: you apply for a visa that allows you to enter all the 25 countries that share a common border policy within the European Union.
Also, bear in mind that according to your country of origin, it is possible that you are not required to get this tourist or Schengen visa. As long as your country and Spain have a double treaty agreement, you can enter the country without one (but still meeting the requirements).
Where and how can I apply for it?
The Schengen visa allows you to travel within the whole area without problems.
But if you are just visiting one specific country, then you will have to attend its embassy or consulate in your country of origin to apply for your Schengen tourist visa.
But what happens if I am visiting more than one country within those 90 days?
Then you must apply at the consulte or embassy of the country you will spend more nights at (or of that which constitutes the first point of entry if you are spending equal nights in all your destinations).
You will basically need to make an appointment with the consulate to register your biometric data and to submit all the required documents, which we explore below.
On the day of the appointment at the consulate or embassy, you must bring and submit:
- Your visa application form, properly completed. You can download a model here.
- Valid passport (which can’t expire beyond 3 months after leaving the Schengen Area).
- Your ID.
- Airline reservation tickets (which must be round trip flights), demonstrating entry and exiting of the Schengen area.
- Proof of accommodation or invitation letter.
- Proof of financial means to sustain yourself in the country during the time of your visit (via bank statement); including last tax return if you are self-employed and letter of employment if not.
- Travel insurance. Here you can find the main providers.
- Two recent ID photos.
- Visa fee, which varies according to the specific consulate (but can be around € 80).
When should you apply for your tourist visa for Spain?
You can’t apply earlier than 180 before your planned entry into the country, but that same application must be made a minimum of 3 weeks before your departure.
Despite the process being quite fast, it can take up to 15 working days to receive your visa response.
Nevertheless, in some cases the application can take longer, so our recommendation is that you start as soon as possible within those 6 months.
Who needs a Spain Tourist Visa?
Basically, non-EU citizens from those countries that do not have visa-free entry into Spain, like China, Indica, African countries, and Russia.
On the other hand, there are other countries that have a visa-free agreement, like the US, Brazil, or Canada, that don’t need a visa.
This exception just applies to nationals of those countries, not to residents.
But be careful!
In 2021 the new ETIAS system will be implemented, and from then on all non-European Union citizens will have to request a visa online. Learn how here.
How long can I stay in the country with a tourist or Schengen visa?
You can stay up to a maximum of 3 months (90 days in total) in the country within a period of 180 days.
This means that, if you spent 90 days in Spain but wish to stay longer, you will have two options:
- You can either travel to any non-EU country and stay there for 3 extra months, then travel back to Spain
- Or apply for any of the residence permits that can be obtained directly from Spain. Find the complete list of those residencies here.
If you are going to stay for the long run, it is crucial that you understand this last point, as many residencies must be applied from your country of origin (like the non-lucrative visa).
Can I extend my Schengen visa while being within the Schengen Area?
Even though the situations in which you can do it are limited, it is indeed possible to extend the duration of your tourist visa.
In that sense, only for the following reasons will that extension be available:
- If you have a single-entry short-stay visa and have made a late entry to the Schengen area (meaning days after the visa became valid).
- Due to humanitarian reasons and if the extension will help you avoid hardship, like keep receiving any kind of medical treatment or giving support to a relative going through a harsh situation.
- If your home country is suffering any sudden situation (force majeure), like a conflict or war.
- Personal reasons of major importance (even though it is unlikely you will be granted the extension in this case).
You must remain in that same country after you finish your extension application.
This application can last several days (time during which you don’t need to leave the country). In case the extension gets rejected, you will have a maximum of 2 days to leave.
Types of Schengen visas
As we have mentioned, a tourist visa is in fact a Schengen visa, a document that is equally valid for the different countries within the Schengen Area.
In that sense, we can find the following Schengen visas:
If you are visiting Spain for less than 90 days for business reasons (like attending a business event, having certain meetings with your prospective clients, etc.) you must request a business visa.
If this is the case, the documents to be submitted will vary accordingly:
- You will have to include on your application the invitation letter from the Spanish company you are meeting with.
- If, on the other hand, you are attending any kind of event or fair, you must include the entry tickets.
- A certification from your company or employer demonstrating that they allow you to embark on this business trip.
Airport transit visa (type A)
The airport transit visa will be requested if the foreigner is traveling to a different country but must stop in Spain in between (for example, to take a different plane that gets her to the final destination).
If you are from one of the following countries, you will need to get your airport transit visa in order to go through Spain: Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Syria, Togo, Yemen, and Palestina.
Nevertheless, being a permanent United States resident with any of the before mentioned nationalities eliminates the need to get this visa.
Furthermore, nationals from the following countries need an airport transit visa to go through any of the Schengen countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Irak, Nigeria, Pakistán, Somalia y Sri Lanka.
In case you are enrolling in any kind of course or study in the country taking less than 3 months, you will have to get a student visa.
In that case, it will be required to include the acceptance letter from the university or school in which you are going to study.
Regular tourist visa
This is the most common type of Schengen visa, the one granted to those who want to visit the country for tourism or leisure activities.
The documentation that will be required can be found in prior sections of this article.
Other frequently asked questions
Here is a summary of the main questions foreigners wishing to visit Spain ask themselves more frequently:
What happens if my visa application gets rejected?
If that is the case, you have two different options:
- If the reason that got your application is clear and you agree with it, you can formalize a new application but solving that what caused the rejection.
- On the other hand, if you feel everything was right and no document was missing, you can initiate an appeal. But, again, follow with path only if you think there has been a mistake.
Can I work in Spain with a tourist visa?
No, in order to work in Spain you need a regular work permit.
You can just meet with your clients or do any other similar type of business activity in case you hold a business visa.
Can I join my relatives with my tourist visa?
No, you are allowed to visit them during the permitted 90 days, but once that period comes to an end you must leave the country.
So even though you have family members in the country, you can’t stay for the long run with them.
Do you have any other doubt? Get legal assistance
If you have any other doubt, you can ask our immigration lawyers directly:
Get in touch with our lawyers and let us guide you step by step: