Should I be registered as a resident in Spain?
MAIN QUESTIONS ABOUT BEING REGISTERED AS A RESIDENT IN SPAIN
IS IT MANDATORY?
NO, IT IS NOT. It is a RIGHT.
According to Orden PRE/1490/2012, dated July 9, by which rules are issued for the application of article 7 of Royal Decree 240/2007, of February 16, on entry, free movement and residence in Spain of citizens of the States members of the European Union and of other States parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, citizens of a Member State of the European Union or of another State Party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and of Switzerland have the right of residence in Spanish territory for a period exceeding three months if they fall into one of the following situations.
This right isn’t determinant. You will need to fulfill some requirements that we will analyze below.
IS THIS ALSO CALLED NIE?
NO, IT IS NOT. NIE and Residence card are often confused, but they are very different things.
N.I.E.: Número de Identificación de Extranjeros (Foreigner Identification Number) is supposed to be a fiscal number. You may need this number in order to buy a house, a car or open a bank account. Nowadays it is not very relevant by itself, so police do not provide them that easy anymore.
RESIDENCE CARD: This is a small piece of paper (in the past it used to be a green A4 format document) certifying you are registered as a resident in Spain (on Registro Central de Extranjeros or central register of foreign nationals).
IS IT EASY TO GET REGISTERED AS A RESIDENT IN SPAIN?
No, it is not. As mentioned above, to get registered as a resident in Spain you need to fulfill some requirements, which basically means you need to belong to any of the following situations:
- You are a worker in Spain,
- You are registered as autónomo (self-employed) in Spain,
- You are a pensioner in Spain,
- You are a student and registered in an official public or private centre in Spain and have enough incomes or savings to live in Spain and a full health insurance.
If you don’t fit any of the cases above, don’t worry. Basically, you can also become a resident if you fulfill the following requirements:
- You have enough incomes or savings to cover your family and yourself living in Spain,
- You have a full health coverage. It can be through a private insurance or because you are covered by the health system in your country (providing you an S1 or 121, form).
WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BEING AND NOT BEING A RESIDENT IN SPAIN?
The following table describes the main differences between residents and non-residents in Spain:
|Staying for less than 3 months in Spain||Staying for more than 3 months in Spain|
|It doesn't work in Spain||Works, studies or is a pensioner in Spain|
|It is not covered by the health system in Spain, even if it works in Spain||It is covered by the public health system or by a full private insurance|
|Just some banks will allow it to open a bank account||It can open a bank account anywhere|
|In case of owning a property in Spain, it pays a "non-resident tax"||In case of owning a property in Spain, it pays "IBI"|
|Take the declaration tax in its country||Take the declaration tax in its country or in Spain|
|It has a foreign driving licence||It has a foreign driving licence, except it is expired, due to expire or permanent|
|It drives a Spanish or foreign car||It can only drive a Spanish car|
|It cannot get Spanish plates||It can register Spanish plates. There is a deadline of 6 months after being registered as a resident in Spain to avoid "impuesto de matriculación"|
|It cannot apply for any assistance in Spain (subsidies, unemployment, etc.)||It can apply for any assistance in Spain (subsidies, unemployment, etc.)|
|It can get a Social Security Number||It can get a Social Security Number|
|It will encounter some issues when applying for the Spanish citizenship by residence and, in case of British nationals, in case of Brexit, being a non-resident will not help||It will be able to apply for the Spanish citizenship by residence after 10 years|
CAN MY HOME COUNTRY KNOW IF I AM A RESIDENT IN SPAIN?
No, it cannot. Only if you provide them a residence certificate, your home country can know you are a resident abroad.
Thefore, it has nothing to do with taking a tax declaration or losing a pension, for instance.
CAN A POLICEMAN KNOW IF I AM RESIDENT IN SPAIN?
Yes, it can. Let’s explain a case:
A foreign resident couple driving a foreign car is stopped by a policeman. The couple know they cannot drive a car with foreign plates if they are residents, so they tell the policeman they are not residents. The policeman checks the system and discovers they are residents in Spain. The policeman “fines” them with €300.
DO I HAVE TO TAKE THE DECLARATION TAX IN SPAIN IF I BECOME A RESIDENT?
No, you don’t. You don’t have to take the declaration tax or you can take in your home country unless:
- You earn more than €1600/month and/or
- You are a self-employed in Spain and/or
- You have 2 or more payers (for example, you receive a pension from Spain and from your home country)
If you are staying in Spain for more than 3 months, you are supposed to be a resident. European citizens must be registered as residents according to the Spanish laws. Besides, there will be many things you will not able to do if you do not officially become a resident.