Residency documents are important for everyone living in Spain. It can be confusing to know whether the documents you hold are valid and what they are for. If you have been living in Spain for a while, it could be that your documents are out of date or need to be replaced by a new version. This guide explains some of the common documents, what they are for and when they need replacing or updating.
It is vitally important to ensure your paperwork is up to date and valid. These documents not only entitle you to live legally in Spain as a resident, they are needed to access health and welfare services in Spain if you live here.
Use this guide to check the status of your documents.
1) Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjera (TIE) - VALID RESIDENCY DOCUMENT
Depending on your route to obtaining your residency, you may hold a standard TIE, perhaps as a result of a Spanish visa application as a third country national. If you are a UK national who was living in Spain before the end of 2020, you may hold a TIE under the Withdrawal Agreement - Article 50.
The card shows the type of residency status that you have and the period of its validity. (the example below says 'permanente Articulo 50' and gives an expiry date). If you have a temporary TIE, you can apply for a permanent residency status, so long as you meet the relevant conditions.
2) Green Residency Certificates (Certificado de Registro) - VALID RESIDENCY DOCUMENT
EU Nationals: If you are registered with the authorities in Spain for residency as an EU national, then holding one of these residency certificates means that you have a valid residency document. It does not need to be renewed. After five years of residency your residency status automatically becomes permanent. You can exchange your temporary residency certificate for a permanent one. Instead of the certificate saying that you are a “residente comunitario”, the permanent certificate will state that you are a “residente comunitario permanente”. This can help to avoid confusion about your status when managing your affairs with Spanish public offices.
UK Nationals: If you registered with the authorities in Spain for residency prior to 2021 and you have a green certificate, it means that you have a valid residency document. It does not need to be renewed. However, it is important to note that whilst an up to date green certificate for UK nationals is technically still valid, without exchanging it to the new TIE, you may experience difficulties in accessing welfare services and access to the Spanish benefits system. The Spanish and the UK governments advise all UK nationals with Green Residency Certificates, to exchange to the new TIE document as soon as possible.
3) White A4 NIE Document (Numero de identidad de Estranjero) - NOT A VALID RESIDENCY DOCUMENT
This document is not a residency document, and does not provide any residency rights in Spain. It is a document which confirms your identity and tax number in Spain, which you need in order to make purchases, such as a home or car, to sign up for utility services, bank accounts and many other administrative processes.
This number is also written on your residency document if you have one, but the number itself, and the white paper document that confirms it, is not a residency document.
If you do not hold any Spanish residency document, and wish to obtain a residency status in Spain, you must apply for residency. You can read more about how to obtain a residency status in Spain HERE.
4) Old Style Photo Cards (no longer a valid residency document)
This document is no longer a valid residency document, and does not provide any residency rights in Spain. If you do not hold any other valid residency documents in Spain, and wish to obtain a residency status in Spain, you must apply for residency. You can read more about how to obtain a residency status in Spain HERE.
If you do not have a valid residency document, or you are not sure if you have a valid residency document and would like some help, contact the Age in Spain Infoline.
5) Empadron Certificates - NOT A VALID RESIDENCY DOCUMENT
This document is not a residency document. It is a document that you get when you register with your local Town Hall to prove that you live in the municipality and which confirms your address. It is necessary in order to get residency (but it is not in itself a residency document) and to access local services linked to the municipality such as registering children for local schools and registering to vote (but in itself is not a voting registration certificate).
If you do not live in Spain, be aware that by registering on the padrón, this might be construed by the authorities that you are habitually living in Spain, irrespective of your residency status. This can be counter productive for people who visit Spain and are resident in another country in the case where there are different rules for residents and visitors on other matters (such as driving a Spanish or foreign registered car in Spain).
To obtain this document, you must register with your local town hall. Pictured above, is an example of a certificado de empadrónamiento, for the municipality of Barcelona. This document is not a residency document, and does not provide any residency rights in Spain. If you do not hold any residency documents in Spain, and wish to obtain a residency status in Spain, you must apply for residency. You can read more about how to obtain a residency status in Spain HERE.
Should you not hold a valid residency document, or you are not sure if you have a valid residency document, please do let us know, and we can speak to you about your options.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us on our Infoline.
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