Can I enter Spain as a tourist and obtain a residence permit in 2023?

This is a very common question for non EU citizens for example the United Kingdom, Canada, and the USA who are thinking about living in Spain.

The general rule is that any foreigner can stay a maximum of 90 days as a tourist in Spain, therefore, before the end of that period of time, they must return to their country of origin and leave Spain.

On the contrary, if you stay more than 90 days in Spain, you will find yourself in an irregular situation. This point is very important since in the vast majority of cases you will not be able to obtain residence while in an irregular situation (it is a fundamental requirement). For the avoidance of doubt, we have personal knowledge of people being deported who have overstayed. 

Can I enter Spain as a tourist and get a work permit?

In general, no. The procedures must be initiated from your country of origin.

In other words, it is not possible to start the application to obtain your work permit directly from Spain. However, at Just Law Solicitors, we found an exception.

If you apply for a work permit that is under the law of entrepreneurs (entrepreneur visa or permit as a highly qualified employee) it will be possible to carry out the entire process directly from Spain.

Watch the video of our legal director John Towell

How to go from tourist to legal resident in Spain

Certain residence permits, such as a non-lucrative visa, can only be requested at the Spanish consulate located in your country of origin, but there are other options that allow you to obtain residence from Spain during your stay as a tourist. The details are as follows

a) Community card (tarjeta comunitaria)

If your partner is an EU citizen or is legally resident in Spain (Non-EU country citizen). The main requirement is that you are legally registered as a common-law partner or if you are married..

But, in case you have not yet legally formalised your relationship, it is possible to enter Spain, register as common-law partner or get married, and get the community card later.

b) Student Visa

Now it is possible to get your student visa both from your country of origin and directly from Spain.

To be granted your stay for studies directly from Spain, you must start the application before the end of the second month of your stay as a tourist.

Once you have confirmed your enrolment in an official study centre, you can apply for a student visa (which is not the same as residence). In addition, you must prove that you have sufficient financial means to stay in the country for the duration of your studies and have private medical insurance.

There is a draft immigration law which we expect to be approved by the government imminently you can work up to 30 hours per week, but it can’t interfere with your studies and it can’t be your primary source of income 

c) Golden visa, well technically the investment visa. In our blog we have written an article about this in 2022.

The option of obtaining residency after investing in the country is an alternative created to attract foreign investment to Spain. Basically, one way is to spend 500,000 euros on one or more properties, private or commercial, and then apply for this visa.  With the Golden visa, you and your family have the right to live and work in Spain. However, you can not stay for more than 90 days.

d) Highly qualified professional

Although it is not possible to obtain a normal work permit directly from Spain during the stay as a tourist, things are different in cases of professionals, managers, or directors. The most important requirement is that the job offer must offer, as a minimum, around €50,000 per year.

In addition, it is essential that the applicant has completed his university studies, related to the job.

d) Entrepreneur visa or self-employed autonomo visa

 In this case, this residence is aimed at those entrepreneurs who intend to develop a totally innovative and technological business project in Spain. Their requirements are somewhat complex, especially as regards the business idea, which must be clearly defined in a comprehensive business plan. However, the draft immigration has removed the obligation to prove you have the money to support your project. We will of course keep you updated.

Finally, the last way to obtain legal residence as a tourist.

e) Rooting / Arraigo

This is a somewhat different case from the previous ones, and it is an exception.

Well, rooting is the process by which a foreigner can obtain residency if they have lived irregularly for a minimum period of time in Spain. So if you’re here in Spain illegally there is a possible solution. The new draft immigration is less strict with the requirements.  We of course prefer to comment once laws have been passed 

As always this isn’t legal advice. We are qualified, regulated Spanish lawyers with years of experience.  If you take advice from a professional please remember to ask about their professional qualifications and regulation here in Spain. 

We can advise you in person at one of our offices on the Costa Del Sol and online. We can also help you buy a property in Spain, remember not to sign or pay anything until you’ve taken advice from us. 

Marisa Moreno Castillo Lawyer with Just Law Solicitors and Consul for Denmark.  

Est. 1992

Malaga – Fuengirola – Marbella