Officially known as a Kingdom, Spain is a continental European territory situated in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the only European country with a physical border with an African country. It also has two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
It has an area of 505,990 km2 and a population of 46,733,038. Spain is the second biggest country in the European Union, while Spanish is world’s second most spoken mother tongue.
The country has more than 8,000 kilometers of beaches, and 44 UNESCO heritage sites. Its most known cities are: its capital city Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao, etc.
Some of its top tourist attractions are Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia and Gaudi Sites, the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the Prado and Paseo del Artes in Madrid, and the Alhambra fortress in Granada.
Yet, not everyone can just take a flight and travel to Spain. Let alone move and study or work here. There are a few procedures you may need to complete before coming to Spain. One of these procedures is getting a visa.
Following in this article, you may learn everything you need to know about a visa to Spain. Including who needs one, who is exempt, how, where and when to apply for it, and everything else.
What Is a Spain Visa?
A Spain visa is an authorization to enter Spain and remain there for a particular amount of days. It is usually in the form of a sticker, affixed to one’s passport. The type of visa you apply for defines the activities you can perform while in Spain.
To get a Spain visa you will need to meet several criteria, complete a few procedures and most probably pay a fee.
Who Needs a Spain Visa?
If you are unsure whether you need a visa or not, then this is the first thing you need to check. The main factor that defines whether you need a visa or not, is the purpose of stay and the intended period of stay.
If you are traveling through Spain, in transit to get to a non-Schengen country, you should check the list of the nationals of the 25 countries that need a Spain transit visa.
If you traveling to Spain for a short-term stay for non-employment reasons and you are a national of the 62 countries under the Schengen visa regime, you do not need to apply for a Spain short-stay visa.
Note that there are exemptions from several categories, and you may belong to one of them. Check our article on Who needs a Spain visa, to learn more in this regard.
On the other hand, if you want to get employed in Spain, or you are planning to stay there more than 90 days within a 6-month period, then you should apply for a Spain Long-Stay Visa. Exempt from this requirement are only nationals of the European Union member countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Spain Visa Application
If you need a visa to Spain, you should apply for one. Applying for a Spain visa, short-stay or long-stay is not a hard thing to do, though it may sound so. You just need to follow some procedures step by step, and try not to make any mistakes.
To apply for a Spain visa follow the steps given below:
- Know when is the right time to apply!
- Figure out what type of Spain visa you need.
- Find out where you should lodge your application.
- Fill-in the right visa application form.
- Collect the required documents.
- Make a visa appointment.
- On the date of your appointment:
- Attend the visa interview.
- Submit your biometrics.
- Pay the visa fee.
After you complete all these steps, you shall wait for the processing of your visa. You will receive an answer on your application, as soon as the processing is completed.
When to Apply for a Spain Visa?
As Spain is a member country of the Schengen area, it applies the Schengen visa rules to travelers seeking to enter its territory. Thus, when applying for a Spain visa, make sure you submit your application within the given time frame:
- The earliest: Three months before the date of your planned departure to Spain.
- The latest: Two weeks before the intended date of travel to Spain:
- Recommended: at least three weeks prior to your trip, so you can avoid any possible delay by the embassy.
Where to Apply for a Spain Visa?
Spain has a very strict system of visa submission and processing. As a result, visa submission is regulated by Spain in every world country. Thus, depending on the country you live in, you may have to submit your visa application at the:
- Spanish consulate.
- A Visa application center like TLS Contact, VFS Global or BLS International, to which Spain has outsourced visa submission in your country of residence.
What Documents Should I Provide to Support my Spanish Visa Application?
A very important part of your application process for a Spain visa, is collecting the required documents. There are two types of required documents for every Spain visa applications.
- The standard required documents for a Spain visa, which are required for every visa type.
- The Spain visa specific requirements, which are required depending on the visa type you are applying for.
The main standardly required documents for a Spain Visa are as listed below:
- Application Form.
- Passport and two photos.
- Travel Health Insurance.
- Evidence of Sufficient financial means.
- Proof of Accommodation.
You can get a full list of the required documents for a Spain visa here.
Spain Visa Types
According to your purpose of travel and the length of your stay in Spain, there are two main Spanish visa types:
- Spain short-stay visas. Also known as a Schengen visa, this is a visa for staying in Spain for a period of up to 90 days within 6 months. This visa does not permit you to work.
- Spain long-stay visas. For staying in Spain for a period longer than three months. Depending on the long-stay visa type you apply for, you may also be authorized to work in Spain.
Spain Short-Stay Visas
Also known as the Spain Schengen Visa, a Spain short-term visa gives the right to its visa holder to enter Spain, and remain there for a maximum of 180 days.
According to the purpose of traveling to Spain, you may apply for one of the following main Spanish short-stay visas:
- Spain Transit Visa. This visa enables you to transit through Spain in order to reach your non-Schengen destination country. There are two types of Spain Transit Visas:
- Airport Transit. You can apply for this visa if you need to transit through an airport in Spain in order to change a flight to reach your destination.
- Seamen Transit. You should apply for this visa if you are a seaman and you need to disembark at a Spanish port, in order to take a vessel to a non-Schengen country.
- Spain Tourist Visa. Apply for a Spanish tourist visa, if you are planning to go to Spain for tourism, sightseeing, vacation and other similar purposes.
- Spain Visitor Visa. Apply for this visa if you are traveling to Spain under the sole purpose of visiting family members or friends living in Spain.
- Spain Business Visa. If you need to travel to Spain to attend business-related activities, you should apply for a Spain business visa.
- Spain Medical Treatment Visa. A visa for applicants who wish to receive medical care in Spain.
- Spain EEA/EU Dependent Visa. If you are a dependent (spouse or child under 18) of a national of the EU, the EEA or Switzerland you should apply for this visa.
- Spain Visa for Missing Residence Permit. If you have lost your Spanish Residence Permit while outside the country, you shall apply for this visa in order to be able to return.
- Spain Study or Training Visa. If you have been admitted to a training or a study course that lasts less than 3 months in Spain, you should apply for a Spain Study or Training Visa.
- Spain Visa for Diplomatic Passport Holders. If you hold a diplomatic passport issued by your country you can apply for this visa.
Spain-Long Stay Visas
The Spanish Long-stay visas are also known as the National Visas, or D-Visas. With a long-stay visa you can travel to the country and remain there for a period longer than three months, as specified in your visa sticker. Depending on the long-stay visa you get, you may be permitted to work or study in Spain.
The most common Spain visa types for long-stay are as follows:
- Spain Student Visa. If you want to attend a study course that lasts more than three months, you will have to apply for a Spain Student Visa.
- Spain Work Visa. All qualifying persons who wish to work in Spain must apply for this visa.
- Spain Au Pair Visa. You can apply for this visa if you will be working for a family in Spain, under certain conditions.
- Spain Retirement Visa. If you have the means, and you want to retire in Spain, you can apply for a Retiree visa, which enables you to move there.
- Spain Golden Visa. This is a residency by investment program, through which you can move to Spain, if you invest a certain amount in real estate.
- Spain Entrepreneur Visa. This is a visa for entrepreneurs who wish to invest in Spain.
- Spain Working Holiday Visa. You can apply for this visa if you want to go to Spain to do a summer job.
- Non-Lucrative Residence Visa. If you wish to immigrate in Spain and you have sufficient income to support yourself and your dependents you may apply for a Non-lucrative residence visa. Upon arrival in Spain, you can then apply for a residence permit for two years.
Spain Visa Fees
The Spain visa fees differ from one case to another. How much you need to pay to get a visa for Spain it all depends on four main factors:
- The visa type you are applying for
- The number of days/weeks/months you wish to stay in Spain.
- Your nationality
- Your age
Yet, there are exemptions and additions in every category. Check our article on Spain visa fees to know more in this regard.
Spain Visa Validity
A Spain visa is valid for as long as the consulate that grants it to your, decides. Yet there are some rules. The maximum validity of a Schengen visa can be three months. Still, a short-stay visa can be shorter, as two weeks or even three days.
Long stay visas, on the other hand, are issued for a period longer than three months. They can be issued for a year or even more, and in most cases you can apply to extend a long-stay visa in Spain.