A Complete Guide to Obtain Permanent Residency in Spain


If you’ve been living in Spain for some years and wish to extend your stay for the long term, obtaining permanent residency is the ideal solution. No longer will you need to renew your student visa annually or your non-lucrative residence permit every two years. After five years of continuous and legal residence in Spain, you can obtain permanent residency, granting you the freedom to stay indefinitely without the need for further renewals. In this post, we will unravel the details surrounding permanent residency in Spain and provide you with essential information on this residency category.

In this post we cover the following: (click any section to see its content)

What is permanent residency in Spain:

Permanent residency grants non-EU citizens who have legally resided in Spain continuously for five years the status of indefinite residence. The permanent residency card is valid for five years and can be renewed. It allows individuals to live and work in Spain, whether as self-employed (cuenta propia) or employed (cuenta ajena) individuals, enjoying the same rights as Spanish nationals. It’s important to note that the permanent residency card is exclusively for non-EU citizens. Additionally, holders of this card can be outside of Spain for up to six months without any legal issues. This period can be extended to a maximum of one year within the five-year validity of the permanent residency. However, the total time spent outside the country should not exceed one year during the five-year period allowed by the card.

How to obtain the permanent residency card:

Let’s go through the process starting from the perspective of an individual who has just entered Spain with their first residence permit.Initially, the individual obtains a residence and work authorization, allowing them to legally reside and work in Spain for one year. Following the completion of this period, they will need to renew their permit, obtaining a residency permit for the subsequent two years. After a total of three years in Spain, they will need to renew once again, accumulating a total of five years in the country. It is during this renewal that they will be granted the permanent residency card. This renewal doesn’t merely extend the existing permit but involves transitioning to a new type of residency—permanent residency—enabling them to legally stay in Spain for the next five years without any further renewals.However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that not all years in Spain are considered equal.

How to compute your year calculation, not all years count equally:

As mentioned previously, you need a total of five years to qualify for permanent residency in Spain. However, depending on the type of permit you hold, it may require more than five years to accumulate five years of continuous legal residence in the country. The calculation is influenced by three different scenarios:

  1. Each year lived under any regular residence permit is counted as one. This includes non-lucrative visas, golden visas, highly qualified visas, entrepreneur visas, and others.
  2. If you hold an EU blue card, each year of residency in any other European country is also counted as one, provided that the last two years before the application were spent in Spanish territory.
  3. However, student visas have a different calculation. Years spent in Spain under a student visa count as half towards the permanent residency calculation. This applies to study stays, student mobility programs, and internships. The reason for this distinction is that a student visa is not considered a residence permit but rather an authorization to live in Spain while studying.Let’s illustrate this with an example. Suppose you have studied in Spain for six consecutive years on a student visa and then transitioned to a regular work permit as an employee, under which you have already lived for one year. While the total duration adds up to seven years, the calculation for permanent residency is different. It amounts to only four years (as the six years under the student visa count as half). Consequently, you would need to wait one more year with your work permit before being eligible to apply for permanent residency.


A tip to accurately determine your years of residence in Spain:

To avoid any miscalculations, you can take the following step:Visit the Police Office and obtain a “certificado de residencia” (residency certificate). This certificate, bearing your name, provides a record of the number of years you have resided in Spain as a student or resident. It is stamped and signed by the police, providing an accurate measure of how much time remains until you qualify for permanent residency.In conclusion, understanding the requirements and process for obtaining permanent residency in Spain is crucial for those seeking long-term residency in the country. It eliminates the need for frequent renewals and offers numerous benefits.

Would you like information about obtaining Permanent Residency in Spain?

We are a Spanish Solicitor and assist our clients with all types of residency applications.

Permanent residency is obtained after 5 years of Spanish Residency through Self-Employed Residency, Digital-Nomad, Non-Lucrative Residency or Golden-Visa. This followed by 5 years as a permanent resident in Spain and means you can then obtain Spanish Citizenship with a Spanish Passport.

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