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Q&A: Can EU nationals bring non-EU family members over to Spain?

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
Q&A: Can EU nationals bring non-EU family members over to Spain?
Can EU nationals bring non-EU nationals with them to live in Spain? Photo: Brad Dorsey / Pixabay

If you're an EU national living in or wanting to move to Spain, find out if you can bring a non-EU family member to live with you. Here, we answer some of the most common questions surrounding the process.


Yes, there is an option for EU nationals to bring non-EU family members to Spain. The main way is by applying for a residence card of a family member of a European Union citizen or tarjeta de residencia de familiar comunitario. Here are some of the most common questions about the card and their answers. 

What is the residence card of a family member of a European Union citizen?

The residence card of a family member of an EU citizen allows the relative of an EU citizen to come and live with them in the EU. 

Who is eligible?

  • The spouse of an EU national (you must be able to provide a valid marriage certificate)
  • Unmarried partners, providing you can provide proof that you are in a long-term stable relationship and have been living together for some time (usually one or two years, but depends on circumstances). This could be a pareja de hecho in Spain, instead of a marriage.
  • Dependent children of an EU national under 21 years old (you must be able to provide a valid birth certificate)
  • Dependent parents of an EU national (proof must be provided of your relationship and that they are dependent on you)
  • Any other dependent relatives (proof must be provided that they cannot look after themselves and are financially dependent on you).
  • Be aware, you will also need to prove you have the financial means to support your relatives.


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What benefits does the residence card offer?

  • The ability for your family member to live in Spain with you
  • The right for your family member to work in Spain under the same conditions as other EU citizens
  • The ability to enter and leave Spain and travel to other countries within the EU
  • However, the card does not give you the right to live in any EU country, only in the country you applied for it in – in this case, Spain.

When must it be applied for?

The card must be applied for during the first three months of your relative arriving in Spain to able to continue living here.  

How long is the process to get an EU residency card?

The Spanish authorities should make their decision to issue your family member with a residency card within six months. It may be quicker than this, but you should expect around a six-month waiting period. While your family member is in Spain however they cannot be expelled from the country while the application is in progress.

What if my application is rejected?

If your residency application is rejected, then the Spanish authorities will let you know in writing, giving a reason why. They will also let you know what you must do to appeal the decision and when it must be done by.


How long is the card valid for?  

The initial residency card will be valid for five years. You can then renew this for a permanent 10-year residency card. After this, your card will need to be renewed every 10 years.

Will I lose my Spanish residency if I get divorced?

If you obtained your Spanish nationality on the basis that you were married to an EU national, then you may wonder what will happen to your residency rights if you get divorced or decide to break up.

The good news is that you will not lose your residency card as long as you have lived with your partner for at least three years and at least one of those has been in Spain.


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