For members


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

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

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

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.

READ ALSO: Civil union or marriage in Spain: which one is better?

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Worker, retiree or investor: What type of Spanish visa do I need?

If you’re from a non-EU country you will need a visa in order to stay in Spain for longer than 90 days, but knowing which type of permit is best for you can be tricky. Here's how to find the right one for you based on your circumstances.

Worker, retiree or investor: What type of Spanish visa do I need?

If you are a citizen of a non-EU country then you may benefit from the 90-day rule, allowing you to visit Spain for 90 days out of every 180 without needing a visa. Countries including the UK, USA, Canada and Australia all benefit from this rule.

Citizens of certain countries require a visa even for a short trip – find the full list here.

However, the tricky part comes when you want to move to Spain and spend longer than just those three months. What are your visa options, whether you want to move to Spain to retire, to work or even to set up your own business? 


The best option for retirees is to apply for the non-lucrative visa (NLV). This allows you to live in Spain for one year, but as the name suggests you are not allowed to work.

In order to apply an applicant must show they have €27,792 at their disposal for one year (€34,740 if it’s a couple), as well as comprehensive health insurance.

If you want to stay in Spain beyond this year, you can either renew it for a further two years (again proving you have the financial means) or change your visa for a work permit or a self-employed permit through the residence modification process.

The NLV is also the best option for those who want to live abroad temporarily. Those who want to stay in Spain for more than three months, but are not planning on living here permanently. It’s ideal for those on a sabbatical for example who have savings or investments and who do not need to work in Spain while here, but want to stay here for a year. It’s also the best option for those who have the financial means to do so.

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

retiree in Spain

The NLV is the right visa for most non-EU retirees who want to live in Spain. Photo: pasja1000 / Pixabay


If you plan on moving to Spain for work or in order to look for a job, then you will need a work permit. Unfortunately getting a work permit can be tricky because in most cases as a non-EU national, the position you apply for must be on Spain’s shortage occupation list.

Your employer will also have to prove that there were no other suitable candidates within the EU to be able to fulfill the vacancy. This means that only highly skilled workers or those that work in industries that need workers are likely to be successful. These mostly include jobs in the maritime or fishing industries or sports coaches.

If you are wanting to become self-employed, then the entrepreneur visa could be a good option, allowing you to live in Spain for one year in order to open up a business. Be aware however your business must be considered as anything of innovative character with special economic interest for Spain.

You will have to prove you have the necessary qualifications to set up your business and will also have to submit your business plan to the authorities for it to be approved. The entrepreneur visa can be extended for a further two years after your initial one has been granted.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Spain’s visa for entrepreneurs


If money is no object and you want to invest in a Spanish property then, you’ll want to apply for Spain’s golden visa. To be eligible, you must invest €500,000 before taxes in a property here. It won’t allow you to work, but it will allow you access to the entire Schengen area. This will also allow your spouse and any dependent children to move to Spain with you.

Another option for investors is the entrepreneur visa as described above, if you want to use your investment to set up a business in Spain.

Joining family members:

If you happen to have a family member who is an EU citizen and lives in Spain or a non-EU relative that has residency in Spain, then you have another option. This is called the family reunification visa. However, in order to be eligible, you need to be a spouse or a dependent child and your relative must have the means to financially support you. 



Enrolling on a course and applying for a student visa is one way for non-EU citizens of any age can live in Spain beyond the regular length of a tourist stay. 

You will have to apply for a short-term or long-term student visa, depending on the length of their course. A student advantages can several advantages such as being able to work part-time or bringing over family members. 

READ MORE: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s student visa?