Residency permits For Members

Can I live in another EU country with a Spanish residency permit?

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Can I live in another EU country with a Spanish residency permit?
Can I move to another European country with my Spanish residency? Photo: DESIREE MARTIN / AFP

Holding a Spanish residency permit obviously gives you the right to live in Spain - but does it give you any extra advantages when it comes to visiting another EU country, or even moving to one?


While citizens of the European Union do benefit from freedom of movement - the right to work and live in other EU countries - this is not the same for non-EU residents.

This means that if you are British and have Spanish residency, you cannot simply pack up and move to France.

Nor can you visit another EU for longer than 90 days in every 180, as the 90-day rule applies to the rest of the EU, once you leave Spain.

The same is true for education - for instance, if you are American and you are planning to study in Spain on a student visa, you cannot spend more than 90 days out of every 180 taking a course in a different EU country, without a student visa for that country too.

While your classmates with Spanish nationality might be able to move to Italy for a full semester abroad, the situation is different for you.

READ ALSO: Can you use your Spanish residency card rather than your passport to travel?

If you want to either move to another EU country or stay for longer visits than 90 days, you will have to apply for a visa or residency permit in that country, in just the same way as someone moving directly from a non-EU country. In, short, your residency in Spain gives you no particular advantage.


When it comes to taking up work outside of Spain - but within the EU - the rule is the same. Your right to work in Spain is specific to Spain - if you want to get a job in Germany for example, you will need to fulfill the necessary requirements in order to work there. 

For those who have nationality from countries that do not benefit from the 90-day rule and are usually required to gain a short-stay visa before entering the Schengen Zone - like India for example - the benefit of your Spanish residency permit, according to the Europa Immigration website, is that you "you can travel throughout the Schengen area for as long as your visa is valid, and for a maximum of 90 days during a 180 day period. You will not need a separate visa for each Schengen area country and you will not need to show your passport at each internal border".

READ ALSO: Do you always have to carry ID with you in Spain? 

How can I move to another EU country?

According to the Europa Immigration site, to obtain a residency permit for a second EU country, you will have to justify the purpose of your move or longer stay and meet the country's requirements, which typically include proving at least one or more of the following:

  • Stable and regular financial resources to maintain yourself and your family, including enough funds for your stay and travel back
  • Health insurance
  • Appropriate accommodation
  • If you wish to take up a job, evidence of employment
  • If you are self-employed, evidence that you have sufficient financial funds
  • If you wish to study or train, proof that you are registered to do so

Some countries also have integration measures, like language requirements, that are prerequisites for issuing long-stay residency permits. For those looking to move for work, the situation will depend on the labour market situation of the second country and their policies for issuing work permits. 

READ MORE: What is the EU's plan to make freedom of movement easier for non-EU residents?

If you come to Spain on the EU Blue card - you might think this would be an EU-wide residency permit, but despite its name, it's only valid for the specific country you’re granted it for. If you want to move to another EU country, you need to apply for residency in that country.

If you want to leave Spain and move to a different EU country, you will need to apply again for residency there. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP


Isn't there an EU-wide residency permit?

Sort of. Technically, under a little-known EU law, third-country nationals who have lived legally in an EU country for at least five years can apply for EU-wide residency status. But in practice, this has not gone to plan.

In 2022, the European Commission proposed a directive to review and simplify the concept of 'EU-wide long-term residency status', and the legislation could be completed as early as February 2024, though it could take longer.

MEPs hope to shorten the minimum stay in the EU to three years, instead of five, and to allow people to combine periods of legal residence in different EU member states.

The main objective will be to make long-term residency in one EU country automatically recognised at an EU level - which could remove restrictions such as labour market checks or integration requirements for people who move to another EU member state.

However, even with these changes - which are still in the planning stage - people with an EU residency permit would still need to apply for residency in the country they want to move to. The EU card would simply streamline the process for them.



One benefit of living in Spain is the right to apply for citizenship.

READ ALSO: Do you really have to give up your original nationality if you become Spanish?

For the majority of people, this is possible once you’ve lived in Spain for 10 years. However, if you’re from non-EU countries including Andorra, the Philippines, many Latin American countries, or Equatorial Guinea, this is reduced to two years.

If your application is successful, you become not only a Spanish citizen, but also a citizen of the EU, which means you can benefit from EU freedom of movement.


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Yvonne Ditchfield 2023/08/22 20:07
Excellent article - thank you. We are currently living in France & hope to move to Spain within the next 12/18 months. These potential developments would make the process so much smoother.
Sara in Spain 2023/06/21 19:04
What about Spanish residents who are married to a Spanish citizen? Can't they stay for as long as they like in the rest of the EU along with their Spanish citizen spouse? This was not covered in the article, thanks!

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