Visas For Members

How to enter Spain on a tourist visa and stay to study

The Local Spain
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How to enter Spain on a tourist visa and stay to study
How to enter Spain on a tourist visa and stay to study. Photo: Kampus Productions / Pexels

You’ve come to Spain on holiday, on a tourist visa, and have fallen in love with the country so much that you decide you want to stay longer. If you’re a non-EU citizen, one of the easiest ways of doing this is to enrol on a course and exchange your tourist visa for a student one.


Up until five years ago, it was impossible to enter Spain as a tourist and then stay on as a student. This type of authorisation had always been conditional on obtaining a visa before you arrived, but since September 2018, it has been allowed.

This means that even if you’re on a tourist visa and you want to stay longer and study here, then you don’t need to leave the country and reapply before you return.

In order for you to do this, however, you will need to meet a series of requirements, as well as meet an important deadline.

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain's student visa?

Once you are in Spain, you must apply to exchange your visa for a student once at least one month in advance of the expiration date of your current tourist visa.

For example, let’s say you enter on a tourist visa valid for a total of three months. That means that by the time two months are up, you must have already decided you want to stay longer, enrol on a course and have applied for your student visa.

If you do not respect this deadline, the Immigration Office will reject your application and you will lose the opportunity to stay and study.

Requisites you must meet

- You must have been accepted onto a course at either a public or private institution.

- You must have the financial means to be able to support yourself. This is equal to 100 percent of the IPREM every month. In 2023, this is €600 per month, but it will likely increase in 2024.

- You must have private medical insurance, which must be maintained throughout the validity of your student visa.

- If your course in Spain exceeds six months, you must also prove that you do not suffer from any diseases that have repercussions for the public health system, as well as a lack of a criminal record, if you are of legal age.

How to exchange your tourist visa for a student one

Applications can be submitted in person or online, but you may find it easier to do in person as there are extra steps to do if you want to do it online.


In person

Step one: Gather all your documents together including:

- Your acceptance letter for your course
- Proof of savings such as bank statements
- Private health insurance
- A health certificate and criminal record check if your course is longer than six months.

Remember all your documents must be translated into Spanish by a professional and legalised or apostilled.

Step two: Download form EX-00, complete and sign it. The first section asks for all your personal details such as passport number, full name and date of birth, plus your address in Spain.

You can skip steps parts two and three if you’re completing it yourself.

In part four you will check one of the boxes under Inicial if this is your first student visa. The most likely boxes that will apply to you are Autorización de estancia por estudios superiores or Autorización de estancia por estudios no superiores. This means Authorization to stay for higher education or Authorization to stay for non-higher studies.

You need to complete form EX-00. Source: Spanish government

Step three: Get an appointment

You will need to apply for a cita previa or prior appointment to go to your local Immigration Office and submit all your documents and completed form in person. You will usually apply for your appointment online here and select the province you live in.

Once the date for your appointment comes up you will go to the office and also pay the associated fee, if applicable. You may only have to pay this if you’re extending your student visa, but it will depend on your circumstances.

Step four: Once the documentation, payment of the fee and requirements have been validated, a resolution will be issued within approximately one month. If, on the other hand, the resolution issued is a denial, you can appeal to try to correct any errors in your application.

Step five: If the resolution is favourable, you must apply for your Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (Foreigner Identity Card), better known as the TIE, at your local police station, if your course exceeds six months. 


READ ALSO - GUIDE: How foreigners can apply for their TIE residency card in Spain


Step one: Apply for your digital certificate. In order to apply online, you will need a digital certificate to formally identify yourself. 

Step two: Download, fill out and sign form EX-00 and submit it online via the Mercurio Iniciales Government Administration site. You must also attach all your documents, which have been translated and legalised.

Step three: You will receive a response within one month, but you may be called to come in, in person to give any extra original documents. If you don’t receive a response in this time frame, it’s understood that your application has been denied. You can appeal as above.

Step four: If the resolution is favourable, you must apply for your physical TIE card at your local police station, if your course exceeds six months.


Can family members legally stay in Spain with me?

​If you are applying for a student visa in your home country like normal then yes, you will be able to bring family members if you can financially support them.

If you are here on a tourist visa, however, and then want to stay and exchange it for a student visa, your family members will not be able to stay with you. They will have to return to their country of origin and then apply for an authorisation to join you at a later date.



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