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Visas and Passports in Spain

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: July 2013

The first stage of preparing for immigration is to make sure you have the correct entry documents. You will always need a passport to travel into Spain, or an equivalent travel document if for example you are a stateless person or refugee.  The passport or other document must be valid for the entire length of your planned stay in Spain.   Depending on the reason for your stay, you may also need to provide passport-style photos of yourself to complete the immigration process.

You may also need a fully validated visa attached to your passport. The main types of Spanish visa are called Transit, Visitor, Business, Temporary Worker, Student, Spousal, Marriage and On-arrival. Most of these categories are self-explanatory, however, a spousal visa is for a spouse to live with a Spanish citizen, while a marriage visa is for couples who want to come to Spain to get married or register a civil partnership. An on-arrival visa allows entry through a Spanish immigration point.

Do you need a visa, and if so, which one? The answers depend on both which of the above categories you fall into and where you come from, as detailed below.

If you are from a country in the European Economic Area (EEA – all the European Union countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland, you do not need a visa to enter Spain if the following are true:

Neither will you need a visa if the above points are true and you come from one of the countries listed under ‘Holders of passports who do not require a visa to enter Spain’, no. 2 on this website:

The above website also contains detailed information on all Spanish immigration matters.  The countries on this list often have historical ties to Spain, such as Mexico and Guatemala, or are economically or otherwise important countries, such as Japan and the USA.

You will almost always need a visa to come to Spain if you come from any other country. These countries are listed directly under ‘Holders of passports who do require a visa to enter Spain’, further down the above web page.

In addition to Spanish visa types, the six-month Schengen visa is also valid in Spain. You will need to obtain this special tourist visa from the embassy of the country which is your main destination. Once you have done this, you are free to travel around almost all the continental EU countries, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland without needing to pay for a further visa.


Spain has the fourth-highest number of tourists of any country in the world. Tourism is a very important part of the country’s economy, and many tourist visas and other kinds are issued by Spanish embassies and consulates.

To apply for a visa, you will first need to obtain and fill in the correct application form. Once you have done this, you need to book an appointment with a Spanish Visa Application Centre. There should be one of these in your country’s capital and in other large cities. You will need to take your completed application form, together with evidence that you have enough money to finance your stay (i.e. bank statements) and enough money to pay the visa fee, to the Visa Application Centre who will then supply you with the correct visa.  



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