Property Overseas Group



Living in Spain

Registry certificate , residency & voting


Starting April 2007 residency cards are no longer issued to EU nationals. EU nationals may live and work in Spain using their EU passport, but if planning to stay more than three months, they must register in person at the Foreigners’ Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or at designated police stations.

They will be issued a certificate stating their name, address, nationality, identity number (a NIE), beginning residency date and date of registration. This certificate will not serve as identification. If you do not have a NIE, one will be issued to you automatically upon registration. All EU nationals are now legally required to carry either a national identity card or a passport at all times.

Periodic updates will be required to reflect changes of residence, marital status or to discontinue residence. Non-EU dependents will still be required to file for residency. EU citizens who already have residence cards need to re-register in the central registry. Information about the new requirements is available on Spanish Ministry of the Interior’s website or call them 955 569 537 or 900 150 000 extension 5.

The recent changes in the residency laws have created more chaos in what was already an awkward system. At present you must go to the National Police office which opens at 9, but some arrive as early as 7 in the morning. Further changes are inevitable, so it is advisable to check before you go. In Marbella there is a two colour ticket system in place; one colour is for dropping off documents and the other is for picking them up! Although tickets are distributed at 8.30, your slot corresponds to how deep in the queue you are.


Residency confers a series of advantages of the holders, many of them are fiscal. Non-residents when selling a property have 3% of the declared selling price of their property retained by the tax office (Hacienda) against the payment of capital gains tax while residents declare their capital gain in their annual tax return. All foreigners, residents and non-residents alike, interested in opening a bank account, owning a car or a home need a NIE number.

Applications for residencia must be made to your local National Police Station. Residency laws are in flux, you may be required to have a visa from your country of origin and it is best to confirm the latest exact paperwork requirements for your nationality.

Typically you are required to submit:

  • Original & copy of completed and signed application
  • 3 Colour passport photos with white background
  • Passport & copy (with a validity of at least six months)
  • Original town hall registration & copy, certificado de empadronamiento

Requirements vary depending upon nationality but they may ask you for originals and copies of:

  • Proof of address – title deeds to your property or rental
  • Work contract (must be for a minimum of 6 months)
  • Spanish social security card or private health insurance policy
  • A certified copy of your criminal record, penales, with translation & copies. This you must get from the local police in your country of origin
  • Certified documents attesting to your marital status
  • Fees, which must be paid via a bank (you will be given a paying-in slip)

Applying for residency can be a headache, local gestores can greatly expedite the process, as they know the ins and outs of the law. As officials, they are allowed to skip queues and tend to shorten this lengthy process.

UK registered voters may vote in general and European Union elections for up to fifteen years after moving abroad, but you can’t vote in UK local government elections. If you are a registered voter in the UK, to vote overseas you must:

  • contact your local electoral registration office at your former council and ask that the forms be sent to you – this also applies if you are only abroad temporarily on polling day.

If you are an unregistered voter, you can’t vote from abroad, unless you left the UK before you were 18 and your parents/legal guardians were registered to vote in the UK. If you have lived abroad for less than 15 years, you can register with the local council where your parents/legal guardians were last registered.

All overseas voters can vote by post or by proxy. A proxy vote is where you authorise someone to place your vote. Postal votes are sent out around one week before polling day.


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