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Time allowed out of Spain without losing residency





The short-stay visa (Schengen visa) allows you to stay within the Schengen area, including Spain, for up to 90 days at a time out of every 180 days, or a maximum of 180 days a year. This visa does not allow work or any economic activity in Spain, unless special authorisation is obtained. This is fine if your trips will be no longer than three months at a time, and no more than twice a year. If you want to stay in Spain for longer periods you need to apply for residency.


It can be quite an achievement post Brexit for UK nationals to obtain Spanish residency. Having the freedom to stay in Spain for longer than 90 days in every 180 is to be celebrated once achieved. When you’ve finally jumped through all the necessary hoops and been approved for residency, it’s time to enjoy life in the wonderful Spanish climate … but how much time can you spend outside of Spain and retain that precious residency permit?


As with many things Spanish, knowing how much time you can be out of Spain when you have residency isn’t as straight forward as we might like. Whether it’s a trip to visit family for Christmas or to go on your summer holidays, it’s important to be aware of the potential impact of that time away from Spain on your residency. If you’re aiming for, or already have permanent residency, it’s crucial to understand the importance of maintaining your presence in the country. This will allow you to plan ahead.


Understanding whether you are considered permanent or temporary resident …


To clarify, you are considered a temporary resident of Spain if you have been a resident of the country for less than five years, even if you intend to stay in Spain permanently. Until you have reached the five year residency milestone, you will be issued with a temporary residency card. Once you have been living in Spain for five years or more, you will then be able to apply for your permanent residency card. For those who have TIE cards (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero) remember, the requirement is that you have been a Spanish resident for five years. You don’t necessarily need to wait for your TIE card to run for five years. If you reach the five year residency point before the card expires you can apply for permanent residency.


Spanish law establishes a maximum time outside Spain when you have a residence permit. Holding a residence permit means that you are “resident” in the country. If you are outside the country for a long period of time, this condition would not be met, and your residency permit could be withdrawn, or would not be renewable.


How much time can I spend outside of Spain?


In order to calculate how much travelling you can do, we need to consider which type of residency you have in place. What type of card do you have (temporary or permanent), and under what regime (general or community – Régimen General or Régimen Comunitario). Community regime is used to bring immediate family into Spain, which I cover later in this article.


Temporary Residence under the General regime


Temporary residence authorises you to stay in Spain for a period of more than 90 days but less than five years. This is the most used regime.


Non-EU nationals are encouraged to obtain a card called a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE). It’s essentially a card that contains all your identity details in Spain and is proof that you are a Spanish resident, which makes dealing with your financial affairs and the Spanish system much easier. It is your Foreigner's Identity Card, which allows you to stay after your Schengen Visa has expired. Only non-EU nationals are eligible for a TIE.


If you comply with the following requirement, you can retain your temporary residence and will be eligible to apply for permanent residence once you have been a legal resident in Spain on a continued basis for five years (provided that other financial requirements are met):


- periods outside Spain during the previous five years of temporary residency may not exceed 10 months in total. If there have been absences of more than this, it may still be possible to renew your temporary residency (for up to two years), but not be possible to obtain permanent residency. The extension of two years may help you to accumulate enough days to finally meet the permanent residency minimum stay requirement.


Until 2023 there was actually another requirement, that you must not spend more than six months outside of Spain in any 12 month period. However, in an important ruling in June 2023, the Supreme Court declared null and void an article of the Regulation of the Law on Foreigners that establishes that the temporary residence authorization in Spain may be terminated if a foreign citizen remains outside the country for more than six months in a year. Therefore, the Immigration Law regarding the cancellation of temporary residence permits based on absences exceeding six months in one year is no longer valid. Despite this change, the 10 month maximum absence over the previous five years still applies, so whilst the Supreme Court ruling offers more flexibility in an individual year, care should be taken not to go over 10 months during the five year period if you intend applying for permanent residency.


It's also good to be aware that unfortunately, temporary residence cannot be recovered once lost (you must start the application process again from scratch).



Permanent Residence (Tarjeta de Larga Duración)


This authorizes you to live and work indefinitely under the same conditions as Spaniards. Having a Spanish residency permit gives you the same rights as any Spanish citizen, including, education for your children, the right to work, healthcare, etc. However, permanent residency does not give you the right to vote in national elections or hold a Spanish passport – these rights are only available to those who hold full Spanish citizenship.


For permanent residency, you need five years of residence in the country; whereas to obtain the Spanish citizenship you need to have lived in Spain for 10 years. For the purposes of obtaining long-term residency, previous and continuous periods of residency in other Member States as holders of the European Union blue card will be included to this end.


Are permanent residency rules different for EU nationals to non-EU nationals?


There are two very similar types of permanent residencies, which can be confusing, both obtained after 5 years in Spain:


- Long Term Residence (for EU nationals)

- Long Term EU Residence (for non-EU nationals)


The Long-Term Residency (for EU nationals)


This is considered the best type of residency as it comes with distinct advantages:


- Long-Term Residency can be obtained without the need to prove economic means. As long as you meet the other requirements, this permit will be granted to you.


- Unlike temporary residence, which cannot be recovered once lost (you must start the application procedure again), Long Term residence can be recovered. This offers you much more freedom and flexibility should life take you away from Spain for a period longer than planned!


The Long-Term EU Residency (for non-EU nationals)


The Long-Term EU Residency requires the demonstration of sufficient economic means, and these must be your own. In other words, you must be working as an employee or self-employed person, or demonstrate sufficient income and/or savings to support yourself.


The Long-Term EU Residency allows you to live and work in any country inside the European Union (something that the Long-Term residency does not). So, if you are thinking of living in any other country within the EU, this is likely to be the better option.


Should you move to another EU country, you will easily be able to convert it to the most similar card they have in that country. However, this does not mean that the Long-Term EU card is a work permit for another country in the European Union. It simply makes the application process much easier, as you will not have to start from scratch as a non-EU citizen.


If you comply with the following two requirements, you can maintain Long Term EU residence:


- You must not be outside the European Union for more than 12 months consecutively.

- you can leave the European Union for a maximum of 30 months sporadically (two and a half years) over five years.

- time away is counted from the moment you leave the European Union (not Spain) until you return.


Once obtained, it is possible to lose it (if you fall foul of the requirements detailed above),


Bringing Family into Spain

In order to bring family into Spain you are required to have a long-term or long-term EU card. That is, you must have resided a minimum of five years in Spain.


Temporary residence under the General regime – non-EU family reunification visa


This type of visa is not issued to family members of citizens of the European Union or of the Member States of the European Economic Area or of Switzerland. This type of residence allows foreigners who are already residing in Spain to bring their immediate family members.


Who can be brought into Spain on this visa?


The spouse or legal partner, children of the applicant, the children of the spouse or partner—including adopted children, provided that they are under age 18 and above that age if they are dependent or disabled.

The applicant's parents (mother or father) and those of their spouse or partner, provided that they are in the care of the applicant, they are older than 65 and there are reasons substantiating the need to authorize their residence in Spain. On an exceptional basis, and for humanitarian reasons, the reunification of parents under the age of 65 may be permitted.


Temporary residence under the Community regime - EU family reunification visa


This type of residence allows foreigners who are already residing in Spain to bring their immediate family members.


Who can be brought into Spain on this visa?


The spouse or legal partner, children of the applicant, the children of the spouse or partner—including adopted children, provided that they are under age 21 and above that age if they are dependent or disabled.


The applicant's parents (mother or father) and those of their spouse or partner, provided that they are in the care of the applicant, they are older than 65 and there are reasons substantiating the need to authorize their residence in Spain. On an exceptional basis, and for humanitarian reasons, the reunification of parents under the age of 65 may be permitted.



As a family member holding the Family Reunification visa:


- you must not be outside Spain for more than six months within a period of one year.


However, the six months can be extended up to 12 in some specific situations that force you to leave the country, for instance:


Work reasons

If you were pregnant

Relocation of a family member

Due to illness


Once the first five years have passed and you become a holder of a permanent residency card, you can be out of Spanish territory for a maximum of two years until its renewal in 10 years.


The aim of this article is to offer some clarification on time allowed out of Spain without losing your residency. However, there are also many other factors in respect of your forward planning that I suggest you consider, particularly in respect of your finances and tax efficiency as a resident of Spain.



At Speed Financial Solutions, our focus is to ensure that you are able to enjoy life and we aim to organise your finances in the most tax efficient way for your particular circumstances. If you are considering how best to set up your finances for your life in Spain please contact us.


Speed Financial Solutions are a highly qualified and regulated financial services provider looking after clients throughout Spain and the UK. Established in 2010, we provide a discreet and comprehensive service to individuals, and our service is tailored to suit your needs taking advantage of tactical opportunities as they arise in respect of your financial planning.


Our Principal, Andrea Speed, is a qualified Discretionary Investment Manager specialising in Investment and Risk, Taxation and Trusts, and a qualified Pension Specialist. Andrea is also a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), which is the world’s largest professional body for insurance and financial services in the world.


Fellowship is the highest qualification awarded by the CII (Level 7) and is universally regarded as the premier qualification. It is a major achievement in the financial industry and demonstrates the acquisition of skills and knowledge at the highest of levels. Along with a Fellowship, Andrea is a CII Chartered Financial Planner.


Please take a look at our website – www.speedfinancialsolutions.com

For further information contact us on Tel 951 315 271 or 951 318 529

admin@speedfinancialsolutions.com


We are happy to discuss your own situation in more detail. One of our advisers would be pleased to spend some time with you either in your home or at our office to review your current savings, investments and pensions, so do call to make an appointment. Our Financial Review is completely free of charge and without obligation. Follow us on Facebook for regular updates.


This communication is for information purposes only based on our understanding of current legislation and practices which is subject to change and is not intended to constitute, and should not be construed as, investment advice, investment recommendations or investment research. You should seek advice form a professional adviser before embarking on any financial planning activity. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information contained in this communication is correct, we are not responsible for any errors or omissions.


Andrea J Speed FPFS (DM), M.A.

Principal, Fellow and Chartered Financial Planner

Speed Financial Solutions

29 November 2023



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