Green card – How to get Spanish Residencia

In Spain, like every other country, you need to register to have the legal right to work and/or stay. Within the European Union the citizens have it quite easy with all the agreements of free movement.

Norway is not in the Union and therefor my paperwork turned out to be slightly more complicated.

When I first came here I got myself one of these famous NIE-numbers. Valid for three months, not too complicated. Even without Spanish. I basically just had to bring my passport.

So there I was thinking everything was sorted, surprised by how easy it was. If I only knew!

In the following months I travelled a lot in and out of Spain and wasn’t really sure if we were going to stay, so I didn’t bother renewing it. I didn’t need a work permit anyway.

I started making friends from all over the world. Everyone kept talking about this Residencia. First of all I didn’t really understand it, second; why on earth would I need that?

Then the time came to get a job. “You need NIE and Social security number”. The working contract would give me the amazing Residencia, that I never stopped hearing about. A temporary five year one was pretty simple to get, at least after what I heard. A lifetime one? Not so much.

I renewed my NIE easily and my employer sorted out the Social security. And then the goal was the Residencia. At least a temporary one, so I could take advantage of the discounts it would give.

All of the sudden we were “in the system” and my daughter got the right to public school. More paperwork ahead.

Next step: Empadronamiento. Ok, what is that?? After a lot of research I gathered what I needed. The empadronamiento is basically a register of where we live. To register I had to get my childrens birth certificates translated to Spanish and stamped as an original. Luckily Norway does that for you and for free. I brought my rental contract to prove our housing and it was done in minutes.

Back at the national police station with working contract, empadronamiento, birth certificates, renting contract, passports, NIE and a statement from the Norwegian Council that we are legally registrated in Tenerife, I finally got the application. The downside was that the children’s birth certificates needed another stamp, an Apostillo that proves that it is allowed to use here and given legally.

This was three months ago. To get the stamp I have to physically be in Norway. Oh well, next time.

Today I decided to at least try for my Residencia. Usually you have to be outside the office before 8 and hope for a short enough line to maybe get a paper that says when you can come back in the afternoon. And no, you can’t get an appointment!

I came in about 10.30. 10 minutes later I stood there with a green card in my hands, a big smile and a head full of questions. “Did he really say forever?” And he did. I have the lifetime Residencia, and I don’t have to renew it. I can’t believe how easy that went.

So hello, I am the newest member in Spain and officially a Spanish resident!



This information is given by what I have understood and my experiences in the process. I can’t guarantee that this is correct information.



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