The Mediterranean climate, vibrant culture, and ancient architecture all make Spain deserving of being the second most popular tourist destination in the world. Not only does the country provide a diverse range of experiences and cuisines, but it’s also brimming with history and stories to fuel the imagination.
Before you travel to Spain, you’ll need to know the country’s visa requirements. We’ve compiled a guide to acquiring a Spanish visa to prepare you for your next trip.
Spain Schengen Visa
Spain belongs to the Schengen Area – a group of 26 European countries that pledged to do away with their internal borders. This elimination of internal borders – between most EU countries – allows for unrestricted free movement between the different member countries.
Spain, therefore, does not have a specific short-term Spain Tourist Visa. To tour Spain for less than 90 days, you may need a Schengen Visa. This visa will allow you access to Spain and any other member countries.
Do You Need a Schengen Visa to Enter Spain?
Citizens of countries not part of the EU/ EEU or Spain’s visa-free travel list are required to apply for a Schengen Visa. This visa will allow applicants to stay in Spain for up to 90 days for business or travel purposes. Separate visa applications are required to work or study in Spain.
EU and EEU citizens – and first-degree family members – enjoy Visa-free access to the Schengen Area under the Freedom of Movement Act. Other countries that have visa-free access to Spain (for business or travel) include:
- United States of America
- United Arab Emirates
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
Note: Although you won’t need a visa to enter Spain if you’re from a visa-exempt country, there is a new Spain travel requirement. From 2022 onwards, Americans traveling to Spain – and other visa-exempt citizens – will be required to fill out an online ETIAS form. The ETIAS is a visa waiver form that takes about 10 minutes to fill out and requires a small fee.
Be sure to have the following ready before applying for an ETIAS visa waiver:
- A debit or credit card.
- An email address.
- A passport valid for longer than your intended visit.
Spain Visa Types
The type of visa you apply for will depend on the intention and duration of your visit to Spain. There are both long-term and short-term Spanish visas:
Short-Term Spain Visas
Visitors who intend on staying in Spain for less than 90 days within a 180-day term need to apply for the Uniform Schengen Visa (USV). You will have to specify your purpose of travel on the Schengen Visa Form.
Spanish Tourist Visa
A Spanish tourist visa is the most commonly applied for visa. If you wish to visit Spain for tourism and sightseeing for less than 90 days, you will need a Schengen tourist visa.
Spain Visitor Visa
This visa applies to anyone who wishes to travel to Spain to visit family or friends. You will need the following extra documentation when preparing for your visa Application:
- Letter of invitation from host family/ acquaintance.
- Copy of validated identification documents of the host.
- Letter of invitation issued by a Spanish police station.
Other Short-Stay Spain Visas Include:
- Short-stay business visa
- Short-term study or training visa
- Spain transit visa (For airport or seamen transit)
- Spain visa for sport/ cultural/ religious events
Spain Long-Term Visas
A Spain long-stay visa allows you to remain in the country for more than 90 Days. These visas are often for work or study opportunities, and each has different limitations and requirements.
Spain Work Visa
Non-EU/EEU citizens who intend to work and live in Spain need to apply for a Spanish work visa. If you are a highly-skilled person from outside the EU, the job you are applying for needs to be listed as a “Shortage Occupation.” Additionally, you will need proof of professional qualification and a work contract before applying for this visa.
The different types of Spain Work Visas are:
- Seasonal work visa
- Au-pair visa
- Working holiday visa
- Entrepreneur visa
If you have received employment in Spain, your employer has to send a work authorization request on your behalf to the Spanish Ministry of Labor. You will need to provide evidence of a clear criminal record in the past five years and apply for a Spain work license.
Spanish Student Visa
The type of student visa you apply for will depend on the length of your study program. You will need a student visa if you plan to study at a recognized teaching institution, perform research, or participate in an exchange program in Spain.
If you’re taking a course in Spain that lasts less than three months and your country is on the visa-free access list, you do not need a student visa.
If your country isn’t on the visa-free access list and/ or your study program is longer than 90 days, you need to apply for a Schengen student visa.
Spain Visa Requirements
You will need to gather the following documents for your Spain Visa Application.
- Visa application form.
- Two biometric photos (35x40mm).
- Valid passport with at least two clear pages.
- Proof of sufficient financial means (such as a three-month bank statement).
- Proof of accommodation in Spain.
- Medical insurance.
- Medical certificate.
- Flight itinerary.
- Proof of payment of visa fees.
- Schengen visa cover letter.
How To Apply For A Spain Visa
- Print out/ collect a Spain visa application form and fill and sign it.
- Gather the required documents.
- Arrange an interview with your local Spanish embassy.
- Attend the interview.
- Pay the applicable visa fees.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Spanish Visa?
The visa application process usually takes about 3-4 weeks. There may be visa processing delays if your local Spanish embassy is experiencing high volumes of visa applications. So it is best to apply for your visa as soon as possible.
Final Tips Before Traveling To Spain
While it may all seem very intimidating and complicated, our best advice is to start your Spain visa application early. Ensure you have all your documents ready before your Visa interview to avoid delays.
In the meantime, you’ll want to have a look at this Spain packing list while you wait for your Visa application to be processed.