What type of “residencia” residence document should I have?

Below are the basic requirements for adult EU citizens in Tenerife Spain. Bear in mind that now the UK has left the EU, British Citizens have to apply for a third country Foreigner’s Identity Card. The details of this procedure are here (TIE): BUT it is important to stress there is no obligation for those British people who already hold the green residency certificate (either credit card sized green paper or A4 version) to exchange it for the TIE. Both documents will be valid in demonstrating residency status and rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, even after the end of the Transition Period until further notice.  However new applicants for residency applying after the 6 July 2020 and able to demonstrate they were residing in Spain legally before the 31st December  2020 will be issued with the TIE

1) White NIE certificatesince 2016 this document no longer shows an expiry date as before but never the less you are still only entitled to stay continuously in Spain for up to 3 months – then if you are remaining here continuously this document should be superseded by either 2 or 3 depending on your status and nationality·

To apply you will need:

  • application form Ex15
  • Modelo 790 for a 9,64 euro payment in any bank,
  • copy (this must be on full sized copy on a complete A4 piece of paper) and original of your passport, from April 2021 your passport must show an entry date stamp if you are a UK or other 3rd country citizen, and a copy of the latest entry stamped page is also required . This does not apply to EU citizens.

You must attend the National Police Station/Extranjeria in person and the certificate, currently is issued on the day, but after a short wait. To secure an appointment for a WHITE NIE (NIE BLANCO) you apply for the appointment here . You are able to select the region or office you require. 

If you already hold an NIE number this stays with you for life and you can then jump to point 2 or 3 depending on your circumstances.

2) Green Certificate of Residence Registration from 1st of July 2020 this is NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO UK CITIZENS (Also wrongly called Residencia by some people) this is in a credit card sized format made of green coloured paper, it can be the older style A4 green coloured paper format which is currently still valid but it is useful and highly recommended for people  to exchange for the new format if you are able to. We are advised that the exchange from the ” green Residencia ” to a TIE  in the format currently available  is likely to be stopped shortly , but as yet we have no further information. This option is no longer available to UK citizen applicants arriving after 1 Jan 2021 see here

The  European Citizen Green Certificate of Residence Registration is valid for indefinite or fixed length permanent stays of over 3 months.


New Arrivals after the 1 Jan 2021 can only make their applications in the UK at the Spanish Consulate more information here. European nationals will continue to be seen at the Comisarías in the South, Santa Cruz and also Puerto de la Cruz depending on their catchment area. The below information does not apply to British Nationals holding a UK PASSPORT.

The two options for EU citizens are:

2A) Family member regrouping with an EU citizen resident of Spain

A family member who is re-joining a citizen of Spain or a citizen of another Member State of the European Economic Area, has the right to residence for a period of more than three months, as an employee or self-employed, however they must have health insurance and sufficient financial means for the family unit, or be a student with health insurance and sufficient resources for the family unit. The citizen of Spain or another Member State of the European Economic Area, must be either an employed person in Spain, or Be self-employed in Spain, or have sufficient means to support all of the family members applying and appropriate health insurance amongst other requirements more info here:

PORTAL DE INMIGRACIÓN. Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión (inclusion.gob.es)

2B) EU citizens making a new application:

    • application form Ex18,
    • Modelo 790 for a 12,00 euro payment in any bank
  • photocopy and original of Passport
  • photocopy and original of an in-date Empadronamiento

PLUS  requirements in force  …

    • For those who are working – provided you are currently employed with a proper registered work contract, the Extranjeria will be able to confirm via their system that you have working status, if you are not sure of your status you can obtain a certificate to show that you are currently making social security contributions called a “situación actual” obtainable from the Social Security. If this is your first time working in Spain and you do not yet have a social security number you will need to show the pre-contract or offer letter in Spanish showing at least the the name and address of the employer, their fiscal identification number (NIF, NIE or CIF) and their employers’ account number with the social security. ( If you do not already have a social security number you need to obtain the green certificate of residence registration FIRST in order to apply for your social security number and ultimately for your contract to be processed).
    • For those who are self employed provided you are currently self-employed and up to date with your social security contributions, the Extranjería will be able to confirm via their system that you have you have self employed status if you are not sure of your status you can obtain a certificate to show that you are currently making social security contributions. If this is your first time being self employed in Spain and you do not yet have a social security number you will need to show your modelo 036 which you will have already processed at the Agencial Tributaria. ( If you do not already have a social security number you need to obtain the green certificate of residence registration FIRST in order to apply for your social security number and ultimately for your self employment social security payments to be processed).
  • For the retired, early retired or those living on own means you must provide:
    • the original and copies of a private health care policy to cover you for the period of your residence in Spain (minimum of 1 year). THIS MUST NOT HAVE ANY EXCESS “Co-pagos” OR for EU pensioners a copy of your S1 or E121 document showing entitlement to health care in Spain.
    • Proof of income sufficient to support you and your family (normally circa 7,000 euros per person held in a Spanish Bank account, or proof of a guaranteed pension income equating to more than that amount per year (officially translated into Spanish) and paid into a Spanish Bank for three months or more.
      With regards to the economic means, a fixed amount can not be set, but the personal situation of each national of a Member State of the European Union or another Party State included in the Agreement of the European Economic Community should be taken into account. In no case can this amount be less than the level of resources under which social assistance is granted to a Spanish National or the amount of a Spanish Social Security pension.
  • For those who have already completed 5 LEGALLY registered years of residence and providing their renewal application follows on without a gap – these people will only be required to provide the basic documentation as shown in point 2 above to apply for Permanent Resident Status.
  • If you need to apply for a duplicate because your circumstances have changed (Married surname change, new address, document lost, stolen or perished) then you use the EX18 form and 790 payment form but tick the “duplicado” box on the application. If the original green certificate is not available to surrender then you must obtain a police report to notify why the document is not available.

ALL Documents not in the Spanish language must be apostilled and legally translated.

When you attend the National Police station/Extranjeria the residence document will be issued on the spot.

3) TIE for UK citizens and third party countries: The Withdrawal Agreement provided a transitional period for UK citizens until 31 December 2020. During the transitional period, your rights covered under EU Law were maintained. Currently (green) registration certificates and family member cards for EU citizens that were available to British citizens and their family members residing in Spain continue to be valid documents to prove legal residence in Spain now the UK has withdrawn from the EU and the benefits covered under the Withdrawal Agreement.

From 1 January 2021 Non EU citizens (Including British People) will require Visas for stays of longer than 90 days which  will need to be applied for BEFORE entry into Spain source: Pages – Long-Term Visas (exteriores.gob.es). Once a long stay visa is granted then you must apply for a foreigners Identity card:

TIE – Foreigner Identity Cards

Foreigners who are granted a visa to stay in Spain for a period exceeding six months must apply for a foreigner identity card at the corresponding Provincial Brigade of Immigration and Borders dependent on the Ministry of the Interior, within one month from their date of arrival. Foreigner identity cards are not required for holders of visas issued to carry out seasonal work. source: Pages – Trámites después de su entrada en España (exteriores.gob.es)

However, from the first week of July 2020, British citizens and their family members residing in Spain who hold a green residence certificate were able to request a residence document (TIE), which will prove they are covered by the right covered in the Withdrawal Agreement. If you are a British citizen or a third-country national who is a relative of a British citizen, who cames into Spain during the transitional period, you will also benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement, however as of July 2022 this option is not applicable and the family member must apply via a visa for Family groupation from the UK:

Information on procedures here   

Application forms here http://extranjeros.mitramiss.gob.es/es/ModelosSolicitudes/Mod_solicitudes2/20-Solicitud_residencia_nacionales_RU_JUN_2020.pdf



4) Certificate of NON residence for Spanish Bank – stays in TOTAL of under 6 months in any one year. Most Banks will request this on your behalf if you have a non-residents bank account with them, but they do make a charge for the service.Banks are also now requesting Non Residents to supply proof of fiscal residency in the Uk via Tax returns, P60s or similar. If you fail to provide these you face the possibility that your Bank will freeze your account until such time as the documentation is supplied . This normally has to be done in person with most Banks.  If the bank doesn’t automatically request it you would need:

  • Original & copy of application form Ex15
  • Modelo 790
  • Photocopy and original of Passport.

So lets look at these and other different types of document in more detail:


EU citizen’s registration Certificate. This was issued as a green coloured A4 watermarked paper but from November 2011 the format is credit card sized but still made of paper….. For European, non British people living in the south, its issued at the National Police Station in Las Americas.
Obtaining a green certificate card is an immigration requirement for anyone who stays here in Tenerife for periods of longer than 3 months at a time, it will show your NIE which is a foreigners identity number, but if you don’t already have an NIE number you can apply for one first, see above, and you should already be on your local authority’s Census list called the Padron.
You should also go back to the National Police Station and revoke this certificate if you return to your home country for good.
In other words the European powers-that-be have decided that 3 months holiday at a time is long enough for anyone!

Incidentally if you don’t go back and you stay here in Tenerife for 5 years continuously and intend to stay for an indefinite period after that, then you should obtain the permanent residents’ version – which is still a green paper but has a slightly different wording on it.

Certificates issued in the A4 format are still currently valid and both formats are still valid for existing holders who are UK citizens until further notice, but see above  regarding possible changes .

Certificate of Spanish FISCAL residency. This shouldn’t be confused with the immigration requirements dealt with above.

You can get a Spanish Fiscal residency certificate from the Spanish Tax office called the “Hacienda” and this is basically a confirmation that you paid your income taxes, on earned or unearned income in Spain, in a particular year, or are registering to do so from now on.
Taxation is a very complicated subject, but as a rule of thumb if you spend 183 days or more in Spanish territory during any one calendar year .. a Spanish Tax year runs from January to December by the way…. Then you will be fiscally resident in Spain.

NIE certificate – this is a white A4 paper which is issued only to Non residents to show that they have an NIE number, this number stays with you for life. The document , in the current format , does not show an address and has no validity for the purposes of confirming your identity or immigration status. A White certificate NIE number is required when you are NON resident, i.e. staying for less than 3 months at a time, and wish to:

  • Buy or sell a property, Boat or Vehicle in Spain
  • Open a bank account
  • Pay your taxes
  • Inherit assets in Spain

Spanish Certificate of NON Residency. This is also a white A4 document and also carries your NIE number it can be issued by the Police Station in Las Américas if you want to go there and apply for it yourself. However it is more commonly the bank who hold your certificate as that is where your Non resident’s account is held so they apply for it on your behalf (for which privilege they charge you by the way). This certificate is usually renewed every 2 years.

Certificate of Empadronamiento. The certificate which is valid for 3 months, proves that you have been registered on the Municipal census (Padron) as living at your current address in Spain.

Initially you will be registered under your passport number(s) and then you return to confirm your residence status when you have your certificate of residencia or TIE.
To register you will need a current passport and copy and either your deeds(escritura ) and a copy OR a valid rental contract in Spanish and a copy along with the previous months payment receipt. This cannot be a contract for an Air BNB or similar nor a vacacional rental.

You should advise the Town Hall of any changes of address, but in any case if you have not had any dealings at all with your town hall during a 2 year period (five year period for EU citizens) you are required by law to re-register. You would use this certificate to prove your address for things like a car purchase for example or to register at a National health doctor.

If you are Non Fiscally Resident – remember that means you don’t pay your income taxes here, but do own property here in Tenerife and you also let that property out to long or short term tenants, from January 2021 you will be required to obtain a UK bilingual certificate proving fiscal residency in the UK.
This is a dual language document and is issued by your local UK tax office and is valid for 1 year.

THIS IS ONLY IF YOU LET YOUR SPANISH PROPERTY OUT FOR GAIN If you do not get rental income in Spain you continue to do Non-Resident’s deemed annual income tax returns… see here for more information

At The One Stop Problem Shop we can assist with with these applications. Please get in touch using the links below if you require our assistance.

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