Legal formalities for foreigners
If you are a student from outside the European Union (EU), the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland, in order to stay in Spain legally for more than 90 days, you need to obtain a student residence authorisation, which authorises you to remain in Spain for the duration of your course and if you wish, you will also be able to travel within the EU and the countries that have signed agreements with Spain or the EU for the free movement of people.
Steps to take to obtain your student residence authorisation:
- BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN SPAIN: Student Visa
- DURING THE FIRST MONTH AFTER YOU ENTER SPAIN: TIE (Foreigner Identity Card)
- TWO MONTHS BEFORE YOUR CARD EXPIRES: Renewal
- IF YOU HAVE TO TRAVEL AND YOUR CARD HAS EXPIRED: Return permit
- IF YOU WANT TO WORK DURING YOUR COURSE: Work permit
1. BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN SPAIN: Student Visa
Before arriving in Spain you must obtain the student residence visa (visado de estancia por estudios) from the Spanish consulate in your country of origin or legal residence. You can find your consulate on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To apply for a visa, you need an accreditation of acceptance on a UPF study programme, among other documents. You can request this accreditation from:
- the OMA, Mobility and Reception Office if you are an exchange student (email@example.com) or a student on the "study abroad" programme (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- the UPF Admissions Office, if you are a master's degree (email@example.com) or PhD student (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is very important that the visa is a student visa (type D). Any other type of visa does not entitle you to the subsequent processing of your Foreigner Identity Card (TIE).
N.B.: Remember that the student visa is only valid for study at the university where you have applied for admission, and for the period of time specified in the acceptance letter. This means that if you choose to study at a different educational institution after obtaining your visa, you should contact the Spanish embassy or consulate in your country of residence to make sure of the steps you need to take before travelling to Spain.
2. DURING THE FIRST MONTH AFTER YOU ENTER SPAIN: TIE (Foreigner Identity Card)
If your authorised stay is longer than six months, you must apply for your Foreigner Identity Card, within one month of entering Spain.
You must apply for this authorisation directly at the police station:
A) Barcelona residents at the Police Station located in Rambla Guipúscoa, 74, in Barcelona, by appointment, arranged on the website www.seap.minhap.gob.es (Extranjería\Cita previa extranjería\Acceder al procedimiento\Barcelona\Expedición de tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (huella)\Entrar. From 1/7/2015 on, Hospitalet residents must apply for the TIE by prior appointment too.
B) Foreign citizens residing in towns other than Barcelona and Hospitalet, should apply in person to the Police Station in the town where you live, with no need for an appointment.
Which documents are needed?
- Documents and police station's map
- Application form
- Information about census register at Barcelona City Hall's website
For further information:
3. TWO MONTHS BEFORE YOUR CARD EXPIRES: Renewal
The card is valid for one year and is renewable if you continue your studies.
You can carry out the renewal process a maximum of 2 months in advance, and you must do so before it expires.
4. IF YOU HAVE TO TRAVEL AND YOUR CARD HAS EXPIRED: Return permit
If you have to leave Spain and your card is being renewed, you can apply for a permit that allows you to re-enter the country, providing that your card has already expired. This authorisation allows you to leave and re-enter the country within 90 days.
Process update (29/07/2013): Return permit is valid exclusively for entering the Schengen Area through the Spanish borders. If you intend to enter the Schengen area through another Member State, check prior your departure if you are required a VISA for entering that Member State.
You must apply for this authorisation directly at the police station, by appointment:
A) Barcelona residents at the office of the National Police Force on C/Mallorca, 213, Barcelona, by appointment, arranged on the website www.mpt.gob.es/servicios/extranjeria.html. From 1/7/2015 on, Hospitalet residents must apply for the return permit by prior appointment too.
B) Foreign citizens residing in towns other than Barcelona, should apply in person, with no need for an appointment.
- Documentation and procedure (Spanish)
- Download Form
- Fees must be paid at the Police Station (you'll find the form there) when applying for the return authorisation
More information is available at:
5. IF YOU WANT TO WORK DURING YOUR COURSE: Work permit
If during your stay you have to undertake an internship in a public or private institution that is part of the syllabus for which your residence permit was granted, and which is included in the collaboration agreements between these institutions and UPF, you do not need to apply for any work permit.
In other circumstances, if you want to study and work (on either a self-employed or employed basis), you will need a work permit, with the following conditions:
- In a part time contract, working hours must not interfere with your school hours. If you sign up for a full time contract you are allowed to work up to three months, in which case it shall not coincide or overlap with any term of the academic year.
- The achieved income cannot have the nature of resource necessary to prove your sustenance nor your stay. Furthermore, it will not be considered as part of the TIE renewal process.
- The validity of the work permit will be valid for the same duration as the contract and cannot be longer than the duration of the student residence permit.
More information on the documents required and the application procedure is available at:
- Download Application Form
- Catalan Public Employment Service (SOC).
- Oficina virtual de trámites de la Generalitat de Catalunya. Virtual Office of the Government of Catalonia (information available only in Spanish).
If you are from a European Union member state (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden or United Kingdom,) or Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, you are entitled to free movement and residence in Spain.
However, all EU citizens residing in Spain for a period exceeding three months must apply for registration in the Central Registry of Foreigners. This registration leads to a certificate of registration being issued and includes a NIE number.
You must apply for this document directly at the police station:
A) Barcelona residents at the Police Station located in Rambla Guipúscoa, 74, in Barcelona, by appointment, arranged on the website www.seap.minhap.gob.es (Extranjería\Cita previa extranjería\Acceder al procedimiento\Barcelona\Certificado UE\Entrar. From 1/7/2015 on, Hospitalet residents must apply for registration by prior appointment too.
B) Foreign citizens residing in towns other than Barcelona, should apply in person to the Police Station of your city, without prior appointment.
Which documents are needed?
- Application form
- Passport or identity card (original and copy)
- Registration at UPF (original and copy)
- European Health Insurance Card or private insurance policy (original and copy).
- Statement of Financial Resources that students have sufficient economic funds during their stay in Spain (example). Participation in study exchange programs of the European Union is accreditation enough to justify economic funds.
For further information, please check the Ministry of Interior's website