Do I need to renew my Residence in Spain?

Last updated on 25 Oct 2017

If you are an EU national legally residing in Spain, you will be in the possession of a green coloured document (either A4 or credit card size) called Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Union which is your Residency permit in Spain. By law you are required to apply for your Residency in Spain in case you intend to stay living in the country longer than three months and we already covered this topic in one of our previous articles

The question that many ask is whether they need to renew their Residencia certificates after a certain time, as there has been some confusion triggered by the rule that after five years of legal residency in Spain one becomes a permanent resident so the wording on your Resident certificate changes from “residente comunitario” to “residente comunitario permanente”. But does one really need to apply after five years for the new certificate to reflect the permanent status or is it automatically granted by law? 

To add to the confusion there is a lot of misleading and contradicting information in the internet and even worse so – directly from the public officers and civil servants of different organizations, such as Medical centres (Centro de salud), National Police Offices (Comisaria de Policia) and even Foreign Offices (Oficina de Extranjeria). Speaking from own experience of dealing with different offices in the province of Malaga we at Malaga Expat Consulting have been refused certain document procedures until the Residency certificate is renewed to the “permanent” one. We have also approached several Police officers and employers of the Foreign office requesting for clear guidelines and unfortunately received quite contradicting advice. Below are a few conclusions which hopefully will be helpful to those seeking information on the matter:

  • The green Residence certificates, whether of older A4 or newer credit card format, do not have an expiry date and therefore do not expire after five years
  • All EU nationals legally residing in Spain for the continuous period of five years automatically acquire the right of permanent residence in Spain. 
  • To reflect the permanent status, you can apply for the new Residence certificate with the wording “residente comunitario permanente” although it is not obligatory by law
  • In accordance with the EU laws, the permanent residence right is granted with no conditions to any EU national who has been legally residing in the country for the continuous period of five years. In other words, you are not obliged to provide the same set of documents, including proof of income and medical cover, as when applied for the Residency initially

The above are the laws, the practice is unfortunately different… Depending on the public office you are dealing with and even the civil servant attending you, the regulations vary, and in many cases, you are refused the procedure unless you “renew” the certificate to the permanent one. Furthermore, once you decide to renew it, you need to provide all the same set of documents as at the initial application, starting with the application form to proof of sufficient funds and private or public medical cover. On this last matter all public officers we have been personally dealing with in Malaga province, agree with no deviations. Quite frustrating, isn’t it? One could demand their rights and threaten with EU laws, but it rarely brings you far in Spain. Alternatively, if you have time and nerve, you could go from one public office to another and try to be attended by different civil servants until you find the one interpreting the law correctly. 

Our general advice and provided you are in the position to do so, would be to “renew” your green EU Residence certificate after five years to get the permanent status “put in stone” and not be a subject of potential arguments and doubts. But it is everyone’s own decision which should be made knowing facts and regulations. Should you decide to renew your Spanish Residencia to a permanent one, Malaga Expat Consulting will be happy to assist you with your application in the province of Malaga. 

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