Immigration to Spain

Introducing the Kingdom of Spain, it can be described as one of the warmest European countries, which is made for those, who enjoy a warm climate and a laid back lifestyle. Statistics show the population of Spain to be currently estimated at around 46 million people. The most numerous ethnic group is Spanish.

Official currency is the Euro (EUR). Spain is a member state of the European Union and Schengen area, which provides many benefits for its residents.

Immigration services

Responsible for immigration services in Spain is the Ministry of Interior ( If you are a non EU-citizen, in order to stay in Spain for more than 3 months, you need a residence card, residence visa or work permit.

Here are three companies, offering immigration services in Spain:

  • E-mail:

Lawful Immigration

In order to visit Spain legally, an immigrant needs to follow all the requirements set out by Spanish Immigration Law. The main law, which regulates immigration of non EU-citizens in Spain, is the Immigration Act 2009.

Immigration law

The Immigration Act 2009 is the main law that applies to immigrants from non-EU states in Spain.
Immigration Act 2009 - [.pdf]
Ministry of the Interior-

Immigration Statistics

According to immigration statistics, Spain currently hosts around 6 000 000 immigrants, which is about 13% of the total population. The largest groups of immigrants come from Romania and Morocco. The largest period of immigration was experienced in Spain has during the period 1998 to 2008. During this time the percentage of immigrants amongst the local population increased from 1% to 11 % - This then slowed down significantly as the crisis in southern Europe started to affect Spain

Most popular cities by population

The most popular cities for immigrants are Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid is the largest city in Spain by population (3,255,944 people). Madrid is an administrative center of the autonomous Community of Madrid.

Barcelona is a little bit smaller (1 621 537 people), but, usually, more popular amongst tourists. Barcelona includes such famous places as the Park of Antonio Gaudi and the Cathedral of Sagrada Familia.

Migration in and out of Schengen area

The Kingdom of Spain is a member state of the Schengen area. Countries of the Schengen Agreement have abolished passport and immigration control at their common borders and for travel between their member states. Member countries also recognize Schengen visas issued by other Schengen states. On the outer border, or upon first entry to the Schengen area, normal immigration control procedures apply, however admission to any Schengen country is considered admission to the whole Schengen area (all member countries), with no further immigration checks needed.

Citizens of non-EU countries wishing to stay in Spain for more than three months must apply for a Residency Permit/Card (Tarjeta de Residencia) within 30 days of arriving in the country. The application must be made at the Foreigner's Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or local national police station in the province of intended residence.

Residence permit

Currently Spain runs an investment program, which allows you to apply for a residence card in Spain, if you have purchased real estate for a price in excess of 160 000 EUR – however this permit does not allow the right to work or conduct business in Spain. Latvia provides residence permit for a real estate with price from 142 000 EUR, which is 12% cheaper and additionally allows the option to work and conduct business. Currently the Spanish government plans to raise the minimum qualifying price of a real estate purchase in order to qualify for a residence permit to 500 000 EUR.


History shows, that since 2000, Spain has experienced fast population growth which is a result of immigration. However, the birth rate is only half the normal replacement level. This sudden and mass immigration has caused noticeable social tension between immigrants and the local population. In the European Union, Spain has the second highest immigration rate in percentage terms after Cyprus.