International students and researchers wishing to study or conduct research in Spain must be in possession of a visa in order to be able to reside legally in the country.

Researchers or lecturers who have entered Spain with a residence visa which allows them to work without obtaining a work permit, must begin the procedures for obtaining a resident’s card within 30 days of their date of arrival in Spain.

Study visas and length of stay

For studies and research periods lasting less than three months no study visa is necessary, unless the interested party is from a country for which a visa is required as standard practice.

For periods of between three and six months a visa is required, but no other documents need be applied for in Spain

For studies and research periods lasting more than six months, visitors must apply for both a visa and a student’s residence card in Spain. The student must begin the application process within a month of his/her arrival in the country. The student’s residence card is processed at the Oficinas de Extranjería (Foreign Nationals Offices) of the Spanish Police.

Many Spanish universities have guidance services for international students and researchers which will help with the processing of the student’s residence card. For information on this and other services, please consult “Who is Who at Spanish universities”.

Students from the European Union

Nationals of European Union countries do not require a visa. Nonetheless, they should applied for a NIE (Numero de Identificación de Extranjeros, Foreign National Identity Number) on their arrival in Spain. This document is needed, for example, to open a bank account, buy a discount transport card, or use the health service.

Students from other countries

Foreign nationals of countries outside the European Union wishing to study or research in Spain for a period longer than three months must apply for a study visa.

To study in Spain, students from non-EU countries must apply for a study visa at the Spanish Consulate of their country of origin or legal residence.

To apply for a study visa, prospective students should:

  1. Pre-enrol at a public or private teaching centre that is officially recognized in Spain.
  2. Contact the Spanish Consulate to process the study visa with the certificate or letter of acceptance issued by the Centre.

The following documents are needed to process the study visa:

  • Valid passport.
  • A document certifying admission to an officially recognized public or private teaching centre for the purposes of study, research or training.
  • The contents of the study, training or research syllabus that the applicant intends to pursue.
  • A medical insurance policy covering medical expenses and repatriation in the case of accident or sudden illness for the entire period of the stay in Spain.
  • A medical certificate specifying that the applicant does not suffer an illness requiring quarantine in accordance with international health regulations.
  • A certificate of solvency for the period in question, if necessary to cover the cost of returning to the country of origin.
  • A criminal record certificate issued by the authorities of the country of origin or the country in which the applicant has lived during the past five years.

The visa is processed by Spain’s Consulates-General abroad, which have specialist staff available to answer enquiries. For a list of Spain’s Consulates-General around the world, please follow this link.

At the Consulate where you apply to process your study visa the staff will answer any questions you may have.

It is not possible to enter Spain with a tourist visa and then apply for a study visa. Students entering the country only with a tourist visa will have to return to their country of residence and obtain the visa there.

Important information for U.S. students requesting a long term visa to Spain.

Foreign students studying in Spain may work for up to 20 hours a week provided that the working day is compatible with their study or research commitments. An employer who wishes to hire a foreign student in these conditions must apply to the Foreign Nationals’ Office for authorization. The duration of the contract may not be longer than the duration of the study visa.