How to Apply for a Residence Card
(Tarjeta Comunitaria) in Spain

As some of you might already know, two years ago, I quit my job in the Philippines to grab a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in Spain. I worked as an assistant teacher through the Auxiliares de Conversación program of the Spanish Ministry of Education. I was given a monthly salary and health insurance but on paper, I was there as a student since they could only grant us student visas. They were paying me to read things aloud and to talk about myself so I couldn’t really complain. My situation was great, if not ideal, but things happened. I fell in love with Spain and… with a Spaniard. So much that I wanted to make it my second home. I had told myself “I’m just gonna live in Spain for 2 years and that’s it, back to reality,” only to find myself wanting to stay there for good.

In December last year, I finally got the pink card officially saying I can work and live anywhere in Europe for the next 5 years. News flash: They don’t just hand those things out like candy! You have to actually go through the nine circles of bureaucratic hell. You can escape it but you have to know upfront that it’s one helluva tedious journey. Some have decided to try, myself included, and I want to share my experience with you, souls out there who are looking into moving to Spain.

What is the tarjeta comunitaria?

Family members of a Spanish citizen or of another European Union/European Economic Area (EEA) member state, who do not hold citizenship of any of the aforementioned states and who wish to reside in Spain for a period of more than three months are eligible to apply for a 5-year residence card called the Tarjeta de Familiar Comunitario

This card allows you to move and reside freely within the member states of the European Union, show employers that you’re allowed to work in the EU and EEA member states and qualify for certain benefits and services.


  • tarjeta de familiar comunitario – residence card for family members of EU/EEA nationals
  • pareja de hecho – civil partner/ civil partnership
  • alta en la seguridad social – status in Spain’s social security if you’re working
  • Oficina de Extranjería – Immigration Office
  • cita – appointment
  • DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad) – main identity document for Spanish citizens
  • carta de nombramiento school assignment (only for language assistants)
  • funcionario public employee
  • resolución favorable – favorable decision
  • tasa – fee
  • Comisaría de PolicíaPolice station
  • resguardo – receipt
  • pueblo – town


You can apply for a residence card if you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and the family member of an EEA national who fulfills ONE of the following conditions:

  • working in Spain
  • self-employed in Spain
  • financially capable of providing for himself and his or her family member/s during their period of residence
  • studying AND with enough economic resources

Spouses, parejas de hecho, children or any member of the family who is dependent on the qualified EU national is eligible for the 5-year residence card. The boyfriend and I took the pareja de hecho route and this guide will mainly cover what we went through. Bear in mind that I’m no expert on the subject, this is just my experience and other offices or cities might proceed differently.

Required Documents

  1. Duly accomplished EX-19 application form and copy
  2. Valid passport of the applicant and TIE if applicable
  3. Proof of relationship to the EU/EEA national family member that can be ONE of the ff:

• marriage certificate
• pareja de hecho (civil partnership) certificate 
• birth certificate
• if unmarried, proof of a long-term and stable relationship with EU national
• for other family members, proof that they are dependent on EU national

  1. DNI of the Spanish citizen or Certificado de Registro del Ciudadano de la Unión if from another EU member state
  2. Proof of EU national’s economic means that can be ONE of the ff:

• if employed, employment certificate
• if self-employed, registration in the Census of Economic Activities
• if not employed, proof of sufficient resources and proof of public/private health insurance

  1. 3 passport size color photographs with white background

Application Process

  1. Collect the documents.

While waiting for our pareja de hecho certificate to arrive, we prepared the rest of the documents. At that time, the boyfriend was working so he asked for an employment certificate from his employer and he also had “ALTA” status in the seguridad social.

  1. Book an appointment at the Oficina de Extranjería.

As soon as the certificate arrived, we booked an appointment at the Oficina de Extranjería in Málaga through this website. Print it and bring it to your cita.

  1. Make a personal appearance at the Extranjería and turn in the documents.

I was nervous when we were at the Immigration office because my situation was kind of unique. I applied during summer holiday when my student TIE had already expired and I still couldn’t renew it since I hadn’t received my carta de nombramiento. We had been living in Málaga but I was assigned to teach in Madrid. We weren’t sure in which city we were supposed to apply for it. The funcionario, albeit hesitant, took my documents and gave me a stamped photocopy of the EX-19 form.

  1. Wait for the resolución in form of a physical letter.

The letter should have arrived in less than a month but we ran into some problems. It was time for us to move to Madrid so the boyfriend had to leave his job in Málaga. When we were already in Madrid, they sent us a letter asking for a proof of sufficient resources from the boyfriend since he was no longer alta in the seguridad social.  We had to ask his parents in Málaga to submit a bank certificate on his behalf to the Extranjería.

  1. Once you have the resolución favorable, pay the 10,20 euro fee at the bank using Tasa modelo 790 Código 012 and have your fingerprints taken at the Comisaría de Policía.

While waiting for the resolution, I received my carta de nombramiento and immediately applied for a student TIE in case we got rejected. The waiting drove me crazy because we had already bought our tickets to Vienna-Budapest and if I couldn’t get either of the two cards by then, I couldn’t fly out. Three weeks prior to the trip, my TIE application got approved but still no word about the tarjeta comunitaria. At that point, I didn’t care if the other one was rejected or if I had to cry in front of a funcionario (yes, I had to cry in exchange for a certificado de empadronamiento), I just needed to get a goddamn ID card for my trip. LOL priorities.

I booked the earliest appointment available (even though it was in a pueblo outside the Madrid capital), paid the tasa and went to the police station to had my fingerprints done. You’re not gonna believe what happened. As I was being attended by the funcionario, the status of my residence card application changed to Resolución Favorable! She discarded the paperwork for the student TIE and got the documents for the tarjeta comunitaria! Good thing I had everything! Sometimes it pays to be an overthinker. I left with a resguardo (receipt) with the number of processing days before I can pick up my card.

  1. Receive your shiny new pink card!

I counted the 25 processing days from my comisaría appointment and I picked up my pink card… just days before my trip!

Thanks, Mother España for adopting your hija bastarda!

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  • Reply
    September 21, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Hi Joanne, I’m in a similar situation as my TIE with the auxilares program has expired and I’ll be coming back to Spain for the pareja de hecho appointment (my boyfriend and I are soooo late on the game) with a tourist visa. Do you know anything about how this affects solicitando la tarjeta comunitaria or any resources with similar advice? I’d really appreciate it! Thanks, Caitlin

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      November 5, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Hi Caitlin! So that means you’re not renewing as an auxiliar, correct? To do the pareja de hecho, you need to prove that you’re living with your boyfriend. I’m not sure if you can have empadronamiento if you only have a tourist visa.

    • Reply
      Diana Payne
      November 18, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      Great information Joanne! You can come back and do your pareja without an active NIE. I just completed mine in Madrid in September with a NIE that’s been expired for a year. Bring your expired NIE (although they may not even look at it). Basically once you register for your pareja you’ll be sort of grandfathered in. I don’t recommend trying to travel outside of Spain before you actually complete the “ceremony”. But don’t worry about not having an active NIE.

      • Reply
        November 19, 2017 at 5:23 am

        Ok thanks for the response. I am currently empadronada so that still stands, I guess i was just wondering about applying for the residency card after the pareja de hecho without the nie. I was able to apply for the authorizacion de regreso before hand though, so I’ll be back in the country with the nie in the process of being renewed. Gonna give it a shot and see what happens! Thanks for the information girls!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2017 at 3:09 am

    Hi, I just applied for the pareja de hecho and it should arrive here in about a month. My Gf works but doesn’t have a contract and right now I am just working teaching private English classes. Is there a minimum amount of money that we need to show to get approved for the Residency Card? (I live in Granada) also my NIE has been expired for over 6 months and I would like to go back to the US. Once we have applied for the PDH can we apply for the regreso or do we need the residency card first? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      February 13, 2018 at 8:25 pm

      I’m sorry William, your comment got stuck in the spam folder. I suppose you’ve already gone through it but for the benefit of others, I’m gonna answer anyway. We were in the same situation, my boyfriend was working but he had to leave the job because we moved to Madrid from Málaga. When we were already in Madrid, they sent us a letter asking for a proof of sufficient resources from the boyfriend since he was no longer alta in the seguridad social. We had to ask his parents in Málaga to submit a bank certificate on his behalf to the Extranjería. According to this website ( ) the minimum show money is 5136,60 euros.

  • Reply
    December 25, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Hi Joanne. Are you sure that it is valid anywhere in Europe. I thought it was just for Spain.

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      January 21, 2018 at 12:47 am

      Hi Arda! This card allows you to move and reside freely within the member states of the European Economic Area (with some exceptions).

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    CURRENTLY GOING THROUGH THIS PROCESS AND I CONSIDER IT A NIGHTMARE! We did pareja de hecho en Andalucía and then since we moved to Madrid the paperwork is a bit confusing now… *fingers crossed* I get my TIE soon!

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      February 13, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      Yeah, we did the same thing. We got the PDH in Málaga but we moved to Madrid while the Tarjeta Comunitaria was still in process. Once you get the resolución favorable for the tarjeta, it doesn’t matter if you live in another comunitaria. They do it where you currently have the empadronamiento. THE BEST OF LUCK TO YOU!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Does anyone know if the pareja de hecho from Madrid would allow us to apply for the residency card if later we both move to Toledo and get our empadronado familiar there? Or does the pareja de hecho only stand in the community where you do it?

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      February 13, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      Hi Caitie, I’m not sure if I had the similar situation as yours. What we did was get the PDH in Andalucía and apply for the card there as well. We moved to Madrid and there we received the resolución favorable. They processed my tarjeta in Madrid although my PDH was only valid in Andalucía.

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