Visas are required of most travelers arriving in Spain, so before your trip, make sure you are fully acquainted with all the documents necessary for entry into Spanish territory. 

What you need to know about visas in Spain

Spain is part of the Schengen Area, which is a zone comprised of 26 European countries that have established unrestricted movement across their borders. A visa issued from Spain will allow you to travel to any of the 26 member countries of the Schengen Area, and inversely, if you hold a visa of any other Schengen Area country, you are allowed to enter Spain.  

All tourists arriving in Spain must hold a valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of three months and issued within the previous ten years. Visitors must show a visa ​​upon entry, except for citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, who only need to show a national identity document or valid passport. Citizens from Ireland, which is not part of the Schengen Area, will be requested to show their passport. (Minors traveling with a national identity card must be accompanied by a parent or a guardian). 

Several countries that have established an international agreement with Spain do not require visas for entry, so best to check the updated list if your country is one of them.

Park Güell
A tourist visa allows travelers to stay in the country for 90 days  © Jorg Greuel / Getty Images

Tourist visa (short-stay visa)

For tourists, the short-stay visa is the general visa needed to travel to Spain for a maximum stay of three months (90 days) in any of the six months (180 day) period through the territory of other Schengen States. 

A visa is required for third-country nationals included in the list of countries subject to the visa requirement for crossing international borders, if they are not in possession of a valid residence permit, a valid long-term visa issued by another EU Member State, or a visa issued by another Schengen state.

When applying for a visa, Spanish authorities will request information regarding the purpose of the trip along with documented details of your stay, such as proof of accommodation, bookings for organized tours or trip with an itinerary, a letter of invitation if the traveler is staying at their home, and a return ticket. In all cases, you will also be requested to show access to sufficient economic resources (bank account statements) to be able to support yourself during your stay in the country — the amount must be at least 10% of the gross inter-professional minimum wage (set at 950 euros) per day (as of February 2020), as well as bank statements showing proof of income over the last six months. 

Visas are issued by the Spanish embassies or consulates in the origin country. 

Extending a short-term visa

It is possible to extend a short-term visa as long as the authorized stay is shorter than 90 days, but only in exceptional cases which arise after entering Spain. 

Getting an approval for visa extension is not an easy task and you will need to present a strong reason to present your case. Schengen visa policy states that acceptable reasons for extending a short-stay visa include late entry, humanitarian reasons, (needing medical treatment or death of a family member), force majeure, or other important personal reasons which the immigration authorities will need to decide on. 

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