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Entry and residence conditions for foreign citizens

Researchers from the European Economic Area (EEA) member states and from the Swiss Confederation are subject to EC regulations regarding freedom of movement. They only need to own a valid passport or identity document, although they must register at the Central Register of Foreigners. Their spouse, direct parents under their care and direct dependents -under 21 years old or older children under their care- (or their spouse's) can also reside and work in Spain even if they do not belong to any of the above-mentioned countries. They must receive the residency card for family members of EU citizens. Researchers from third countries: to stay in Spain they need authorisation for temporary stay or residence.

The residence and employment authorisation process starts with CIC submitting the necessary application form, which must then be joined by the researcher's visa application to the diplomatic mission and consular office.

Initial authorisations are valid for one year, and each renewal (up to two) is valid for two years.

Permanent residence authorisation will be received once the researcher has lived continuously in Spain for 5 years.

Closest family members can also reside in Spain after they have received residence authorisation for family reunification.

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Tax affairs

The Spanish tax system includes two types of taxes:

  • Direct, levied on income and assets: personal income tax (IRPF) and non-resident income tax (IRNR).

    Foreigners considered to be tax residents in Spain (they have stayed in Spain for more than 183 days or their centre of business activities is in Spain) will pay taxes and will be obliged to declare the income they receive anywhere in the world to the Spanish authorities.

    When researchers acquire "tax residence" in Álava or common ground, for the first 5 years they can opt to pay IRPF or IRNR. To be protected by this special Tax System, the researcher must not have been a resident in Spain for any of the previous 10 days.

    For cases where a person is considered to be a tax resident in two different countries, the Spanish Government has signed double taxation agreements (mostly in accordance with the OECD model) with the countries highlighted in green in the following chart.

  • Indirect, levied on consumption of goods and services, and transfer of property and rights in general: VAT, special taxes (IIEE) and property transfer tax (ITP).
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