European Union Long Duration Residence

The non-EU expat who logs five legal years in Spain can reach for a glittery brass ring at the end of year five: a “larga duración” residence permit, either for Spain alone or for both Spain and the rest of the European Union.

I opted for the second, got it, post today to share juicy details.

My new status is permanent. I had to submit proofs and paperwork to obtain the status, true, but hereafter only shall have to renew the plastic identity card every five years, and not the underlying authorization. I can’t vote, but enjoy most of the others rights of a EU citizen.

THE PROCESS

This time, I worked with a professional. The 2019 visa renewal had exhausted me. I couldn’t see putting myself through a similar ordeal on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic, didn’t want to take any chances on such an important step-up in my life in Europe. I queried Spaniards and other expats, booked consultations with two firms, decided not to work with either, pored suspiciously over online reviews …

… and, at the end of the day, made a good choice: Lexidy Law Services, specifically, Cristina Negro Vizoso at the Madrid branch. I recommend Lexidy wholeheartedly to other expats, regret only that I didn’t discover them years ago.

Because I worked with a pro, I write with less detail than in my other posts about immigration hurdles. Spain’s Residencia de larga duración – UE page gives a good overview of requirements, but Lexidy provided separate instructions. I dotted the Is and crossed the Ts that Lexidy told me to dot and cross, signed paperwork to let them submit my application electronically.

The worst part was the wait. The extranjería was supposed to give me thumbs up or thumbs down within three months (significantly longer than the visa renewal wait time in 2019). Three months came, went. Nothing. Had the extranjería somehow rejected my app with the silencio administrativo referred to on the portal page? I sent nervous emails to Cristina; she sent follow-up requests to the extranjería, reassured me. I also heard from three fellow U.S. expats with Democrats Abroad, who agreed that these extranjería delays were par for the course, particularly in a Covid year.

The good news finally came in mid-September. Application approved! I still had to be fingerprinted for the new ID card at a Comunidad de Madrid police office. Cristina booked the appointment for me, told me what paperwork to bring.

I expect to have the card by mid-November. I’d update this post if I were to run into problems, but don’t expect to. The authorization is what counts, the resolución de concesión, and I already have that. I’m in.

On to questions and answers. I’ll emphasize at the start that I can’t and don’t offer legal advice, post only to share what I’ve learned. (Or think I’ve learned …)

IS LONG DURATION RESIDENCE THE SAME AS PERMANENT RESIDENCE?

Not quite, although we expats often use the second term when we mean the first. True ‘permanent residence’ is available only to citizens of the European Union.

CAN I APPLY FOR LONG DURATION RESIDENCE ONLY IN SPAIN?

Yes, as described at another Portal de Inmigración page. I like Spain a lot, wouldn’t have assembled a 3,900 word Spanish vocabulary list if I intended to move, but also saw no reason to limit options. I wanted long duration residence for the whole European Union.

HOW HARD WOULD IT BE TO MOVE ELSEWHERE IN THE EUROPEAN UNION?

The twenty-seven member countries, in alphabetical order, are:

AustriaBelgiumBulgaria
CroatiaCyprusCzechia
DenmarkEstoniaFinland
FranceGermanyGreece
HungaryIrelandItaly
LatviaLithuaniaLuxembourg
MaltaNetherlandsPoland
PortugalRomaniaSlovakia
SloveniaSpainSweden

I could now move to any one of these, and — with one critical exception — believe that the related red tape wouldn’t be all that much worse than for a move between states in the U.S.

The exception: the new EU country would want to see proof of health plan coverage and adequate financial resources, and could reject me if I couldn’t furnish them. I should never again have to prove this stuff in Spain, but would if I hankered to swap my EU long duration status in Spain for the same status in, say, France or Sweden.

CAN I LOSE LONG DURATION RESIDENCE?

I could, by:

  • committing a crime serious enough to mark me as a danger to Spanish society.
  • remaining outside the EU for more than twelve months.
  • remaining outside Spanish territory for more than six years.
  • obtaining EU long-term residence in another EU member state, as described above.

CAN I WORK AND MAKE MONEY?

I sure can!

DO I HAVE ACCESS TO SPAIN’S SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM?

As in ‘Spain national health system.’ Yes, either for free, if I register as employed or self-employed with Spain social security, or for a monthly charge, via the Convenio asistencia sanitaria. Said charge is now €60/month for those under 65, €157/month for those 65 and older.

WHAT ARE THE SPAIN LAWS RELATED TO THE EU LONG DURATION PERMIT?

Not that I’d confidently interpret them as a language learner without a Spain law degree, but, just so you have them:

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Congratulations! You really earned it.
    I’m envious, never was able to learn languages.

    Also, your photos are increasingly artistic
    in perspective and quality. Evocative.

  2. Thank you, Charles!

    If anyone had ever told me as a teenager in 1970s California that a second language would one day matter so much to me, well …

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