What type of visa do I need to study and/or work in Spain?

EU Citizens – Citizens from the European Union nations are able to work legally in Spain without getting a visa. However you will need to register for a Residence Permit at the local Foreigners’ Office and apply for a tax number, known as an “NIE,” which you will need for official paperwork, taxes, etc. Typically, your employer will assist you with these matters, including your application for social security.

Student Visa – Those who plan to study in Spain at a recognized language school, university, etc. may be eligible to legally work in Spain while studying.  Typically, a student visa must be processed before departing for Spain.  Contact a Spanish Consulate for more information on recognized “study abroad” programs and what is required to obtain a student visa. We can help you find a suitable program that meets the necessary requirements which allows you to apply for a student visa.

There are basically three options for student visas, which start from when you first enter the EU:

a) A tourist visa which expires after 90 days (this is the stamp in your passport on entry)

b) Short-term student visa (4 to 6 months)

c) Long-term student visa (minimum 7 months). For our Student Visa Programs, click here.

With the short-term visa (b), you are not eligible to work legally, but can stay in Spain legally. With the long-term student visa, however, you are eligible to legally work for up to 20 hours per week, which is more or less full time teaching. This means you would need to be enrolled on an official course, recognized as such by the Spanish Ministry of Education, and studying for minimum of 20 hours per week.

Tourist Visa – Tourist visas are the most common for English teachers who are not citizens of European Union (EU) nations, including Americans, to work on in Spain as the majority of schools and employers in Spain will not sponsor a work visa for their teachers.  A 90 day tourist visa will be stamped in your passport upon entry into Spain and to teach English you will overstay it and work on an expired tourist visa. The vast majority of Americans & non-EU citizens who work in Barcelona do so as independent contractors & private tutors on a tourist visa.

Citizens of Australia, Canada and New Zealand years can apply for a one-year Spanish working holiday visa. Working holiday visas typically have restrictions and requirements, such as age limits (typically between 18 and 30 or 35), the need to prove one has sufficient funds, and more.


You can contact ITA Barcelona in a number of ways to gain advice from experienced TESOL advisors, all with first hand knowledge of living and teaching abroad

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