Spain is a signatory state of the 1995 Schengen Agreement, which promotes free and unhindered travel through the fifteen states who currently implement the terms of the treaty.
As a member state of the European Union, Spain permits foreign nationals of other EU states along with Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland to visit without applying for a visa.
This concession is extended to a range of other countries who may also enter Spain for a period of no more than 90 days without the need to make a visa application.
In practice, this means that all short stay visas for Spain will be issued as Schengen visas. In Spain, visa applications of this kind will receive a Schengen visa permitting the holder to travel through the participating states.
Types of visa for Spain
As discussed, Spanish visas for short-term business or tourism purposes will be issued as Schengen visas.
In Spain, visas are often interchangeably referred to by the terms 'tourist visa', 'visit visa' and travel visa along with 'business visa' and 'business visit visa'. In reality however, all short-term visas are issued as Schengen visas.
However, the requirements for a Schengen visa differ slightly according to the purpose for which it is issued, as outlined below.
Spanish Tourist Visa
In Spain, tourist visas are issued based upon the requirements of the applicant and their proposed trip to the country.
The grant of leave awarded may vary from 1 day to several weeks or more, however the maximum duration will not exceed 90 days.
Spanish visas of this class permit foreign nationals to travel to Spain for the purposes of tourism or to make a private visit to family or friends.
Tourist visas do not permit their holder to engage in paid or unpaid employment during their stay in Spain and are granted with the obligation to return to the county of residence on or before expiry.
A Schengen visa for tourism can be granted as either a single entry or multiple entry permit although Spain also grants a transit visa where people intend to enter Spain en route to another final destination. In these circumstances, the permit is valid for a maximum of five days.
Applicants who wish to enter the country for a very brief period in order to make a scheduled stop on their flight, or to board a connecting flight to another final destination may, in some cases, require an airport transit visa.
Applications for Spanish visit visas will need to include a range of supporting documentation and must demonstrate the purpose of the visit and the candidate's ability to fund the entire duration of the trip.
Spanish Business Visas
Spanish business visas are also issued as Schengen visas.
A Spanish visa of this class is intended for foreign nationals visiting Spain in order to engage in business activities excluding employment.
A Spanish business visa is ideal for those who wish to conduct negotiations or attend conferences or meetings in Spain. However, a business permit holder cannot undertake any kind of employment whilst in the country.
The basic requirements for an application are similar to those for a visit visa with the added requirements of a letter from the candidate's employer, or in the case of self-employed persons, from an accountant, bank manager, or chamber of commerce. A written invitation from a Spanish company or invitation will also be required.
Processing Times and Fees
Immigration visas are continually subject to change in terms of both fees and processing times.
Fees may vary depending on factors such as the nationality of the applicant and in addition, although most applications can be processed within 7-10 days, processing times may also be subject to variation.