BRITS and other non-EU residents looking to vacation in Spain may be required to show proof of accommodation — even when staying with friends or family.
Non-EU passport holders are required to carry proof they have accommodation that covers the entirety of their stay when entering Spain as a tourist — that is, with the intention of staying for 90 days or less.
In the case of having booked a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb, this could be as simple as a booking confirmation email.
But the process is a bit more complicated for travellers planning to stay with friends or family.
In this case a carta de invitación, or invitation letter, can be necessary.
Essentially an official statement from the host, the carta de invitacion is a bit more complicated than a simple handwritten letter, as it must be issued by the local police.
Who needs an invitation letter?
Anyone from a country outside the EU may be asked to show a carta de invitacion.
Citizens of Russia and most African and Asian countries require visas to enter Spain, even as tourists.
If you’re from one of these countries, you’ll need to present the carta de invitacion to your local Spanish consulate when applying for the tourist visa, which means your host will have to send it before you begin the application.
Citizens from countries that do not require a tourist visa to enter Spain, such as most Latin American countries, the US and the UK, may still need a carta de invitacion, although it won’t be necessary to present it until arriving at customs in Spain.
In the above scenario, attempting to enter the country without proof of either hotel accommodation or a carta de invitacion could result in fines.
It’s important to note that in the case of needing a tourist visa, the carta de invitacion is only the first step of a longer process.
Once received, the traveller will still have to meet other tourist visa requirements, such as round-trip plane tickets and proof of financial means to cover the entirety of the stay.
A full list of tourist visa — also known as the Schengen Visa — requirements can be found on Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
How to get one
It is the responsibility of the host in Spain to apply for a carta de invitacion.
This person must be either a Spanish national, an EU citizen living in Spain, or a non-EU citizen with legal residence.
They must make an appointment at their nearest police station, which can be done through this link.
On the day of the appointment, the host must bring the application form, a copy of the foreign guest’s passport, a copy of the contract that certifies they are the owner or renter of the property, their empadronamiento form (which certifies their residency at the particular address), and their DNI (or TIE if they are a foreign resident).
There is an application fee as well, which changes frequently but typically costs between €70 and €80.
Once the process is finalised and the carta de invitacion is granted, the original document must be sent to the person planning to visit.
It’s important that this document is original and not a copy.
If you have obtained an invitation letter for your guest, you must make sure they get on that flight home, as you have taken on responsibility for them.
If they are found to have overstayed, especially if they surpass the 90-day limit, you could face fines of up to €10,000 for breaking immigration law – or even higher in extreme cases.