A quick guide to applying for residency in the Canary Islands

Finding out what steps to take to apply for residence or a visa for digital nomads can be extremely helpful for remote workers hoping to spend a longer spell of time in the Canary Islands.

With a climate as spectacular as the scenery, cuisine and culture, the Canary Islands often tempt visitors to think about extending their stay or even living on the archipelago.


Anyone with a sufficient motive or connection can become a resident of the Canary Islands. 

However, if you have decided to spend a long time in the Canary Islands, you will need a residency permit. This applies to remote workers, too.


If you intend to spend more than 90 days living or working in the Canary Islands, you must apply for a residency permit. This advice will give you an idea of how to obtain residency in the Canary Islands. However, it is extremely important to get information from official sources in case of doubt:


A temporary residency allows you to stay on the islands for between 90 days and five years. Permits for less than five years can be renewed every year at the subject’s request.

Long-term or permanent residency authorises the subject to live and work on the islands indefinitely, under the same conditions as Spanish residents. Foreign citizens who have been continuous temporary residents of the islands for five years and meet the requirements imposed by the Ministry of the Interior are entitled to long-term residency. 


Becoming a resident of the Canary Islands has some significant financial advantages. The best-known of these is the 75% discount on scheduled airfares. However, you will also be entitled to discounts on local transport and tickets for museums, galleries and tourist attractions. What’s more, the Canary Islands offer entrepreneurs setting up a business some attractive tax benefits.


The NIE or Foreigner Identification Number is a code assigned by the tax agency to foreigners in Spain. The personal number is the code that identifies the person concerned and appears on all documents issued or processed and on entries in passports and similar documents, except for visas.

It is a good idea to apply for this document, as it will facilitate a wide variety of financial and fiscal operations. These include the acquisition or sale of property, payment of taxes, the purchase or sale of vehicles and obtaining a driving licence. A NIE (foreign resident’s ID) is also required for establishing a company.

Documentation for requesting a NIE

Several documents are needed to obtain a NIE (foreign resident’s ID) in Spain:


At the end of 2022, the so-called Startups Law was published in the Official State Gazette, giving regulations on applying for international remote working or digital nomad visas

The visa for digital nomads is a residence permit which allows people to settle and work remotely in Spain. It is geared towards non-EU citizens (because Europeans can work remotely for up to 6 months in the country) and, among other advantages, it enables free circulation throughout EU territory.

There are two ways of obtaining permits to work remotely as a digital nomad in Spain: by processing it from your country of origin, or by processing it directly in Spain.

Visa for digital nomads: with a maximum duration of one year, applications from outside of Spain. This application must be submitted to the competent Spanish Consulate in the worker’s country. Two months before its validity expires, the person in question can opt to extend their stay by choosing to apply for a residence permit.

Remote working residence permit: with a duration of three years unless requested for a shorter amount of time. It can be extended for two further years, up to a total of 5 years. The request will be made in Spain, by holders of the tourist visa, at the Large Business and Strategic Groups Unit or 2 months prior to expiry of the digital nomad visa.


Here are some of the requisites that need to be met to apply for the digital nomad visa:

  • Accreditation of a university, vocational training or business school qualification, or proof of a minimum of three years’ professional experience.
  • Evidence that the employment or professional relationship to be implemented can be performed remotely.
  • Health insurance.
  • A clean criminal record in Spain and in the countries of residence for the previous two years.

Digital nomads must be up-to-date with their individual tax compliance situation and have met the corresponding fiscal obligations arising from Spanish legislation. Among others, these include:

  • Keeping detailed track of income and expenses arising from the activity undertaken.
  • Submitting the corresponding national and regional fiscal declarations, which will depend on the type of professional activity conducted.  
  • Depending on the fiscal residence status, submitting an income tax declaration every year, via a declaration of either personal income tax (IRPF) or Non-Residents’ Income Tax (IRNR).

To obtain detailed, up-to-date information, we recommend that you consult the relevant official source, such as the Spanish embassy or consulate in your country of origin. In the same way, for individual cases, specific queries that have not been resolved in this article or for more information, we recommend you turn to official sources such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, the Ministry of the Interior, Portal PRIE or the Tax Agency.