Coming to the Costa del Sol as a Tourist

This guide was written by Manzanares Abogados S.L. (info@manzanaresinternational.com) in collaboration with Guides.Global (office@guides.global).

It was written on 09 May 2016. The law and practice in Spain change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.

Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.

The advice and opinions contained in the guides are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Guides.Global.

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The scope of this guide

This guide is about visiting the Costa del Sol as a tourist.


Thousands of people visit the Costa del Sol every year. This isn't surprising - it is a beautiful region with a great range of tourist accommodation.

So you'll be pleased to hear that the Costa del Sol is very easy to visit!

Tourist visits to the Costa del Sol

suitcase and tablet for travelCitizens of any nationality can visit Spain as a tourist (meaning somebody who is visiting on a short-term basis and who is not coming to Spain to work).

Entry into Spain for stays not exceeding ninety days in any six-month period is subject to the conditions set forth in Regulation (EC) Nº 562/2006 (see here in Spanish and here in English) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006.

You must have a valid passport or travel document. The document must be valid for the entirety of the intended stay. Citizens from any state of the European Union (or from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein), only need a valid national identity document or passport.

If a minor (child under the age of 18) is travelling alone with a national identity document, the latter must be accompanied by parental authorization.

If you are from a country whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing the EU's external borders (see the list here in Spanish and here in English), you must obtain a short-term visa - unless you are in possession of a valid residence permit or a valid long-term visa issued by another EU Member State.

Foreigners holding a valid residence permit or a long-term visa issued by another Schengen State may move for a maximum of three months, during any six-month period, through the territory of the other Schengen States, provided:

Journeys to the Costa del Sol as a tourist or for private reasons

If you are coming to the Costa del Sol as a tourist, or for other private (non-business) reasons, submission of any of the following documents may be required:

Journeys of a professional, political, scientific, sporting or religious nature (or other reasons)

Submission of any of the following documents may be required:

Journeys undertaken for the purposes of study or other types of training

Submission of any of the following documents may be required:

Other documents indicating the purpose of the visit may also be accepted.

Short term visits to work in the Costa del Sol

businessman in an airportFor the purposes of this guide, by “work”, we mean working in paid employment on the Costa del Sol. This does not include coming to Spain for business purposes (e.g. meeting clients or to discuss business opportunities). For that, see below.

To come to Spain for short-term employment (less than one year) you need a short term work visa.

This must be obtained, in advance, from the Consulate of Spain nearest to where you live.

To apply for a visa you must have a written offer of employment (such as short term contract, training contract, or management contract).

Whether it is easy or impossible to obtain such a visa depends upon what you want to do by way of work.

It is relatively easy to obtain short-term visas to work in areas where there is a labour shortage. This includes harvesting olives during the short harvest period, from mid-September to mid-October.

Short-term visas for office work in Spain are extremely hard to obtain.

The national employment must allow for the foreign worker to be hired, or there must be proof of the worker being in certain circumstances. See this web page (in English) for more details.

Coming to the Costa del Sol to do business

People wishing to visit Spain to meet clients and/or discuss business are allowed to do so as tourists.

Causes for refusing entry to Spain

The following are causes for refusing entry:

How long does it take?

Depending on the country you come from, the Spanish Consulate may take just a few days or up to about one month.

Expats' Tips

Have you got experience visiting the Costa del Sol? Tell us about it by emailing office@guides.global.


Coming to the Costa del Sol as a tourist is a nice, simple process –and if you can afford to stay the whole 90 days it is guaranteed that you will have a great experience. I hope you enjoy your trip!

Other guides of interest

 Description Link 
Cultural Differences on the Costa del Sol
This guide is about some of the main cultural differences you're likely to come up against on the Costa del Sol.
cultural differences in the Costa del Sol
Immigration, Visas & Residence in the Costa del Sol
This guide gives details of the immigration rules in Spain. It covers immigration for settlement when joining relatives, immigration to work or do business, immigration based on investment in Spain and immigration for retirement. It also covers short term visits to Spain.
golden visas in the Costa del Sol

You may also want to read:

 Description Link 
30 Reasons to love the Costa del Sol
Some information from Trip Advisor
good things about the costa del sol

Readers' Comments


Further information?

We hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact us.

Manzanares Abogados S.L.

09 May 2016


This guide was co-authored by John Howell (Email: John.Howell@Guides.Global or John@jhco.org. Web: www.jhco.org or www.Guides.Global)

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