How To Move To Spain – Planning, Visa, Residency, Housing, Settling

If you want to live in Spain, you have come to the right place!  Welcome to Wagoners Abroad.  We know it can all be overwhelming planning a move and this is the page for you to bookmark!

This is the mother of all moving to Spain posts, so go ahead and save it to your favorites right now.  

Move To Spain - Planning your move, Best places to live in Spain, Getting a long-term visa to live in Spain, Getting settled in Spain with schools, banks, and more. We have been through the process and have helped hundreds of others through it too. Now is the time to live your dreams and move to Spain. Click to read more on WagonersAbroad.com

Okay, now that you have done that, read on.

We have been living in Spain a few years and have so many things to share with you.  Keep on reading and we will show you tips for planning and preparation, as well as share our experiences about public education, banking, medical insurance and more.  Oh and we can help you with obtaining your Spanish visa as well.  We have helped so many people and families with making their dream to live in Spain, come true.  Keep on reading and if you would like help, we offer consulting! (We can help you with the visa process, deciding where to live and more).

We have written many posts on how we obtained our Non Lucrative Residence Visa and were able to move to Spain. I thought it would be helpful to organize them all here for you.  When looking for residency in Spain, there are several options for the Non EU citizens, specifically US Citizens, Canadian Citizens and Australian Citizens.  Alan has written a very detailed and very affordable ebook to help you through the process of applying for the Non Lucrative Residence Visa for Spain.  There are many other types of Spanish visa options available, but this is what worked for us.

Move to Spain and visit Setenil de las Bodegas Sentinal de las Bodegas Spain - City built into Rocks. We can live in Spain because we have the non lucrative visa. You can apply for one too!

With this visa, you need to prove that you are able to provide for you and your dependents financially as well as showing proof of medical insurance coverage.  They want to be sure you aren’t going to take jobs from the locals as well as tap into the health care system.   There are many other resident or long stay visas that may suit your needs better, but we haven’t been through that process ourselves.  We have helped successfully coach many people/families through the Non Lucrative Residence Visa Application process, so don’t be shy with asking us questions.  Check out our consulting services and fees.

Ronda Romantica Spain

Below I will list the articles we have written on our process for our initial Non Lucrative Residence Visa Application as well as the process for renewal.  When you are approved for the Non Lucrative Residence Visa in Spain, the visa allows you into the country.  You have a limited time to get your affairs in order and register with your local police station/ foreigners office.  You will need to provide your lease and the visa paperwork provided to you by the consulate to apply for your actual resident card.

Mijas Spain - Apply for your Non Lucrative Residence Visa

This resident card is valid for 1 year.  After that time you may apply to renew up to two times for two years each.  Each time you apply to renew, you again need to show proof of financial support as well as medical insurance coverage.  We review the details of our experience for you via the links below.   Please let us know if you have any questions.

Preparing to move to Spain or any place abroad

Moving Abroad - How to Choose location and find rental

Moving Abroad? How To Select The Country, Town & Make The Move

No matter if you are moving abroad long-term, short-term or perhaps you are just going on vacation/holiday,  these tips will apply to all.   Check it out!  Do you want to know what our first 500 days of living abroad was like?   Are you curious about all of our family travel and exploration in Spain and many other countries?

Learning Spanish and Education in Spain

We Can Help with your VISA!

We understand the entire process for applying for a Resident Visa can be completely overwhelming.  Many people have successfully moved to Spain using all of the free information we have provided here.  Others have opted to get our help and purchase our ebook to guide them through the entire process.  This book is very detailed and will walk you through ever step of the process.  We also include each of the US Consulates and their unique requirements, plus Canada.  This is a huge time saver when it comes to tracking down all which is required for the visa.  It puts it all on one easy to find place for you and prevents you wasting hours of time trying to scour the web.

More info on Our Live in Spain eBook Here!

This is well worth the low cost, with all of the time you will save.  If you want even more help, from a simple skype conversation to full project management, we also offer consulting services.  You can speak with us live to get those nagging questions answered.  Feel free to contact us for more info or click on the book below.

Buy Now Button

More info on getting your Spanish Resident Visa Here

Your step by step guide to obtaining a Visa to Live In Spain
Tips and Tricks for the non lucrative visa for Spanish Residency
Live In Spain eBook

Initial Application Process for Non Lucrative Visa – Move to Spain


 

Once You Arrive and Set Up Residence for your move to Spain

Renewal Of Residence Card,
Application for Non Lucrative Visa – Residence in Spain

MONEY!  Cost of Living in Spain

This can not possibly represent the entire country, this is just what we have experienced in our town, with our lifestyle.  Your life will be different!  🙂

Searching for rentals in Spain (apartments, villas, townhomes and more)

Agencies will only show you what they have on hand and many people don’t list with an agency, so look at all options.  Here are a few of the property search sites which have Spain holiday rentals as well as long-term and short-term rentals.

If you plan to visit Spain for more than 1 week or 1 month, you should be able to negotiate.  Many times it is best to rent something for 1-2 weeks, this will allow you time to get to know the area while searching for your long-term rental.  It is best to see properties in person, as some photos may be very outdated.

Are you planning to move to visit Spain?  We have a wealth of information available to you for free! Click on an image below.  

We help you plan your trip to Spain. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

Disclosure:  Some links presented on this page are affiliate links, for which we will receive a small % of commission if you purchase something.  This is always at no extra cost to you.

Sign up for the Wagoners Abroad Newsletter and for a limited time, receive your free ebook “Experience Spain – Getting Started With Spain Facts and Information”.

Organized Tours

There are also many organized tours for you to enjoy from being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour.  There is so much to do and Viator has so many great offers for you.  Click here to see their latest Spain Deals!

Where to Stay in Spain!

We have the best Spain holiday rentals here:

Property Owners: you may list your holiday property or room rental for free!

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Move To Spain - Planning your move, Best places to live in Spain, Getting a long-term visa to live in Spain, Getting settled in Spain with schools, banks, and more. We have been through the process and have helped hundreds of others through it too. Now is the time to live your dreams and move to Spain. Click to read more on WagonersAbroad.com

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  1. Good afternoon (here) / eveing (there)…
    I am at the beginning of the exploration process into retirement destinations. My wife and I are Canadian and I will be retiring in just under 5 years.
    I expect the 5 yr Resident Card (1 yr initial and two 2 yr renewals) is tied to the lifespan of the holders passport (5 yrs). They must permit you to apply for Citizenship if we want to retire there permanently and give up our Canadian Citizenship ??

    • Good morning (here) / evening (there)!

      I’ll go off of what we experienced when we renewed. They’re basically looking to make sure you have a valid passport for the time you’re renewing. I do not think you become a citizen. You just become a resident. I imagine there is a way to become a citizen, but I have only heard of people becoming residents. That makes things much simpler. I’m assuming you would not want to give up your citizenship.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Hi, your information is very much useful for me. I have another query that, is it possible to change non-lucrative visa to work permit visa after some time (may be after 3 months) from Spain itself?

    • It is possible to request a change and apply for a work visa, but the requirements remain the same for a working visa. You still need to meet those requirements to be approved.

  3. Hi,

    My travel partner and I have undergone the process of applying for a non lucrative Spanish Visa and are waiting in the two month process for its return. We have many questions about establishing residence if and when we get there. We only want to remain in Spain for two to three months and then travel for one year in Europe. Would we need to obtain the Residence card? What is the purpose of the card. You gave excellent advice about how to obtain it. Also we are US citizens, do we need to obtain a Spanish drivers license for the time we reside there…we will have International drivers licenses. Do you think we should consult an immigration attorney about these matters? Thank you for your response. Best, Jan

    • Hey Jan,

      Assuming that you WILL be approved (I know I’m crossing my fingers), once you get to Spain, there will be some things that you need to do. Look at Heidi’s awesome post on what needs to be done:

      http://wagonersabroad.com/settle-in-spain-resident-card-bank-school-phone/

      Getting the NIE card (residence card) will be about a month-long wait process, but once you have it, you’re golden for Spain, and the rest of the EU for travel. You are no longer bound by the Schengen visa limitations. As for the driver’s license, you should be fine with an International DL. Hopefully you won’t be getting any tickets!

      I would not bother consulting with an immigration attorney. It’s pretty straightforward, and Heidi’s post above tells everything we did. If you don’t have kids to worry about, your process will be even easier than ours.

      Good luck, press thumbs, boca lupo, buena suerte!

      • yes Jan, it is worth getting the resident card. You will not only have access to travel freely within the schengen zone, you may also get free or discounted entry into attractions or historical sites as a resident.

  4. I just wanted to add to the thread, with a few of my own experiences. My family and I lived in Spain last year for12 months with NIEs. When we filed the paperwork for the visa the man at the Spanish Consulate in NYC actually filed for us to get a retirement visa (no idea why – we are in our 40s with young children). Even if you have your visa approved you MUST have birth certificates for your children with you, or you cannot become “empadronado” with your city of residence. If you don’t have the padrón, you cannot get your NIE. We learned this the hard way.
    Also, the International Driver’s License that you get through AAA is not valid in Spain. If you have a residency card (NIE) you can drive on your American license for six months; after that you are legally required to get a Spanish license. Getting a Spanish license is a long, arduous, expensive process. Quite frankly, it’s cheaper to pay a ticket than get a license…just make sure you’re insured if you do choose that route. It’s a gamble, but it makes economic sense.

    • Ha! Yes it can be a bit of a pain. If you are looking to move to Spain, we do have plenty of tips and tricks up our sleeves. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Oh thanks Megsy. We felt so much pain and frustration when we were going through it. We just wanted to do our little part to help where we can. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Hello
    Just came across your website- fantastic info! Curious to begin the process of long term visa and or nonlucrative visa – I am Canadian and wonder what advantage if any there is to having purchased an apartment (last year) in Barcelona

    • Glad you like the info Michele. I’m not sure there is any advantage other than being able to specify that you have an address all lined up. The approval process is such a “black box” that it’s not clear to me that it factors into the decision. My take would be that it couldn’t hurt!

      Good luck with your application. I have a book available if the visa process looks too daunting: http://liveinspain.wagonersabroad.com/

  6. Hello guys, thank you for such a great site! I’m in a process of collecting the required paperwork and I am puzzled by the “Proof of accommodation”: it seems as if I should sign a lease sight unseen via internet for a whole year and present a contract signed by a landlord. What did you do about this requirement? I have a friend who could write me a letter that she would let me stay in her house indefinitely until I rent or buy, but neither her nor I know how to write such a letter. I would greatly appreciate your advice. Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Elena,

      We were in the same situation and asked the consulate in DC for advise. They stated that we should put the name of the city we intended to reside in. Again, that was tough as we didn’t even know where in Spain. We did go on a scoping trip and narrowed it down to the southern coast. On the application, we just put “Malaga”. We ended up living in Almunecar, which is actually Granda. We think the purpose of this is so they know which office to send the paperowrk for approval. It is very beneficial, if you have an area already in mind. If not, perhaps a quick scoping trip to narrow it down?

      Once we arrived, we just registered and did the paperwork in the Province we were living in. We first found our long-term accommodation and took our lease when we applied for our NIE cards at the Extranjero/Foreigner Office. We had no questions asked or problems at all. Please feel free to email or call your consulate to verify.

      That said, we do have friends that recently applied (1 US citizen and 1 Japanese). I guess the rules for a Japanes citizen are different and they needed to have a signed contract for the application.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions and thanks for stopping by.

      • Please assist me regarding proof of accomodation. I don’t have friend in spain.
        So how i can take accomodation from dubai?
        Regards

        • Hado,

          If I were in your situation, I would search for real estate agencies/rental agencies in the town you’re interested in living. Email them, and see what options/services they provide along those lines. It’s a difficult situation, but hopefully with some searching on Google, you’ll be able to get the accommodation situan figured out.

          Good luck!

  7. Hello – I am 63 yr old American who has lived permantly in Germany for over 30 yrs. I want to live in Spain now.. What do I need for my Non Lucrative Visa? Will the Residency Office of Spain take into account that I have lived all my working life in Germany/EU (1971-1988) I get Benefits from Germany that can be transfered easily to Spain to account for my income. Can you advise me ?

    Thanks Martha m.harlam@hotmail.com

    • Martha – Your situation is a bit non-standard. Do you have paperwork that lists you as an EU resident or German resident? If so, perhaps that’s the way to obtain a non-lucrative or retirement visa, or whatever pertains to EU citizens. If you don’t have anything like that, then you’ll most likely have to apply from the U.S. at a Spanish Consulate. That would be less than ideal, but if you can’t get some sort of residency document from Germany, then the U.S. is the way to go.

      Good luck, and let me know what you find.

  8. Excellent post – great info.

    Do you know if the non-lucrative visa is open for Mexican citizens to apply? I’ve been trying to find info online and all I’m finding is info for American citizens, Canadians, Australians etc.

    • David,

      Since Mexico appears to be in the same country class as the U.S., I’m assuming it would have the same visa requirements. I’m having a tough time finding any info on the various types of visas. I guess you could email or call your local Mexican consulate for the details.

      Good luck!

  9. What a comprehensive info-packed piece! I didn’t know there were so many visa options for staying in Spain. We ourselves may not be contemplating a move to Spain but it has given us a forewarning, so to speak, what can await us if ever we or family members think of it. Thanks for these very useful info.

  10. Hi there,

    There is one thing I have been trying to find out about non-lucrative residence visa application process that I can’t find anywhere and I was wondering if you might know the answer.

    I am Australian but living in the UK on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. I am looking to relocate to Spain and will run the company in the UK and Aus remotely so won’t be drawing any income from Spain and hence I believe I qualify.

    Everywhere I am reading it says you need to apply from your home country. Does that mean I need to travel back to Australia to apply or could I apply at the consulate in London? Not sure if they literally mean home country or they just mean you can’t apply from within Spain?

    Also, one other question. If I started on the NLR visa and wanted to open a business there and swap to Entrepreneur visa – is that possible to swap once there assuming you meet requirements for the Entrepreneur Visa?

    Thanks,
    Liam

    • Liam,

      Your case is not exactly in my realm of expertise, but I will tell you what I think. When Americans apply for the NL Visa, they must be able to provide proof of citizenship, or provide proof that they are legally in the U.S. I would tend to think that since you are in the UK legally, you may be able to apply from there. That said, all of the U.S. Consulates that I’ve had dealings with have slightly different rules, or do things their own way.

      As far as swapping, I don’t know how that works. I’m thinking of doing the same thing once we’ve renewed, but I don’t know the answer on that one.

      Good luck!

  11. Hi there! Thank you for sharing the information of what you might need in order to move to Spain. I’m planning for quite a while now to try to live abroad for a while because I just feel that I need the experience. I’m from the UK so for me it will be a bit easier to move to Spain if I want to but still there are much to consider before making the step. I am still thinking about it. I have a business in London together with a friend so I cannot just go whenever I want but in the near future I think that moving to Spain will be very possible! Thanks for the post! I will keep following your blog! 🙂

  12. Hi Heidi,

    Great Blog. I have been living in Spain for over a year now so as you we are considered residents of Spain, which I believe means we have to file taxes in Spain on “world-wide” income. I have a few questions and was wondering if we could talk offline?

    Thanks
    Jeff

    • Hey Jeff,

      Ah, welcome to the world of Spain! 🙂 So glad you are here. Where are you living?

      Yep, we can chat offline, but we typically don’t get into the world of taxes with many people, as it all varies. feel free to hit the old “contact us” and it will send us a private email. If it is more than a quick question, with a quick answer, we do also offer consulting, $25 for each 15-20 min skype, with your questions emailed in advance. 🙂

  13. Hi Heidi!

    Great site with very detailed info!

    Do you know if I can switch the visa type when in Spain? I mean, just in case I’m under the non-lucrative visa and want to start a business in Spain. I’m not sure if I can request and switch to a work permit visa such as the self-employed visa.

    Thank you!

    • Hey Marcos, we are actually looking into that very scenario right now. Yes, there is a way to do it, but we aren’t sure what that is yet. I have phoned the foreigners office in Granada and they mentioned “item 29”, so need to figure out what the heck that is. I think it is applying for self employment for the first time, but I need to dig around more to see. If you are self employed, you need to also be autonomo too, so look for those key words. Let us know if you find any detailed info out.

      • Hi Heidi!

        Thanks for your quickly reply.

        I forgot to say I follow you guys on Facebook. 🙂

        Actually I’m in Brazil with solid plans to go to Spain next year but I’m still not fully decided about it or Australia. If I get an Australian visa (I was struggling with IELTS English exam about 3 months, score at proficiency level. But since now I have the desired score to be eligible for a skilled visa, I’m waiting an invitation from Australia Government Department- I’m from IT area) I’ll go for it, otherwise my second option and backup plan is Spain. Either one I think it will worth to settle down and start a new life with my wife and little daughter, who is a baby of 9 months of age now.

        A few months ago, I contacted Marta Flores (Lawbird Services in Spain, http://www.lawbird.com) and she was so kind to explain about my possibilities (Entrepreneur, Self-Employed, Non-Lucrative visa options). If I decide to relocate to Spain and need to use any Legal services and I’ll definitely contact her again. You could contact her, worth a try.

        Best,
        Marcos

  14. Heidi,
    Did the embassy or your doctor require TB tests and blood tests to confirm you didn’t have any communicable diseases before you left? I’m wondering if they have to do a full panel of tests to make sure before they will certify, or if them stating that you appear to be in good health is sufficient. I’m trying to figure out what kind of appointment to make with my doctor. I guess I can follow up with the consulate in DC to see what they say, too, but I wondered what you did?
    Thanks!

    • Good question and we did both! 🙂 I just requested a standard yearly physical and a letter stating I was healthy. etc. Alan asked for a full blown exam , with all sorts of tests etc, along with letter. They both seemed to work just fine. To be on the safe side I would contact the consulate and verify that the requirements have not changed. We too went through the DC consulate.

  15. when does the one year mark begin? When you get approved for the visa or when you get the residence card?

    • The one year mark begins when you enter the country or the Schengen zone. If you fly from USA to Spain with a lay over in Germany, you will be stamped into the Schengen zone in Germany. That is when the clock is ticking to get to the foreigners office. When you apply, they use the date you entered on the card.

      The visa is good for 90 days, so once that date starts you have 90 days to enter the country. Once you enter Spain or the Schengen Zone you then have 30 days to go to the foreigners office and apply for your resident card. That can sometimes take a couple of months to get your resident card, but no to worry providing you keep all of your receipts to show it is in process.

  16. One more question. During the one year are there any restrictions on leaving the country, or within that year can I come and go as I please?

    • You are free to come and go as you please. That said, if you are planning to renew after the first year, you will want to limit how much time you spend out of the Schengen Zone. When you renew, they request a copy of every single page in your passport. If you have been out of the country too much or more than 6 months in another country, then that is a huge red flag. You have no loyalty to being in Spain. When I say the Schengen zone, that is because within these countries, there are no passport stamps, so there is no way for them to know where you have been.

      • I heard that the amount of time you’re allowed out of the country/Schengen area under a non-lucrative Visa decreases every year. For example: the first year, you’re allowed 6-months, then it decreases for every subsequent year.
        Can you shed some light on this?

        • Actually the less time you are out of the Shcengen zone the better. If you are away from Spain from more than 6 months, they can decline your residency renewal and you would have to start the clock ticking from the beginning again. If you are within the Schengen zone, Spain would have no way of knowing where you are traveling, because your passport wouldn’t be stamped.

          We did once know the exact number of days allowed to be away, but I can’t recall now. I wouldn’t plan on being away regularly or often, if you intend to keep renewing your TIE (residence card).

  17. Hi Heidi and Alan, I’ve a simple question to start with. We live in Denver, would like to become full-time RV/motorhome folks in Europe for a few years. To do that, it would be best to get a long-term visa. We speak spanish, so Spain is a natural. However, our intent is to travel for most/all of our time, which would imply getting a residence in Spain counter productive, for we want to travel not settle down. Is there a way to get a long term visa without having a long term purchase/lease/rental in Spain? Thanks for any advice, and I’m looking forward to buying your document if the long term visa seems to be the route to take. best, Brian and Terry

  18. Hi Heidi, my husband and 6 year old son are exploring the idea of moving to Spain for a year or two from the Bay Area in California. I am so grateful to have found your blog! It’s a wonderful resource…We’re starting to gather all the information for the Non-Lucrative Visa and researching areas to live in. My husband and I speak basic Spanish. Our son has had some exposure in Kindergarten here. He can count, knows the colors and alphabet. Our goal is to become fluent. I think an area that speaks Castilian Spanish would be ideal. We have to decide between the big city of Madrid, or on the coast. Sounds like you were happy with your choice of Almunecar. Are there other areas you would recommend? We are struggling with what to do about school – either a Spanish State School or International school to ease my son into Spanish more slowly. It’s wonderful that your children’s school provided tutors. I’m leaning towards a public school and hiring tutors to help him (and us) because I think that would get him integrated more quickly. Having gone through this decision, do you have any insights? Anything you would have done differently? Thank you!

    • Hi Holly, how exciting for you all! I wouldn’t have changed a thing for us, but it all comes down to you and your family. Do you want to rip the bandaid off slowly or quickly? Same with immersion learn slowly or quickly for the kids. No matter what you will have some pain points, but what is best for your family. Much of Spain in Castilian excluding the north east and parts of Valencia. Like the USA, there are many accents in between (just compare Boston or NY with Louisianan or something) very similar. We are in Andalucia (south of Spain) and they have a unique accent and sometimes a bit of a lazy tongue… For example the number 2 is dos sometimes pronounced doe without the “s” sound. So it can vary.

      We prefer the climate and history in the south with Romans, Phoenicians and Moors all having been here before us. From what I hear Madrid and Salamanca have the cleanest accents. To us it all came down to location, cost and the sea.

      Each school district may vary with offering tutors, so feel free to contact them now and ask around. I hope that helps.

  19. Hey guys, about the “minimum of €2,130 per month” requirement, would anyone know if that is before or after taxes? (net or gross?)

    • Mia,

      You don’t need to provide a net worth statement. Only show them the money you currently have, or the monthly income (retirement) that you will have. They don’t need to know about the net. Just show the gross income.

      • I see. Thanks for that. I actually own an online business abroad where I can get monthly income from (so I’m not a retiree in a sense). Glad to know net is fine then.

  20. We have our non-lucrative VISA approved. Our original application (and subsequent approval) was for Valencia, but since then our plans have changed and we plan to live in Madrid.

    Is it possible to receive our resident cards in Madrid? Is the non-lucrative VISA only valid for a certain region or the entire country?

    • Hey Congrats Emiliy! The visa approval gets you in the country. Withing 30 days you need to go to the local foreigners office and apply for your resident card, so where ever you are living is fine. Don’t worry about what you put on your application. We put Malaga, but are living in a different area too. When is the big day? We are in Madrid today!

      • We are coming at the end of August.

        When you originally mobilized to Spain, was it to Malaga or to a different location? I get the sense that we need to initially mobilize to Valencia (what is on our application), and then we can move from there. Any additional information you can share on the process would be very helpful

        Basil

        • Hey Emily,

          Sorry for the delay in reply. We have had a couple of day minus internet and just getting back online. 🙂 The price we pay to be on the move for our 8 week road trip.

          On our initial application, we said we were going to live in Malaga. We never did go there and went directly to Almunecar, which is in the Granada province. Once in the country we just did all of the paperwork in our province and not an eye was batted. So you can register within the 30 days of arrival to Spain in the location you intend to live. This helps them get “credit” for you and funding for school books etc. If you decide to move, no problem.

  21. How would we go about timing the visas if I want to apply for the Spanish conversation assistants (teaching English in schools part time), for which I would have a work visa, and my family would get non-lucrative visas?

    • Beth,

      I have no idea. The Consulate websites indicate that it can take 30-90 days for the Retirement/Non-Lucrative visa, but I’ve been hearing that it’s normally in the 2-3 weeks range. I have no idea about the work visa and the timing involved. I guess my recommendation would be to indicate your expected travel date(s) for both the work and n-l visas. How long does this take to get the work visa? Sorry, I just don’t know anything about the work visa, and figuring out the timing of all of this stuff can be difficult.

      Good luck!

  22. Hello! Question: once your non-lucrative residence visa was approved, they required you to come to Spain within 3 months right?

    Once you’re there, is there a deadline for when you need to report to the Spanish authorities and register your residence?

    Because I plan to rent a 2 month place first upon arrival in order to survey for my permanent place better. I’m just worried that once I arrive I immediately have to register my residence but then at that point my address will still be on my temporary one — which I don’t want to register in. Hope you could advice!

    • Yes you have 90 days from date of visa issue in your passport to enter the Schengen Zone (Spain). Once you have entered either Spain or the Schengen Zone (30+ countries), that is when your 30 day ticker starts counting. So if fly from USA and go through passport control on a lay over in France, Germany, etc… then that is the date you entered the Schengen Zone (Which Spain is part of). You have 30 days from that date to register.

      Here is a little getting settled check list to help.
      This one has a little more detail getting settled in Spain.

      Yes if you register with your temporary address, when it is time for renewal your paperwork and reminders wll go to the address you registered with. You can renew up to 60 days before your expiration date or within 90 days following.

      I hope that helps. When do you plan to arrive? Where do you plan to live?

  23. Hi guys,
    Myself, my wife, and 3 kids (aged 10, 7, 3) just got back from a 3 week vacation in Spain (Galicia) and we have been talking about possibly moving there for a year. The advantages: 1) My parents are from Spain, 2) I have a Spanish passport, 3) my mom has a house in Spain where we could stay practically for free, 4) Both my wife, and I speak Spanish (and in my case, I speak Gallego also), 5) I have alot of family over there that I have been close to since I was a child. I know that started off pretty good, but here are some the disadvantages: 1) We currently rent here in New Jersey and do not own a home, so we have nothing to sell (in terms of housing) to finance our trip, 2) Kids do not speak conversational Spanish, 3) My wife and I have quite a bit of credit card debt, 4) We have some savings but do not want to dig into them for this trip. My questions are: 1) Being the son of Spaniards and having a Spanish passport, do I need a visa of any kind for a year long trip? 2) I may want to work or start some kind of business selling artwork, clothes, etc., what steps do I need to take both in the U.S. and Spain? 3) My wife is not a Spaniard, what steps would she need to take in terms of visas? 4) What would be our options in terms of health insurance? 5) We were hoping to fund our stay by selling our two cars and furniture, appliances, etc., coupled with trying to get some businesses off the ground and possibly working in Spain. Do you think this is doable based on our situation? I know our circumstances are different than yours were, but hoping you have some insights/tips/ideas.

    Thank you so much! You have a great site!
    Oscar

  24. My husband and I are Canadian citizens but non-residents of Canada. We have been living in Mexico for the past 8 years and have permanent residency in Mexico. We are self employed and can work from anywhere as long as we have good internet. We would not be seeking employment in Spain but would continue our current working arrangement. We have world wide medical coverage with Bupa insurance.

    We are planning on traveling the world for the next number of years and do not want a fixed address. Our housing plans are a combination of 1-3 month rentals, house sits, cruises, Airbnb and hotels when absolutely necessary. We want to live in and experience the culture as we move around and not be tourists.

    We plan to move around based on weather and plan to pack only a summer wardrobe with layers to overlap spring and fall. To minimize transportation costs and to avoid the 90 day tourist visa in the Schengen area we would like a base in Europe. We are considering applying for a long term (1 year) to Spain, France or Germany, our first choice being Spain because of the renewal possibilities.

    I have written to the Spanish consulate in Toronto and been advised that we need to apply for our visa at a Spanish consulate in Mexico, however what is unclear is whether we need to apply for the non-lucrative visa or the self employment visa.
    Before I purchase your book I would like to know if you have any idea if we would qualify for the non-lucrative visa and if we could follow the advise in your book applying for a visa at a consulate in Mexico?
    Thank you in advance for your response.

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  26. Hey, great post! Very informative.

    Maybe you don’t know the answer to this but,
    I finally got all the paperwork and was able to register successfully at the ayuntamiento. Now I have to request the NIE at the oficina de extranjeria but I am going on a trip monday, and won’t be able to get to the office until i return.

    The problem is more than 30 days will have passed by the time I can go request the NIE.
    Do you know if they are very strict on the 30 days after arriving in Spain rule to apply for the NIE?? I need to figure this info out ASAP, because if that’s the case I will change my flight on monday to stay and get to the office before 30 have passed. Thanks in advance!
    -Tyler

    • Hey Tyler, welcome to Spain. Where did you end up settling?

      I hate to say it, but they seem to be pretty strict with the procedures and dates for paperwork. I would recommend you get there within the 30 days. It is really just dropping off the paperwork, so shouldn’t take too long. Then you will go back for another trip to pick up your resident card. Is there someone who could drop the paperwork off for you? (that said, I think they may need to fingerprint you on this visit, so that wouldn’t work). When is your 30 days up? How far past it would you be? If it was just a day, they may be flexible.

      • Hey, I am in Barcelona. Yea it took me about 3 weeks to get a rental contract and lock down an address to empadronarme in the city hall. So now I am on day 25 here, and I have a trip I’m supposed to go on. I wouldn’t be back until 2 more weeks, and by that time it will be navidad so I imagine the offices wouldn’t be open for another week or so. Thank you for the info, I figured it was a relatively strict thing about the 30 days, having read that on every official website regarding this process. I am going to change my ticket for a day and a half later, so it gives me all of monday and tuesday morning just in case to handle this. Thanks again for getting back to me and giving me some reassurance about this situation. After searching the internet for a whole day, I couldn’t find anywhere any examples of someone waiting more than 30 days, so I don’t want to take the risk.

        • I think that is a wise option, espcicially in a big city. I was going to say the smaller offices, may be a little more flexible. It is best to start your time in Spain “on the right foot”, if you know what I mean. Good thinking on your part.

          • thanks, one last thing:
            Did you have to make a cita previa? Or did you just show up at the oficina de extranjeria and they saw you based on first come first serve? (I’m going to show up as early as possible btw haha).

            • Costa Tropical has a small satellite extranjero office, rather than the main one in the city of Granada. Our little office doesn’t even offer appointments. When we have visited the Granada office, an appointment was not required, but you do wait a long time. The second time we visited we made an appointment and were in/out fast. I would look online and see if you could get one, but if not do show up early!