Spanish Resident Card Renewal Process – What is going on?

Once we made the decision to remain in Spain, beyond our planned 1 year, it was time to apply for a Resident Card Renewal.  At the time of our decision, it was near the end of May and we knew we were going to be out of the country from the end of June through sometime in August on our Summer Road Trip.  We did our research on the renewal process and it seemed to be very straight forward, but we knew better.  Now that we have lived in Spain for a year, we know that Spain seems to love Red Tape!

Resident Card RenewalIsn’t this image adorable? Alan made it!

With me as an over organized freak and my Six Sigma Process Improvement Training, having these inefficient processes in place just kills me.  I am just dying to volunteer for Spain and streamline some of their processes, but for now I will bite my tongue and go with the flow.  Though this one looks easy on the surface, we know we are in for a bit of a process ride.

We began to gather our documents in early June.  This time it was really just a few documents (nothing like the initial application) and filled out a couple of forms.

Requirements for Resident Card Renewal Application

        1. Completed Request Forms (2 copies)
        2. Photocopy of every page in your passport
        3. Photo copy of both sides of existing NIE Resident Card
        4. Passport sized photo
        5. Proof of Income or sufficient funds (translate)
        6. Proof of Medical Insurance (translate)

We were advised to apply as early as possible, as this process, like most in Spain, can be a bit of a wait.  Love the red tape!

We detail the full visa renewal process in our eBook.  Read more here.
Spain non lucrative visa renewal process. You've had Spanish residency with the Spain non lucrative visa or the Spain retirement visa and it's time to renew.  Here's the full Spanish residency renewal process & requirements all in one place! Read more on

Spanish Resident Card Renewal Process
(aka “the waiting game”)

      •  Step 1 – Apply
      •  Step 2 – Wait for papers from Granada (approx 3 weeks)
      •  Step 3 – Pay fee, sign papers and return them to Granada  (same day ~16€ ea)
      • Step 4 – Wait again for more papers from Granada
        (approx 3 weeks) We are Here!
      • Step 5 – Pay another fee and fingerprints at Extranjero office (~16€ each)
        (next business day or when we can get kids out of school to go with us)
      • Step 6 – Wait for cards to be produced and sent to Motril
        (approx 3-4 weeks)
      • Step 7 – Pick up cards, in person, in Motril
        (as soon as we can get kids to go with us)

We gathered all that was required and around June 20th we headed to the Police Station in Motril to apply (location of the Costa Tropical Extranjero/Foreigner office).

They informed us that we couldn’t apply at that time, as it was more than 2 months from our expiration date of August 28th.  We couldn’t officially apply until June 28th.  This was a problem as we were leaving the country on a scheduled Ferry to Italy on June 24th.  They gave us all of the required info and suggested we place it in the mail.  We weren’t very comfortable with this option, as we want a “human” to double-check our work and tell us on the spot if something was wrong.  We decided to make sure we returned to Spain in early August, so we could apply a few weeks in advance in person. So that is what we did.

August 8th we officially submitted our applications in person.  About 4 weeks later, we still didn’t have the documents from Granada.  Alan decided to go visit the Extranjero office in person and check on things.  He first went to Motril and they were packed.  It was going to be a multi-hour wait and Alan wanted to run up to Granada to look at a few things.  Off he went to Granada and decided to stop by the Extranjero office there.  Afterall, this is where our paperwork was sent for approval.

He found out that many staff members were on holiday in August/September, and they were behind in paperwork.  They provided him with the required documents and he returned home (wouldn’t you know, the next day the documents finally arrived in the mail).  We took these to the bank to pay the required fees.  Now we are in waiting mode again.  It has been about 2 weeks since we paid the fees and submitted that paperwork to the Extranjeros office.  So we are currently at Step 4 of the process.

From what we are told, we shouldn’t worry, and in time it will all come through.  YIKES!

In the meantime, we are just humming along with life as usual.  The kids started back to school in September.  Lars has started up with the school fútbol team again and life is good.  I will admit, I am in a bit of a panic about us being able to return from our trip to England later this month, but I am sure it will all work out.  Again, we have been informed that if we have the correct paperwork showing we are “in the process”, we should be allowed to re-enter the country.  We will see if there is a story in that later.

 UPDATE:  We are legal for 2 more years!

Much more information is available on the Non Lucrative Residence Visa Spain (Application, Getting Settled, Renewal, Driving and Education) in our Wagoners Abroad publications.

We detail the full visa renewal process in our eBook.  Read more here.
Spain non lucrative visa renewal process. You've had Spanish residency with the Spain non lucrative visa or the Spain retirement visa and it's time to renew.  Here's the full Spanish residency renewal process & requirements all in one place! Read more on


24 thoughts on “Spanish Resident Card Renewal Process – What is going on?

  1. I arrived in Barcelona on Aug. 5th, 2019 under non-lucrative visa from NY and received my ID residency card (in November but it will expire in August of 2020. i want to start the process in June to apply and make an appointment with Police HQ in Barcelona. All is clear except what are the requested forms to renew ID residency card. When I google it brings me to USCIS which is US Citizenship govt site and explains that I-90 form to be needed but this seems to be a Green card in order to get a residency in USA and does not apply to me. So again, please advise what forms I need and what site I can research and apply on line.
    I thank you in advance for your help. (emailed Spanish consulate in New York and waiting for a reply but so far, no luck).

  2. Hi, I had a question. will they be asking anything about our childrens school for the renewal? and also do we need to show them proof that we have rented a house here?

    • The answer to both questions is “they might”. Each office and person in the office may or may not ask for it. For our first time we showed school registration and lease. Others didn’t have to at the same office and others did (this was in Motril). It is best to have everything with you, just in case. They only wanted to see our lease for our exact address, they didn’t care how long the lease was for. Whatever address you give them, that is where the notifications will be mailed for renewals, so keep that in mind. Meaning if you decide to use an Airbnb rental or something, they will be mailed there for next renewal. I think it is more likely they will ask about school more than your lease for renewal, especially if you have the same address as the initial application for resident card.

  3. Thanks Heidi. Another concern I had (well more of a curiosity) is the whole thing with photocopying your passport to make sure you’ve been in the country at least 6 months (at least that’s what I think it’s for). If you leave Spain and enter another EU country how would they know? And if you leave and re-enter the EU you could come back via a different EU country. It just doesn’t make sense to me… And in this day and age why is anyone looking at stamps? Everything should just be tracked by your passport # electronically IMO. Nothing to do with your post just some thoughts I had on the whole process haha. Thanks for the info!!!

    • I know it is crazy, I completely agree. If you travel within the Schengen zone there are not passport stamps, so I guess it is just the way they do things. Slowly things about the process are making tiny steps towards efficiency. When we applied for our visa, the actual papers were sent to Spain for approval. A couple of years ago, the started scanning them instead. Our foreigners office just implemented an online appointment system, rather than us standing in line outside at 6:30 in the morning waiting for a number when they opened at 9am. So baby steps. There is plenty of red tape in Spain, which you just need to take a breath and go with the flow.

  4. I still maintain US health insurance through Kaiser. Does anyone know if I can use that to renew my visa? (I am in the states part of the year but not more than 6 months) If so which document should I submit? (I originally used world nomads with my original application).

  5. Hi Alan, as always, you’re a real help each step of the way! We need to renew our residency cards now and after reading your saga, I have a question. For our original visa and residency we had to have a Proof on Income Statement and a Proof of Insurance Statement. Our income is for our Social Security and Pensions so they haven’t changed. Can we use the old letters, do you know? Just wanting to know the parameters this time, too. Thanks! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Barcelona is a little more streamlined. I’ll let you know.

    • Robin,

      Your income statement should still be valid, but how difficult would it be to get a new one? If it’s not too much trouble, I’d get a new one. As for the Insurance, you’ll want to provide a current copy of your coverage, and a separate letter stating that you plan on renewing your insurance, and keeping it current during your stay in Spain. (All in Spanish of course…)

      Good luck!

  6. So, you have to let your current residency card expire before you can complete the process – take your forms, photos, etc to national police station, correct?

    • Hi Melissa, you can begin the renewal process from 60 days before the epiration date, through to 90 days after. It can take a few months of waiting, depending on the time of year and how busy your foreigners office is. I hope that helps.

  7. Hi Heidi, Our family is about to start this renewal process and according to your list above, it seems less cumbersome than the initial application. Two question; do items e), proof of income and f) Medical insurance, again need to be translated and were there any required stamps, etc? Also, what if you apply after the expiration of your original residency card? any issue that you know?

    • Hey Jeff, Wow time for renewal already? Providing you haven’t changed resident address it is a pretty simple process. You should translate your documents, but you don’t require any special stamps for them. The renewal application form is online and I believe is form EX-01. You should have it all sorted per person and if you are the Don, you would have the financials and medical with your packet. You will need new photos and a copy of every page of passports too. Best of luck to you.

      Oh and you can apply for renewal 60 days prior to expiration through 90 days post expiration. I wouldn’t wait to long after expiration, as the entire process can take a couple of months. We started this go round on July 3 and still have 2 more steps to go.

      There is a tiny check box to be notified electronically and I do NOT recommend you check that. We are in the process of our second renewal now and we checked that box. Of course we thought it would be great to just get an email for each step. Well, that part isn’t so simple as there is a electronic certificate required to check documents online. They are running an older version of Java and we can’t seem to open anything from our computers. Anyway, just go to the foreigners office each time when you get notified in the mail.

  8. Since you are using travel insurance for your health insurance did you have to show that it would be in effective for 2 more years?

    • Hi Karen, We actually were approved for the initial application with Travel insurance and used that for our 1st year in Spain. We then switched to Maphre insurance and used that as our renewal insurance. We did need to provide in writing that we would continue the insurance coverage.

  9. Great site! We are in the same situation at our first renewal with a non-lucrative visa.
    Could you please provide a link to the forms in step a.?
    Also please elaborate on step one “apply”, did you make an appointment somehow and then bring all of the paperwork? Thx

    • Ah, that is a great question Ty. Looks like we needed a step before step “a”! There wasn’t any way to get the papers online, but things may have changed. I doubt it.

      You will likely need to go to your local Extranjero/Foreigner office and pick up the forms. That is what we did. The same location where you originally picked up your NIE cards. Just let them know your card will be expirirng and you need to renew. You may do this from 1-60 days prior to expiration. It is a simple form confirming your current info. If you haven’t changed your address, you are one step closer to completing your paperwork. Thanks for stopping by and do let us know if any of the process has changed.

  10. Hi – I was just wondering if you have heard back on your visa renewal. Maybe I missed something in your blog.

    • Hi Ali. Yes we did in October and we are good to go until August 2015! Yipeee. At that time we can apply for another 2 year renewal or part ways with Spain.

  11. Welcome to the process; as much as I love Spain, it loves it red-tape more.
    Stay hopeful but don’t be surprised if when you go in person you will just be met with a “sorry” (cue the sad Peanuts song while walking with your head hung low like Charlie Brown). Given all of this, Spain does have a way of surprising you and coming through in the 11th hour.

  12. Hmm, I may have missed it from prior posts, but is this renewal process pretty much just a rubber-stamp? If so, you’d think that you could just pay a fee online (like renewing a car’s license plate) and be done with it.

    Or is there an actual review process before approval? Do people ever get denied renewals? … inquiring minds :p

    Well, if things don’t work out, Alan can always get work as a graphics designer back in the States 😉

    • Good questions Juan. That is exactly what we don’t know.

      Because this is a non-lucrative visa, we do need to prove our finances and medical insurance. We just received a letter in the mail today, asking for clarification on those two items specifically. We are just going to drive to Granada and talk with them in person. Hopefully it will expedite the process and the 1 hour drive, each way, will be helpful.

      There are no simple “pay on line” type processes here, except for speeding tickets. They have that figured out and we have tested that process out a few times. Paying on line works like a charm. I just wish they would apply to all other “government type things”.

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