How To Apply for the Spanish Resident Visa – for the American Traveler

We have been asked a few times “How do you apply for a Spanish Resident Visa?”  Let me start by saying, it was not quick and easy.  I know we applied specifically for Spain, but when researching other countries, the requirements were very similar.


Updated: As of January 2017

We have collected most of the info we have, all in one spot.  Our 10 tips are still offered in this post.  It is all free information to help you understan how to apply for a long-term Spanish resident visa, like the non-lucrative visa.  We will help you plan and execute your Move to Spain, Just click on the image below.

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This ebook will save you hours upon hours of internet research and wading through all of the outdated and slightly incorrect information available.  We keep the book up to date with the latest and greatest rules from the consulates.  There is no doubt at all that it will save you time and money.

The Wild Goose Chase

We knew when making the choice to travel and live abroad, as American we were going to have an uphill battle.  You see, it seems far more difficult for us to obtain residency in other countries and travel as more than a visitor.  When we decided upon Spain as the location of choice for us to live, we scoured the web searching for a way to make it happen.  On the Spanish Embassy website was a listing of all visas that were available to a U.S. Citizen.  I found this information to be very confusing and often questioned how strict they were with the requirements.  I wanted to know if we needed to meet every requirement or 90%, or what.  I couldn’t find the information on-line.

I was directed several times to sites with Spanish lawyers and others that help American Expats obtain a Spanish Resident Visa.  These are companies that usually help corporations with moving employees as Expats and the prices were way out of our budget.  I didn’t really trust that this was the only way.  Something had to be hidden somewhere.  I was sure we could figure it out on our own.

I finally found a phone number for the Spanish Embassy in Washington DC and gave them a call.  This was tough as they were only open to the public Monday thru Thursday from 9 AM -1 PM.  I don’t know how many times, I would think to call and it was 2 PM or something.  Anyway, one day I finally got through to a nice gentleman and explained what I was looking for.  He said to me that it sounded like I should apply for the Non-Lucrative Spanish Resident Visa.  I hadn’t heard of that and it was not on their website. He confirmed it was not something they advertised.

This gentleman was kind enough to email me the criteria for the Non-Lucrative Spanish Resident Visa, as well as a copy of the formal application.  When it arrived and I read through it, and I had even more questions.  It was just a Word document thrown together, but it didn’t clearly state what needed to be translated, what needed certification etc.  Some items detailed it and others did not.  With this type of visa, we could live in Spain without proof of Spanish roots.  We would not be allowed to work and we had to meet ALL of the criteria on the check list.  In a previous post, I listed the criteria.

How to apply for the Non-Lucrative Spanish Resident Visa

(please refer to website for current info)


 10 Tips to keep in mind when applying for a Spanish Resident Visa:

Alan and I did the “divide on conquer” approach with all of the legwork, so when it says “I” below, it is referring to either one of us.

  1. Contact your local Consulate.  Each consulate has slightly different rules, so I would look online, or call your local Consulate to get their requirements.

  2. Get yourself organized.  You are in for an adventure.  I created a spreadsheet of each item that needed to be completed.  The spreadsheet below is simplified as the one we used would not show up properly:Simplified Visa Checklist

    and for which applicant. I also kept close track on where we were in the process (to do, in progress, or complete). Even if you don’t use Excel, some sort of tool like this can really help keep you track of the status of all the documents.

  3. Apply in person –  You must apply in person at your assigned consulate, based on the location of your U.S. address.  This location is listed on the Embassy/Consulate website.  I am not sure how they handle this if you are out of the country.  Please verify by contacting the appropriate consulate/embassy nearest you.
  4. All Government documents should have a Hague Apostille (An internationally recognized seal of approval that documents are authentic).  You may only obtain the Hague Apostille in the place which the document originated.  (This may not be listed on the application check list, but we found it to be true. Save time and get all of the documents done.)
    1. (For example:  we lived in North Carolina, but we were married in California).  We had to obtain an original copy of our marriage certificate from California.  Once that was obtained, we had to send that original back to California to have the Hague Apostille completed.  This was all handled via US Post, so it was time-consuming.  We could have paid for expedited shipping, but didn’t see the need.
    2. The children were born in North Carolina, so the Hague Apostille for their Birth Certificates was completed in North Carolina.  As we were residents of this state, we also obtained the Hague Apostille for our police background checks, banking statements and other items.
    3. (May 2014 Update) For the documents that were not from a government agency, the documents do not need to an Apostille or notary.  The only exception to that is the document where you describe the reasons for your visa request.  In that case, a simple “Attestation” or “True Copy” (see example here) may be used.  Your state/county may have a different name for it, but if you contact a local Notary, they should know the proper form.
    4. For the governmental docs, it may save you some gas or shoe leather, if you have the issuing governmental agency send the document to the Department of the Secretary of State for you.  For example, our Police background checks were processed by the State Police, and mailed directly to the Secretary of State.  See what options are available.  It can save some time running around government agencies.  Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call.
  5. (May 2014 UPDATE) All documents should be translated into Spanish.  [May 2014 – Based on working through the visa process for some readers of our blog, there is a requirement (at least for some Consulates) that the translation be done by a certified translator.  The Spanish government has a specific nomenclature for such a translator, and it’s called an Official Sworn Translator.  Check with your local Consulate to see what they require.  I find it odd that the consulates have different rules for this stuff, but it pays to do your homework.  While we did not do the official translation, if you’re serious about your application being approved, it would be worth it.  When I contacted the San Francisco Consulate, they provided a list of “official” translators, and non-official translators. End May 2014 Update]  If you cannot translate yourself, it may be worth hiring someone to do this properly.  I would not solely rely upon any of the web translators out there.  We thought we would do that and then had a friend spot check the Spanish.  More often than not there were several grammatical errors that needed to be corrected.  Beware these are very personal documents with private info, before sending them off to be translated.  Don’t take short cuts in this area!  After all, you are applying to be a Resident in a Spanish-speaking country, put your best foot forward and show them you are serious and you care.  You should apply in their language.  One of the things that I used when translating was looking at dual-language documents.  California has a wealth of state/county documents available which have English/Spanish text, so that can go a long way in getting an accurate translation.
  6. Should you hire a lawyer or firm to assist you?  I can’t answer that, as it is entirely up to you.  When I found out all that needed to be done BY ME (us), even with a lawyer or visa firm, I decided I was doing all of the work anyway.  It is tedious and is like putting a puzzle together.  Every item has a different lead time and is in a different location.  Depending where you are currently located, it can even become more complicated.  The bottom line… YOU are going to have to request your Birth, Marriage Certificate, Police Background, Medical Records and Bank Statements.  If you’re going to do this yourself, make sure you are organized.  Have a checklist, and double/triple-check it (see Number 8).
  7. What Spanish address do I use on the formal application?  This is a catch 22, the application asks for your address while living in Spain, but you can’t get an address until you have a visa.  We verified with the Spanish Embassy, and were advised we could put the address if we had family or friend in Spain, where we were going to live.  We explained we didn’t know where we were going to live.  She suggested that we put the name of the nearest “big city” to where we would like to live.
    1. We weren’t sure if it was better to fill in with a big city like Madrid or one near us.  We were advised it is best to put as close to the location as possible.
    2. We filled it in with Malaga, as we planned to be on the southern coast somewhere.  The reason or this is the application is actually sent to that place for approval.  All applications go via Madrid to the location where the application will be living.
    3. There is no telling if it is faster for it to process in a bigger city or smaller one.  The smaller city has more transportation time and probably a couple of extra desks to “sit” on.  That said, they may have a smaller overall stack than the bigger city.
  8. Photocopies of all paperwork:
    1. I highly recommend you not only make the 2 copies required for the application, but that you also save a copy for yourself.  At least scan it, so you have electronic copies.  You don’t want to have to retrace any of the steps.
    2. When making copies, you should copy all pages. (The Apostille page with seal, the translated page and the original English copies).
  9. Organize your documents into complete individual sets of applications.  For example (1 set for you along with 1 set of originals and 2 complete copied sets for your application.)  One application with a set of all the required documents paper clipped together and the second set done the same.  If there are multiple people applying, as we were, you would want all sets for the “head of household” on the top and then each complete set of 3 (1 set of originals and 2 copies) to follow.
  10. Financial Records – You should have records for each adult applying.  If they are shared banking accounts, then these would go with the “head of household” applicant on behalf of all of the dependents. (As stated above, translate, notarize and Apostille)
  11. Passport photo’s –  You are required to have 2 for your application, but go ahead and get a few extra if you can.  If not, you will need to take more photos when you arrive.  You will need 2 photos of each person for your NIE card (resident card).  If you have children, they will also require passport sized photos for their school identification. If you plan to obtain an international drivers license from AAA or somewhere, you will need 2 photos for that as well. (apply for the international drivers license in the U.S. just before departure).

Some of the questions we had when we were applying:

Q1. Is only the head of household required to apply for the non-lucrative visa?  Family of four (husband, wife, and two kids).
A1. Each person needs to apply for the visa in the family.

Q2. What about the Medical Certification? Does each member need to submit one?
A2. Yes, for all 4 of us.  Also, the Medical Certificate has some very specific text that must be included.  Make sure you understand this requirement.

Q3. Does everyone need to apply in person, or just head-of-household?
A3. All in person

Q4. Is the application cost $140 cost per person, or per family?
A4. Per person. $140 each for all 4 of us. (at the time of our applications, verify)

Q5Is there a form for the Police Record?
A5Need letter that we don’t have (needs to be state police or FBI).  If you can get away with it, I would recommend getting something from the State Police.  It’s probably a faster turnaround.

Q6Does entire family need to supply Police Records?
A6Only for adults

Q7. Does entire family need to be present to apply for application and pick up approved visa?
A7. It was required for us in the DC office in 2012.  We have heard of different rules based on Consulate, so please check with your aligned consulate.

how to apply for the Spanish Resident Visa - we were approved!

Example Documentation:    Apostille cover letter

What can the embassy / consulate do for you?

Other related posts:   Where is that visa?

Good Luck to you!   feel free to comment if you have any questions. Keep in mind we don’t know all of the rules or make them.  We have just been through the process and can only share what we experienced.

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77 thoughts on “How To Apply for the Spanish Resident Visa – for the American Traveler

  1. Thanks Heidi and Aleksa. I have called and emailed the Consulate in Boston, and their responses have basically been “you must go through the website [to make the appointment]… you just missed the available openings when they were posted… yes it’s working properly… keep trying.”

    It’s hard not to get frazzled and discouraged. Can you or anyone reading this comment recommend an immigration attorney or relocation expert who can secure an appointment in Boston by or before Dec 1st (given that the Consulate apparently will not even consider any visa applications within 4 weeks of departure)?

    Thanks for any advice/insights.

  2. Hi Marlene, I completely agree with Heidi give them a call. It’s suppose to be their “down” time for Visas after the student craze of SummeR and Fall We have applied in May and it was tricky to get an open slot bc at that point they were grabbed fast. I think they open new slots every other Tuesday.
    Good luck with everything Enjoy the amazing Valencia ( we have received our visa in Sumner but decided to postpone our move for now)

  3. Hi Aleksa,
    I hope you’ll see this comment… not sure if you are still visiting this site. I’m reaching out because of your comment about “going back to Boston”–which is where my husband and I live currently. We’re moving to Valencia (already signed a lease on a flat, starting Nov 1, 2018!), and having a heck of a time trying to get a visa appointment at the Spanish Consulate in Back Bay–nothing has been available for the past month, and I check every day, several times a day! All our docs have been certified and translated; just need that appointment! Did you have any trouble booking an appointment? Any words of advice?

    Thanks much in advance!

    • I would recommend reaching out to the consulate via phone or email, just to be sure the system is working properly. Let them know your experience and ask their advice for “tricks” to make an appointment. You probably already have this, but here is their phone and email

  4. Hi Heidi! I wanted to simply say HUGE THANK YOU !!! For doing this blog and sharing all this incredibly useful information. My family and I are planning to apply for a non lucrative visa this summer – we are totally in love with Valencia and your website is such a tremendous help!

    • Awesome Aleksa! Thank you so much for letting us know. It is always great to have feedback. How exciting! We love Valencia too, it is a wonderful place. Have you already made a scoping trip to check it out? Please do let us know if you need any help. Are you coming over long-term or for a year or so?

      We are currently offering quick 15 min calls for $20. If you have any questions about your visa application or Spain in General, just contact us. We wish you all the best and please do keep us posted on your move!

      • HI Heidi, We are currently in Valencia and after a year of traveling around (Europe, Russia , Israel..) we feel that we have found a place where we want to live! We have been to Spain many times but discovered Valencia only last month.
        We will be going back to Boston in June to apply for the non lucrative visa, so we might take you up on your offer of 15min consultation – Thank you. While we love Spain and would love to stay for the long run, with our US passports we will start with one year and than see. BTW if you know any reliable real estate agents in Valencia please share.
        Again thank you for all the info I am now researching medical insurance and once again your info is tremendously helpful!

        • Oh that is great! We do love Valencia, so glad you found a place the feels right for you. If you want to save hours of scouring the web for everything needed, just get a copy of our book on how to apply for the non lucrative visa, Live in Spain. Just contact us and let us know what you need.

          I would reach out to Grahm Hunt for properties in Valencia. He has 2 sites related to properties
          Houses in Spain
          Valencia Property

  5. Dear Heidi,

    Thanks for your very informative and helpful website!

    I am applying for an exemption from work permit visa at the Chicago consulate. I have a question about the criminal background check that need to be translated and apostilled. I have obtained a state background check that is signed by state police official and notarized. Now I am not sure if I should get it translated first (by a certified translator) and then get it apostilled at SOS, or the other way around? The instructions on the consulate webpage does not specify anything.


    • The SOS won’t put an apostille on your translation. The will just put it on your original. Just get everything translated after you get your apostilles on the original background check. My consular official made us have the apostilles translated, too. I would check with your consulate about whether you need the apostilles translated. I thought that was pretty arbitrary at our Houston consulate and they also made us do more than the other consulate locations in the US required.

        • Erica, no, they did not require bank certification of the financials, but they did reject our first submittal. We submitted a summary report of our investments that we pulled from our online investment account because that’s where our money is (not our bank account). They didn’t like that and said it needed to be the statements for each account. That would have been 48 pages because we have a variety of accounts (SEP, Roths, mine, his, etc.), and they would need to be translated at $20/page. So That would be ridiculously expensive so I submitted the full 48 pages and just had translated the summary page of each account. They accepted that. We also could have pulled a year’s worth of funds from the investments and submitted bank information. They just would want the statements, though.

  6. Hi Heidi,

    That was my fault – I was having problems with my internet and so posted the comment twice. Oops! I apologize and completely understand! I will contact you with our specific questions via e-mail.

    Thank you so much again for your time!

  7. Hi Heidi,

    Your web-site is amazing and so incredibly helpful! My family and I are thinking of moving to Spain this fall for a few months and are currently in the process of applying for a non-lucrative visa. I had two questions. Does the background check need to have fingerprints taken? Our state police background check does not require this. Also, how far in advance are appointments made with the consulate? We realize we aren’t leaving ourselves much time and aren’t sure how long it takes to make an appointment. Thanks for your help!!

    • Kerry,

      Fingerprints ARE required, so if your State Police does not use them, then you must go through the FBI. I don’t know how far in advance you can schedule an appointment, so I would email/call the Consulate to verify. I would get the appointment on the calendar as soon as possible though. You’ll want to avoid trying to schedule anything during the summer holiday, because typically they have fewer personnel on staff during the summer months.

      Good luck!

      • Thank you for your quick response Alan! We are hoping to schedule our appointment this spring. Do you know anyone who has gone through the NY consulate that we might be able to speak with? I have done a lot of research on-line and there is not much about that specific process. The “Additional Requirements May Apply” on the application has me a little nervous. It also requires that some of the documents be translated by a certified translator. We have tried to contact the consulate in regards to this, but have not had much luck yet so far. Given the time crunch, we just want to make sure that we do everything correctly! Thanks for your time!

        • Hey Kerry, It’s Heidi here. 🙂 How are you doing? We understand exactly what you are going through and can certainly put you at ease and review everything with you. In our blog comments, we are happy to reply to standard general questions, but when they are more detailed and personal to you or a specific consulate, we prefer to work with you personally. Each scenario can be unique and we want to give you the most accurate and up to date info. We have a few options for you to choose from:

          1. The Live in Spain – this provides you with the most complete documented details on the requirements, but it sounds like you have most of your things gathered already. Anyway, this is a great option.

          2. Setting up a 15 or 30 minute skype call with Alan. You would send your questions over in advance and then on the call he would review the requirements checklist (translations, apostiles, application form, address and more). He would also answer additionl questions which may arise. He will advise you on the possible “extra requirments” and can review the latest consulate info with you. We have had several customers go through NY, DC, Florida, SF, Texas and much more.

          3. Purchase an email consulting consultation session with Alan.

          4. Just send over 1 -3 brief questions via “contact us“. We will send a reply. If it becomes more of a back and forth with additional questions, it would become option #3.

          I hope that helps. Once we comment here in the blog, they remain and sometimes can get out of date and confuse future readers. So this is why we prefer to work directly with you. Hopefully you have made it as far as you have with all of the detail we have already provided for free and we look forward to verifying you are ready to go to your appointment.

  8. Hi I am currently in the process of applying for a Spanish student visa and I was wondering if your date of entry and departure need to be exact? I have yet to purchase my plane tickets and intend to do so after I apply for and receive my visa. Would it be an issue if I entered Spain later then I said I would or left earlier if it was only within a few days?

    • Hi Spohie! Thanks for reaching out. Usually your visa is good for a set period of time, depending on the type of visa. Ours was the non lucrative and once the visa was issued we had 90 days to enter the “Schengen Zone” and/or Spain. Then we had 30 days to apply for our Resident Card or TIE. As a student you likely have slightly different rules to follow and unfortunately we don’t have those rules memorized, as we are well beyond students. 🙂 So to answer you, there should be some flexibility for you, but do keep in mind if you enter a country in the schengen zone, that counts as your entry time for Spain.

      • Thanks so much! Do you have any tips for getting a visa appointment? I have to apply at the Boston Consulate and so far every time I’ve checked the website all of the appointments are full! I would think that you’ve probably worked with other people that have encountered this before. Do people just continue to check back on the website? I was hoping to get an appointment in June or the beginning of July, as my study abroad starts the end of August.
        Also would you recommend waiting to book flights until obtaining a visa or doing so before? I’ve heard that some people just bring flight “reservations” to the visa application appointment and was wondering if you knew how to obtain these without purchasing a ticket.

        • Sophie,

          Getting an appointment is one of the tough things the people run into, especially this time of year. There is no magic formula, just keep checking, or schedule the appointment as far in advance as possible. We don’t have any expertise on the student visa process, so I can’t provide any insight as to the requirements for it.

          Good luck.

  9. Definitely block or black out your account numbers. Perhaps just leave the last 4 digits visible or something, but don’t send your full account info.

  10. Hello,

    How did anyone get their Visa?! I’ve tried calling and emailing the Los Angeles General Consulate and they never answered or replied to any of my emails. Basically, I want to move and work in Spain. I currently live in Denver, Colorado and am wondering if I can apply for a Visa here in Denver and how? Or would I have to travel to LA in order to get a residency visa there?? I’m confused and any help would be great please. Thank you for your time whoever reads this and responds.


    • John,

      It can be very frustrating trying to figure out the process. Getting a hold of a real person can also be difficult as Consulate staff are extremely busy. The type of visa for which you’re applying determines whether you can work or not. If you’re a U.S. (non-EU) citizen, it will be very difficult for you to get a visa which will allow you to live here in Spain, and work for a Spanish company. Due to the relatively high unemployment here in Spain, they are particular about admitting foreigners that would take Spanish jobs. Sorry if that messes with your plans.

      If you don’t want to actually work for a Spanish company, but want to retire or obtain a non-lucrative visa, you would apply at the Consulate in LA. Check their website ( for information on the various visa types.

      If you are interested in obtaining a Retirement or Non-Lucrative Visa, I have written a book, and do consulting around the process. Check the information here:

      Good luck!

  11. Thank you so much for all your info! Of all the blogs and websites I consult, yours is the clearest.
    I do have a question. I was all ready to send off my marriage license to have it attested and one of the blogs said I had to have obtained the license in the last year. Really? I got 3 copies our our license in 2009 thinking I may need them later.
    I can’t use it for the non lucrative visa unless it’s been issued in the last year?
    Thanks in advance, Jan

    • Thanks!
      The current rule is that the marriage license needs to be issued no more than 90 day prior to your visa application date. So to be clear, if your appointment to apply is on May 1 then you need a copy of your marriage license issued no more than 90 days prior to that date. I hope that helps. If you need any more help, please feel free to let us know and check out our consulting services.

        • Sorry about that. There is certainly an art involved with coordinating all of the moving pieces. Did you get Alan’s book? He covers the nitty gritty details in there and also has a great project plan which really helps.

          • Dear Heidi, I don’t suppose there is a PDF version of the book. We live in Dubai, UAE and by the time I order the book, it arrives, we get the notice to go to the post office to pick it up, pay the tax, it will be at least a month. I would love to buy it if I can access it on line!

  12. Hi there,
    I got my non lucrative residence visa approved and am now in Malaga. Yayyy! I know that I need to go to the police office to get another document issued. Is it the NIE, residence card or visa card. Or something else? I’ve been reading some posts online and I am all confused now. And which form should I use. THank you so much in advance for your advice.


    • Congrats to you Jade and welcome to Spain! Are you going to be living in Malaga?

      Yes, you need to turn in the paperwork the consulate returned to you and you only have 30 days upon arrival into the Schengen Zone to do so. Depending on the size of your town it will be the Police station (smaller town) and Foreigners office if in a city. Extranjero is the word for foreigner, so that is what you are looking for. It is for your “temporary resident” card. You were issued your NIE (your ID number) right on your visa. This is your number for ever, which identifies you. It will also be on your resident card, which many people refer to as your NIE card, It does get confusing, but ask around your town and you will get help.

      • Muchas gracias, Heidi.
        Thanks for the explanation. Yes, it’s confusing. Haha. Would I need to fill out the EX19 form in that case?

        An fyi that I received my visa in less than a month. Interviewed on Oct 2 and received email confirming visa approval on Oct 30 (in San Francisco). Marta, the consulate administrator told me that this is the low season. It takes longer as it gets closer to start of the school year. This might be useful information for your clients here.
        Also, I used Wawi to translate my docs. She is the authorized translator for the SF Consulate and she knows everyone there and can help make applicants’ life a lot easier. Very professional and helpful lady. HIghly recommend that everyone uses her.

        Im in Malaga, btw. Thank you for your help.


        • Awesome, thanks for the info. Yes, as of last year they started with electronic transfer of the documents from USA to Spain. That cut out most of the wait time, but it hasn’t started in every consulate yet. I think they will all do it within the next year. I don’t believe you need to fill out any additional forms. You should have filled out one with your original application at the consulate. Did they give you papers back and tell you to take those to the extranjero office? Either way, get yourself to the office or see if they do appointments online. They can advise you if you need anything additional.

  13. HI- I am wondering about the need for a lease when applying for a visa- we don’t want to make a year long commitment sight unseen- will they accept a 3 month lease or a month to month renewable , initially?
    Also, for CHicago it seems not every document needs an apostille, but I see youi needed it for all gov’t docs, including birth certificates- is that right?

    • Diane,

      When you are applying for the visa, you do not need to have a lease. If you know the city where you want to live, you can just list that, but you’re not tied to that city. On one of the application forms, we listed Malaga as our intended destination, but we ultimately wound up in a completely different province.

      Correct. You only use the Apostille for state/government documents such as FBI check, marriage certs, and birth certs.

      Good luck Diane!

  14. What do you mean you used a screen shot of your bank statement? You just took a picture from your computer? That was acceptable? And what if you have more than one bank account?

    • That is what we did 3 years ago, as we had multiple accounts and we did not have any paper statements. We do all banking online. We had a screen shot of all of our accounts on one page. It would be equal to an account bank statement if you have one or perhaps you can go into your branch and get one. We didn’t want to include all of the detailed activity. They just need to see that you have the money. Does that help?

  15. THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this information! We are starting our journey NOW and this is exactly the information I need to find!

  16. Hi Heidi, My wife and I are planning on applying for the non-lucrative visa and wanted to thank you for all the fantastic info!! We also have a couple questions regarding time-frames: (1) How long did it take to get your State Police report completed? (2) How long does it take the State Department to apostille documents? (3) How long did it take to have the visa granted/issued once your application was accepted? Thanks again!

    • Hey Mark! That is so exciting and we love to hear compliments like that! We never know who is reading and if it is of any real help to anyone, unless you tell us. So kudos to you for letting us know. 🙂 What part of Spain are you thinking of for your home?

      I will let you know about our timeframes and then have you make note that it varies depending on where you apply (which Consulate in the USA). We applied at the DC consulate and it took almost 3 months to the day from when we applied to be notified they were ready. These days we have heard from several of our blog readers, ebook customers and consulation customers, that it has been from 3-6 weeks for approval via (Chicago, DC, Texas, Los Angeles and a few more). So it depends.

      Our Appostille documents that were in our state (North Carolina – kids were born in NC) were same day or next day for us, as we did in person. Our marriage certificat was from California and we lived in North Carolina, so that took a couple of weeks. Mainly for mailing things back and forth. So it depends on where your original documents are from. If you are still in the same state, then it should be quick. That said, it would also depend on how busy they are.

      Our State police report took a week or two at the most. Please check with your local consulate, as some are now only accepting the FBI background check.

      I hope that helps.

      • Hi Heidi,
        Wow! Thanks for all the great info. We will be applying at the Miami consulate and will hope (but not plan) for our visa to come in sooner than 3 months.

        We plan on living in Barcelona (Gracia neighborhood), which is where we are currently renting a flat for the summer. I previously lived in Granada on a student visa years ago and am finally in a position to come back to Spain more permanently. My wife and I both work online; she’s actually a certified Spanish translator ( specializing in legal documents, which will make completing our application much easier. We’ve been traveling the globe for 20 months now (40 countries; 106,182km!) and are looking forward to having a home-base in Spain.

        I saw you lived in Almunecar. I love that little town! I used to go there on the weekends when I lived in Granada. So relaxing. And I hope you enjoyed Marrakech as much as I did.

        Thanks again for your reply and all the great info on your blog. Keep up all the great adventures. Your family is amazing!


        • Okay, sounds great. Some fellow travelers just applied via the Miami Consulate recently, so we will see how long theirs takes. We just returned to Spain after 10 months exploring Southeast Asia, so we do love it here. Well, if you make it south give us a ping.

          • Heidi,
            Any way you can put me in touch with the fellow travelers who applied in Miami? I’m having lots of trouble getting anyone at the Miami consulate to talk to me about the visa application. Thanks!!

        • I am wondering if your wife would like to contact me about doing our translations? We are planning to submit our applications April 1, 2016. Heidi, is this something you could facilitate if Mark’s wife is interested? I had a helpful conversation with Alan on Friday, by the way. Thanks for all you do for us who are following in your footsteps!

          • Aw thanks. yes we can connect the two of you. It looks like Mark also left the name of her company in the comments as well. I am not sure if he is still following this conversation, but if he responds we can connect you. Just use the “contact us” feature.

          • I found her business and talked with her today. Gabriela sounds perfect for the translation job and she had some other great suggestions about other issues related to the application. Thanks again!

      • We went through the consulate in Toronto. They were not helpful AT ALL but I felt pretty proud of myself that we managed to pull everything together in about a month-6weeks with no help from the consulate whatsoever (and big help from the lists on your blog!). And we actually made the woman in charge of the visa applications smile after barely getting through her cold exterior each time we visited the consulate with questions! This was a big win for me! haha.
        We are planning on living in Granada. We have been in touch with a school there and they are holding places for both of our girls. Now we just need the visa, lol!

        • Kathryn, we are thrilled that you found our information useful. I am sure any government job is tough, no matter the country. It is fun to play the “can I make them smile” game, so congrats to you for breaking the ice.

          Please do let us know if there was anything missing for our site, so we can be sure to add and help the next person. I am sure your visa will arrive soon and you will be on your way to Granada.

          We just spent last week there and it was fun playing tourist in a city we often visit. We are just about 45-60 min from Granada. Feel free to look us up, if you make it to the coast at all. 🙂

          • Ooooh, when will we receive notice about our visas??? You have answers to all of our other questions, maybe you have an answer to that, lol!
            We are anxiously waiting, hoping that we hear some news! It is so hard to get anything done!
            I hope you are well in Spain.

            • Oh of course, I will look into the crystal ball. It will be on September 28th. 🙂 Kidding of course, but if it is on that day, you have to tell me!

              I would think it should be pretty soon. Ours took exactly 3 months, to the day. Others recently in Chicago, SF and Miami only took 3-4 weeks. Keep in min August is a big vacation month, so things really slow down. We are currently caught up in the waiting game for our renewal, same reason.

              So hopefully we will see you over here in October some time? 🙂 I know how difficult it is to wait.

              • Finally! November 19th! Our visa has been approved!
                (We went in to get a status update because its been 4.5 months and she looked in the system to see it had been approved. Not sure they were every actually going to tell us….)
                But who cares?! We are booking our tickets tomorrow and will fly out at the end of December. It is so great to not be living in limbo anymore – now we have a plan!
                Perhaps we will meet on the other side of the ocean!

                • Awesome! Congrats to you Kathryn. That is so exciting. You will be arriving just in time to experience winter! 🙂 Where are you heading in Spain? It is great to have a plan and see the magic happen. I just love news like this. Cheers to your new beginnings!

  17. Hi Heidi,
    I have a tax question for you! Do you know if you will be taxed by the Spanish government on the income that you reported, since you are residents now? I understand that all persons who reside outside of the US are still taxed in the US. Also Spain wants to know about all the money you have so they can tax you as well! Do you know if this is true?

    • Hi Lisa,

      Yes if are a US Citizen you need to file a tax return, no matter where you live. I am sure there are some exceptions. As far as Spain, yes if you are earning an income, you should inform Spain. There is a website called Legal4Spain, which may help answer tax questions.

  18. Hey,
    Thanks for such great info it really helps, Im planning on doing the same thing but from Australia. I was just wondering, if I were to leave spain during the time of my visa and then return does it forfeit the visa or does it stay valid? Bit of a weird one, but I’m doing a lot of moving around.
    Thanks again!

    • Hi Mitch. Well, the thought is that you don’t reside in another country for more than 6 months. We are putting this theory to the test now and will find out when we apply for our renewal in July. We will have been away from Spain for 11 months, but we didn’t spend a total of 6 months in any other country. Fingers crossed.

      • Oh ok, well in that case I should be okay in that regard as we will be on the move quite a lot and dont plan to spend that long in any one place. Just another question, how long did it take to get your residency card once you arrived in spain, as I have only given myself 7 days haha pretty stupid, I know. Also I wont have a rental contract only an air bnb then staying at a mates place :/

        • It took us over a month to get the card in hand. Most of that is just waiting for the card to arrive. That was our case in our area, but I’ve heard of similar waits in other areas of Spain. Remember, you’re dealing with government bureaucracy. 🙂

  19. This is the best visa advice I have found! EXCELLENT! My husband and I want to move to Spain next year to casually learn Spanish and explore. We won’t be working but aren’t yet retired. I’ll check with our LA office to see if we meet the income and financial eligibility. Thank you so much!

    • You are very welcome. We have consulted many people through the process, especially from the west coast. Let us know if you need any help.

    • Bohemiana,
      I will be interested to see what Los Angeles says about the financial requirements.
      My daughter just got her non-lucrative visa app accepted at the LA Consulate. It took 3 appointments. First appt she did not have the M790-C052 form and money order for $14 fee. Los Angeles does not have this in their requirements. She also did not have all her documents translated into Spanish by a certified translator.
      2nd appt she had screen shots of her financial information and certified translations. Then she also had bank statements in English. They wanted all financial documents to be “stamped” and signed by the bank or investment advisor. Then certified translated. For bank statements they wanted the last 3 months but she also had the bank prepare documents that showed the current balance and 12 month average balance for each account.

      We (as her parents) also signed an affidavit of financial support to cover the periodic income requirement.

      At her 3rd appt (Sept 26th), they accepted her application and kept her passport, all the original signed/stamped financial documents in English. And they also kept the original of the certified translations (these are notarized).

      Yesterday (1 week after her application was accepted) she got an email that her visa had been approved and issued.

      Note: Los Angeles did not want a letter of intent, San Francisco still lists that on their requirements.

      Note: Be sure you each have an appt. We saw a couple try to turn in their applications and the interviewer said they each needed an appt. One of them was allowed to go over their documents and find out what else they needed for the next appt.

      Note: Make sure you each have that M790-C052 form filled out and the $14 fee for each of you. We saw a family of 3 from Colorado turned away because they did not have that form/fee. When they told the interviewer that it is nowhere in the LA requirements, she seemed to know that and just said something like, “yes that is a problem”.

      • Thanks for the extra info Karen. Yes, each consulate has their unique requirements. Alan has just updated his “Live in Spain” ebook that details each consulate and provides many useful tools as well. We have also provided a great deal of consulting for people going through the process, so contact us if you need help.

        • Hello Heidi,
          I am enjoying your blog very much. Thank you for sharing so much information! I am interested in the Live in Spain ebook but I am not sure it will contain advice for our situation. I read the comments here about the LA consulate and income requirements but the exact requirements seem a bit vague to me. The consulate web site is not much help. We are not retired so we can’t go that route for a visa. I am in I.T. and work 100% remotely. Income is from self-employment and is ongoing. Is there any way I could qualify for the non-lucrative visa, based on your knowledge and experience? Is this type of situation covered in your ebook?

          Thanks so much for your reply!

          • Shelly,

            Thanks for following the blog. The Live In Spain book does cover the requirements, and sometimes it’s just best to contact the Consulate directly via email if you have specific questions.

  20. I am wondering what you used for proof of income? Did it have to be continuous? Thanks for the advice! I love Spain and am dreaming of going back 🙂

    • Hi Mika. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. We used a screen shot of our bank statement as well as 401k summary statement. It is best to have the bank logo on the paper as well. Depending on the consulate which is aligned to you, there will be different $ amounts required. You can prove you have a set amount of money or a set amount of an income stream. Please verify with your local Spanish consulate.

  21. Hello there … I truly hope you have by now got your visas and moved over there. I am also recently introduced to this kind of a visa by a immigration solicitor firm. I am thinking of applying for this. But my situation is far from ideal. Anyway, it will be nice to hear from you on my email if you’d like to share your experience of moving to Spain.

    Thank you for sharing such valuable information and experience with the people around the world who otherwise do not have access to all this easily.

    Best wishes.

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