Where oh where is that Spanish non lucrative visa?

Well it has been nearly 3 months since we submitted all of our paperwork for the non lucrative visa in Spain and it seems like a lifetime.  We are so anxious to make more firm plans and stop living with “tentative dates” and limbo plans.  The consulate did tell us 3-6 months, so we have a long way to go.

Since May, I had plans to take the kids to NY over July 4th to visit grandma. We were to leave on July 2 and return on Monday July 9.  This was to be a fun week of time in the city as well as at Grandma’s house. It was almost the 3 month mark after applying for our visa. We applied for them on April 12 and were told they would take 3-6 months, so July 12 would be when the clock starts ticking.

During the entire month of June I kept telling people “jokingly” that the consulate will magically call us the week I am in NY, so we can just stop in DC as I pass thru on July 9. I really believed this, even though it wasn’t quite the 3 month mark. I kept telling Alan, that was the most convenient, so that is what should happen. LOL

Well the week came and went and no visas.

The day after returning home to NC, July 10th, Alan received an email from the consulate. Our resident visa contact Eva, had been away on vacation for 10 days. She returned to work on the morning of July 10th to find our approved visa’s were sitting on her desk. We can go pick them up any time in next 30 days.

So they were there! I probably could have stopped by on my way thru DC…. UG! Isn’t that wild?

Well, we all made a quick trip up to DC late on Sunday and we were at the consulate first thing Monday morning. We dropped off our passports and returned a couple of hours later with a nice visa in the passport!

The visa in the passport gives us 90 days to register at the local police station in Spain.  They will then give us our resident card, which is good for  1 year and may be renewed.

Yipppeee Yahoooo!

Just leaving the Consulate with our new visas!


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21 thoughts on “Where oh where is that Spanish non lucrative visa?

  1. We have been contemplating the non-lucrative visa for some time now but have not wanted to deal with the consulates. I think finally we will bite the bullet and go for it with our final destination to be Valencia Spain. A couple of questions to whomever is able to answer….

    1. We lived in Arizona until April 2016 and since then have been traveling around for the past year, so no real residence for a year. We have a small summer home in Idaho, but we are confused as to where to apply now. Either Los Angeles because of our previous AZ location, or San Francisco since we do own a summer residence in Idaho. I have emailed both of them with no reply. Did they do any verification to make sure that you were applying at the correct location???

    2. Can anyone recommend a translation service that worked well for a reasonable fee?

    Thanks for your input.


    • Unfortunately, dealing with the consulates is required.

      1. It doesn’t really matter what your real address is, but whatever address you do choose dictates the consulate. I would pick one that’s closest, or easiest to get to. I’ve heard (and seen) good things from the SF consulate. Their website is normally very easy to navigate, and they keep it up to date. It can be difficult getting a response to questions, so call if you can.

      2. Reasonable fee can be a bit subjective, but I think it’s expensive. I would make a recommendation that you get the translation done by a Sworn Translator. I’ve used Syntex Global (info@syntexglobal.com) for a number of clients with good success. I cover translation (and a whole lot more) in my Live In Spain eBook. I also do consulting around obtaining the non-lucrative/retirement visa as well.

      Good luck!

    • Hi Peter – we have returned to the US recently (to AZ actually!) after living in Spain with the non-lucrative visa for a while. When we applied at the consulate, they checked our ID’s to verify we were within their region, so I’d use whatever address is on your license to select which consulate to visit. As for translation, I was shocked at how much the prices ranged from one translator to another (I inquired with a dozen or so from the ‘certified’ list the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperacion provided). We ended up going with María Gutiérrez and got exactly what we needed quickly. It was back in 2015, so I’m not positive she’s still doing it, but maybe a good place to start. Best of luck, and enjoy your time abroad!

  2. I have a question. You said once you got the call that your visa was approved you went and dropped off your passports to get the visa put in. Does that mean you didn’t have to leave your passport with them as part of the application process? I’ve been hearing different things regarding this.

    • It is usually a requirement to leave your passport, but we were scheduled to travel within the approval period. The allowed us to take a photocopy of our passport and show it upon drop off. We kept them and then returned with them when they called us. Each consulate has slightly different “rules”, so it all depends on where you go and who you get. I would plan on them keeping the passport. When we applied the approval process was more manual and took from 3-6 months. These days they are scanning and emailing documents, so the process has been taking from 10 days – 3 weeks, in most cases.

  3. Hello!! We are in the initial process of planning our “dream” to move to Spain and my question right now is this: if I am a dual EU Citizen(Italian)/US Citizen and my husband is a US Citizen, which visa would be best for us, considering both options of working/not working…??? I had the impression that for us to stay on my EU Citizen privileges I had to work. Thank you!

    • Giusi,

      If you can prove EU citizenship, then you just apply to become a resident. It’s a different process than non-EU citizens need to follow, so I don’t have any real-world expertise. It doesn’t require that you work, but I believe you do need to prove you can support yourself. Once you apply and have your resident card, your spouse will apply, and of course the requisite proof of marriage applies.

  4. Hi Heidi/Alan – wondering if you might be able to help me out with something I’ve been spending a lot of time googling lately 🙂
    My husband and I are planning to quit our jobs and move to Granada on the non-lucrative visa (sound familiar?!) and we’d been planning on heading over in early Feb. I’ve got an appt at our consulate next week and I’ve had all the paperwork in order for a while now, but we’ve just gotten some health-related news that could possibly force that Feb departure into late April or so. The idea of re-requesting all the documents/apostiles/translations makes me shudder, but the requirements say the originals can’t be older than 3-6 months from date of application.
    My question is…if we go ahead with our application next week with the early Feb arrival date, what is the likelihood that we’ll be able to just show up in Spain in late April instead? I’ve seen a couple sites that indicate (for student visa) that you get a 90-day arrival window and you just can’t be early. Can’t find anything similar related to non-lucrative visa, but I’m guessing this one is far less common, and there aren’t multiple universities helping people navigate the system 🙂
    Based on your experience, would you have any insight about this? When you got your visa, did it have that 90-day arrival window?
    I appreciate any info you could offer!!

    • Hey Kate,

      I would specify on your application that you want to arrive in April. You do get a 90-day arrival window, so I would tell them when you want to arrive. I think that’s how I would approach it. Once the visa is approved, that starts the 90-day clock to get to Spain. Once in Spain, you’ll have 30 days to get registered.

      I hope this helps. Good luck!

      • Thanks for the insight Alan – unfortunately the Chicago consulate was very specific that they will not accept applications more than 3 months prior to the departure date specified on the application, hence the need to keep the (inaccurate) Feb departure date on there for our appt next week. Listing April as the departure date would mean I couldn’t have the appt until Jan, and by then the documents/apostiles/translations will be too old. Quite the catch-22 here! 🙂

  5. Hi Heidi

    Just wanted to share our timeline and experience since your blog has been so helpful for us in this process. Hopefully this will be useful to someone else in the future.

    We live in Atlanta, and had to apply with the Miami consulate for the non-lucrative visas. We scheduled our appointment for the four of us (two adults and two kids, ages 4 & 6) for April 7, 2015. As you know, the consulates say it can take between 3-6 months for approval. At our appointment, the lady helping us said they were turning them around much quicker lately, and to expect a response within a month. She just called last Friday, April 24th, to tell us they were approved and ready for pickup. I wasn’t planning on a turnaround of only 17 days, so of course we are in scramble mode now!

    For others coming behind, the only “problem” we had at our application appointment was the money order that I brought to cover all of the fees was a little bit too much. I had sent an email the week prior, in late March, and was told the exact amount to bring. Apparently they re-index the fees on the first of the month to reflect the current euro/dollar exchange. With the strengthening dollar, this resulted in my money order being $8 too much 🙂 I offered for them to keep the $8 as a donation, but they said everything had to be exact. Fortunately there is a Publix and a Post Office right across the street where you can get a new money order drawn up quickly. As of April 2015, the total fee was $604 for four applications.

    One final hint that I got from the kurpediem blog (which has also been a great resource) is to call/email in Spanish. I had good response times once I figured this out, and stopped pressing “1 for English.”

    Thanks again!

    • That is great news! Congrats to you and wow that was fast. We heard they were going to start scanning documents to save time “sending to Spain”, it looks like it started. We are glad that you shared your experience with us and perhaps were of some help to you along the way.

      What part of Spain are you heading to and when do you plan to arrive?

  6. I am hoping to take my 4 kids to “study abroad” in Spain in the Fall. Ideally, we want to stay for 5-6 months, therefore we need to obtain the Non-Lucrative visa. Thank you so much for your informative website! One quick question: once I have gathered all of our documents, applications, etc, can I mail them into the consulate office, or do I have to hand-deliver them? I understand that we will all need to appear in person to pick them up, be we don’t have to be there to submit them, do we? I live near Seattle & our consulate is clear down in San Francisco. Ugh!

    • Hey Brooke, How exciting for you! What part of Spain are you planning to base your “study abroad” session? Do look us up if you end up near Almunecar.

      As far as the application process, you need to all be present for drop off as well as pick up. Some consulates/staff bend the rules a bit here and there, but the standard is to all be there. I know that isn’t what you wanted to hear, but you may want call the SF Consulate to verify. We consulted with another family in your same location and the consulate was flexible with pick up, but not drop off.

      • Thank you for your reply. And no, it was not what I was hoping to hear. 🙁 Since we live so far away from our assigned consulate, I’m afraid that we won’t be able to make the non-lucrative visa work for us. I’ve tried contacting the consulate in SF, but they are not very helpful. They just keep sending me the policy as it is outlined on their website; they don’t seem keen on considering an exception. SO frustrating!!

        We will still come for 3 months, though, then probably move on to Turkey to finish out the semester. (Is the Spanish border control pretty strict about checking dates on your passport?) We are looking into living along the Mediterranean coast, in a smaller town or village. But we won’t have a car. How convenient is it to get around if we are only relying on walking and public transportation? If we lived in, say, Marbella, is it easy/affordable to travel up to Barcelona or inland to Seville?

        Thanks for your help!

        • It is a bit costly for the non lucrative visa and to make 2 trips to SF also. If there is even the slightest chance you want to stay longer, it is worth it. You won’t need to worry for a full year.

          Marbella is a very popular and expensive area. You will be connected to the rest of Spain via Bus from Marbella. Alternatively, you would just make your way by bus to Malaga (1 hr ish) or Seville (2 hr ish) and then you would have train Access. You can get around, just be patient and willing to take your time.

          We will be returning to our little town of Almunecar in late May and plan to not have a car this go round. We will need to do the same and take a bus an hour or so to either Granada or Malaga and then we can train from there.

          I am not sure of your requirements, but Costa del Sol is expensive in general. You may find some better deals in Nerja, the other side of Costa del Sol. Anyway, be open to your options. Let us know how we can help.

  7. Hi Heidi
    Congratulation on your victory! I have been following a similar plan for the past couple of months. Currently I have a three months visa stamp to go there to follow up the rest of the red-taped procedures for getting a non-lucrative residence visa. However, thanks to further internet search on the issue of Spanish Tax laws for residents, I came to a deliberate stop! Sounds like sort of lawful confiscated. One has to declare at the end of each fiscal year, whatever income, assets or wealth he or she has had wherever in the world, which will be subjected to “wealth” and “inheritance” tax. Have you already learned of such a
    lawfully designed and cooked confiscation procedure? Your comments and advise would be highly appreciated. Thanks. Shangarf.

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