Visa for Spain

...the legalisation procedure is difficult, lengthy, and expensive for everyone, making Spain an illogical choice for those who do not intend to be here for at least 2 to 3 years."

Posted by The Expatriator

Spain Expat's comprehensive information for obtaining the various visas -other than a working visa- and residency information: retirement visas, self- employment or investment visas and more.

If you’re looking for information on a work visa for Spain, see our article under the working in Spain section, Work Visa in Spain

Visas for Spain:

If you’re an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa; you already have the right to residency .  You’ll probably find it useful, though, to apply for an NIE.

If you’re a non-EU citizen, and you want to stay in Spain for more than 30 days (90 days for some nationalities), you need a visa.  If you want to live in Spain, the process is this: First get a visa from the Spanish Embassy or Consulate closest to your home.  When you arrive in Spain, you work on getting residency . After you get that, you can begin work on getting citizenship.

Getting residency in Spain allows you to live anywhere in the EU. Likewise, getting residency somewhere else in the EU gives you a right to residency in Spain. That means that if your goal is residency in Spain and you have relatives or ancestors in some other country in the EU, then the easiest way may be to first apply for residency in that other country.

The various visas you can obtain are described in the following information noted from the Spanish Consulate of New York. Keep in mind that what is required for the visa application in New York may be different from what is required in other consulates, but it is probably similar.

General Requirements for Spain Visas

For any visa application for Spain, expect to require the following documents, plus those specifically as noted below for each individual type of visa for Spain.

To apply for your visa the following requirements must be submitted in person:

  • Passport valid for a minimum of six months and three photocopies of the personal information and photo page.
  • 4 recent pictures, passport size.
  • Original marriage certificate *.
  • Original certificate of good conduct issued by the police department of the city or cities where the applicant has spent 6 months or more in the last 5 years, with a translation into Spanish .
  • Original medical certificate typed on doctor’s stationary verifying that the applicant is free from the following quarantine diseases: yellow fever, cholera, and the plague. The certificate must also certify that the applicant is free of drug addictions and mental illness, with a translation into Spanish .
  • Original Medical Insurance that will cover you in Spain.

It is also necessary to submit two (2) photocopies of all the documents.

Retirement Visa for Spain

In addition to the above General Requirements for Spain Visas, you will need:

Residence visa to retire in Spain (visa de Jubilados). This visa allows a foreigner to reside in Spain as a retiree without working. In addition to the above General Requirements for Spain Visas, you will need:

  • Original certificate of a public or private institution certifying that you receive a pension, specifying its monthly amount.
  • Proof of any other source of income and/or properties in Spain (The anual minimum is $10,000 increased by $1,700 for each dependant).
  • If you own any propety in Spain you must bring Original proof of ownership.

Note: on arrival in Spain, you may be asked to get medical insurance, so you’re not a drain on the Spanish public medical system.  This may not be the easiest request for an older person.  If you can’t prolong the health insurance you had in your country of origin then try some of the companies listed in Health Care and Medical Insurance.  The point is to convince them that you are insured, whether you are or not.

Student Visa for Spain

We have expanded this section over at the new Student Visas for Spain page.

Invesment or Self-employment Visa for Spain

Residence visa for investors or self-employment. If you’re wealthy or self employed (for example you work online with a foreign source of income). In addition to the above General Requirements for Spain Visas, you will need:

  • Copy of the Work Authorization Application (Solicitud de Permiso de Trabajo) filed with the Ministry of Labor in Spain and one photocopy. This document must be submitted at this Consulate General within thirty (30) days from the date stamped by the Ministry of Labor in Spain.

We’ve recently been notified that our favourite legal team/abogado in Barcelona is now accepting new clients for investment and self employment visas. You can visit them at [url=][/url]

Non-lucrative Visa for Spain

Residence visa for non lucrative purposes. Another choice if you’re wealthy. In addition to the above General Requirements for Spain Visas, you will need:

  • Proof of sufficient financial resources ( Bank accounts in Spain or the United States, investments, annuities, and any other source of income) totaling a minimum of $75,000.00 annually. If stocks or partnerships are owned in one or several companies, it must be specified that no funds are derived from direct labor activity in these companies.
  • If you own property in Spain you must submit the original deed and a photocopy, or you must submit proof of sufficient financial resources to obtain housing in Spain.
  • Work-excempt Visa for Spain

    Residence visa exempt from the obligation of requesting work permit If you’re a Mormon etc. In addition to the above General Requirements for Spain Visas, you will need:

    • Documents which verify that the organization in Spain is accredited by the appropriate governmental authorities in Spain.
    • Proof of receiving a grant, if applicable.

    If you don’t fit any of the above, then it gets tougher.  You can come for three months, then try to find a company to sponsor you, or you might try to get residence in another EU country first (do you have an Irish grandmother?).  Or if you just love Spain but hate bureaucracies, you can probably live here illegally many years without difficulties, as long as you keep a low profile.

    Residence visa to reunite a family

    Here is a letter describing one couple’s experiences applying for this visa (thanks to Shelley Snowdon):

    The process is a long and complicated one for a non-EU citizen who is married to an EU citizen, but not a Spanish citizen. I’m married to an Irish citizen. So, there were two ways I went about getting my residency .

    Firstly, you will have to return to your own country (mine being Canada) or to the country of your husband if you were living there prior to coming to Spain (Ireland). It isn’t difficult to say you were living in your husband’s country if you can’t really afford to go back to Canada or wherever.

    What you’re looking for from either embassy in either country is called a VISADO DE REAGRUPACION. The foreigner’s office here will ask you for a family book (Libro Familiar) or this visa . The difference is that the family book is really only used by a Spanish resident and his or her spouse, I think. This is important, as no embassy outside of Spain seems to know what you need if you ask before leaving your country, although they are strangely familiar with this visa once you get there.

    I did go back to Canada first, but the process was incredibly long and complicated. The Spanish embassy in Canada wanted a notarized letter stating that my husband wanted me to live in Spain with him. This had to be done in Spain and brought to Canada. That would have meant finding a lawyer, etc., in Spain and seemed far too complicated. Also the Spanish embassy in Canada wasn’t able to process my claim in any less than four weeks and they said it could even take up to four months “you just never know how long these things take.”

    The Spanish Embassy in Ireland required me to show them the following:

    • A marriage licence
    • my passport and my husband’s passport
    • four photos
    • a form that I filled out there
    • and an E111 form (this is strange as it’s not valid here once you’re a resident, but they don’t seem to know about the E121 form nor do they realize that everyone gets free health care here in Spain. My suggestion is to just go along with it all without asking questions. Remember though, that you’ll need to have your social security number in the country you’re applying in to receive an E111 form. Hopefully, if everywhere is like Ireland, it won’t take too long.)

    Every country differs, though, so people should call the Spanish embassy in the country in which they wish to apply for this Visado de Reagrupacion before heading there to get one. Also, it took four weeks for them to process it and between 1-3 days to pick it up, so you might need two trips to your chosen country unless the Spanish embassies differ. They will give you your passport back and you can bring it with you again when you pick up the visa if you don’t wish to hang out in the other country for four weeks waiting.

    Once you get this visa (which will be processed and placed in your passport upon pickup—again taking 1-3 days) you will take it to the foreigner’s office and request an appointment and the necessary forms to complete. The first step is to go to the commisaria in Barceloneta and get your NIE, which is pretty simple. Then you will take that and all the necessary documents (they have a piece of paper on which they list all the documents, but bring whatever you have, as they always ask for more!) to your appointment. This could go smoothly, or you could run into more complications. For me, because we were married in Canada, we ran into complications. They wanted to see our official marriage certificate (not the church copy, but the one that you send to your government or whatever). Not sure how other country’s work. Anyhow, even though I had that, they wanted another bunch of stamps on it, which we never did figure out. After two attempts at getting it stamped (the first was a stamp from the Canadian Embassy in Madrid stating in Spanish that it was an official marriage licence and the second was a letter from the Irish Consulate in Barcelona recognizing our marriage) neither seemed to be what they wanted, but the woman saw our frustration and because we were careful not to show the mounting anger at the system but rather treated her with some courtesy, she passed it through for us. So, then I was issued my bank form to pay for my residency card (6.31 Euro) and that was that. I handed it into the commisaria along with two photos (though they ask for three they only take two for some reason. I’d be prepared with three, though, just in case!) and now I will wait four weeks and go to another police station to pick it up.

    Simple, eh? I hope this helps others who apply. I started the process in the first week of November and will receive my residency in July. So, my advice to those applying is to have patience. Also, another way you can do this is to stay in the country illegally for a year (though be sure to get registered at your local Ayuntamiento (City hall) first—don’t worry, no one will notice that you haven’t left if you register). I was told that after a year I would have been eligible to apply for the whole thing in Spain. There was also some question as to whether or not I could have done the whole thing in Spain if we had been married for more than a year, too. Best thing is to call the Spanish Embassy in your home (or your husband’s home) country first just to be absolutely sure. This e-mail is not a guide, but rather what you might expect from the Spanish bureaucracy.

    Once you have the residence visa in your passport, you have three months after arrival in Spain to go to the nearest Oficina de Extranjeros.  Below are the following documents you will need to bring, based on our own experience (we haven’t found any official listing). 


    • Form called Solicitud de Tarjeta en Regimen Comunitario
    • Passport and 2 photocopies
    • 3 passport-sized photos
    • Medical certificate
    • If a member of the family is Spanish (or has residency ): your Libro de Familia, DNI (or Residency Card) of that family member, Empadronamiento, and medical insurance.
    • If you will be working for someone: a contract of employment. See Work visa for Legally Working in Spain, above, for further details.
    • If you will be self-employed: documents that prove you fulfill the requirements necessary to undertake that activity.
    • If you won’t be working: documents that prove you have enough money to live during your time in Spain, plus medical insurance.
    • If you will be a student: proof of matriculation in an accredited school, plus the requirements of the previous item.

    You will then receive your Resident Card in a few days or many months. (Each Oficina de Extranjeros processes candidates locally.  The time spent both waiting in line at the office and waiting for your Resident Card can vary tremendously, depending on where you do it.  If you want to get it done fast, you’ll probably find it better to do it in a small town.)

    Last updated 30 01 2012

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    aussieguy said:

    Im Australian and have been living in Prague for the past 1.5 years and just yesterday got my new Czech visa for another job is expanding to Barcelona and want me to go there with them later this year..does anyone know if i can just transfer over my visa as its also a Shengin country and i will be with the same company or do i need to apply as normal?

    jennifer867 said:

    I have a difficult question. I have a boyfriend in Spain who is only a resident, not a citizen. He is originally from Algeria. He is applying for his citizenship.

    Here is the question:
    He said that if he leaves Spain, as ONLY a resident; then if he wishes to return to Spain to live in the future, because he wasn't a citizen when he left he will have to start over from square one.

    Is this correct? Can he travel freely as a Spanish resident, possibly live in the US and then return to Spain to live without any future problems?

    Thank You

    sacia said:

    I am an American citizen and I have family that run a beach resort in Spain. If I wanted to stay with and work for them for a summer (3 months or maybe a little more/less) what kind of visa/process should I be looking into? Do I need to obtain a work visa or something along those lines in order to do that?

    gary.shaw58 said:


    Help''' I am marrying my Thai girl friend in February will it be easy for her to come to be with me in Spain i am a resident Spain with a full work contract for many years''but I am English

    Many thanks

    smith.ryan790 said:


    I have to say this post was certainly informative and contains useful content for enthusiastic visitors.olay regenerist

    Thank you!

    BriandelSol said:

    Brian here. VISA questions.

    My Father(retired, 73) and I have seious designs on moving to Costa del Sol. I have read the requirements for Visa - Questions? He is in a midwest state with no Consulate. I am in Chicago where, today they basically referred me back to the website that says "DUE TO LACK OF PERSONNEL, THIS CONSULATE GENERAL CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT THE DOCUMENTATION REQUESTED WILL BE ISSUED WITHIN THE DESIRED TIMEFRAME"

    I had tickets bought for general travel. We plan to be there definitely more than 90 days and I dont want to sign a long term lease - and not be able to stay. Can the process - with all the appropriate documents - be done while in Spain? I have photos, background check, passport etc.. Please - any advice is appreciated.

    Please PM me with any advice.


    JD85 said:

    Visa Question!

    I am a US citizen, but have been studying in the UK for the past 2 years on a student visa. My permanent residency is, of course, the US - BUT my temporary residency for the past 2 years has been in the UK.

    I am currently in Spain undergoing a 10 week intensive language course. It was not necessary for me to obtain a Schengen visa as I am a US passport holder and staying for less than 90 days.

    I must return to the UK to submit some course work but I would like to return to Spain over the summer to take on an unpaid internship for about 1-2 months. I read that there is a 180-day grace period in which Schengen visa holders cannot return to Spain.

    Is this the same for me (as I am not on the Schengen Visa)? If so, is there a visa I can apply for while in Spain or in the UK that will allow me to re-enter for less than 90 days. (bearing in mind that I am not a UK citizen but have been living there for 2 years).

    Many thanks for any information!


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