How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen

Consulado General de EspanaLast Monday our family spent the morning in Chicago applying for non-lucrative visas that will hopefully permit us one year of residency in Spain.  This type of visa is also sometimes referred to as a non-profit visa and will not allow us to work while there.

Our experience was a bit different from others who had documented their process.  I think the requirements have changed over the years and I wanted to make note of what they look like at this point in time.

Most U.S. citizens are able to travel to Spain visa-free for periods up to 3 months.  We wish to remain longer than that.  This is the first step to enrolling our kids into public schooling for the 2014-2015 academic year in Spain.

Background Information

  • This information is valid as of February 2014.
  • This is our experience merely applying for the visa.  We should hear back in about 2-3 months as to whether or not we’ve been accepted.  4/4/14 update: our visas were approved today, pretty much 8 weeks on the nose from the date of submission on 2/10/14.
  • We live in one of the states supported by the Spanish consulate in Chicago which services:  IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, and WI.
  • Initial enrollment is valid for one (1) year.  For instructions to renew your residency click here.


The Spanish Consulate in Chicago outlines the requirements pretty well here.  Below are my additional notes with regard to each line item that I wish I had known ahead of time.

1.  One (1) passport size photo for each applicant (white background).

2.  Original passport for each applicant.

My Note:  I also submitted a color copy of the pages that contain the photo and passport details (number, birth date, expiration, etc).

3.  One (1) application form for each applicant.

My Note:  It is this form on which they’ll glue your photo.  You’ll notice they have a global requirement that everything be translated into Spanish.  This is a hefty document that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to translating.  Fortunately I found a Spanish version on the Miami Consulate’s site that I used for submission.  In the end, however, they sent the Spanish copy home with me since the English version apparently was enough.

4.  State Police Criminal Background Check for each adult applicant (with Apostille).

My Note:  This was easy for us since we live in our State’s capital.  We visited our local Crime Information Bureau where they put together a formal letter that basically said we had no record on file.  We were then able to walk across the street to the Secretary of State to get it legalized with the Apostille which was completed in one day.

5.  Medical Certificate for each applicant.

My Note:  Pretty straight forward.  The consulate instructions provide the needed verbiage.  It needs to be on proper letterhead and signed by a medical doctor.  I provided the translation to our clinic’s office and they were able to crank out a copy in both English and Spanish – each hand signed by the doctor.

Pile of Paperwork6.  Proof of sufficient financial resources (one per family).

My Note:  To prove you can live for a year in Spain without stealing a Spaniard’s job, they require proof of recurring income.  The instructions say you need income totaling a minimum of €2,130 per month (~$2,920) plus an additional €532 per month (~$730) for a spouse and each additional dependent.  This means €3,726 per month (~$5,100) for our family of four (4).

I had read about other applicants simply submitting bank statements showing savings that eclipse the monthly amount extrapolated to a year.  For us, this translates to €44,712 per year (~$61,300).  I submitted one year’s worth of bank statements that totaled an amount almost three times this.  I’m thinking this should be sufficient.

7.  Proof of accommodation (one per family).

My Note:  This is a bit of a chicken-egg thing.  This definitely would be tricky if you weren’t willing to sign a lease like we did, sight unseen.  I instructed the landlord to provide a copy in both English and Spanish.

8.  Proof of health insurance with full coverage in Spain and including medical evacuation (for each applicant).

My Note:  If anything causes us trouble, I suspect it may be this requirement.  We’re currently covered by my employer’s health insurance but we won’t be once I quit and we prepare for our move.  Knowing this, we researched several international health plans and found some good options that would cover us in Spain and beyond including the needed repatriation if disaster strikes.  The issue is that these plans wouldn’t allow us to enroll for coverage starting in June.  They would only allow enrollment up to 45 days in advance.

I put together a cover letter that attempted to explain this.  It included paperwork outlining our existing coverage and a quote from one of the vendors showing the insurance we intend to pick-up in the May time frame.  We’ll see if this flies.

9.  Form EX-01 – Application for non-lucrative temporary residence (one per applicant).

My Note:  This is a one-page form already in Spanish so no additional translated copies are needed.

10.  Form 790 Code 052 – Initial Residence Authorization (one per applicant).

My Note:  This is another form already in Spanish so no additional translated copies is needed.  Per instruction while at the appointment, I just completed the top portion with my name and U.S. address, checked option 1c, and signed the first page.

11.  Marriage License (one per couple applying)

My Note:  Original + copy + translation into Spanish.

12.  Birth Certificate (for each dependent applicant)

My Note:  Original + copy + translation into Spanish.

13.  Schedule Appointment.  Once all the paperwork is together, you need to make an appointment with the Chicago consulate through their handy online tool.  I would recommend booking the earliest time slot (usually 9am) as the process takes a while and you don’t want to be waiting behind a bunch of other people.

Curve Balls

The consulate’s website goes out of its way to say that all documents are required in their original form plus one copy.  It also says that all documents must be translated in Spanish.

Exceptions to this rule were:

  • No copy of the photos are needed.
  • The Spanish copy of the Application for National Visa in Spain (item #3 above) was not taken or apparently needed.
  • Bank statements primarily showing dollar amounts and dates do not need to be translated into Spanish.
  • All original copies of our background checks (including Apostille), medical certificates, marriage license, and birth certificates were returned to us.  I think they needed to see the originals during our appointment, but only ended up keeping the copies.  The attendant helping us said to bring the originals with us to Spain as they would want to see them at that time.
  • I suspect the application paperwork travels to Madrid for approval but our actual passports stay in Chicago.  Our attendant actually asked if we needed them over the course of the next couple of months.  I think he would have given them back to us if we wanted.
  • After our appointment was nearly done, our attendant took all the paperwork to his boss for one final verification.  He came back requesting that we submit a ‘Letter of Intent‘ outlining why we wanted to move to Spain.

This threw me off-guard a bit since it wasn’t part of the requirements.  I immediately felt better when he said I could fax it in the next day.  I whipped up a one-pager that talked about how we saved up the money to move to Spain without jobs so that our boys could attend school there, learn the language, and we could all take in the culture.  I’m not sure what is expected, but it was kind of nice being able to articulate why we were applying.

Additional Considerations

  • All my phone calls and emails to the Chicago Spanish consulate went unanswered.  Even so, here are their details:

Consulado General de España en Chicago

180 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 1500, Chicago, IL  60601

Phone:  (312) 782-4588, Fax:  (312) 782-1635, Email:

Hours:  9:00 am – 1:00 pm

  • Unless you know zero Spanish, I wouldn’t spend a lot of money using translation services.  Not only can they be pricey, but if you have a base understanding of the language, you can get pretty far using online translators ( being my favorite).

3/7/14 update – The Chicago Consulate overhauled their website and requirements.  They appear to be better laid out and more clear.  It explicitly calls out getting documents translated “by a certified translator“.

  • Many other online resources suggest you need Apostilles for many other things including birth certificates, marriage licenses, medical certificates, and even bank statements.  My thought is as long as it doesn’t specify this need in the online requirements outlined by the consulate, I wouldn’t be spending the extra $10+ per document to be legalized that way.

3/7/14 update – The Chicago Consulate overhauled their website and requirements.  It now explicitly calls out that marriage and birth certificates need to be legalized with an Apostille.

  • When scheduling the appointment, you are only allowed to book one 10-minute appointment slot.  This confused me because I knew the process of going through our paperwork would probably take more than 10 minutes.  I also wondered if because there were four (4) of us applying if I needed to block off four, 10-minute slots on the schedule.  Turns out the online booking system doesn’t allow this.  No one seemed worried that our 10-minute appointment stretched to about 90 minutes.  It seems to me the scheduling process is more like obtaining a number at the deli counter than an actual meeting time.
  • When you arrive for your appointment, have your documents organized by applicant.
  • Everyone needs to be in attendance at the application appointment at the consulate.


We needed to bring two money orders to our appointment.  One was for $560 ($140 / applicant for visa application) and another for $56 ($14 / applicant associated with Form 790 Code 052).

Do not complete the money orders until all paperwork has been verified by the staff.  It should be the last thing they ask for.

And now we wait a couple of months for the response…

Let the waiting begin

(Edit:  To read about the next step in our personal story, click here)

(Edit2:  To read about the next steps of the visa approval and pickup process, click here).

262 thoughts on “How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen”

      1. Hi, Buck

        First of all I want to thank you for the information. It is very helpful. Applying for the visa can be so overwhelming. My fiancé and I are planning to move to Barcelona and we are preparing all the documents. Did you translate every document? What about the medical insurance? Did they accept the letter you submitted?

        1. Hi adolis. I tried to call out all the things I ended up translating including: background check, doctor notes, lease, insurance docs, marriage license, and birth certs. Unfortunately we haven’t yet heard back – it seems to be one of those ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ scenarios so I’m not sure if our insurance letter was sufficient or not. I’m hoping to hear something by the end of April. I’ll update this post once we hear back.

          1. Hi, Buck

            I am crossing my finger for you and your family to get the visa. I found this web site:( where you can buy medical insurance and then they will sent you a visa letter indicating that you have insurance. And I called the San Francisco Consulate about the living situation and they told me hotel confirmation will do. I hope so. It is so overwhelming, that I think we are going to hire a lawyer in Spain. I heard they make easier. Stay positive. Keep me posted

            Thanks again and Good luck

      2. Thank you for this helpful information. I live in Maine and wonder if the application link you posted is for all states?

        1. I’m not sure, Dede. You can see the link I provided links to a division within the Chicago consulate. I suspect all consulates use something similar (if not the exact same one), but I’d be sure to check with your local consulate first to ensure you complete the right one.

  1. If this doesn’t work out, you could always be a stowaway on a Moroccan fishing vessel and ask them to sail across the Straight of Gibraltar. Then jump and swim, swim, swim!

    Seriously, good luck. I think you’ll have a good shot because it sounds like everything is in order, you have a good reason to visit, are financially sound, and have no criminal record.

    That’s good to hear you can enter for 90 days without a visa, since we have added Spain to our list of possible places to visit this summer (for no more than ~60 days). Is the 90 day no-visa applicable to all EU countries like Portugal?

    1. Good out-of-the-box thinking. Hopefully we won’t have to resort to this although our kids are pretty good swimmers.

      And yes, US citizens with valid passports are allowed to travel for 90 days visa-free in any of the Schengen countries which includes 26 European – Portugal included.

  2. Everything sounds in good order. Boy, have they increased the amount if money required, it used to be like 6,500€ for the first person. The only hiccup like you say might be health insurance. I wouldn’t have included the cover letter as they never check. They just assume it covers you there. This is basically the same list they wanted from us for Malta. They just took the copies and gave you back the originals . Wouldn’t you know it, l forgot to bring the original copy of our wedding certificate with the apostille and our insurance was no good of course as l no longer worked. They only care about the money part, they don’t want you to burden the system . Good luck, I am sure it will be fine.

    1. Interesting that Malta’s requirements were similar.

      The health insurance was a tough situation. I considered only submitting my employers, but the documentation was lousy and really wasn’t spelled out well enough that it covered international travel (it did, but was considered out-of-network, etc.). And it most likely didn’t even include the emergency evacuation coverage either. I’m still unsure about this but the documentation I had certainly didn’t call it out.

      The guy helping initially said not to include the quote for the real plan either until he started looking through my employer’s documentation and said “where does it say international coverage?”. I agreed with him that it wasn’t clear and we both determined it would be best to include the quote for the international that we had received. Hopefully they can see we can afford it and it had beautiful documentation that explicitly called out everything they were looking for (in both English and Spanish).

      1. The insurance part seems to be the most complicated part of the process. I am still trying to sort that out. Do you have any resources you can share about where you found your plans etc?

    1. Good question, Aaron. It seems the Chicago Consulate completely revamped the website and as a result broke all of my links. Under the new link, they have additional links embedded but it does not seem that the EX-01 is working – it simply links to a PDF that says “Please Wait”. I’m afraid I’m not going to be of much help.

  3. Question: we are considering the same thing but is the visa only good for one year? Then what?
    We are planning on staying in Europe for about 5-6 years.

    1. Yes, the initial resident term is for 1 year. After that, however, you can re-apply (while in Spain) for your Resident Card Renewal and that is good for an additional 2 years (I’ve heard it is a little less demanding than the original application process). So that would get you to 3 years total. I’m not sure how it works beyond that.

      1. My Wife researched this and she found that after 3 years of living in Spain legally (with visa), you can apply for a 5 year residency visa (same as a Green Card). At this point, you would now be a legal EU resident and could stay forever so long as you renew this visa every 5 years. To renew this 5 year visa you must show that you still have money (income or $ in the bank sufficient to meet the minimum income and not steal a Spaniard’s job) and you must supply an EU criminal records check showing you haven’t committed any crimes while in EU.

  4. Love your plan. We’re a globally mobile family too – originally from England, then did 3-4 years in Switzerland, now in the US.

    Couple of things to think about… I’m not familiar with this exact Spanish visa, but look very closely into the ‘not working’ bit. Certainly in the UK, and the US, being on a similar visa would completely rule out the sort of mobile working your wife hopes to do.

    Be careful of taxes. You’ll have to file in the US anyway of course, but may also become tax resident in Spain (you would in the UK if living there for a similar period of time, and most EU countries operate similar rules). If you’re planning to have over $10k in Spanish bank accounts at ANY point in the year, google FBAR.

    Language attrition in kids this age is SCARY fast! Mine were in French-speaking schools, ages 3-7 and 8-12, and were perfectly fluent, could unconsciously use the subjunctive correctly and everything. And yet within 12 months in the US, it had completely gone for my younger, and was barely there for my older (being older and being able to read and write it helped, I think). So – and I’m sure you’ve already thought of this 🙂 – make sure you have a solid plan for keeping it in place when – if..? – you return!

    But excellent plan, and the kids are just the perfect age (I wouldn’t want to move my now 14 year old, even though he’s very flexible and globally-minded). Best of luck!

    1. Good stuff, Lou. Thanks for chiming in and the well wishes. A couple of thoughts:

      1. The working remotely bit isn’t going to happen so that is a moot point.

      2. Taxes – my current thought is to open a Spanish bank account but to use it only for paying the local bills on our rental and keeping it under that $10K limit.

      3. I hadn’t spent too much time thinking about language attrition upon our return. I guess that reinforces how important it will be to get our kids back enrolled in our local language immersion program.

      1. Bit more research material for you, in case you haven’t found them yet – assuming forum links are allowed to be posted..?

        You probably know of US-focused City Data relocation forums and that there’s one for Europe (, but may not know about British Expats, which has a specifically Spanish forum ( I’m sure you’ll be able to pick up useful tips there about kids, schools, healthcare, all that sort of thing, from people on the ground.

  5. And one last thing – promise! – to flag up as a potential gotcha: ask at least one of your credit card providers to send you a Chip and Pin card. There are quite a lot of places in Europe that no longer have the technology to accept the US magnetic swipe ones. Chase can definitely provide Chip and (sort of) Pin cards; we have one. It’s actually Chip and Signature, but hey, at least it works in the European payment terminals.

    1. Keep ’em coming, Lou! We can never have too much info.

      I am aware of the Chip and PIN and have asked all of my card providers for a version of that and all have declined. I do have the Chip and Signature kind from Chase, so it’s good to know that will still work. I’ve also heard that Spain uses credit cards significantly less than their northern counterparts, so I suspect we’ll operate a lot more using cash.

      I still can’t figure out why the U.S. doesn’t transition to Chip and PIN…seems like it would be more secure.

  6. Cost, as always… but the US should get there in a couple of years. Much to Target’s relief 🙂

    You’re providing me with a very pleasant Sunday afternoon, between your site and the Wagoners one. Given my preference, I’d move country every few years, learning another new language along the way. With the kids approaching high school, though, we’re having to stay put for a while, so they can finish their education in one educational system/ language.

    So in the meantime, I’m living vicariously through adventurers like you, and beavering away on our early retirement finances so we can take off as soon as the kids are launched! (Aside: that’ll be the retirement finances spread over 3 countries, several currencies, and subject to widely-differing regulatory regimes… *heavy sigh*)

  7. Hi Buck,

    I have a question you might be able to help me with. The Chicago website says “visa applications are accepted three months prior to departure, not before”. (Can be seen in the link below)

    But it also says that it takes 12 weeks + 10 days to process a non-lucrative visa. If this is true, it is not possible to apply and receive my visa in time for my intended departure. How far in advance were you able to apply?

    1. Hi TM. We applied mid-February for our planned July 1 departure. We are still waiting for feedback (approval or rejection) and I hope to hear back end of April/early May. Any time before that is a bonus, any time much after that and I’ll start getting nervous. The folks at the consulate didn’t bat an eye that we were applying 4.5 months in advance.

      My take is that you may be misinterpreting the 3 month rule. I think it means you can’t apply a year in advance of your departure date and expect to be approved in 12 weeks. Maybe in this scenario, they’d sit on your paperwork for a while until you are within 3 months of your departure before accepting you. Just a guess on my part and when we applied back in Feb, the online requirements from the consulate didn’t spell any of that out. It seems to have been a new addition sometime in March.

  8. Congrats to you guys! If you are over before the end of June, give us a ping.

    Wow it seems that Chicago office is on the ball. Another family that purchased our ebook about the resident visa process, said their applications were approved in just 5 weeks, from the Chicago office. Remember each consulate within the US has slightly different rules, requirements and timing.

    1. Thanks Heidi. (for the benefit of those of you ‘subscribed’ to these comments, our long-term visa application was approved earlier this month – about 8 weeks from submission).

      Unfortunately, I think we’re just going to miss you. We arrive in Madrid on July 1 and will probably be in Granada on July 2.

      And yes, I’m appreciative for the Chicago consulate. Of those others whose websites I browsed (including San Fran, Miami, and Houston) Chicago’s site was by far the most detailed and helpful. Even if they never answered their phone or email 🙂

  9. Hi there — just beginning to seriously dive into this visa application process in Chicago, and really appreciate this post! May I ask — for the research on the international health plan you included, which plan/provider did you use? Also, did they provide any more clarification if the $$ requirement needed to be in assets (savings, investments, retirement funds)? (Hoping to still rely on income from my current employer as a telecommuter while abroad! Know this didn’t apply to your situation, but wondering if they said anything that might illuminate the requirement). And lastly, how far in advance did you need to set up your appointment at the Consulate? On a final note, I studied abroad in Granada about five years ago — you could not have picked a better city for your adventure!

    1. Michelle – it’s a non-lucrative visa, which means that you won’t be able to work whilst there, not even remotely for a foreign employer.

      1. Thanks! I’ve read in a few places that people who telecommute, freelance, etc. for existing clients/employers in the U.S. (essentially, those who won’t take a potential job from a Spanish citizen), can get this type of visa as well. Will have to do some more digging. Do you mind sharing which insurance provider/plan you presented as your “research” (with intent to buy more coverage later)?

        1. Hi Michelle. As Lou states, I do think the non-lucrative is for those who can sustain themselves without working. However, I must tell you that when we submitted our paperwork (and bank statements showing our savings), the attendant helping us still asked if we were submitting any additional proof of income – he gave a few examples “like a paycheck or pension”. I think we took him aback when we said ‘no’. Either way, if you have the means, I’d make a stop to your local consulate and just ask about your options. They were quite helpful when my wife went (without appointment) – they gave her a lot of the information that we needed. There are obviously other visa types.

          In terms of insurance, we’re going to use Cigna Global.

          1. Wonderful, thank you both, Buck and Lou! That’s great to know that they are open to folks stopping by without an appointment.

        2. Oh, that’s useful that they’re flexible on the foreign telecommuting; most European countries aren’t. Makes sense, I suppose; this way, you pay Spanish taxes and spend your earnings in their country – win for Spain! Good luck with it.

          1. To be clear: I still don’t know if by him asking proves that you can work for a foreign company while on a non-lucrative visa in Spain. He may have been baiting us after all 🙂

            1. 🙂

              The more I read expat blogs, the more fervently grateful I am that in a little less than 4 years, we’ll have citizenship of both the US and the UK (and therefore unrestricted access to the whole of the European Union). The ability to freely live and work in much of the Western world is just going to be the best parenting gift for our kids!

  10. Hi Buck

    We have decided to move to Spain this summer. My husband has been offered a job at a Montessori school in Madrid. We are working through the VISA process to submit to the Chicago Consulate. Thanks for all the great information! A question. As far as the Schengen insurance, how did you decide what plan to pick and for how long? Does it need to be for the entire year?



    1. Hi Lauri – good luck with your plans. I suspect your visa application process may be more straight forward with a Spanish job offer in hand.

      I’ve been getting a lot of questions about health insurance so maybe I’ll put together a post with details. Until then, the short version is this…

      While not explicitly called out, I assumed the health insurance requirement needed to be in place for the duration of the visa. Because we’ll be jobless during our time there (and not covered by an employer’s plan), we would have picked some up anyway. Our two big needs were:
      1) we needed something that would cover us while in the U.S. while still in our home until our departure date (a lot of “travel” insurance only cover you over 100+ miles from home)
      2) we wanted coverage available for not only Spain, but the rest of Europe and wherever else we may travel over the next year or two (worldwide)

      After determining what we coverage we needed, it just came down to a lot of internet research and price quotes.

      1. Hey Buck, We recently wrote a post about Medical Insurance in Spain, so that may be helpful for you as well. We shared a few local companies that offer good expat coverage within Spain. I hope that helps. Too bad we will just miss you when you arrive.

        1. Hi Heidi

          Thanks for the great post on healthcare. You and Buck are so helpful to those of us trying to get over to Spain. My husband is taking a job at a Montessori school to I believe he is covered after we get the residence card, but it is very confusing. Can you tell me, have you applied for any work visa since you’ve arrived? Thanks Lauri

          1. Hi, We have not applied for a work visa at all. From what we understand, once you are over here you can apply to change your visa. That said, just because you are physically in Spain doesn’t make the requirements any different. Some of our friends in the next town are thinking of making the request to switch from Non Lucrative to working, but I am not sure they are in a big hurry to do so. If we here any more on that we will share.

            1. Hi Heidi, did you ever hear anything about your friends switching from the Non Lucrative to a work visa? I have a similar question as my US based company would let me work remotely after my sabbatical, but they say I would need a work visa since we have a registered branch in Spain.

      2. Hi Buck

        We are going over our Ex-01. It is a bit confusing. Do you have any advice for question 4 —




        1. I had the same question for most of that form. As a result, I only completed the first portion – 1) Datos del Extranjero/a and left the rest blank. The attendant at our appointment helped complete the rest and unfortunately, I don’t remember how it was ultimately filled out (if at all beyond that first section – I do remember that it wasn’t much). I also brought in completely blank 790 Forms because I had no clue how those should have been completed either.

  11. Hi–great site. Thanks so much! We are also heading to Spain–but late August and are just applying now (eeks!). Did you ultimately apply without health insurance for next year–just that of your present company? I’m in the same boat! Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Anne – we submitted paperwork showing coverage from my employer *along with* a cover letter explaining that we were going to pick up another plan for once in Spain (and included a quote and details of that plan).

      1. Great! and one more question–I cannot find a *certified translator.* I do speak/write Spanish and so am just writing the documents out as we go. What did you do for the birth certificates/marriage certificate in terms of translation?

        1. Hi Anne

          I’d like to hear what you learn about translators. We are struggling with this matter ourselves.


        2. Because I studied Spanish and was able to remember the basics (and armed with an online translator), I translated all documents myself. Note this was before they explicitly called out the requirement for an “official translation”. I have no idea what those look like and how close (or off) mine were in comparison to something “official” but they obviously did the trick.

          With that said, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself and google isn’t returning any results in your area, I would try going to a local school (high school, community college, university, etc) with a Spanish department and ask around to see if anyone could help you. You might be able to get some leads that way.

          1. We are working with a couple of families applying at the San Francisco office and that consulate provides a list of approved certified translators. I would recommend reaching out to your consulate and see if they have a list.

  12. The certified translation seems like it could add hundreds of dollars, and because I speak Spanish I don’t think I’ll do it. Also the *certified translators* I found locally didn’t actually know what it meant to be certified. Also found that the consulate in SF doesn’t answer their phone or emails to find a list of certified translators pre-appt. Worst case scenario, if they don’t accept my docs on day of I will use their list and return few days later.

    1. I agree with you, Anne. The translation services I found online charged exorbitant prices and if you already speak Spanish, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a try yourself. The hardest part translating Marriage Licenses and Birth Certificates is all the side denotations and fine print. But let’s face it, the most important part of those documents are the names, dates, and locations – those are easy to translate.

      I found using something like Microsoft Excel worked best because then I could more easily mimic the location of the words as they were present on the original (including fonts and font sizes). It should be noted, I did not translate any bank statements as they are mostly dates and dollar amounts.

      1. I agree with you both. If I were going through the process again, I think I would still translate our own. When we applied, we did our own and had a native Spanish speaking friend spot check. They were pretty spot on. Of course if you make the translation look as close as possible to the original, it makes things easier.

        It depends on the applicant and how much they want to “follow” the guidelines and if and when they want to deviate. In the end it is a time consuming process, so everyone just does their best. We have found the SF office to be quite responsive. Perhaps it has just been luck.

        1. Heidi–thank you. How long did it take to get your visa back after application. We have our apt in June but are moving it up b/c we leave in August. I misunderstood others experiences of applying for student visas and thought it would take less time. Normally I’m such a planner, but this is a crunch! I’ll be driving to Sac for those Apostile certifications shortly….

          1. We went to the DC office and there were no appointments at the time. It took exactly 3 months to the day for our approval. We picked up our visa mid July 2012 and were on a plane Aug 25, 2012. We have been here in Spain since then and love it! It seems the Chicago office is humming and approving a bit faster than the others. We were originally informed it would be 3-6 months, so we were thrilled with 3 months. We’ve been told by a few readers that it took 6 week, 8 weeks or 3 months. Depending on the location of application. No matter where you apply in the US, they need to go through Madrid and either get reviewed there or move on to the location you selected. If you apply around any Spanish holidays, things can really slow down.

            1. Oh wow–I really did underestimate this! Might require a reboot! Thanks for all the good information everyone!

      2. and one more question–did you all have to go to collect your visas from the consulate or one designated person?

          1. We did not all need to be present to pick-up our visas from the Chicago consulate. I had asked what the routine was when we applied (they said not everyone had to be there) and would encourage you to do the same so you know what to expect.

            We didn’t want to risk anything, so we planned a family trip that took us through Chicago so we were all on hand if anyone gave me trouble. I lucked out and got the same attendant who seemed to recognize me. It literally took me 2 minutes – my wife didn’t even have time to park the car!

      3. Certified where? LOL – I found a LOT of certified translators in Argentina, Cuba, Dominican Republic, etc. They are all “certified” in their countries – and most quite cheap.

        Check out this site, I opened an account and used them to translate English to Spanish and also Russian to Spanish for about $4 per page:

        It is basically a freelance website, hundres of translators around the world bid on your project and you can choose them based on their references, education and or certifications.

  13. Ok–not to keep on here…but I’m going to! I have an appointment at the SF consulate on June 10, and in the last 7 days their appts have booked up completely so I cannot get anything earlier (whereas last week there were many appts through May) and all LA appts are booked through August, 2014. I had booked it so far out last week because I was worried about getting all documents in order/translated by then. Now–of course–I’ve got almost everything ready because I was sure I could move forward! Eeks! I understand the 2-4 month mark, and that Buck was 8 weeks. My question is for other folks–1) how long was it before you got your visas 2) did you have to leave your passport and 3) Can you designate someone to pick up the visa for you and 4) did this make you feel like pulling your hair out? We had planned to leave for Spain late August, and this might throw a wrench.

    1. How long did it take to get you visa after your Aug appt? My family in same predicament with Aug appt. and school is supposed to start Sep. 1st for my son. Do you ALWAYS have to leave your passports with the consulate in LA? We were hoping to leave for Spain in August, and have my husband fly back to LA to pick our family’s visas, have him fly back to Spain with the visas, then leave to UK, to re-enter Spain to have visas stamped. Could this ever work? Or will we just have to wait it out til Sep or Oct, fly to LA together to pick up visas, then miss school?! This is all way more difficult than anticipated!

  14. Help! I’m just starting this process and already feeling overwhelmed. I’m confused by the requirements, do I need State Police and FBI or the State Dept of Justice? I was reading something somewhere about fingerprints? I sent off the request for my State records thinking that was enough.

    I don’t speak any Spanish. None whatsoever 🙁 …although I have a friend from Madrid who will help me translate everything.

    I’m living in Chicago and was aiming to get to Madrid by mid-July but it’s looking more like August. My boyfriend was transferred to Madrid so where I’ll live is easy to figure out, medical and everything else seems straightforward, it’s getting this background check that’s got me confused. Is there just somewhere I can go to in Chicago? I know you mentioned you were able to walk in and get what you needed

    1. Hi Molly

      I am going through the process myself. As far as I can tell from the Consulate website, you need a State of Illinois background check. We have requested the non-fingerprint check. Hope this helps.

      1. Thanks Lauri! I freaked out because some other consulates require fingerprinted checks but I think as long as you’ve been in the State of Illinois for the past 5 years, the state check will do. Have you gotten your Illinois check yet? Mine showed up last week.

  15. Hi,
    We just went through the same process & got our visa after 2 months of applying. We’re a family of 4 as well:)
    Just rented a house in Madrid last week.
    Good luck!!

    1. Hi Lara

      Thanks for the insight. We are going to Madrid as well. Can you tell me, what Health Insurance did you purchase? Did it have repatriation?



      1. Hi Lauri,
        We already have coverage with BUPA ; i asked for a transfer to their affiliate in Spain, which is Sanitas.

      2. Lauri, what insurance are you looking at? I was looking at international BCBS for US & Spain ($500 a month, yikes). And I think Cigna has international coverage as well. Is everyone moving to Madrid!?

    2. Hi Lara,
      I have my appointment for July 30th at the consulate located in Boston. We’re a family of 4 as well. I was wondering if your could confirm how many appointments did you actually booked for your family group? did you book only one appointment for all 4, or was it 4 separate appointments ? I’ve been reading a few blogs and this is one of those facts that are not very clear. Also would you mind sharing what did you provide as Proof of Accommodation?
      Cheers !

      1. Hi Enrique,
        My husband and I handed in our paperwork for a non-lucrative visa end of April and we each had an appointment. That was L.A. Consulate though, but I do think that each applicant must have their own appointment. We did not have a proof of lodging because we explained that we preferred to look for something longer term once there. The lady that took our paperwork asked me to please find an address, any address and e-mail that back to her asap which I did as soon as we came back home from our appointment. I basically just booked a hotel for 3 days and it was accepted. She told me they don’t really double check, they just want an address ( go figure ). Of course, as soon as we got our visas, I cancelled the reservation and we will find something closer to our departure. Hope this helps and good luck. The preparation is nerve-racking but the interview itself is ok if you are well prepared, ie paperwork well organized and easy to hand over as needed ( they ask for each document separately ) . Make sure you have a pack of originals for each family member kept separately as well as a pack of copies for each. There were only 2 of us and I had a hard time keeping my papers in order ( 4 separate packs ) so 8 packs might be a juggling act, I hope not.

  16. Hello there–I just wanted to give an update for San Francisco folks. This has been QUITE a process thus far…DOJ checks must go through certain channels, certified translation (only with approved translators) is AN ABSOLUTE MUST at SF offices…and the apt times are pretty darn hard to get this time of the year. I’ve really learned a lot along the way and believe that finally my ducks are in a row…but not only has this been laborious, it has been exceptionally expensive. I’m hoping to detail the process a bit more coherently after our appts next week. Oy vey–very excited and hoping for good luck!

    1. Thanks for the San Fran update, Anne. I do think we lucked out timing-wise. Not only was it during a ‘slow’ period (in between student visa application waves), but was also during a period of time when the requirements weren’t as strict (especially with regard to Apostille and “certified” translations). I also find it weird that the requirements can (and often do) vary by consulate office. Good luck with your appts and feel free to keep us posted!

  17. Hi Jed
    Thanks very much for taking the time to document all of this. Was given this link by Bianca after hitting a wall with the consulate here in Australia. We are hoping to be in Spain for a year by Feb 2015. Great to be in contact and reading all your tips. Thanks Jodie

    1. Good to hear from you, Jodie. I’m not sure how applying for a visa from Australia will be different (or similar) as our experience applying from the U.S. You’ll have to keep me posted on how it goes.

  18. HI, thank you so much for this helpful article, I referred to it a TON while applying for the exact same visa. However, I do have a very pressing question on my mind: My visa came back but on the dates listed on the visa itself that’s attached inside my passport, it only lists dates that last for 90 days. I also know there is something I have to apply for while over there but I am very nervous now about not being able to stay or not having actually been granted the same visa I applied for. Do you know anything about this or have anything to say about what you actually had to do while over there? Thank you!

    1. Hi Christina. Don’t sweat it. With your visa approval, you’re beyond the worst of it. Yes, the visas actually stamped into our passports are only good for 90 days as well. I noticed this when I picked them up at the consulate and the attendant assured me it was fine (and it is, or at least has been). Along with your stamped visa, you hopefully received a piece of paper with your NIE number on it. This is what you need to bring to the foreigner’s office in the city where you reside to apply for your proper residence card (which will be valid for one year from your entry into the EU union). My next post will be a follow-up to this post. I just haven’t yet gathered up the time to compose it.

      1. Hi all–we just received our visa too! You are granted the 90 day visa, and then you take the original paperwork you have to your local municipality within the 90 days to receive the extended residence visa. I am so very pleased that we made it through this process (9 weeks from the SF consulate). Our SF process was quite different than what was listed here, in terms of strictness (ie no personally translated documents, all HAD to go through a certified translator, preferably from Spain…) but same end result! We are a family of four, and honestly it was a lot more money/work than I had originally understood, but glad to have it behind us. We are in Stockholm en route to Spain as I write!

        1. HI Annie,

          I’m in the midst of all this right now. Who did you use to translate? And what kind of certification did they have?

          Thanks so much,


          1. Hello Laoma,

            We used Wawi Gorriz, and at this point I think a lot of other people have as well. She is an official Spanish translator, and fantastic and totally professional and affordable. When we used her she charged $25/page. You can find her at

            If you don’t use an official Spanish Translator, you have to have each page with both a notary and apostile signature, which is madly expensive. I don’t know which consulate you are going to, but SF was very rigid and I followed their rules and got approved on the first go for our family of 4.

            Also-I rarely check this thread and it’s very hard to find these posts to answer so sorry if I don’t respond or respond quickly. We are still in Spain, and have had a great time!


      2. Thank you so much for your response! I very much appreciate it since it puts my mind at ease before I head off to Madrid tomorrow night. I can’t wait for the next post. Your blog was a better guide than the instructions for the visa itself. And I experienced the same strictness, Anne. The Chicago consulate required all the documents to be done by a certified translator as well. I’m bringing all the documents they asked us to bring except a “volante de empadronamiento” which I’m guessing I’ll have to get in the city as well since it sounds like it’s just registering yourself as a local resident.

  19. We received our non-lucrative visa in four(4) weeks (really a little less time). We applied at the Spanish Consulate in Chicago. We now have 90 days to enter the country. Happy day.

    1. Hello all,
      Do you know if they POSITIVELY require proof of lease or property deedfor proof of accomadation? I know other consulars will let you write a statement. I am having a hard time with this portion of the application. VERY FRUSTRATING:-(

    2. Just an update, we arrived to Valencia yesterday, our visa was stamped by a smiling immigration official. They really appreciate it when you put out a little effort (well getting paperwork is a lot of effort). Next we have to register to receive our cedula (in Colombia that is what it’s called), here I think EIN.

      Kind regards, Fred and Luz

  20. Hey, thank you so much for your website! We are applying for the same type of visa from NYC! My major question is that we have been to Spain for 3 months. Is it required to obtain a new passport for the visa? And also, to have things translated into spanish, did you have to have these done by a certified translator?

    1. Welcome! Are you presently living in Spain? If you are done with a 90-day stay, you must stay out of the country for 90 days pre re-entry as I understand on the Schengen visa. I’m not sure if you can re-enter prior to 90 days on the non-lucrative visa. This is a good question for your consulate. Also, I would suggest going directly to your consulate for the certified translation piece. We obtained our visa via San Francisco, which appears to be extremely rigid compared to other consulates. Not only did we need certified translation, we needed certified translation via one of their approved translators, who had been certified by the Spanish government. If we had chosen to go through simply a certified translator, we would have still had to have every single page notified and get an Apostile stamp (read: tons of money). I LOVED our translator in the bay, and she would work for you in NY as well. She was organized, fast, affordable ($25/page) AND helped us avoid some common pitfalls. When I wanted to not translate a few documents she told me what she had seen in the past. I honestly felt like she helped us get our visas in 1 appointment instead of having to return.
      In conclusion, I cannot emphasize how important it is to actually go to your consulate to understand their specific regulations, and also to allow adequate time for planning/processing in this whole process. Good luck!

      1. Anne, can you refer us to your translator? We’re in the process, have our paperwork together, and need to find someone good and reasonably priced. We’re in Washington so we’ll be applying to the SF consulate as well, and each trip there is pretty costly so we only want to do it the two times we have to.

        Thanks much!

        1. Hi there! If you are applying to SF, get ready. They are extremely strict, and many folks get turned away and have to go back for numerous appointments. I highly encourage you to go through your paperwork many times…
          I cannot highly recommend Wawi Gorriz, the translator with whom we worked, enough. She is an amazing, professional and efficient translator. I felt that she helped us avoid pitfalls that we might have otherwise encountered. Worth every penny: When we worked with her, she charged $25/page, which was very affordable, particularly compared to everyone else I talked to. Again, she is certified via the Spanish government, uses paper issued by the Spaniards, etc, etc, avoiding the cost of needing to have each translated page notarized and with the apostile stamp.

          1. I’m starting to get our paperwork together, and your info is very helpful, as we are coming from WA as well and having to travel to SF. THANK YOU for sharing your translator!!!

          2. Anne,

            What items did not need to be notarized or stamped if translated by Ms. Gorriz? Just starting to gather paperwork and am really concerned about getting everything right the first time.

  21. I am starting our paperwork gathering as we speak. My husband and I have to go thru the LAX consulate and I hear they are just as strict as SFO. For our proof of funds statement. I am having HSBC print up a summary of our funds ( savings and investments$ in a 1 page document. Does this document need any seal or stamp that you have heard of?

    1. Woo, good question, Patricia. I submitted printed off monthly statements but like this idea. I really have no idea if it needs to be ‘authenticated’ somehow. I would be sure it is printed on HSBC’s letterhead, signed, with contact information.

  22. Hi Jed, I very much appreciate the info you provide here and the comments are also very insightful and useful, like the name of a translator, etc. Thank you BTW to Anne. Anyhoo. Same here, husband and I are getting organized and will apply for non lucrative visas shortly. Both 57 and have just had it with work. Somos listos por otras cosas ! We are financially ok and frugal. We are canadians living in the US ( Green cards ) so we are familiar with hoop jumping. Besides the usual giddiness and butterflies, I have 2 questions regarding the application requirements. First, when they ask for an address/lease/deed, does that mean we really need to have a permanent place to stay yet ? We have pretty much narrowed down where we want to live initially but are still looking into leasing a small apartment and I certainly don’ t want to be leasing something without a visa in hand. Even some Consulate sites tell you to NOT sell home, cars, etc before getting your visa approved. That makes sense. My second question is about health insurance. Do you need to have already purchased your health insurance for Spain for your initial interview ? That kinda doesn’t make sense to me. It would seem more logical to perhaps bring your proof of insurance upon picking up your visa. Again, thank you for providing good practical information as there’s a lot of contradictory, wishy-washy info out there ( even the Consulate’s ! ). Oh, and we’re applying in L.A. Any thoughts are welcome.

    1. Hi,

      We applied in Chicago and needed health insurance as part of the VISA package. They would not process it without it. You can find relatively inexpensive ones online. I don’t remember what we used as my husband is working in Spain and we transferred to national insurance a few months after we got here. I hope this helps. Lauri

      1. Hi Lauri, Thank you for your comment. Every little bit of info helps. The uncertainty of our visa application being accepted is my biggest concern, perhaps for nothing but you know how it goes. I’ve looked into insurance online and I would be curious to know what people go with to start out. I’ve looked at World Nomads, Sanitas/Bupa, a few others and I just want to be sure we are well covered as to satisfy the Spanish Consulate. Afterwards, we would prefer a copay/high deductible as we are very health conscious and do not run to the Docs for a runny nose ( After working with them for yeas, I know their spiel . I say this with love !). Thank you.

        1. Hi Nancy – I’ll take a try at your lease question. Mind you, I had a signed, year-long lease that I used for submission. I had interacted with the landlord and explained that it was entirely dependent on visa approval. Had our visa not been accepted, we would have only visited for the summer (and stayed in the house). He said he needed about 2 months advance notice if we were to move out prior to the end of the lease.

          With that said, anecdotally I have heard of people reserving something like an Airbnb rental for a couple of months as “proof” of accommodation in Spain along with a letter that explained that they needed to get to Spain to be able to find a longer-term lease. Maybe this would give you the flexibility you need. Would appreciate others chiming in with their experience.

          1. Hi Jed, thank you. Yes, that makes more sense to me. It’s a bit chicken & egg. We’ve already narrowed down (maybe) the area and have been looking at rentals, Airbnb included. We’re about 100 miles from L.A. Consulate, so we will pay them a visit prior to making an application appointment. Hope they are helpful and I’ll be tickled pink if they could be just halfway pleasant. I’ll bring the other half 🙂

            1. Hi there-
              I do think stopping at the Consulate will be helpful.
              We had World Nomad policy x a year for all of us–which met the consulate’s requirement for health insurance. As an aside, they have been terrible and I do not recommend them for travel insurance at all!
              We also had a lease, but like others said, I think something like airbnb for a month or two would be fine. There are no hard and fast rules on this, but it was my opinion that everything we gave showing that we were serious and going to stay and were established helped. Our kids were also already enrolled in a school, and we had a letter from them.
              Regarding the bank statements–I had the summaries of each acct. we have translated, and also wrote a one-page explanation (apart from our detailed letter of intention for the year) explaining our finances. I think the summary bank statement will work too.
              Remember–as much as you can have it all set/right the first time around, you’ll avoid having to bring back paperwork and a delay. You are ahead of the summer slowdown for visa processing, so your timing is great too!

  23. Hi Buck, I fear this Non Lucrative Visa Application may have given me a brain disorder, as in I feel my head will explode. So, I have simple questions ( which is all I can handle right now ). If you, or some other kind soul, could just steer me in the right direction. Ok. About the appointment we make online : if we are a couple, do we only make 1 appointment or is it 1 appointment per person ( I think it’s 1 per couple/family, but I’ve no self confidence right now and I may need to cancel one of them 😉 ). Also, regarding financials, do we just print statements off the internet ? We’ve got the FBI and marriage cert. covered ( translated and Apostilled ). We’re probably going with World Nomads for starters and eventually switch if we find better but for now all we want is to fulfill Consulate requirements. For the Medical Clearance, we’ve read that the MD needs to be IHR 2005 certified ? That sounds crazy to me …. Which documents actually need to get notarized and/or Apostilled ? Our interview(s) are at the end of April and hoping to get it right the first time. I’m starting to think that the Consulates are being vague and illusive on purpose, as in they may be weeding out the dumb-dumbs ? Yikes !

    1. Hi Nancy,
      You need one appointment per person, as in 1 for 1 person, and 4 for a family of four. Try to get them back to back, though we went in 2 separate days for a family of four and it worked out in our favor. Your bank statements can be printed off the internet as PDF, but they also need translation. The MD certificates should read exactly as the consulate asks, and as long as it’s a MD, you should be fine. This has to be translated too. I would highly encourage you to go to the Consulate in person to ask some questions and work with a translator who has helped with these kinds of visas in the past. The Spanish consulates take themselves seriously. If they send you away, you will have to re-book appointments, and it will really draw out the process. The closer you get to summer, the busier they get because of student visas. Good luck!

  24. Hi Anne,
    Thank you for responding and giving me helpful information. Yes, we actually went to the Consulate last week but they were only somewhat helpful. We felt pressed to hurry up ( lots of people ), our questions were half answered and then we were handed a copy of the 790-052 which we already had. Of course, what are you going to do ? start complaining ? so we said thank you and left. Also, I am working with Wawi Gorriz per your recommendation and so far she has been wonderful but I’m trying to not annoy her with my questions, although she said she would gladly answer them. We will keep trudging along and cross our fingers. Thank you.

    1. Good luck! I followed Wawi’s recommendations to the tee–even when I didn’t like it and I’m glad I did because we had our family of 4 approved for the visa on the first go-round in less than 8 weeks from SF, even during the summer rush.

      1. Hi Marc, we did leave them with the Consulate as we really didn’t mind and never even thought of asking about keeping them but I think you should be able to. I don’t think a foreign country has the right to just keep your passport. Just verify with the Consulate you are dealing with.

  25. I’m so happy to have stumbled upon this conversation! Our family of 4 (from Minnesota) is moving to Javea, Spain in August and we’ve had many of the same questions regarding the Chicago Spanish consulate.

    We have an appointment May 20th – how long we should plan to stay in Chicago?
    Has anyone had success getting the visa with a medical certificate from your family physician? What did it cost you?
    Which documents specifically do we need to have translated? What is a reasonable fee?
    Do you have to have your documents translated BEFORE or AFTER they have the Apostille of the Hague Certification? How long does it take to get the documents back from Washington with the Hague approval?

    We would SO greatly appreciate your input! I promise to share our story as well to help out others! THANK YOU in advance. Cheers to Adventure!

    1. Hi Jenny. I’m originally from MN, so there you go. Lots of questions here, so I’ll try to just hammer them out. Be sure to see Nancy’s reply below as well.
      – I’d plan on a couple of hours at the consulate and that largely depends on your appt time and how long you wait behind others before even being addressed yourself.
      – Yes, we got medical clearance from our primary care physicians – cost = $0.
      – We only had our background checks Apostille’d and that was done at our local Secretary of State in WI so it only took like 1 day. The Apostille is just a stamp so it doesn’t really impact the translation, I wouldn’t think.

  26. Hi Jenny, I can share a bit of my experience so far. My husband and I are in the process of applying for Non Lucrative Visas out of L.A. Consulate. Our appointment is April 27th. We still haven’t got everything but we are on track I hope ! We needed a marriage certificate from Nevada and FBI clearance and since those were out of state I made them a priority, time wise. I applied for marriage cert online 3/25/15, got it 3/28/15 and sent it back for Apostille 3/30/15 and it came back 4/09/15. We got fingerprinted in L.A. ( after a visit to Consulate for info ) on 3/26/15 and used LiveScan and a company called MyFBIReport and got our report in the mail on 3/28/15. I sent them back for Apostille to D.C. on 3/31/15 ( when I realized D.C. was the only option ) and received them today 4/11/15. The FBI website states that a clearance can take up to 14 weeks and that sent me in a panic which is why I used MyFBIReport which cost 180.00 for 2 … yes big gulp there. It was $40 for FBIReport and $50 for LiveScan per person. I hear that UPS also does LiveScan so I would bet they are cheaper. I’ve since calmed down. So if you’re not doing the FBI ( maybe state police ? ) you might be able to do it cheaper. The service was indeed great but it was very expensive. It all depends on your personal circumstances and how much stress you can take :-). While out for Apostille, I sent pictures to a translator ( the one recommended by Anne earlier in this thread ) to get that ball rolling. She is very nice. I also am still not sure of everything as far as notarizing and Apostilling. For health insurance, I finally went with WorldNomads because I didn’t want to risk the Consulate refusing my insurance coverage. I’m not sure it was the best choice but at this point I really just want to meet Consular requirements. If we get visas and wish to renew in a year then I think I would have time to investigate further and possibly switch. I don’t know. We also have a medical clearance from our regular doctor and am just now sending them for translation. Hoping they are ok. Anyways, I hope you find some of this helpful and much luck to you.

  27. My wife, my baby, and I were approved for out non lucrative visas on April 13 at the Los Angeles consulate. The adventure took us over 6 months. Our major hurdles were the health insurance and proof of income. For health insurance we first tried AXA/ PPP. We had the required documentation for them, however they wouldn’t cover pre existing conditions, and the consulate would not accept health insurance with exemptions. They were going to charge us over $750 per month for the three of us. Next we tried Sanitas on the recommendation of Spanish friends I have recently made. They only charged us just under $2,000 for the whole year for all 3 of us. However it was of no use, as we could not get documentation the consulate would accept. We went back and forth with them, but they would just not produce a document that clearly stated we had no co payments and a limit of at least $35,000. In fact there is no limit and no copayment, but any paperwork they sent us was either too complicated for the consulate, or if it was one page it did not state the no copayment and did not state a limit, as there was no limit. It was very frustrating. We ended up getting HCC insurance, a 10 minute call resulted in an email with a perfect 1 page proof that we needed. It was sent within 10 minutes of the call. And it only cost about $880 for the whole year for all us 3. We are planning on keeping our Sanitas coverage, and dumping the HCC travelers insurance once our visas are in hand. The HCC can be cancelled anytime before the coverage was due to start, June 1 in our case.

    The income threw us a bit. Our first attempt we showed them bank statements and investment accounts of over $150,000, they said they wanted recurring income as they didn’t believe we would pull money out of our investments. Next I got a contract for 3,000 euros a month from a Netherlands based company I do consulting for, however they said they would not accept this as it was an EU country, and the person at the consulate made it very clear repeating 3-4 times I am not allowed to work in Spain. I would imagine we could do work for US companies, but this is just a guess.

    A giant curveball they threw us was that they KEPT OUR PASSPORTS while the visas were being processed. I had already booked a flight which is going unused tomorrow. Very frustrating, but a small price to pay for our accepted visas I suppose. They said the visas would probably take around 20 days to process.

    At the LA consulate they would not accept any paperwork unless ALL the paperwork was there and correct. And when they accept ones paperwork it is my understanding you are accepted, unless any of the paperwork turns out to be fraudulent or something during processing. We were told we were in fact accepted, and they took our pictures then.

    Our letter of intent I believe is the reason we were accepted. I don’t think we would have gotten outer visas without it. Also translated of course. I strongly suggest anyone attempting this to write one, and to make it good.

    We used MendWord for our translations. They were very helpful and flexible with all our changes and requests. They responded when we had questions and for things to us on time. We were sending them paperwork up until 2 days before our appointment. I think we probably sent them 30-40 emails and many phone calls. They were also much much cheaper than quotes we got from other translation firms. I highly recommend them.

    Lastly, we were at the consulate for our first appointment at 10 am, and we were there until 12:30. It is not a quick process by any means.

    Good luck to all…. And see you in Spain. We will be living in lovely Ronda.

    1. Wow! This really goes to show how different the consulates are! We basically just showed our savings and investments, and were approved for the financial piece with this. A “recurring” amount of money seems counter-intuitive as they are obsessed with the fact that you cannot work while in Spain. I don’t personally think it’s worth discussing whether you work for a US company while in Spain, because it *could* fall in some weird confusing line, which could involve taxes, etc. And regarding the health insurance, we just used World Nomads with their letter, and boom, no problem. As I mentioned previously, I’d never recommend them again because of the terrible time I’ve had with claims. And finally, in regards to the translation-I thought that agencies were incredibly expensive. We needed so many pages translated, and with the SF consulate’s strict requirement (if done outside of their recommendations, each sheet had to be notarized/apostile), Wawi’s $25/page was a screaming deal! I think our total translation fees were under $500. I loved her too, as I have mentioned previously. She really really helped us do it well. And as a final, final, I gathered all of our info in May for 2 early/mid June appts, and we had our visas approved the first week of August. I pushed it far too close to our September 2 departure in hindsight, and would never recommend this! Just adding this information to add to the excellent post above as comparison!

      1. For income we attempted to show them rent we would be paid for our house, but that did not count as we don’t have the deed, we are still paying the mortgage. Same with our car. Two things that they did accept was my wife’s payout of her vacation hours as she is leaving her old job in a month. The also accepted a letter from my father as executor of the family trust stating he would be giving me monthly dividends from the trusts interest earnings. That letter had to be notarized. As for bank statements, we printed a years worth but they only wanted the last 3 months. And they wanted them translated. We only translated the first page of each month.

        In regards to ‘absence of criminal records’. I have a DUI from 10 years ago on my FBI record, and the consulate had no issue with this. Funny as I though that would be our big issue, not the insurance and income.

        About fees, our application cost $140 each, plus $11 each for the 790-052.

        I just spent 6 weeks in Spain, and getting a bank account was very easy, once I had an NIE number. The NIE process was interesting. For mr it involved going to my local national police department, as opposed to the local police, or guardia cival, the other two police departments in town. Yes there are 3. They only took NIE applications on Wednesdays, they gave me an EX-15 form (if my memory is correct) which I had to walk to the bank to pay the fee for 9 euros and change. Then I needed a photo copy of every single page of my very blank passport, I only had one stamp for my entry to Spain, but they wanted every page. I went back to the police station and handed the, the copies and paid for form. I was told it would take 5 business days to process, so I returned the following Tuesday to collect my new NIE number. With that and my passport I was able to open a bank account with no money to deposit, for no fees, and received my ATM from the same branch a few days later. I am rather positive an NIE will be given with the visa for my wife and daughter, and all of you who are successfully granted a visa, but for anyone traveling to Spain prior to getting your visa, this info is for you. Also, my friends received an NIE number in the Canary Islands the same day they applied, the police station there took their own photo copy of just the information page of their passports and handed them their NIE paper right then. So the process is different in different places.

        Last bit of information that surprised me, not nearly as many people speak English in Spain as I would have guessed. I am in a smaller town of only 35,000 people, but it is a major tourist location, and I’ve only come across two people who speak English, one of the men at my bank, and his English is not great by any means, and my real estate agent, who is actually Colombian. No one else at the bank speaks English at all, no one at either of the two post offices. None of the people the work at the courier services. All of which I assumed would have one person who might know a little. The older folks in town even have a very hard time understanding my Spanish, because of my Mexican accent. The Andalusian accent is apparently quite different than even the spainish spoke in the rest of Spain. It’s made things an adventure.

        1. Hi Jonathan,
          Thanks for your story. I may have misread but I am under the impression that you just had your interview at the Consulate 2 weeks ago but you’ve already been to Spain and gotten your NIE card ?
          Nancy B

          1. You read correctly. We were naive and thought we would get our visa on the first try. Our first appointment was February 24. We had already rented a house for March 1 and I already had a ticket for February 27. We were denied that appointment with no chance to come up with the paperwork they wanted. I went to Spain like a normal tourist and spent 6 weeks there while my wife stayed in the U.S. collecting all the paperwork again, as our FBI, birth cert, marriage cert, investment papers were all expired past the 3 months date. I got an NIE, a PO Box, and a bank account while there. I also got the house ready for my family, learned where everything was in town, practiced my Spanish, and parallel parking skills. I was lucky enough to witness the Holy Week festivities and make some friends who have helped greatly being able to answer questions. Since I left all my stuff at our house there I can now bring more of our stuff on the return trip. I will be returning as soon as they give us our passports back to further be a tourist as our visa is scheduled to let us in the country June 1. I think I will have to leave the country in June to get my visa stamped, or something like that. It will be a good excuse to spend a day in Paris or Istanbul.

            When I get my NIE at the police station they said it was good for three months. I don’t know what exactly they meant by that, if he number expires, or if they just meant I was only allowed to stay for 3 months. I also was unsure what the banker was saying when he mentioned our tax status. He said if we were going to be living in the country for more than 6 months we would have to change our tax status. I have paperwork that says something about it, but it is all in Spanish, and mine is not That good.

            Also…. The NIE is not a card, it is simply a paper with my number in it. It is different than the residence card one is required to get within a month of arriving on the long term visa. That is a (I think) called an NIF card, it is laminated and official looking. I believe that card is obtained through the oficina de extranjeria in ones local town.

            1. Yikes, talk about tight scheduling. Well, experience is a great teacher! As far as I know, you could have kept your passport while the application is being processed. They didn’t ask if you thought you might need it ? Also, in order to “activate” your visa, you must come into Schengen, so technically, France would’t work for you but Istanbul would. There are 26 countries in Schengen. Great Britain is also not in Schengen. Ok, I might be wrong, so just check it out. Anyways, good luck with your adventure in Spain 🙂

              1. I asked them for my passport, they said I couldn’t have it if I wanted the visa. I was shocked. I would have preferred not to lose my flight today. And I guess Istanbul or London then. Thanks for the info. 🙂

        2. Thank you for this post!!! you are the first person I have found on the internet who also has a DUI and went through the process. I’m currently going through the process and I am nervous about this too! Did you explain it at all in your letter of intent? The SF consulate actually requires this so I am in the middle of writing it and trying to figure out if I should explain it in the letter or not or just let them look at the record themselves and then talk about it in the interview if it comes up.

          Another question – more out of curiosity – so when your visa was denied and you went to Spain as a tourist did you mail your passport back to your wife as she was collecting all the paperwork or how did that work?

          Not sure if you’ll even read this but worth a shot 🙂

          1. I did not explain in my letter. The letter I wrote was simply about how much I loved Spain, it’s people, customs, food, etc. (even though I had never been here before) It didn’t come up in my interview, I was never asked about it. About the paperwork for the second try, my wife collected everything from the different offices, and all that, but I had to fly back to be there in person to apply a second time. Then when we applied they took my passport so I couldn’t come back while it was being processed, which took something like 4 weeks.

            We just got approved for our renewal a few days ago, so we have 2 more years!

            1. Sorry I posted my last comment before I refreshed the page 😛 Thanks for your quick response! So did you just submit the letter that stated you had a criminal record and attached the record as well?

                1. The only thing I had that mentioned it was my FBI background check. I had that, plus the apostille for it, plus the translation for both. Aside from that I had all the other paperwork I needed as far as health ins, bank records, marriage cert, and birth cert, plus apostilles and translations. Then I had a letter that I wrote that said how I loved Spain, plus a translation. And while I’m not happy to be able to report this, I will mention that spending a night in jail in small town Andalucia is better than a night in jail in West Los Angeles.

                2. For some reason I can’t comment directly on your last post. Thanks for that info and that extra bit is good to know too, LOL

    2. Hi Jonathan,

      It’s two years later but in case you manage to see this… You mentioned that you got a 1-page proof of insurance from HCC that worked perfectly. What information exactly was on the 1 page? Do you happen to remember what you asked HCC for in order to get that page (certificate of coverage??)?

      I will be making my application at the Miami consulate and they are quite vague in their description of what the health insurance requirements are:

      “10. Proof of health insurance with full coverage in Spain.” No further details given!

  28. Thank you for the helpful comments Nancy and Jed!

    What do we need to know about taxes? Obviously we file in the US, but will we be taxed in Spain as well?

  29. Update on our Visa Application Appointment. My husband and I went to L.A. Consulate today. Our appointments were for 09:30 and 09:40. The place was pretty full so we got called at 10:45. The whole process was somewhat stressful for me, perhaps for naught, and turns out it went really, really well. We dealt with a woman called Pilar and she was very helpful and nice. One thing that she appreciated was our paperwork being well organized. I had separated the originals from the copies for both of us and had them arranged in the order on that list of requirements with little post its so I knew at a quick glance what to give her. It made everyone’s life easier. I also had photocopies of our Drivers’ licenses, Green Cards ( we’re already bloody foreigners ) and Passports. It was smooth sailing until …. payment time. She passes me this post it that had $580 on it. I thought, Oh she made a mistake and meant to write $280 ( you know, for both of us ). Well, noooooo it was $580 EACH !!! plus $11. So $591 each for a Canadian citizen. My jaw made a horrible sound upon hitting the counter, so I picked it back up and we went and raided an ATM. Other than that, it was a good day. Apparently, they have been granting the visas in 2-3 weeks lately, before summer rush for sure. So, that’s where we are at !!!

  30. Congrats Nancy. It must feel good to have that done. 2-3 weeks is awesome! Here is my latest issue that I would love help with. Chicago requires that we do an FBI background check which means it must be Hague’d in Washington D.C. We sent this off March 5th. I called today and they said they are just opening applications from Feb 4th and to call back in about 25-35 days! That’s just the background check. That doesn’t include the time to mail it off to D.C to get the Hague Cert. Our appointment for our visa at the Chicago consulate is May 20th and we have flight and hotel booked for all 4 of us. Don’t feel like I can move it back as we’re planning to leave early August. So do we…
    1. Just do a State Criminal background check and have it the State Apostille of the Hague or..
    2. Use an expedite service like which can process the background check within a week, but we still have to send it off to D.C. to get Hague and back to us by May 19th?
    Plus there is the translation that piece that needs to happen>=?!? Feeling depressed. Would love advice.

    1. My wife did the electronic fingerprints with and got her report in the mail 3 days later. She still has to send to dc for the apostille. That took about 2 and a half weeks to back.

      1. Same story here. Myfbireport was expensive but worth my peace of mind and the Apostille took about the same time as you.

    2. We are from Chicago and just had a state background check. It was easy, you can ask for online, then get it apostilled at an office downtown.

    3. On the FBI website, it said it could take 14-16 weeks so that freaked me out, which is why I used a “facilitator” ( which is kinda bogus really ). 25-35 days sounds better but you might have just hit “rush hour” . Sorry I can’t be of better help.
      I’ll keep my fingers crossed

    4. Hi Jenny,
      Let me try this again. I guess if you were able to get away with a State background check, that would be most convenient. I would recheck with Consulate. If they insist on FBI, I would quickly download MYFBIReport form, take it to a Livescan that will work with MyFBI…. I think UPS offers that service get my fingerprints done asap, get your results in the mail in 2-3 days. As soon as your mail comes, take clear photos of the report, maybe photocopies, send it off to get apostilled in DC. I did the 2 day Priority envelope in which I had another folded 2 day Priority SASE along with my request. Actually, it might be worth Express/Overnight type of mail. Make sure you ask for a trilingual Apostille which would cut out need for translation. Once that’s gone, send a photo of your report to your translator so she can get that going. Again, good luck to you.

  31. Has anyone actually changed their insurance plan after the visa was approved without issue? I have my visa but I am shopping around for better insurance plans now that I am no longer in a rush. It seems highly unlikely but I don’t want to be stopped by border control for no longer having my original policy at the time of my visa application. I am not sure if border patrol does anymore than just glance and stamp anyways.


    1. We used one insurance to apply for the visa, which we have cancelled now that we were approved and are using another company. When I went through the border coming into Spain with my shiny new visa, the police there were not asking me anything about health insurance. They don’t care. In fact they didn’t even know about residence visas. The man who checked me through I don’t think had ever seen one, he needed to consult his superior for about 10 minutes while I waited. When he and his superior returned to further try to figure it out, the superior had never seen a residence visa either. When it was all said and done they just stamped me and let me though, kinda shrugging their shoulders like, “I don’t know what that was about, and I don’t care.” There is no way they would have ever known what health insurance I told the consulate in LA I was using.

      1. Thanks for the response Jonathan. I figured it would be more of a look and stamp kind of thing without much care for anything other than the visa exists, I just wanted to verify. Thanks again!

    2. I hope I’m not overthinking this but … One of the important clauses that the Consulate wants in your insurance is the repatriation one in case you had a major life-changing event, say a massive stroke that left you in need of long term care, in which case the Spanish Government does not want you on their tab for the rest of your life. So, would you get that clause if you got another insurance ? or would you take the risk of assuming the cost for you to return to your home country ? My other concern, the important one I think, is that if you plan on renewing your visa after the first year, would you have to present (again) an insurance with the repatriation clause ?

  32. I had SO many questions going through this process. Thanks to all of you who responded to my questions. We just got our visas a couple weeks ago (It only took 3 weeks from the appointment!!!). I found this blog post and all of your shared experiences so helpful that I want to share mine. I was going to start a blog to keep family and friends up to speed for when we are in Spain anyway, but decided to start writing about our experience with the whole visa process. So let me know if there is anything I can help with! Thanks again Jed!

    1. Congratulations Jenny ! I read your post a few days ago and my heart skipped a beat. Our appointment was on April 27th and no news … until today when I sent off an email asking if there was a problem and an hour later I got a reply saying our visas were ready, to come pick them up. I can breathe again. Mind you, I’m full of questions like is it a total coincidence that our visas are ready today or have they been stuck on a desk for a while ? L.A. Consulate. I’m not pressing the issue of course but I wonder. Anyways, I am also grateful for all the help I have gotten on this site and hope to pay it forward one day. It has been a trying exercise to be sure and it made me question what the heck I was getting myself into but I’m just looking ahead now. Can’t wait to tell my boss 😉

      1. The LA consulate did the same thing to me. I waited for a few weeks, emailed them to ask if it was ready, and yes, it was ready. I think there is a stack and they stamp them when asked. 🙂

  33. Hi all!
    I am considering our health insurance options for next year, and need to purchase travel insurance. We had World Nomads this last year, and I had some serious difficulties with a very legitimate claim I filed, so am feeling worried. Also, when I went to their website their costs have gone up TREMENDOUSLY! Last year we bought a plan for just under $2000 for our family of 4 for a year. This year it is up to over $2600. Holy wow! Anyone have suggestions? I really want travel insurance with decent medical, as we have outstanding medical coverage in US, even while we r gone. Thanks!

  34. Thanks for the super informative post and discussion! This was a big shortcut and answered a lot of questions in one place.

    Can someone confirm for me that you must apply in person at (my) Spanish consulate in the US? None of this can be done within Spain or by mail?

    I have to admit I’m pretty bummed. I am self-employed in the US and earn a modest living. My cost of living in Spain is probably half of where I am now and I could live like a king doing my work remotely. Yet I don’t have enough money in the bank or in regular income to pass the visa requirements.

  35. Hello there,

    Thank you so much for all the helpful information. I was just wondering if anyone knew wether they take your passport during the whole 8 weeks of the visa application process.

    My family and I were planning on traveling during that time but if they take your passport, then I’d definitely have to reschedule.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Mendy. As I think I mentioned in the post, we elected for the consulate to keep our passports during the whole time, but we could have elected to get them back while we waited.

  36. Hi everyone,
    Did your family doctor require everyone to get a full physical, blood tests, TB test, etc. in order to sign off for the medical certificate? What verbiage did you put on the letter? Is just the single sentence from the consulate requirements list (which is worded differently depending on which requirements document you look at) sufficient ? Thanks!

    1. Yes, our doctor needed full physical with blood tests etc. However, we were new patients, so it might be different if you are using your normal doctor you’ve been seeing for a long time. The wording we had our doctor and our pediatrician use was the same: DATE (important), This medical certificate attests that Mr. __________ does not suffer from any illness that would pose a threat to public health according to the International Health Regulations of 2005. Signature. Also make sure it is on your doctors letterhead, AND make sure there is a stamp. Our consulate made sure we had a stamp from the doctor on the paper. The stamps they used were simply their name and address. This was done for the Los Angeles consulate…. and we were successful. I’m writing this from our Villa here in sunny Spain. Good luck.

  37. So much helpful information here!!! Question about birth/marriage certificates: the SF consulate says these must be “authenticated with the Apostille of the Hague.” Does this mean they need to be authenticated from the state in which they were issued, or from the state which we currently reside (two different states!)?

  38. Hi Lori – I’m new to this forum and also in the process preparing to apply for a visa with the SF consulate. I just dealt with the birth and marriage certificates recently and in my research found that you must get the Apostille from the state in which the original documents were issued (not where you currently reside).

    1. Thanks. Sent birth and marriage certificates off to CA and waiting for Apostille. Now working on the health insurance part as it looks like you are as well! Good luck!

  39. Hello everyone,

    My family is preparing to apply for our Spanish visas (non-lucrative residence visa) in a couple of months with the San Francisco consulate. I have a question about the health insurance requirement. I’m sorry to be so long winded, but wanted to include the details in case it makes a difference.

    We plan to get Spanish health insurance through Sanitas and have confirmed that the plan will meet the minimum visa applications requirements (it will have unlimited amount of $ coverage, no copay or deductables, cover emergency, and repatriation) . The plan will also cover routine care, child wellness, and dental. HOWEVER, our pre-existing conditions will be excluded from the policy. We expected this, as it’s pretty much impossible to get any insurance that will cover pre-existing conditions other than short-term travel insurance, which would not work for us, since where planning to live in Spain for a couple of years. Therefore, we plan to “self-insure” (pay out of pocket) for any medical costs associated with the pre-existing conditions.

    MY QUESTION: My big concern is whether the consulate could reject our request for a visa, if the proof of health insurance letter states that the policy has an exclusion for these pre-existing conditions. Maybe it won’t matter and all they care about is that we are covered in emergency situations up to the maximums they state and don’t have any deductables or copays. I just don’t know.

    Does anyone have a similar situation or have any advice to offer on the topic?

    Thank You!

    1. Hi tjsmom. 🙂 I had the exact same situation as you, only in the LA office. We are covered by Sanitas now, and like our coverage. However, like you we couldn’t get our pre-existing conditions covered. We tried to get our visas and were rejected for two reasons in regards to health care. 1. We had to have 100% covereage, meaning we were not allowed to have exemptions. Period. 2. Sanitas could not provide us with a clear document that said the coverage. Seriously, we tried many many many times through many people and they just don’t provide a clear document the consulate wants. So…. what to do is get travel insurance. Buy it, get the paper printed and show the consulate. You will get approved (at least for the health insurance). Then you can cancel the travelers insurance for no fee before your travel date. Retaining your Sanitas coverage for your health care while here in Spain. We ended up using HCC travelers insurance. Trust me and get the HCC for everyone. No pre existing exemptions, they can get you the coverage you need, quick and get you the paperwork you need quick. We had our paper ready about 15 mins after dialing their number. Easy as pie. Sanitas and others like it just won’t be able to get you the paper you need.

      1. Thanks so much for you reply Jonathan! I looked at the HCC insurance site (policy is called “Atlas Travel Insurance” and its says it covers “Acute Onset of Pre-existing Condition (excludes chronic and
        congenital conditions)”. However, our conditions (asthma and Type 1 diabetes) are considered chronic ongoing conditions. Do you mind if I ask if you fell into the same category as far as having a chronic condition?

        I’m wondering, did they ask you during the online app. process about whether there were any pre-existing or chronic conditions?

        And does the letter they provide once covered, clearly state the coverage amount, emergency and repatriation, and zero deductable/copays in very clear terms? And I assume in your case that the letter didn’t say anything about any pre-existing conditions? Just trying to get an idea of what this letter really says, since it seems that’s the only think the consulate will care about.

        Thanks again!

        1. It’s a shame I can’t post a picture here… I’d show you our letter. It’s all on one page, on letterhead, signed by someone, dated. It says learly that it satisfies Schengen Visa health insurance requirements. Effective date. Clearly states our policy max. $100,000 (72.340 euro) Deductible $0 Emergency $1,000,000. And the best part… they gave it to us in English and Spanish, so we didn’t need to get it translated. They asked us nothing about information other than our names, birth dates, passport numbers and credit card number. That’s it. It’s unfortunate, but being 100% honest about every little detail is in no one’s best interest in this situation. Especially since you won’t be using the insurance anyways, that is if you end up going with sanitas, or other comparable.

          1. Thanks for clarifying, this is very helpful. I’m going to go ahead with HCC and hope all goes well at the consulate. And also still plan to get the SAnitas policy we had planned on. Thanks again for your input!

          2. Hi Jonathan –
            As you suggested we purchased the HCC insurance and got the letter saying exactly what the consulate requires. So check mark on that front! Thanks again for the advice (our application appt is in about two weeks).

            I have another question about what you did when you got to Spain and applied for your Residence Permit. I’ve read that for that also they require you to once again show your proof of health insurance. Did you show them the SAnitas policy/letter for that, since you had cancelled HCC prior to leaving? And if so was the SAnitas insurance considered acceptable to them?

            1. When I got here I applied for and received an NIE. For that I had to give the police office a copy of every page of my passport and pay a fee. I think I ‘might’ have had to show my lease agreement… but I don’t think I did. If you get your visa, you will get an NIE included in your visa, so no need to worry about that. I just got here before my visa started. When we came after our visas were valid there were two things I needed to do. FIRST was go to the Ayuntamiento in my city to ‘register’ with the city. Basically tell them who I am, that I will be living in their city, and where (I had to bring a copy of my lease agreement). I had to pay a fee, give them copies of every page of the passport, a copy of the lease agreement, and because our 2 year old is a minor we had to give them a copy of her birth cirtificate, which fortunately was already translated and apostilled. (i don’t know if those are requirements, but I didn’t need to find out) THEN after getting ‘registered’ with the city, I brought that paper to the police station, with another copy of every page of my passport, and another fee. 2 weeks or so later I went to the police station to pick up my residence card. That card is official, has my picture on it, and says I’m allowed in the country until later this year. 🙂

              1. Thanks Jonathan, that’s helpful. Unsurprisingly, it sounds like there is a lot f variation in what they ask you to provide when applying for the Residence Permit at the local Spanish authorities. It’s good to know at least in your case that they didn’t require you to show the proof of insurance or income again.

          3. Sorry Jonathan, I should have finished reading the comments before replying to your earlier comment! Thanks for the details on the letter, and disregard my request for more details above:)

            1. Haha, I only read the first comment and started digging through papers and emails. I’m glad you found the info you needed. Best of luck. We’re still here in Spain 2.5 years later. 🙂

      2. What activation date did you specify for the Sanitas coverage? Do you actually begin to pay for coverage while you’re still in the states applying for the Visa, or do you take a guess on a travel date and begin the coverage then? We have just about all of our documents ready to apply in January, but we need to get the health insurance. I called acierto today to ask about the various plans they compare, and the guy I spoke with said it was too soon to buy a policy if we’re not going to be in Spain for several months. That seemed wrong to me, but I was also having the conversation in Spanish since he didn’t speak English, and I was limited in what I could say to clarify what I meant! It makes some sense to get the travel insurance policy and then switch to a Spanish policy once we’re there, but if we do that, do we buy a full year of travel insurance coverage, and just cancel a month or so in? Thanks!

        1. I don’t remember what start date we had on the Sanitas. For the HCC insurance we put the same date as our expected travel date we wrote on our applications. That was June 1. We got proof of insurance on April 10. Paid for a full year. It was around $900 for wife, young child, and me combined. They have a no fee cancellation policy before your travel/ effective date. So the day after we received our visas from the consulate we cancelled it. Keeping Sanitas the entire time… right up to now. Silly for sure, but if they want us to jump through silly hoops we will have to do what is necessary. Also.. the HCC people speak English.

  40. This is all making me dizzy! I just retired at age 56. I am in the process of applying for Spanish citizenship. I can obtain that two ways: via my mother who is a Spaniard, and via my father who is Puerto Rican (adult children of Puerto Ricans can get citizenship after two years living in Spain without working).
    I am planning on leaving in mid-February. I had not even thought about a limit of 90 day stay. I realized this a short while ago and am trying to get the paperwork necessary for the visa without working. Darn! I wonder if I will get citizenship before resident visa with all the documents I need to obtain.

    Question: Can I go to consult to give in paperwork for Visa, then go to Spain while I wait? I know I have to pick up visa in person so I would fly back. The problem may be the passport if the Spanish consulate keeps it. Any idea as to how to work around that? I want to be in Valencia now!!


    1. Hi Silvia. Given my experience, I think what you propose may be feasible as long as you don’t stay in Spain longer than the 90 days and articulate to them that you can’t leave your passport with the Spanish consulate since you want to travel out of the country.

  41. Hello – I’ve read through a lot of the blog, but I have a situation (maybe) you could help me with. We are a family of 6 living in Alaska, so our consulate is in San Francisco. Yea that’s a long way to travel to give papers, only to travel back to receive them… so, I am curious. Do you know if the process for Long term Residency can take place while we are in Spain ? Thanks anyone and everyone.

    1. Hi Michael. I have not heard of anyone being able to apply for residency while in Spain itself. I know one that tried, but had to go back to the U.S. to do so (who had documented on a website that I cannot seem to find right now). I’d consider submitting your paperwork in person in SF and while doing so, explaining that you’d rather not have to return to pick up the visa. I’d like to think they’d understand and make arrangements so that you wouldn’t have to. I know that was an option for us.

  42. Hi Jed (and others),

    We are submitting our visa applications in San Francisco in a couple of weeks. All paper work is now in order, so fingers crossed that it will all be accepted! Thanks again to everyone on this forum for the helpful information. It has helped me avoid a lot of potential mistakes.

    I have a question about bank accounts once we get to Spain. Specifically, is there any required minimum account balance needed in a Spanish bank account in order to keep residency?

    For the visa app and residency permit (once in Spain) we will provide our proof of funds in US accounts. I figured while we’re in Spain, it would be fine to keep the majority of funds in US accounts and do periodic transfer to the Spanish bank account, just to keep enough in there for auto-withdrawls, like rent, utils, and monthly spending cash. Other than that we plan to use a credit card as much as possible (with no foreign transaction fees, w/chip).

    I came across a few comments online (not here) about needing to have certain minimum amount in an actual Spanish bank account to maintain residency. I can’t find much info on this, so I don’t know if it’s accurate. I’m hoping it’s not the case. I had also read that we should keep our balance below 10k to avoid having to deal with added taxation.

    For those of you already living in Spain, can you confirm if any min. balance is required in a Spanish bank account in order to maintain residency?


    1. No one has ever asked me if I had a Spanish account or not. My balance on average is 200 euros. We transfer money from our US accounts when needed. Mostly we use cash for things, and we bring a few thousand with us when we come back from the US. Only paperwork I needed to open the account was my NIE number and a passport.

      1. Wife uses a card called the Travelex Cash Passport card. You might want to check it out. I don’t know much about it as my wife and I handle our own income and expenses… but she loves it. She says you can load it with US money from your bank and it converts it to whatever currency required. It has a chip and a pin, so can be used all over here. And it works in ATM’s.

        1. Thanks for confirming what you experience has been, it sounds like it’s not an issue. And I’ll look into the Cash Passport card. That looks like a good way to save on fees. Cheers!

          1. We are not required to have a minimum balance at our bank either. I have heard of some banks just refusing to offer an account to foreigners (especially Americans because of the FATCA implications) but once you find one that will, it shouldn’t be an issue.

    2. Hi-

      We’ve been living in Spain for 5 months now. When we set up our Bank account here with BBVA it wasn’t about keeping a minimum balance- but we have to deposit €600 minimum each month and do at least 3 transactions. We only keep enough money in our bank account to have rent, bills, kid’s school lunch, etc covered. Then we use American cards to withdraw cash. In the US we used our debit and credit cards for everything but Spain is all about cash so don’t be surprised if you go to pay at some places and they don’t have a credit card machine (or it’s broken.) Luckily we can transfer $ from our US bank account to our Spain and then withdraw cash free.
      Hope that helps.

  43. Hello
    Wanted to know how families with children between ages 9-15 figured out what schools to enroll their kids in (as my kids speak very little spanish). Would it be possible for them to go to public school if we are in spain on a non lucrative visa? We will be looking specifically in Barcelona area, Sitges or Castelldefels.
    If any one knows of schools specifically geared towards fútbol would love to know about them. Any additional information about schools and kids adjusting to life in spain would be very helpful.
    If public school isn’t an option, what private schools would you recommend, specifically ones that may not be too expensive or that offer financial assistance especially with 3 children, again in the Barcelona area.
    Thank you, any info would be appreciated.

  44. This blog is a treasure trove of information, so thank you all! I have a couple of questions.

    Are the bank statements required to be Apostilled? What about a job contract? I am already in Europe but the documents are coming from the US, so I can’t just drive around and get this done in an afternoon unless I buy a 8-hr flight home, first.

    Is the job contract also required to be translated in full? I am assuming yes, but mine is ~8 pages long and would probably cost over €200.

    Major thanks to Jonathan for the info about the health insurance. I am planning on applying in Romania (I have residence) so I want to make sure I get everything right because snail mail takes 2 weeks to cross the Atlantic.

    1. Hi David. We didn’t need to get bank statements Apostilled, but that may have changed. In terms of a job contract, I have no idea. Is it a contract for a job in Spain? If so, it doesn’t seem like a Non Lucrative residency is the way to go. I’d bet there is another type of visa available to you if that is the case.

      1. Hi, thanks for the response. I wish my situation were so cut & dry, but it’s a job contract for a remote job in the USA. I’m a contractor, so I have a sole proprietor US LLC and my company (me) has a contract with another company in the States. The money and freedom of movement is too good to switch to a local job, plus I would need to go through the song and dance to be approved to work in the EU.

        So, the only options available to me are the non-lucrative visa, marrying my girlfriend (or having a kid :/ ), or finding a time machine so that we will have lived together for a year and can get a civil union residence permit.

        Long story short, I’m hoping to do a non-lucrative visa as quickly as possible unless I find a time machine first.

        1. Gotcha. It’s unclear to me where you are stationed right now (U.S., Romania, etc), but your best bet may be visiting your nearest Spanish consulate (or at least the one where you plan on applying) and chatting with them about the requirements to know exactly what you need to put together.

          1. I’m actually still in Spain, but I’ll head to Romania once it’s clear that I can’t get the civil union visa to work (tried and failed to get it because the law changed, previously the one year of living together wasn’t required).

            Tomorrow I’ll see about talking to a lawyer here. I’m also waiting on a response from the information line here at Spain’s foreigner department. My experience with the US and RO embassies is that they aren’t really up to chatting…or talking, at all. I got more of a “piss off” vibe, really.

  45. Hi All,
    Two months and piles of paperwork later, we finally applied for our non-lucrative visas at the San Francisco consulate this week. I’m happy to say that all the advice and preparation paid off and they accepted everything, telling us it was all in good order. I wanted to share a few key notes that might be helpful:

    The Interview – Not really a formal “interview”. The person just casually chats with you as they look through all of the paperwork, marking things up, stamping them, etc. Nothing to be concerned about on that front.

    Proof of income – We provided notarized letters from the bank manager at both of our banks which stated our current balance, how long the account has been open, and the fact that both my husband and I can withdrawn from the account. Also included the last two months of statements. This all seemed satisfactory to the interviewer, no questions/concerns noted.

    Health insurance – We used HCC Atlas travel insurance (thanks to the advice on this blog) and there were no questions whatsoever. HCC provides a visa letter after you purchase the policy and it very clearly states everything the consulate is looking for. I purchased a policy for my family of three, $100,000 coverage, zero deductable, emergency evac, repatriation. It think the minimum required coverage for the visa is $30,000 but since it didn’t cost much more I went higher because I didn’t want to risk it being an issue.

    FBI Background Check – We went to a local “Live Scan” fingerprinting place near us where they do electronic fingerprinting. If you go this route you’ll pay about $90 per person, but you can save up to 6-8 weeks this way. We arrived at our appointment, did the fingerprints, they send them over the computer to the FBI dbase, and within 30 minutes we had the printed FBI clearance paper for both of us. We took those papers and sent them out for Apostille and got the Apostille back in 2 weeks. So start to finish it was a 2 week process. So if you’re pressed time, I highly recommend this.

    Translations – We translated everything through a sworn translator, including notary pages, apostilles, and bank statements. Everything. The SF visa instructions are not explicit about the exact pages that must be translated for each of the application items so we did everything just in case. It would have cost more to make a return trip than to just spend the extra money on translation.

    Organize your paperwork by person – a stack for primary, spouse, and child, put in separate folders. Include the stack of copies for each person in each folder. This sped up the process. It still took 1.5 hours from start to finish to complete the paperwork review for all three of us, and it really could not have gone any quicker. There were not a lot of questions or clarifications needed.

    Costs – I added everything up, including passport renewals, notaries, apostilles, ordering birth and marriage certs, background checks, postage, photos, translations, and application costs and it came to about $1700. Not cheap.

    In summary, you really have to want this to go through all the time and expense. I felt like I should get some kind of prize after collecting all this paperwork! It was that all-consuming. But I think it’s worth it to have this adventure. The interviewer said we would likely receive a response in about 3 weeks (sooner than I expected). Fingers crossed!

    Thanks again for everyone’s advice.

    1. Update – we got word that our visas are approved, just 4 weeks from the application/interview date (very excited!) We’re one step closer to Spain!

  46. Thanks for this super write up, it really helped us to get out non-lucrative visas approved.

    Now we’re renovating our new home and applying for business visas (something you CAN do from inside the country – just need to file a business plan in Madrid).

    We went to the Houston Consulate on 11 January and our visas were approved on 28 Jan, only 17 days!

    The consulate emailed us upon approval and asked us for our travel dates. We shopped for airline tickets and purchased tickets for 20 February and emailed them our travel dates. They directed us to come to Houston and we picked up our visas with effective dates of 20 Feb to 3 June, about 3 1/2 months of validity.


  47. Ok This is new one now perhaps someone can help me. After all the reading here i decided to go with this Non Lucrative visa. I have over 500 000 canadian dollars of savings in my saving account f stiing in my accoung from past few years. I have steady enough income coming from my 3 self run restaurants in Toronto. I prepared all the bank statements and my company papers and the other required documents and went to apply for this visa at spanish embassy in toronto. The lady there refused to take my application. She said you are too young for this why dont you stay in toronto and work in your restaurants. This visa is usually for older people. After telling her that it does specify anywhere this visa is for older retired people and other long debate she agreed to review my file without collecting any visa fee, my visa fee or passport. She even suggested that I should apply for one year working holiday visa instead. That this visa and its fees is very expensive. Now she only took my paperwork and told me she will get back to me after reviewing my file if she will forward my file to spain or return it yo me . Did tAny one experienced similar problem or does snyone has any suggestion?

  48. My family and I recently submitted our applications for the non-lucrative visa at the consulate in SF. We used Wawi Gorriz as our translator per the recommendations here, and she was very helpful and efficient. We also got the HCC insurance and easily printed letter of insurance in Spanish. The appointment went smoothly, 1hr 20min for the 5 of us. They did not even look at or speak to my husband or three children, despite requiring appointments for all of us that we flew to SF to attend. The one curveball was that despite demonstrating more than adequate funds to meet the financial requirement in the form of savings/ accounts, the man at the consulate was insistent that we demonstrate proof of “ongoing periodic income” and is now holding our application until we send in a letter from my husband’s employer saying that he will be paid… so apparently they encourage working remotely. We were totally surprised; I thought we had overdone it in terms of submitting (and paying to translate) adequate financial documents, and he just said, “these just show what money you have, but we need to see future income”.

    1. Here is my update. The lady at the Spanish embassy called back and said after reviewing my file she thinks i should be eligible to apply and she will take the file and send it to Spain for approval. she asked me to come back on Monday and deposit the fee and photographs ( she already had the rest of the application. She said she is not be sure if it will be approve but she will submit it for us. I gave them 6 month old personal bank statement along with bank letter showing 15 times more balance then the required amount. medical insurance letter from HCC, medical letter from the clinic, criminal record from rcmp (fbi equivalent in Canada) above mentioned things were stated on their website
      but just on the safe side i also included my business license and bank statement from my business, letter of intent, Letter from a friend inviting me to stay at their place in Barcelona until i rent my own place. I will submit the application on Monday and see what the outcome is. I will update . She said there is no Spanish translation needed for any of the paperwork and in Canada you do not appostile any paper work so that not needed either.

    2. We had the exact same experience applying for our non lucrative visas in Boston. We provided bank statements but they asked for proof of continued income, so we got submitted a letter the following week. We applied back in February and are still waiting, although they gave us a link to check the status and we can see that things are now starting to move along. We also brought our kids along and once we were there they told us that they didn’t need to come, but for us the consulate is just a few miles away so that wasn’t a major inconvenience at all.

  49. My wife and I will soon be applying for our non lucrative visas but I’m having trouble providing a lease. The landlord doesn’t seem to have one to offer me for the apartment we rented for September. Not sure what to do, any suggestions?

    1. We applied in San Francisco. We were not required to show a lease. We just had to say what city we planned to live in and give an address–any address. We gave the address of a friend we know in our chosen city and they said that was fine. We didn’t need a letter saying we were staying with them or any proof, just any address.

      1. The consulate in Chicago lists a lease or a deed as a requirement. I looked up San Francisco and see they do not require same.

        1. We applied at the San Francisco consulate and they only required an address, even if it was temporary. So we gave them the Airbnb address where we’ll be staying for the first few weeks. I feel your frustration, as I remember there was something that the Chicago Consulate was more relaxed on (per convo on this forum) compared to San Francisco, and we had to abide by it. Best of luck in your application process!

    2. Hi Ryan,
      My only suggestion would be to try to articulate to your landlord that if he can’t get you a “lease” (it probably doesn’t have to be that formal, just a contract that shows the address, commitment, rent, your names, etc) that you won’t be able to rent his place and he’ll have to find someone else (and coincidentally you’ll have to find someone else who can as well). Tell them you need that paperwork to enter the country and maybe offer up an outline of one. Is it for a year or only the month of Sept? I’d imagine this may be a bigger deal for him/her if it is a year lease.

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

    1. Hi Mia. While your question is probably best answered officially by someone in your consulate, I’d guess it is net. I doubt they’d come up with the requirement of an amount they’d like you to be able to support yourself by using the gross metric, but I could be wrong.

  51. Just a update we applied in toronto embassy as mentioned above in my last post the lady was very rude. Anyhow she agreed to take my application and we applied on first week of april and still waiting on response. She told us not to call and it can take about 6 months to get the answer she has my passport as well i am planning to travel so will be calling and collecting my passport and meanwhile ask her about the statis on my application. When applying she did not need any translation for any of the document or any proof of incone just showing funds she said was enough but also included our toronto business corporarion papers and she did not ask for lease agreenent just any address i intend to stay in spain. I still gave her letter from a friend from barcelona inviting me stay with her as long as i wish. Other then that i gave rcmp (fbi equilant) criminal record check, my travel insurance for year and doctors letter . Still waiting . I am not sure if its possible to check the status 6 month timeline seem long. She also said she isnot sure if it will be approve because of my young age this visa is retirement visa for older people. Despite the fact i showed her 10 times more savings in my account then required amount. I am 30. Anyways i will post any future updates

  52. Here is another update i booked my ticket for croatia and went to collect my passport from spanish embasssy as i still have not recieved a call from them. I thought i will fo to croatia then when my 6 month window is over i will go enter schengen again for 3 months. In between i will get approval for spain. When i went to collect the passport first the same rude lady said you did not give me any passport at embassy i cant find. Then after sometime she went looking again and said yourvisa is approved . I ask her i allready have croatia ticket n apartment booked can i just now go to croatia and then from there go to spain . She said no you needtoshow me straight ticket to barcelona from Toronto. So basically i end uploosing lor ofmoney for canceling my ticket for croatia and the apartment. But atleast i am approved. I dont understand why doesitmatter if i go to croatia and then to barcelona. She said bring me a original ticket. And she made sure she took her sweet time to give me a visa after approval. She said in between two weeks i will give you visa after u show me the ticket and she was always rude and looked not happy. But atleast now we have a happy ending. I have 3 months mutiple residence visa and it has nie number on it.

    1. Could you just front the extra money for a refundable ticket, show her, then refund your ticket?

  53. Yes i thought about it but then i rather got the new ticket and bare the cancelation cost . Rather then going through the whole process of getting refund on my next ticket plus i did not have enough time to wait for my actual stamp she said after i will show her ticket she need another week to process the visa and when i went to get my passport for croatia my flight to croatia was in next two days

  54. Hello there

    I read this blog that relates to translation , it is really amazing to read. Professional/Document Translation has been very necessary because every processional needs to translate their document in easy understandable Language.
    Very Useful info.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  55. Hi guys,
    I have recently had my visa approved (yay) and the “start date” is 25th October.
    The problem is that I booked my flight as soon as the consulate phoned me and advised of the approval – hence my flight arrives on the 19th October, a full 6 days before the start date.

    As I am from Australia I dont actually require a visa to enter, based on the schengen visa arrangements, so I dont foresee myself being sent home – however I am not sure if there are any implications for my visa or precautions I should take?

    Anyone experienced this?

    1. You will be allowed in as any tourist is. However, you will be required to exit and re-enter the schengen area during your the window beginning the 25th and lasting 30 days. I took a cheap flight to England, and flew right back. Another easy option (if you are in the south) is to take a ferry to Morocco.

      Welcome to Spain. 🙂

  56. Your application from the US was infinitely easier than for us, retired US citizens resident in Turkey, applying at the Spanish Consulate in Istanbul. The requested list of documents requested here far exceeds what you had to submit. We had to fly from the south of Turkey to Istanbul, stay in a hotel because the Consulate only receives applications on Wednesday mornings, only to be told to fly back home to get more docs. Then reschedule and return.

    The biggest problem for us is that the Consulate did not accept a certified Spanish translation from a sworn translator of our Turkish Police Certificate. Nor did they accept a certified translation of our Apostilled Marriage Certificate. They insist that both translations need to be notarized as well as certified! Notarization in Turkey is only done by a lawyer and is quite expensive. Moreover, there is no notary in this small resort town.

    Nor would the Consulate accept our US bank statements or our SS Statement of Benefit. They insisted that we have to show 5 months of our Turkish bank statements plus present a notarized letter from the local bank manager. The bank manager is not going to drive for an hour to have his signature notarized!

    We thought of waiting until we go to FL in 2017 to apply, but I read that the Miami Consulate only accepts apps from people living in FL. We do not live in the US, will only be renting for 3 months, worse, we have a MA driver’s license and a UPS mail forwarding address from our time living in Boston until 2003. Don’t know if that would be acceptable to apply in Miami.

    It’s called bureaucracy … leaving us between a rock and a hard place!

  57. Thank you for a most informative article … along with the 60 pages of (210!) comments. Our situation is similar — although somewhat different — from what’s been reported here. We live in NE Wisconsin (Sturgeon Bay), so Chicago is our designated consulate. Over the past ten years, we have owned two “vacation bolts” in Spain–both are “pueblos blancos” (Olvera and Pruna) close to where the provinces of Malaga, Cadiz, and Sevilla intersect. Through designating power of attorney to our Spanish lawyer, he obtained our NIE numbers when we purchased our first property ten years ago … and they remain valid to this day. Along with the many road blocks, detours, and yields imposed by Spain through its consulates throughout the USA, we have dealt with most effectively: insurance, health reports, criminal background checks, financial records, marriage licenses and birth certificates, and apostilles. But to require us to have “certified” translators when I’m fluent in Spanish? To further require us to travel hundreds of miles to the consulate to submit our application personally? And to prohibit my spouse from continuing to work online for the same USA clients to prove a (valuable) source of income but just as important sense of of gratification and self-worth derived through productive employment? That’s patently unfair!

    Are you aware that — of all the EU nations participating in the Schengen Visa accord — Spain is one of the only countries that designates a specific amount pensioners and other non-lucrative visa-seekers must document? Most other EU nations simply ask for documentation showing “proof of financial means” to support oneself and/or his or her family while living there! And, unlike Spain, with its multitude of myriad long-term visas, many EU nations offer one “Permanent Residency Visa” for retirement, independent living, to establish an independent business, to set up investments, and/or to establish themselves as independent professionals in their field.

    Anyway …

    After ten years of spending two months (April and October) annually in Spain, we decided this year that we want to make Spain our permanent home. But the bureaucracy, the hoops, and the significant limitations imposed by the country’s non-lucrative (and retirement) visa discouraged us and prompted us to seek other means towards our end.

    The solution? We went for residency in Portugal, not Spain.

    We purchased a lovely home with a lower level cafe (which we own and can operate!) just outside Castelo Branco, close to the Spanish border. (An aside: Interestingly, the tax on newly-acquired properties in Portugal is 0.1% of the sales price or appraised value vs. Spain’s 10%). Since our nearest Portuguese consulate is more than 250 miles ( or 2 hours) driving distance from us, all paperwork could be submitted by (certified) mail. None of the documents needed to be translated into Portuguese. And for a minimum additional fee, the Portuguese consulate in Washington would obtain the “legalization” (i.e., apostilles) for any needed documents. Oh, the application fees were also lower!

    Please don’t misunderstand: We love Spain! And all these end-runs were done so that we could enjoy spending more time in our Spanish home, surrounded by friends and neighbors.

    The difference is that, now, with a Portuguese residency card rather than an American passport, we can travel to and from Spain at will and stay as long as we like.

    Obviously, this “solution” isn’t for everyone. But it worked for us and, hopefully, it may be practical for others following this blog and its posts.

    Thanks, again, for the wealth of information!


    1. I agree wholeheartedly. We just got back from two years of living in Spain. What a nightmare of red tape. It does not get easier when you land in Spain, every step is a major struggle. Portugal is lovely, especially the southern coast! Go live there!

    2. The Spanish Consulate in Istanbul doesn’t even accept a certified translation done in Spain. The woman asked me to have the certified translation of our marriage certificate notarized!!! We live half the year in Turkey. The bureaucracy here is not nearly as onerous as the Spanish bureaucracy. ):

    3. Interesting angle, Pastor Bruce. Based on the way these comments have gone over the last year or so, it definitely sounds like they are cracking down a bit on the ease at which you can get these non-lucrative visas. Maybe they are getting a little too popular? I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to going the Portugal route next time…great country as well. Thanks for sharing.

      P.S. – That area around Olvera in Cádiz might be my favorite in all of Spain. Great biking around there on the Vía Verdes!

      1. Yes, indeed, Jed: It’s a beautiful area. IMHO, I cannot understand why Spain — which still finds itself in the midst of “la crisis” (economica) — is shooting itself in the foot by making it so difficult for non EU-nationals to be granted non-lucrative residency visas! Especially now … with the concern and hesitancy of UK residents to invest in Spain because of the “Brexit.” Americans like us spend money purchasing property, furnishing and equipping it, touring other areas in Spain, and promoting the country to others. Yet the powers-that-be just don’t seem to care.

        1. In our case the answer is fairly simple. We are applying as US citizens resident in Turkey. They are asking us to provide the same extensive documentation, including plane ticket, as they would ask a Turk. This is not necessary because once the file reaches immigration in Spain they would see we are Americans. But bureaucrats such as people working in consulates and embassies delight in barring the way for others. Have had this experience in several consulates inc US consulates abroad. They LOVE to tell you NO! Give us more!

          1. Hi there,

            Funnily enough, pastor Bruce and myself have been talking about this in a different forum. I am a Spaniard living in Los Angeles, and launching my little company to help US citizens tackle this endeavor, from the consulate to settling in Spain. Check it out at

            I just had a conversation with the consulate this week and, indeed, there is some confusion about it. I am going to talk with the Foreign Office in Madrid to figure out the whole thing. Part of the concern is around the concept of getting in and out of the country kind of randomly. I think that most of the problem is that the norm about theses visas is kind of vague, so state employees tend to pick the most restrictive interpretation.

            I am confident I can find the legal confirmation from Madrid and from there will be able to help many people in your situation. I am specialized in the South of Spain, in Huelva, where I have realtors and lawyers of my total confidence (high school friendhips!) working for me, but can help you find a place anywhere in Spain and deal with all paperwork once there.

            Let me know if you have any other ideas, doubts, concern, cases, so I can fine tune my research.

            thanks a lot,


            1. A little confusion is putting it mildly! If you just look at different web pages of Spanish Consulates in different locations, such as Chicago or Ankara, you can see each asks for different documents. Neither asks for notarized translations, just says everything must be in Spanish. You are at the mercy of whoever is behind the counter. If we could sell our apt in Spain asap, we would choose the Portuguese option. Sounds wonderful.

              We return to Istanbul this Tuesday with our files, each 42 pages long to include all bank, investment, pension and all the other things they require. I’m sure the lady will groan when she sees the files. She will probably tell me that I have to notarize the certified translation of our marriage certificate. This was done in Spain, we are in Turkey.

              The Spanish Interior Ministry page says that people who live far away can appoint someone in the city of the Consulate to present the file. The lady says no, not possible. So each time we have to go to Istanbul we also have to stay in a hotel because the flights from our local airport don’t arrive in time for the extremely restricted hours the Consulate is open – 3x / month on Wednesdays from 9:30 – 11:30 am. Six hours per month.

              If, after spending so much money, time, travel and agony collecting papers and flying back and forth to Istanbul, she asks us to fly back again with another paper, I shall throw the papers into the sea !!

              1. The Spanish Consulate in Istanbul accepted our application but stripped off the bank statements saying that Inmigración will not understand how they are formatted. Although we submitted statements from 4 banks including Spain and the US, which together show much more than required, the consular employee said that only the Turkish bank letter and amount is considered. This will present a problem since most of our income comes from the US and is withdrawn as needed. We will not be surprised if our non lucrative visa is denied.

                We cannot reapply from the US as we have no address. Moreover, I read that applications must be accompanied by a police certificate from every country where a US citizen has lived for more than 6 months. In Turkey you can only get this certificate if you are currently a resident. If we move from here and reapply from the US, we are not eligible to get another police certificate from Turkey! It’s a Catch-22!

                Looking into the Portuguese option …

    4. We are considering this option but when I downloaded the application form for a visa, one of the requirements is a basic knowledge of Portuguese. I speak Spanish but no Portuguese. How did you respond to this requirement or is it new?

  58. Thanks everyone for all the great information on here! I am getting ready to apply for a retirement visa very soon at the consulate in Miami. I have a question about once I get the visa and first arrive in Spain, (Barcelona to be exact).
    I know I will have limited time to get the residency card there. Is it very difficult to get an appointment at the police station?
    Just wondering if I need to get some kind of local relocation assistance. Thanks!

    1. I am struggling with that process right this minute, Mike. You sign up online for an appointment, probably the appointments are two weeks out from when you sign up. Technically you only have to make the appointment within the month. Here’s where it became ugly for us:

      There are two things we need: Empadronamiento and a foreign identity card. You need to do empadronamiento first to take it with you to the police. We’ve been sent away (from padron) because they say you need a lease for at least 6 months to get empadronamiento, or a letter from a property owner saying you live there (with a copy of their ID and ibi tax receipt) We have our appointment tomorrow with the police (after 7 weeks) but we’ll see how it goes without the padron. If I had to do it over again, I would hire someone right away, at least a local gestoria (I was charged €30 for one meeting, but maybe I should have found someone that would do more)

      1. Yikes, that sounds difficult. Where I live I needed to go to local town hall to register as a foreigner living in the city, I had to bring my rental agreement to show them my address, they printed out a form that said I registered and had my address on it. I brought that form to the police station and was able to apply for my residence card. There was no appointment needed at either office. The only scheduling issue was that the local police office only handled residence cards on Wednesdays. This is all in Andalucia, so not Barcelona. Just wanted to say that things are different for each city in my estimation.

    2. Hi Mike, once you get to your city of residence, as already mentioned, you need your empadronamiento. Frankly, I would not try to apply for a TIE without it. As soon as you either have a lease or deed or something that proves you will be there for a while ( even a letter from someone that states you will be staying long term with him/her ), just head on over to the Ayuntamiento and get it. You will need your passport and lease/deed/… for that. No appointment needed. It costs a few euros. Then you can make your online appointment at Extranjeria. Here’s the link ( if your get told the site is not secure, don’t worry just go to advanced and continue to the site )

      Mind you, I would also recommend finding the physical Extranjeria office asap and paying them a visit. It is a rather hectic office. If you can get someone to tell you what THEY need, it’ll make your life easier. Plus you get a bit used to the place, which door, how to get there … My husband and I intended to stay in Barcelona initially but headed south instead. We did visit the Barcelona office and it was packed! Also, I think the bigger the city, the more you need to have your ducks in a row. Have all your paperwork tidy, in order and separated per person. As for getting relocation assistance, it’s a personal choice but it is very doable on your own.

      1. Just wanted to add about leases in Spain. As part of the lease, you can leave your apartment (ie cancel the rest of your lease) after 6 months without penalty.

      2. It seems they’ve changed their procedures as of 5 september and you must make an appointment. I am going to try today without one.

      3. Thanks! I was thinking about renting a place for a month to check to see if I like it before I get a six month lease. It seems
        pretty risky to get an apartment for 6 months without having checked it out first. But maybe it would be better to get a 6 month apartment initially and not have to be pressed for time to find something later on. Mike

        1. From my experience, a short term place for your initial application from the U.S. is no biggie. It’s easily explained with the reason you just stated. We actually gave them a hotel address, which we then cancelled once approved and rebooked elsewhere. Once we got to our destination ( Alicante ), we started looking for an apartment and moved in within 10 days. Just don’t forget to make your online appointment by 30 days of your arrival in Spain. If you intend to live in Spain for at least a few years, I would play it safe, meaning that I would find a place for a year ( remember you can break your lease after 6 months ) to satisfy the requirements and make sure you spend minimum half that first year within Spain because for the renewal they verify your passport to see where you’ve been and how long you were gone. After that first year, the renewal is for 2 years and wayyy easier. That said, 7 to 8 months into our first year, we received a letter from the Valencia Autonomous Community asking us to show up within 10 days in Valencia to show proof of financial means again. Had we moved, without a forwarding address, we might have had trouble renewing. Mind you I don’t know whether this was just a random spot check, a clerical error ( my husband and I have different last names ) or if they just wanted to see if we were still in Spain because they also asked for full photocopies of passports, but I guess it’s a possibility. All in all, our experience has been a good one. Do get that empadronamiento because that is what they use for your address on your TIE card.

          1. Thanks, Pat. I think I will just book an Airbnb for a couple of weeks once I get there and then look for an apartment longer term. I read that booking an Airbnb will work for the visa. Hopefully, the Ayuntamaiento will be easier to find than it is to spell!

            1. So far, the short term rental (im using VRBO) is not acceptable for the emapdronamiento. It’s what I’m in now (3 month term) and they would not accept the contract as proof.

                1. Yes. I made the appointment online. They ask you to print your appointment slip and bring it with you- you won’t be seen without an appointment.

                2. The website to make an appointment is You’ll need to prove that you live where you live. This means you need a 6 month lease or longer and perhaps more supporting documents. The first time we went, we only had a 1 month lease but our appointment was so close to the end of our lease that we had already signed a 3 month lease at another apartment before our visit to the Gracia ajuntament. At that meeting we were informed we needed a 6 month lease, so we were kind of up a creek at this point. A friend of ours recently purchased a home in Barcelona, so they helped us with our empadronamiento by sponsoring us and helping us with the paperwork.

  59. Update on visa experience. Just got back from my visa appointment at the consulate in Miami and wanted to share on how it went since others on here have been so helpful. First of all if you are going to Miami give yourself at least two hours additional time to get where you are going due to the traffic because of road construction. (Seems like all of Florida is under constant road construction.) Took the I-75 to the US 286 to the US 386 to the US 953 and so on and so on.
    The consulate is in Coral Gables on Le Jeune road in a bank building office complex on the second floor. Stayed the night before in Miramar (translation: Look at the sea!) so had to drive to the consulate this morning. It was about 22 miles away but took me 1.5 hours with the constantly merging traffic. It is a good thing I left two hours before the appointment so I was still on time. First time in south Florida for me. Got to see the Everglades. Cool!
    Had to wait 30 minutes at the consulate to get my number called. Most waiting seemed to be college students applying for student visas. The girl taking my papers was very nice and friendly. Not at all like some consulate people I have met before.
    Had double checked all my papers the night before to make sure I was ready and had them numbered by the list on the website for a retiree visa. Gave them to her one by one. For my accommodation letter I gave them an address for a hotel in Malaga where I will stay for 10 days and wrote why I wanted to live there giving them superlatives of the city. Told them I would look for
    an apartment long term while I was at the hotel. The only thing they wanted was a copy of all the pages of my passport. I have one of those 50 page passports. They told me I could go to the third floor copy room and get copies. They also wanted a copy of the translator certificate page. I used Tampa Bay Translations. Very fast and professional. The people on the third floor
    assisted me and actually did the copying for a small fee. Very nice there too. Went back to the second floor and gave those papers back to the girl in the window. She said all was in order and ready to be submitted and it would take about
    three weeks. I asked them if they could take another month since I was not expecting to go until early March. So I will see
    later what the date will be.
    I was so relieved after I walked out of there! I am hoping all of this will be worth it. It requires a lot of tenacity and a will to
    overcome many obstacles–much like I 75 in Broward County.

  60. Hello,
    Thanks for your awesome post. It was so helpful. I tried to read most of the comments and searched everything for key words. BUT I am wondering, If I were to submit all my documents and then leave for Europe before the visa was approved, could I have someone pick it up for me? Or do I have to be the one to pick it up myself?? Thanks!
    Also, Is anyone who is able to support themselves without working allowed to apply for a non profit visa? or do you have to be a certain age/retired?

      1. So I just had my appointment in SF and they didn’t take my passport. I was very surprised because everything I’ve read indicated otherwise. I didn’t express a need for it, I just asked “will you be taking my passport” and she said no, I just have to bring it back when I pick up the visa.

  61. Thanks for all the information; the website and the comments have been a help.
    I have an appointment in 2 days (Tuesday) in Boston. And I have 2 concerns.
    I just returned from being in Spain for the past 3 months, so I got my medical certificate in Spain. But now I am reading that it needs to be from location of residence. Did anyone go with a certificate from Spain and have it accepted?
    I work remotely from a company in the UK. I have heard both that this visa is for retirement and not for working (anywhere) AND that you can work remotely. So I am worried that I will go and they will say that I am not allowed to work with the UK company and will not accept the application.
    Wish me luck.

    1. I’m not sure about #1 but #2 should be fine as long as your company does not have an office in Spain. That’s what the SF consulate told me.

    2. UPDATE: My Visa was approved. It only took 2.5 weeks. My health certificate from Spain was accepted, as was working with a UK company. The only thing the questioned was my letter of invite since it was not as official letter (it was from a friend); but they said as long as I know the neighborhood I would be living in it was fine. 🙂

  62. When you prepare translations of documents requiring the Apostille of the Hague Convention, should we translate the documents after they have received the Apostille? Or should we translate first, then send both the original English-language and the certified spanish-stranslations to the Hague?

    1. Sorry, just realized the apostille is necessary only for the criminal background check and can come from the secretary of state, and would be for the official form only, not the translation.

      So complicated!

  63. Thank you for your terrific guide to getting a visa! I have only one question… where does one get the “Form 790 Code 052 – Initial Residence Authorization”? I see it online, but it says not to “photocopy it.” So maybe this is something I will obtain at the consulate (Boston)?

  64. Can anyone tell me how to apply to the Non Lucrative Visa when:
    1.husband has an American passport (main applicant) and
    2.spouse does NOT have an American passport OR a green card (but does hold a passport from a Latin American country).

    In this case, which consulate should we go? Because, I think it is required to go your resident one. However given that we are married, we would obviously file together, but where? Can we file in the U.S? However, I think I read that green card must be presented, or is that only for the “main” applicant?

    *Note* We have been traveling for years, so technically not “resident” anywhere.

    I would appreciate any clarification if anyone knows, since I have not found this info anywhere.

    Thank you!

  65. Hey, thank you so much for sharing all of this. It has been a huge help. Something I haven’t understood in any blogs yet is need I do anything with the Form 790 or am I just meant to bring it with me?

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