How to Obtain your Residence Visa once in Spain


To review, there are four (4) main steps to obtaining a Residence Permit for Spain via a non-lucrative visa.  They are:

Step 1.  The Application (from the U.S.)

Step 2.  The Approval and Visa pickup (from the U.S.)

Step 3.  The Arrival (to Spain)

Step 4.  The Residence Card Pickup (in Spain)

If you are reading with great intent, it is probably because you’ve managed to get by Steps 1 and 2 and are preparing for (or recently started) your trip to Spain on some kind of long-term residence visa.  This post will cover Steps 3 and 4.

Step 3 – The Arrival

Once you make it to Spain, I would give your jet-lagged self a couple of days of orientation before plunging into Operation: Obtain Residence Card.  You have 30-days from your European Union (EU) entry date to find the appropriate office and to ultimately submit your paperwork.

Office Hunting

With all of your application papers organized and in tow, your first step is trying to figure out where to go.  I’ve heard that some folks received residence approval letters that inform them exactly which office or police station they should visit (address included).

I didn’t have that luxury so I ended up wasting a lot of time at the incorrect city offices around town.  I should have just followed the Chicago consulate’s instructions that clearly state (at the end) to visit the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjería) in my city.

Once I knew the name of the office I was looking for, this was really easy.  Try this directory of Foreigner’s Offices to find the office nearest you.  When in doubt, Google:  “oficina de extranjería ___________” followed by your city/town name.

Foreigner’s Office

I know Spain’s economy isn’t exactly booming, but in a town like Granada there remains a steady flow of foreigner’s coming into the country to take up residence among other things.Ticket Dispenser  As a result, the Foreigner’s Office here is constantly busy.  I’d find out when the office opens and get there 20 minutes early to join the other early birds that have already started to form a line outside.

Like waiting in line for most things in Spain (post office, other government buildings, butcher, etc) be sure to find the ticket dispenser and take a seat.

I made no less than 3 different trips to the Foreigner’s Office before we successfully were able to submit our paperwork that ultimately got us our formal residence cards.

Mind you with each visit, I got a little different instructions depending on who I spoke to but I was organized and had all of our application paperwork (along with copies).  In the end, this is what we submitted.

Needed Paperwork

  • Approval letters with assigned NIE for each applicant

My Note:  This is the letter you hopefully received that accompanied your passport with newly stamped visa.


  • Copies of specific Passport pages:  1) Spanish visa and 2) Date of entry into the European Union (EU) for each applicant.

My Note:  Our border agents were savvy enough to stamp our date of entry on the adjacent page of our Spanish visa within our passports, so this ended up being one simple photocopy.

  • Copy of State Police Criminal Background Check for each adult applicant (with Apostille).

My Note:  They ended up taking copies of our originals.  I suspect they left us those in the event we want to renew at a later date.

  • Copy of the Medical Certificate for each applicant.

My Note:  They ended up taking copies of our originals.  I suspect they left us those in the event we want to renew at a later date.

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

My Note:  Because we needed health insurance for about a month prior to moving to Spain, our policy would lapse before the end of our visa.  This was a mild concern to the folks at the administration but in true Spanish style, a simple hand-written note from me pledging to renew the insurance at the bottom of the sheet seemed to suffice.  In Spanish, this translated to “me comprometo a renovar este seguro médico de enfermedad”.

  • Two (2) copies of Spanish passport-sized (carnet) photos (for each applicant)

My Note:  The official size of carnet-sized passport photos in Spain is 32 x 25mm.  Use these instructions on how to obtain these for next to nothing instead of paying $10+ elsewhere.  While you’re at it, get about a dozen copies for everyone in your family.  You’ll need them for everything around here including registering for library cards and the local gym/sports complex.

  • Paid receipt of administration fee (for each applicant).

My Note:  In order to submit all your paperwork, you first need to obtain the appropriate form (Modelo 790 código 052) and pay the appropriate fee for obtaining a residence visa in Spain.  I believe the charge for us in July 2014 was 15.30€ per applicant.  You can pay for this at most banks including BBVA.  You will not be able to pay this at the office.

The Office Visit

Once you have all your needed paperwork together, head on over to the Foreigner’s Office and get it submitted.  I don’t recall it being all that difficult or time consuming (other than waiting for your turn) but they do take an electronic copy of your fingerprints and signature.  Be sure to have all members of your family present for this step – even children.

Once everything was collected, they provided a receipt of sorts that called out our “lot” number and advised us to return after 25 days to pickup our formal residency cards.

Step 4 – The Residence Permit Card Pickup

This is the easiest step of all.  After the 25 days pass, make another visit to the Foreigner’s Office.  They do not notify you when your card is ready.  At our particular office, there was no need to “take a number” – we just identified ourselves as needing to pickup our physical residency cards and they ushered us directly to the lady who seemed to have a big shoe box full of cards.Card


We showed her our receipt and they again took the electronic fingerprints (maybe for validation?) and we were off.  Again, only those physically present are able to pick up their cards (including kids).

A Few Notes and Considerations

  • This information is valid as of the summer of 2014 (July to August).
  • I’m reporting this only because this was our experience obtaining a year-long residence visa.  And judging by the number of emails I receive on this subject, I thought it would be of use documenting how we went about it.  Because this is Spain, undoubtedly your experience will be a little (or possibly a lot) different so it is imperative you roll with the punches.  Feel free to note in the comments any other information you feel would be useful for others.
  • On a similar note, if you are traveling with a busy family, I would recommend visiting the foreigner’s office initially alone to learn the local requirements.  Treat it as a ‘scope-it-out’ visit before you go with the entire family.
  • You’ll notice there was no empadronamiento needed for us.
  • I’ve heard the process to renew a Spanish residence visa is a little easier and, if approved, is valid for two (2) years.  I’ll keep you posted if/when we go through that process during the summer of 2015.

55 thoughts on “How to Obtain your Residence Visa once in Spain”

    1. Thanks for the informative walk through. We’ll be going in for our cards this week or early next week.

      It is a lot easier when you can read someone else’s firsthand account.

  1. This is an amazing post! It is a great service done for public and you have actually jotted through and through process of the type of visa most people are confused about.

  2. This is funny, this is the part that I can’t find any information on. When we picked up our visa, they just said go to the police department in our neighborhood and get the Residence Card. Unfortunately, the consulate in Miami has no information about this on their website. Also, they did not provide an approval letter. I wonder if this has changed at all or if they just keep it a secret to make it the last part of the crazy quest for this visa. LOL. The link you provided for the Chicago consulate has much more information than Miami. They say you only need the Medical Certificate and the Criminal History. I will email the consulate and see what they say are the next steps.

    1. Stephen,

      I hope you see this message. I am at the early stage of applying for my retiree visa through the Miami consulate. I have several questions about your experience with this location. If you see this note, I hope you will email me at Thank you.

  3. Also, as far as the fee for the 790, we paid that when we submitted our initial documents. Did you need to pay that in Spain as well?

  4. Again, thanks for all the info you provide. It is very helpful. We just got our Visas and are headed to Spain, probably Labor Day’ish. We also did not get an approval letter but I see the NIE number is on our Visas, so hopefully that is approval enough. I guess the Spaniards do not notify you of anything ! Our appointment was April 27th ( in L.A. ) and we were told they would notify us when the Visas were ready so we waited and waited. At week 9, June 29th, I sent off an email asking if there was a problem. I got an answer in about an hour saying our Visas were ready. Hum. Upon picking up the Visas ( they basically just handed us our Passports and said “Good Luck”, no instructions, nada ), I noticed the date of delivery as 08/05/15, like 11 days after our appointment. So for anybody waiting, don’t wait 9 weeks like me, like a schmuck 🙂

  5. Looking for some advice. Our family made it to Jávea Spain August 16th (Yay!) We were issued our NIE numbers in our Visa before we arrived. Since we’ve arrived however, it would be an understatement to say it’s been ‘challenging’ to figure out how and where we obtain our residency cards. We don’t have a car and there isn’t a straight forward public transport system here. We’ve asked countless people where we need to go and nobody knows for sure. According to the Chicago consulate we only have 30 days to find the oficina de extranjeros or the police station to submit all our documents. We finally hired a gestor and it has taken even him over a week to make contact. He finally got back to us today saying he’d secured appointments for all for of us in Alicante. This was great news… until I realized the appointment date is for November! We had given him copies of all our documents which I think he provided the person he contacted. Our gestor said that this will be a visit to Alicante to get fingerprinted. Should we be worried that this appointment isn’t within the 30 days? Or can you simply make an appointment within 30 days to get it done? Do we need to be pushy with our gestor to get it sooner? I’m not even sure he can do that for us? Help!?!

    1. Hi Jenny, I’m not really sure how to answer your question, but I would try to honor the 30-day business. I don’t have direct experience, but remember some friends of ours here dealing with some issues and the foreigner’s office reminding them of the 30-day deadline. I’d go make a visit to your local police department.

      Edit: As a quick google search, I found this link. I have no idea how accurate it is but contains a Google Map and address of an office in Denia.

      1. I am applying for the Non Lucrative Retirement Visa, but cannot get a copy of the EX-01 Form.
        I have tried many libraries, but it does not print me one; a PDF format. An suggestions? Also, is this form needed before I arrive Spain?
        Thanks, Richard

        1. Hi Richard. You can get a copy of the EX-01 form from your consulate. You need this form when you submit the rest of your paperwork and will turn it in during application at the office in the U.S.

    2. Hi Jenny,
      same thing is happening to my husband and I. We actually only arrived in Spain Sept 1st and are now in Alicante since friday night but I thought I would get a jump on things by making appointments right away and get everything we need in the meantime ( like finding a place to live ). Well, the 1st available appointments are Nov 13th ! Of course I took them just in case but it is bewildering. I’m not even sure I made the right appointment for the right thing! You’re right, nobody seems able to give us clear information. For Alicante, I have an address on Calle Ebanisteria for Oficina de Extranjero but my appointments are for somewhere on Campo de Mirra. Go figure. I might even drop in to a National Police office to ask them. I’ve heard about the bureaucracy but am only now getting a taste of it. We are also currently unable to open a bank account because we don’t have a TIE yet. No bank account will likely make it difficult to rent something. I feel your pain. If I find anything useful I will pass it along. Good luck to you.

      1. Hi all –

        I’m currently going through this process in Barcelona (my appointment for the TIE is next week), and I thought I’d add a few observations and comments:

        – Here in Barcelona, there has recently been a huge backlog of applicants for TIE appointments, which has meant that it has been completely impossible for many people (one person told me there were about 5,000 people in this category) to get appointments within 30 days of arrival, or within the date range on their visas. We arrived in Spain on August 8, and it took me until today (October 2) just to get an appointment, despite trying pretty much every day (sometimes multiple times) since we arrived.

        On the one hand, I’m seeing from comments across the Internet that this is a longstanding problem, at least in Barcelona. In any case, I was told by another recent arrival (who managed to get an appointment with the help of an administrator at his workplace) that the government has recognized the problem, and it recently (within the past couple of weeks) started opening up new appointments every day of the week. Previously, it was only making new appointments available through the Internet on Mondays, which meant that thousands of people were trying to get appointments at the same time, week after week – I guess a few lucky people got appointments, but I wasn’t among them until now. I noticed that there has been some reorganization of the government web site, and it seems to be running more smoothly now.

        He also told me that the government would relax the deadlines, since getting an appointment has been impossible for so many people. (This may be Barcelona-specific; I’m not sure. But perhaps this also applies in Alicante and other places where people are having trouble getting appointments.)

        – One note: you shouldn’t need your TIEs to get a bank account. We got one with only our passports and our NIEs (which, as others have pointed out, now comes with the visa). I think we had to make it a “non-resident” account, but it wasn’t and hasn’t been a problem. In fact, we haven’t actually needed the TIE (i.e., the card) for anything yet – so far we’ve only needed the NIE (i.e., the number). However, I wanted to make sure we got these before the 90-day deadline in our visa, so that we can travel without hassles in the future, and so we can have an ID with the local address on it. We’re on the 1-year non-lucrative visa.

        One thing I’m trying to figure out is whether we actually all (i.e., everyone in the family) have to be present for our appointment next week. This would be pretty inconvenient, since it would mean pulling the kids out of school early and toting them across town. But I’ll see what I can find out. (I submitted a question to the web site, but my question went to the technical help desk, and they said they couldn’t help me – not sure who can, though!)

        A big thanks, again, to Jed – your blog has been extremely helpful to me and my family!

        1. Good stuff, Ryan. Welcome to Spain!
          A couple more comments:
          – If you don’t hear back, I would plan on bringing your kids to the appointment. A pain to take them out of school, yes. But probably a slightly smaller pain than getting there only to find out they need to be present and having to try and schedule another appt. Just my two cents.

          – No, you don’t actually need your card to open a bank account. As long as you have your NIE number, you should be good to go. Our bank opened our account and just asked that we stop back again when we had our physical cards so they could photocopy for their records, which we did. I believe if you open a bank account without providing your NIE, they may open a “non-resident” account, but those then carry higher fees (or so I’ve been told).

          1. Thanks, Jed!

            What I found out last night from the recent arrival I mentioned earlier was that evidently here in Barcelona for the TIE you have to make individual appointments for everyone in the family. (So he had to make four separate appointments, all in different weeks! I guess I’m not done with the online “cita previa” system yet after all… but if I find anything else out, I’ll update my comments here for the benefit of other readers seeking information.)

            I guess that here it works the same way as it does at the Chicago consulate (one appointment required per person, including children), except here there is no handy grid to check the available appointments and sign up for all of them in the same block of time. It’s also a shame that this isn’t explained anywhere on the web site, but I’m getting used to that!

            And I think that’s right about the fees on the non-resident bank account. We had to do it that way in order to get our rent and school payments set up quickly, but once we get our cards I may see if it’s possible to change the account.

            Best – Ryan

            1. OK, just completed my own application process for the TIE (foreigner’s identity card) here in Barcelona, and I thought I’d share it since it’s rather different from your experience last year in Granada – and I figure there might be other people out there who are curious about how it worked for me here (same caveat: this is my experience only, and the process may change entirely a year from now!):

              Here’s what I’ve learned (not necessarily in order):

              1) In Barcelona, the *only* way to get a TIE is to get a “cita previa” (a prior appointment), and you *must* do this through the online system ( Be aware that it’s only available in Spanish (at least as far as I could tell).

              Getting the cita previa is the hardest part, because of the reasons I mentioned above – so many people are trying to do it at the same time, especially in August and September, when students are arriving. But stick with it, and eventually you will get one, if you haven’t thrown your laptop out the window.

              2) If you are living in Barcelona, the online appointment system may offer you a choice of two police stations for your appointment: one in Barcelona and one in Hospitalet de Llobregat. We learned that you *must* choose the one in Barcelona (Rambla Guipuscoa 74), unless you are living in Hospitalet.

              3) I confirmed today that you have to get a separate appointment for *each* person in your family – including each child. This is a pain, but that seems to be the way it is here in Barcelona.

              4) I made photocopies of most of my visa documents and carried everything to the police station today, but as it turned out, all I needed were the following:

              – Passport/visa (she asked me if I had a plane ticket to confirm my arrival in Spain, since our visa stamp was from Iceland, but evidently it was fine for me just to tell her the day we arrived).

              – One recent passport photo (I brought two, but she only needed one). Keep in mind this needs to be the standard size for Spain, which is different from the standard size for the US.

              – My empadronamiento certificate. (I got this within a few days of arriving in Barcelona – this was pretty easy and straightforward to get, and it didn’t require an appointment.)

              And that was it. I asked if she needed my criminal record, evidence of economic means, medical insurance, medical certificate, etc., but she told me that this was already recorded with my visa. So I’m thinking they must have streamlined the process somewhat in the past year, or they might ask for different documents in different cities.

              5) I had a specific appointment time, but that really just meant that I could get a number within that time slot – I still had to wait a while. I had a 3:44 appointment, but didn’t get to the table until about 4:30. However, the appointment itself was quick and painless, and the clerk was very friendly and patient. The only other thing I had to do was give a few digital fingerprints.

              6) When we were done, she gave me the payment form (Modelo 790 codigo 12), which I am supposed to take to a bank and submit with my fee within a month. She also gave me a certificate that I’ll take to Carrer Mallorca 213 to pick up my card. I must confess I’m not completely clear on when it will be ready, but I’ll try to let you know when I find out.

              In any case, again, the hardest part of the process here in Barcelona (and evidently in some other cities as well) is getting the appointment to begin with. The appointment itself was quick and easy. I don’t regret being overprepared, though!

              1. Hi Ryan,
                We also have non-lucrative visas for, initially, Barcelona but we changed our minds and ended up in Alicante. The first available appointments for us were Nov 13th so my husband decided to head on over to extranjeria to get some info because we were worried that our change of destination might be a problem. Luckily, he spoke to a very nice officer who, after verifying our NIE #’s answered all his questions. First off, he assured my husband that applying in Alicante instead of Barcelona would not cause any problems, he gave him the list of what they need at the appointment. Just like for you, 4 things: passport/visa, photo, empadronamiento ( which was easy peasy ) and the fee. The officer also gave my husband the forms ( 790-12 ) with the amount hand written. I’m therefore under the impression that we can get the fee paid before our appointments but I don’t dare pay too far out so I will likely try to get it paid a few days before. We will also bring everything paperwise just in case. I will do a folow-up of course but so far, it appears to be simpler than anticipated.

                1. Sounds good, Nancy – I’m glad things are working out! We just got an appointment for my wife, but we’ll have to try again tomorrow for appointments for the kids (again, this issue may just be a Barcelona thing – extremely inconvenient that we couldn’t do all of these with one appointment, or at least one group of appointments on the same day).

                  My impression about form 790-12 is that you can pay it at any bank, any time before picking up your card, but I could be wrong. Again, I didn’t even get the form until my actual appointment, which appears to be standard practice here. (In Barcelona you can’t even get in the door without an appointment, so there was no way to get the form any earlier.)

                  And yes, everyone I’ve interacted with in person has been very friendly and helpful too – perhaps we’re just lucky, but although I’ve been frustrated with the online system, I have no complaints about the face-to-face service.

              2. Hello Ryan,
                I´m in the same position as you were, i will be entering the Schengen Area thru a different country other than Spain and i´m concern on not having the Spanish stamp on my passport cause i´m planning on entering Spain by car where there is no border control.
                Do you know if i can get the stamp somewhere else besides an airport?
                Or if they are super strict about the passport stamp?

                Also i read that you have 72 hours to show up at the extranjeria office from the moment you enter Europe (not sure if it true cause it doesn´t make sense).

                About the empadronamiento:
                Can you please tell me how is the process and what paperwork do i have to take?
                Did you register the same address for the empadronamiento as the one you initially showed at the consulate in your country?

                Thank you so much and i appreciate any help and info.

                1. Hi Pablo,

                  First, I don’t think you have anything to worry about with the passport stamp. We got our passports stamped in Iceland (we spent a few days there on an Icelandair stopover before coming to Barcelona), and that was no problem at all for the residence permit. They certainly weren’t strict about it. In fact, I’m not even sure they looked at the stamp.

                  Of course, it might depend on what country you’re entering the Schengen District from. Coming from the US was no problem, but they might scrutinize some non-Schengen passports more closely.

                  As for having to show up at an office 72 hours after entering Europe – I guess it’s possible that might be a new rule, but I don’t see how they could possibly enforce it. In any case, this certainly didn’t matter for us, and I’d say it’s probably nothing to worry about.

                  Again, if you’re in Barcelona, the wait time to get an appointment for the residence card might be very long, depending on the time of year. You may have to try dozens of times. But unfortunately you won’t get past the guards without an appointment, and you won’t get an appointment unless you get it through the online system.

                  Nonetheless, in our experience, the people who processed our residence permits at the police station were very laid back, and everything went very smoothly. As long as you do your best to get an appointment once you’ve arrived in the country, I suspect they won’t give you any problems.

                  The empadronamiento process was very easy – I was able to get it done within a day or two after arriving. They recommend an appointment (they might even say it’s required), but I just went first thing in the morning with no appointment, and that worked out fine. There was no wait, and the whole thing took 20 minutes or so. They just asked me a few simple questions and had me sign a couple of documents affirming that we were living at our current address. It may be that it was so easy because I chose the neighborhood office nearest us (Sarria-St Gervasi) instead of the one in the city center, but I’m not sure. This site has good information about what you need to bring, and where you can go to get the empadronamiento:

                  Note that you *don’t* need a residence card to get the empadronamiento; you just need the NIE, which is printed on your visa. But you *do* need the empadronamiento to get your residence card.

                  I used the same address that I used at the consulate, since I already had the lease when I got my residence visa. But I don’t think that matters so much – what you’ll want for the empadronamiento is the address you’re currently occupying in Barcelona. (I don’t think they checked my visa at all. Keep in mind that with the empadronamiento, you’re registering with the city, whereas with the NIE and residence card, you’re registering with the country.)

                  I hope that’s helpful, but if I can answer any other questions, please don’t hesitate to follow up!

                  And best wishes for your time here –


                2. Thank you so much for the detailed replies to all my questions. I will follow your advice and try to tell you later how my case is going.
                  Thanks again and i will be in touch!

            1. And we showed up to the extrajeno (spelling) office and they said it was no good, we had applied for the wrong process and we were at the wrong building; we had to go to the main police office. We went back online, and registered as directed and tried to book online.

              Our visas expire on 3 June and the FIRST appointment they had available was 6 June. I took the appointments and then went to the police station in May to ask if I could get a different date. The policeman wouldn’t even let me in the building but he said that so long as I APPLIED within 30 days of arriving, no worries. If they are booked for 5 months, your visa just gets automatically extended so long as you show up for your appointment.

              Here is where I registered:


              after you select your location, you want “expedicion de tarjeta de identidad de extranjero” appointment.

              hope this elps

              1. Thank you so much Justin!!!
                It really helps!
                I still can’t access any web address to set up an appointment. i wonder what’s wrong…

          1. To glenjuliezehrblog:

            For Barcelona, see my comments above. The key points:

            (1) to get a residence card, you first have to get an online appointment for the police station at Rambla de Guipúscoa 74 (you can’t just go to any police station – has to be this one); keep in mind it can take months just to get an appointment. Or at least it did last year; maybe the system is better now.

            (2) After you’ve completed your appointment, they will give you a receipt to pick up your card at a different police station, but you have to wait several more weeks until the card is ready. (In fact, we never actually managed to get the card for our younger son, because it wasn’t ready during the one little window of time we had to get it. Very frustrating, but this didn’t end up mattering. I only needed my residence card twice during our entire year abroad – including the moment we left the EU.)

            I hope that’s helpful – good luck!

  6. Hi,

    I´ve just found this blog and love it.
    I´m a spaniard living in Vancouver the last five years. If you guys have any questions relating to Spain just ask me or if you need some help with ads, searching or whatever

    I´ve lived over there in different places like Alicante, Cáceres, Madrid, Mallorca…

    Spain is a great place to retire. I´ll do that… Lol

      1. NP, the north part of the Island is without discussion the best, Alcudia over all and the sunset in Formentor.
        Don’t forget to buy you an “avarcas”, Castell and Ria are the best brands. Best summer shoes ever.

  7. I along with my 2 kids have a non-lucrative visa from November 28th.
    We will be in Estepona, malaga.
    Is it essential to make a prior appointment at the Extranjero office or can you land up just like that?
    Thanks in advance for any tips

    1. I’d recommend asking at the local office. Here in Barcelona you have to have a prior appointment, and you have to make it through the online system. But in other cities and towns this may not be necessary. Welcome!

  8. Hi, I have a non lucutrive Spanish stamp in my passport, I’ve already submitted all the required paper work in Canada to obtain this type of visa, what paper work and forms are necessary for my residences card, plus the cost, Thankyou. Patricia

    1. Hi Patricia. Unless I’m misunderstanding your question, most of the answers are in this post including the needed documentation. In summer 2014, the cost was 15.30€ per applicant, which no doubt has gone up a bit since then. Good luck.

  9. Hello Jed,
    My wife Susan and I are just getting started with our retirement in Spain plans. About a year out. I am delighted that you have been kind enough to share you’re experiences and insights. You’ve done such a fine job illumination the unknown unknowns I’ve been worried about. Thanks a lot.

    By the way, We’ve been thinking of Seville but Granada looks like a dream. Do you have any thoughts on the relative benefits of the two cities?

    1. Hi Jamie. Thanks for the kind words. In a nutshell, I’d say Seville is a beautiful city and Granada is a town based in beautiful surroundings. Both are also close to other interesting sites (i.e. day trips), so I’d say that is a wash. Granada is a bit of a challenge in terms of access right now due to the train upgrade situation so I’d give a tip to Sevilla in that regard (with bigger international airport and high speed train access). Sevilla is about 3 times the size of Granada and feels much more like a “city” than Granada. The weather is also considerably different between the two, too. Granada has a dry, mountain climate and gets to freezing in winter whereas Seville is much warmer (altho both quite warm in July/Aug). Topographically, being at the base of the Sierra Nevada, Granada is hilly whereas Sevilla is flat. Both are bike-friendly with Seville having dedicated bike lanes throughout…Granada less so although still doable. To me, Granada seems more of a mountain bike kind of place and Seville more geared to road bikes.

      If you’d like more info about Seville, I’d really recommend Cat’s blog Sunshine and Siestas. In the end, you really can’t go wrong with either.

  10. Sevilla update– our family is in the midst of the process here in Sevilla. Found an address for the Oficina de Extranjeros online. Turns out it is 20 years old. The office is at Plaza de España (bonus you get to see a major site whilst doing bureaucratic paperwork and they have AC). Stand on the Blue line and bring everyone’s passports to make appointment for the whole family. Super nice. We got an appointment for next Monday.

    But in waiting I saw that there are not so many appointment days, looks like one or two a week at most until September.

    They gave me a piece of paper with the documents required:
    1. Appointment card which has also has the document you need– mine says for “4-p” meaning four persons.

    2. Copy of main passport page AND copy of visa and entrance stamp page(s)

    3. 790 codified 12. They gave me these at the office and marked how much we had to pay at the bank. 15.45euro each.

    4. Photograph

    He also gave me Form EX-17. It’s not on the list but he said to fill it out for each of us.

    So that’s what we’re going to do. Hoping this goes smoothly.

    1. I’m delighted to see a post from someone in Seville. I’m in the process of planning a move there in early 2017. I’ll apply for my visa application at the Miami consulate. Would you be willing to share your email address so I can write you directly with my questions? My email is
      I hope your move is going well. Where did you move from?

    2. Hi Laoma,
      We got similar instructions, to do the 790-12 and EX-17. Did you get a Tarjeta de Residencia not just the tarjeta de identitad de extranjero? I am not even sure what I need a this point!

      1. Does anyone know, on the EX-17 do I check the box “residencia temporal no lucrativa” or “residencia de larga duración”?

  11. December 21, 2016 – The process at least in Malaga / Marbella, has changed if you are applying for a non-lucrative visa (probably also valid for all types of residence permits). The internet tells you to go to an office of the Extranjeria OR the national police. Not the case. We took an appt at the Extraneria, got there to be told to go to the main Comisaria de Policia in Malaga, to the dept of Extraneria. Off we went only to learn that we need to make an appointment (nowhere found on the website!). The lady gave us an appointment for January 18 – four weeks from today and 33 days after entry into Spain. Most government offices of every kind are now insisting that you make an appointment before going there. Some of these offices have an online appointment system but I could not find one for the Malaga Comisaria. As for renewing your non-lucrative visa, the appointment system for the Extranjeria office (not the Police one) says that you can upload the documents, you do not need to come in person. However, I asked the lady, she was unaware of this and said we must come in person next year. The gov did not inform their employees of this new option! Kudos for Spanish administration!

    1. Carole,

      I will be applying in Malaga as well in March. I am staying at a hotel initially for 10 days while I search for an apartment.
      I have been searching for apartments on the Internet but haven’t had much luck with the sites. Do you know if it would work
      to show an Airbnb rental for 3 months to get your padron/residence card or will they require a 6 month lease?

      1. Unfortunately, I cannot say. We own an apartment here so rental was never an issue. I have read in this forum that they don’t accept AirB&B but that was said for a shorter term. You shouldn’t have trouble finding a 3-month rental. Try or or The farther away from the coast, the cheaper.

  12. Hi there — this is a great site and has been so helpful for planning my family’s year in Spain. I have a question about the process of getting our TIE card once in Spain — I understand that Motril is the office we’ll need to go to. We will be there on a non-lucrative visa for 1 year, coming from the San Francisco Bay Area in late August. I am planning to line up at least 30-day rental agreement on an apartment for the first month we’re in Spain (and I’ll use this address for my visa appointment at the SF consulate), then look for a longer-term place once we’re there. My understanding is that for the TIE card, I will need to put down a local address on the application and then I will need to return to the office to pick up our card after 3-4 weeks (can call ahead to find out when card is ready). Based on what I’ve read, it seems that there is no reason why my address on the application needs to be the same place where I stay long-term. The office may send mail to my temporary apartment’s address, but I don’t technically need that letter in order to go pick up my TIE card. Is that correct? Thank you in advance for your help.

  13. Thanks Buck!

    Very helpful blog! My question is related to letter. I haven’t received any letter from consulate. They told me that it is not necessary. I have shared the passport copies, medical insurance, crime clearance, health report etc during visa application. All they told me is to expose original health and crime report for the application.

    Do you think it will be a problem. Is there any place where I can get the letter in Spain you have mentioned.

    Additionally, did they ask you empredimento ?


  14. Here is the process that we followed in Madrid in February 2017:
    For our residence visas, the Chicago consulate instructions stated: “” No later than 30 days after applicant’s arrival in Spain, applicant must request a Residence Card (Tarjeta de Residencia) at the Subdelegación del Gobierno (Oficina de Extranjeros).” We were not given any letter, just the passports with visa pasted in.

    We first went to the Oficina de Extranjería, C/ San Felipe, 7-9. This was not where we needed to go, and they gave us instructions to make an online appointment.

    We tried an online appointment, but apparently selected the wrong pulldown option from the menu choices, so that also was bust, and we were turned away from that appointment.

    Finally, the corrections instructions for us were:
    (1) (ignore connection not private warning
    (2) accede al Procedimiento
    (3) select Madrid
    (4) “Toma de Huellas (Expedicion do Tarjeta) y Renovacion de tarjeta de larga duracion.”
    (5) aceptar
    (6) instructions are given for what you need. among these, we only needed:
    (a) passport
    (b) passport photo,
    (c) copy of status of immigration (we had it but it may not have been necessary)
    we could get this by entering NIE number and the date of the original application in Chicago),
    (d) Proof of the payment of the Model 790 fee Code 012. We followed the link given, printed 3 pages, and went to our bank to pay it. They kept one copy and gave us 2 stamped copies showing proof of payment (one for us, one for the police station).
    (7) on the next page, we entered all the information, but you must leave the expiration date of current card blank. This is important, because otherwise the appointment date choices are after the expiration you enter, and after doing this once, the info was saved in the browser cache, so I needed to change browsers!)
    (8) note, where you type in the image code to proceed, this often fails, sometimes up to 5-6 times, so keep trying.

    This process gave us the option to select appointments at a Comisaría de Policía Nacional. All family members including children needed an appointment. Once we got to this point, the rest was easy. We turned in the paperwork described in point 6 above above and were fingerprinted. They gave us paperwork saying we were legal for 45 days (this was after the date stamped in our visas in the passport). After 5 weeks, we went back and the residence cards were ready. All family members including minors must be present for both dropoff and pickup. Our permiso de residencia cards are valid for 1 year.

  15. I have seen a document called “Copia de la resolución administrativa de concesión, en el caso de autorizaciones iniciales” within the list of documents required for TIE application. Does anybody know what it is ?

    Is it mandatory?


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