Non-Lucrative Residence Visa for Spain: Our Story

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In the year since we got our residency visa for Spain, many people have asked us about our move from Asia to Europe.

A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story Valencia


Longtime readers (and listeners) know that Keiko and I met in the USA, but that I lived somewhere in the Far East from 1997 to 2015: first in Taiwan (solo and then as a couple), then in Japan as a family, and then onto Thailand, Malaysia and plenty of travel in Vietnam and Indonesia.

And then, of course, we moved to…Valencia, Spain. Wait, what? Doesn’t seem like a logical next step, does it?

A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story Zaragoza PIN

I haven’t really explained the details of what we’re doing or how we’ve done it. Why a visa for Spain? Why residency? I’ll elaborate on that in this post.

In this small series posts, I’ve tried to my best to describe different aspects of our first-year saga living in Spain. For more tips on Spain residency and living in Spain, look here:


A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story

Why Spain? Ironically, it was in the jungles of Sumatra that Keiko and I decided to move out of the East. To be honest, I had no real desire to leave Asia. There were so many places I hadn’t experienced yet. In fact, I was starting to think that I wanted spend a year or more in Indonesia alone.

As strong as my desire was, Keiko and I both thought that it was time for the kids to see another part of the world, and to learn another language that would be useful in the future. The kids speak English and their native Japanese, although they’re now losing their Japanese from lack of use — we left Tokyo three years ago now, and the only native speaker they’re around now is Keiko. Fluent or not, Japanese is not a global language the way some languages are.

Aside from English, the languages that will (arguably) have the most significant impact on the future are Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic and French (Yes, French). Since we were considering leaving Asia and didn’t plan to move to the Middle East or the African continent, Spanish won out.

When deciding on exactly which country to live, Keiko and I had a fairly simple list of requirements. It had to be a Spanish-speaking country with a warm climate and some athletic and cultural opportunities for the kids.

History, Heritage, & the Route to my (Western) roots

We looked into various locations in Latin America, but a visa for Spain became our top pick for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it was in Europe. Keiko and the kids had never been. Nor did they know much about European history or its role in the origins of the United States (my nationality).

I should also add that Greek and Roman history have been a running topic in our household for the past three years (originally ignited by a few books). I’m sure that influenced our decision, as well: I wanted the kids to be near some of the places we’ve read about together.

Trying the Toughest Option First

From a pragmatic approach, we also thought that we should attempt a residency visa in Spain first because moving to Europe would be the most difficult of the options we were considering at that time.

As a family with American and Japanese passports, we cannot move to Spain with the ease of an EU citizen. On the contrary, we have dealt with more paperwork, bureaucracy, and maddening holding patterns than any other time in my life.

However, before this sounds like a pity party, I will happily admit this: all of the trouble was worth it, and when our experience is placed next to a typical immigrant story, we have nothing to complain about.


A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story fallera

Now that we decided to where we wanted to move, we started researching about the visa application process for Spain. We were still based in Penang at the time. It was mid-January and we wanted to be in Spain by mid-August at the very latest.

After some research, we decided to apply for what’s called a Non-Lucrative Residence Visa. With this type of Spanish visa, we can live in Spain, but we cannot work here. We are not allowed to take a local job.

I sometimes refer to the Non-Lucrative Residence Visa as a “retirement” visa. We are by no means retiring (I wish…), but many retirees apply for this same type of residency visa for Spain since they’re living off savings and/or pensions, and I’m sure the Spanish government likes that.

In short, this visa lets us put money into the Spanish economy as consumers, but we’re not allowed to take any out as workers. I qualify for this type of Spanish residency visa because my income comes from outside Spain.

Paperwork required for the non-lucrative residency visa for Spain

Be sure to check with the consulate in your country/area for the latest and most relevant information on the application process. Here is a link to Consulate General of Spain in Miami for a complete list of requirements for American citizens.

The amount of paperwork is considerable and includes:

  • bank statements
  • health checks
  • clean police records
  • birth certificates
  • marriage certificates
  • documentation from employers
  • and much more

Our good friends Heidi and Alan from Wagoners Abroad have a great eBook on the topic. It helped us a lot, and we highly recommend it for residents of the USA. For us, however, the Japanese citizen angle required additional research.

Kids with dual-citizenship, for example (in our case, Japan, and the USA) made things slightly more complicated. The documentation required is understandable, but it sometimes felt redundant since the same kind of documents, such as birth certificate and marriage certificate, were already submitted in Japanese (with official translations, of course).

The biggest issue we faced was that the visa application requires proof that we had already secured a place to live in Spain. This presented us with a chicken-or-the-egg-type conundrum: how can we be approved without a place to live? And how can we already have a place to live if we haven’t been approved yet?

How to get proof of accommodation & apply for a residency visa for Spain

The first method is to find an apartment online and then sign a year lease, sight unseen. Another option is to go to Spain on a tourist visa, secure an apartment, and then return to your home country or wherever you’re submitting your application and start the application process.

You can’t apply while in Spain.

Many people who apply for this type of Spanish residency visa use the second method. They come to Spain on a vacation/reconnaissance mission, travel to the places they like, and meet with real estate agents. Once they settle on a place, they sign a contract and return to their home country. After returning home, they can go to the embassy with proof of accommodation, and the process to apply for a Spanish residency visa can begin.

You need time and money to do this. We didn’t have either. An extra trip to Spain to find the “right” apartment was out of the question. We wanted to just get the visa somewhere in Spain and then decide where we’d rent long-term once we arrived. We didn’t have much time.


We wanted the kids to attend local Spanish schools because we feel that this was the best way for them to make friends, learn the language and integrate with the local culture. That meant we were on a deadline. Like in the United States, the school year begins in early September. Therefore, we wanted to have our visa for Spain in July and arrive by mid-August at the latest. Considering the time it takes, we had to apply soon.

A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story

The clock was ticking. We needed somewhere to call home and fast.

But where was somewhere going to be? Being new to Spain, I wanted to explore the country a bit, get a feel for certain cities and then determine if it was the right spot for a year or more.

This was not to be. Keiko made that clear. There was no time, she said, and she was right.

A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story

When we decided to pursue a Spanish residency visa, we started with the “sight unseen” option mentioned above: basically to sign a lease for an apartment we hadn’t even walked in yet.

However, we quickly realized that it was not only difficult (because of the language barrier), but also tricky in so many ways:

  • What would schools be like in the area?
  • How would we handle a down payment?
  • If there was a problem with the apartment once we arrived…?
  • and on and on…

So how did we find our place in Valencia? This is a fun case of serendipity. When we lived in Tokyo, one of our neighbors and close friends was a Spanish guy…

Guess where he’s from?

You got it: Valencia.

After weeks of searching for an apartment for our Spanish residency application, we hit a wall. I contacted our friend to see if he had any advice or knew anyone who has an apartment for rent.

Man-o-man did we luck out. At that moment, his mother had an apartment she had been trying to sell. It was in an excellent location in downtown Valencia, and he told us that she’d happily rent it to us. Thanks to this, the hardest document to obtain for us was secured. Whew!

Once we arrived in Spain, we moved into that apartment. However, we quickly realized that the place was going to be too small for a family of four, so we started looking for a new rental not long after we arrived. We pounded the pavement and found a place within weeks, and that’s a story for another post.


A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story albufera paella

If you’re applying for a residency visa for Spain, the process is a pain, but we’re really enjoying living in Valencia. It has been a fantastic place to live with kids. Valencia is safe, clean, walkable and full of things to do. The city is warm and dry for most of the year, and people are open and friendly. The food and produce are fantastic, and Valencia has one of the most amazing festivals I’ve ever seen.

Despite some culture shock, Keiko and I have adjusted and really like Valencia. Our son and daughter, however…they LOVE it here and are responsible for the main push to stay. Both kids are thriving in their schools and have made lots of friends. We’ve had a great year, and I hope next year will be even better, as we are now applying for renewal of our Spanish residency permit.


A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story spain visa at the Valencia beach

At the time of writing, we have no idea whether or not we’ll be able to live in Spain for another year. There’s a good chance that we won’t know until the end of September, or possibly even into October — after the kids have already returned to school.


If we can renew our residency visa for Spain, we will be allowed to stay in the country (and in Europe) for another 2 years. We hope we get it — wish us luck!

We’ve been riding a bureaucratic merry-go-round for nearly a year now, and I’m so, so ready to get off. It has been worth it, but I will be happy when our plans are less up in the air and can be written onto the calendar in indelible ink.

Ok, enough for now. This answers some of the questions about the visa for Spain and our east-to-west transition, but I’ll save the rest for another post.


What was your experience? What advice could you provide? Hit us up in the comments, or contact me directly. If you had a residency visa for Spain, where would you live? What city or area of the country would you choose?

Further Reading


A Residency Visa for Spain: Our Story PIN


  1. Hi

    Amazing blog. The best i found on the web explaining the process!! Could you please let me know if getting the none lucrative visa means you have to be in the country the whole year?

    Do you have to continuously pay for rent in spain even if you dont live there the whole year. I’m planning to stay 5 months per year and with my canadian passport im only allowed to stay for 3 months in schengen area?

    Also dose this visa eventually leads to citizenship? Some websites said it guaranteed while others says it not a 100 percent guarantee?

    Thanks in advance for your help

    • I’m glad our posts helped you in some ways. When you receive the non lucrative visa for the first time, you are allowed to stay there a max of a year. You don’t have to be there if you don’t want. Your rent is based on the contract with your landlord so I can’t tell, but my guess is that you can break the contract and leave with or without some fine for breaking the contract early. It sure depends on the contract itself, I would think. The first visa itself has nothing to do with citizenship. Becoming a citizen is not that easy. Nothing is guaranteed, I don’t think. Besides, if you stay only 5 months a year, you will not qualify to renew the visa. When we were there, you had to stay in the country more than 6 months to even be considered for the 2-year extension, and that implies becoming a tax resident in Spain. You may want to reconsider or research a bit more. Good luck!

  2. Great blog, Jason!

    I am starting to get my papers together and will apply as soon as I can – heading for Barcelona.

    Is there a specific format that is expected by the consulate for the
    1. negative criminal record
    2. proof of good health
    3. proof of income. I work remotely – must that be proven too?

    I’d hate to get these three in the wrong format and lose time, then have to go through the steps again and have to reapply.


    • Hi Alex,

      Sorry but I strongly urge you to ask the consulate where you plan to apply. It’s ALWAYS best to ask your specific consulate such questions because every consulate does things a little differently. I’d hate to give you advice that doesn’t work. It could have changed since I first applied in 2015! Good luck!

  3. Lauren Adkisson says

    Hi Jason,
    Do you know if Spanish public school accept the children of parents on student visas?

    • My understanding is that if your kids are legally living in Spain with NIE and have TIE of their own, and can submit empadronamiento, they should have no problem accepting kids. However, as I say all the time, I’m not an expert and it’s best to ask embassy/consulate where you got your student visas. Hope it works out!

  4. Ânderson Q. says

    Hey Jason! Thank you for sharing all this information so thoughtfully. We really appreciate it.

    Do you have any idea if for the “proof of financial resources” I could simply a letter from my company stating either my monthly or annual income?


    • Hi Ânderson,

      I can only tell you what I provided during my application, but the process could have changed or be different where you are applying. In my case, I submitted bank statements showing I had sufficient funds to cover my entire family. Also a letter from my company stating that I was still employed and will continue to receive monthly payment (with the payment amount shown). Hope things work out for you!

  5. Hiya! This was great information to get me started on the path to Spain! Thank you! I do have a question in hopes you may have come across some expats in the same situation as myself as this may not directly relate to your type of situation. I currently live in the middle east with my husband and our 4 year old. We would like to give our daughter a year long experience in Spain at a school and submerge her into the incredible culture and language. We have the required savings and we have a monthly income however the application would only be of myself (currently a dependent-stay at home mom) and my daughter residing there for the year long (nonlucrative visa) stay. Given my husband would not be able to live 183 days in Spain but perhaps 90, have you heard if the Spanish govt has ever approved dependents as the main applicant while my husband continues to work in the middle east and travels back and forth? Many thanks for all the tips!

    • Hi Natacha

      I don’t know what passport you plan to apply and I hesitate to give you advice here as I am not really a Spain VISA expert. However, my understanding is that you will be approved if you can prove that your financial statement (not your husband’s) is sufficient along with all other documents to fulfill the requirements. I can’t say much about your husband, because it could vary on factors like his passport, the type of visa he plans to visit with etc. Hope everything works out for you!

  6. Congrats!

    Please explain the tax implications of this visa. I believe if you apply to renew, you have to pay tax on your first years earnings, despite these not being earned from a Spanish company.


    • Taxes are too complicated to reply in comments, and the answers vary from a person to person. If you have any concerns about your taxes, it’s best to talk to a professional in your country who understands the tax laws between Spain and your home country. Good luck!

  7. interesting .I m from Canada I have aquestion about this how about if you don’t live in spain for fulltime can u still keep renewing your residency ?

    • If you read through the info on the Govt sites, you’ll see that you have to be in the country for at least half the year. You can travel of course but have to be in Spain for at least 183 days or so. And I think there is a provision that prevents you from staying 6 months then leave for 6 months. Check what the Spanish embassy of Canada website says, as info tends to differ slightly depending on where you’re coming from.

  8. Ryan Newell says

    Hi Jason,

    I have been scouring the internet but I have not been able to find a definitive answer. Can you work remotely for a company outside of Spain and get approved for a non lucrative visa? I’ve seen that the only requirement is that you can work but not for a *Spanish* company and also that you can’t work at all, period. What was your experience? Do you own your own business or do you work for an American company?

    • When we first applied for the Non-Lucrative Residence Visa, I was still working for a Japanese company and proof of employment (and income) was part of our paperwork. In our experience, the only restriction is essentially not taking a job from a Spanish national nor earning money that a Spanish national could earn.

  9. Hi Jason, hope you got your visa renewed successfully ! I am moving to Spain in October on a non-lucrative visa. I have a job and income from outside Spain. My partner will go with me as a dependent, I understand that this way, he is also not allowed to work? In case he finds an employer that would sponsor his visa, can he modify the status of a dependant non lucrative to a work permit?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Juliana,

      Non-lucrative visas are for people who plan to live without earning any money in Spain. Since your partner is a dependent of yours, my understanding is that he will not be allowed to work. That could jeopardize your status if not handled correctly, I think, but since I haven’t had this experience I can only speculate and urge caution. If he successfully modifies his status to a work permit, I would love to hear about it.

  10. Wow…what an info. packed post! I think I read thru and didn’t miss..did you address health care? Can you apply for that with the VISA ? How does that work? I see their nationalized health care is supposedly amazing.

    Thanks in advance! I found the blog..can’t wait to podcast.


    • Hi Christine,

      Since this post is about the non-lucrative visa, I assume that you plan to be in Spain with the same? If that’s the case, then you’re required to have your own private health insurance coverage. You might have missed this post where we explained what documents you need for VISA application. Private health insurance is one of the documents we needed. Also, if I may ask: if you like the podcast, I’d appreciate it if you leave a review on iTunes. Thank you!

  11. 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?

    • Hi Yona. All I know about the form 790 is that it’s a paper for you to pay tax/fee for something. When we used it for getting the TIE. We had to go to a bank first to pay for it and get it stamped before we brought it back to the immigration police station to process the TIE application. It’s best to check with the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeria) where you plan to apply. Good luck!

  12. Hi Jason. Thanks for your story. I live in Montreal and I’m planning to go to BCN on a non-lucrative visa. Do you know if after 2 years on the non-lucrative visa you can apply for the Spanish citizenship?



    • Hi Andre,

      According to the Spanish Government website, you’ll be qualified, after two years, to apply if you are a national of Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, and Portugal, and persons of Sephardic origin.

      I am not sure what passport you have, but my understanding is that you have to live legally in Spain for 10 years before you even apply for citizenship unless you are from EU countries.

      Year 1 – non-lucrative visa (1 year)
      Year 2, 3 – non-lucrative resident status renewal (2 years)
      Year 4, 5 – non-lucrative resident status renewal (2 years)
      Year 6-10 – Apply for long resident status (5 years)
      Year 11 – apply for citizenship

      However, the law can change anytime. It’s best for you to ask at the Foreigner’s office in Barcelona once you get there. Good luck!

  13. Cindi Conners says

    Hi Jason,
    I am retired, and I received my non-lucrative visa from the consulate in Los Angeles. It took about 2 weeks to process, when I flew back to pick it up. They aren’t very helpful in terms of what happens when you get to Spain though. They gave me a web site to use to make an appointment, but my friend in Valencia said that I don’t need an appointment. I didn’t need to provide proof of accommodations, (I was surprised to read about the accommodations requirement you had) and have been using my friend’s address on forms. She won’t agree to say I am staying with her though, because she is worried about being taxed or something. I am not even sure I want to stay in Spain, but have plans to travel around Europe for 7 months. Now, I am worried that they are going to expect me to have a permanent address there, when I apply for the resident card. Can you tell me anything about your experience of going to get the card once you got to Spain? Can I just show up at any police station without an appointment? Are they going to expect me to have a permanent address and bank account? How long did you have to wait after you applied, to go back to get the card? My understanding is that I need to submit 2 forms (EX-15 and 790 code 012) copy of my passport and a fee. I’ll be applying in Valencia. Are there any places where there are English speakers, or do I need a translator since my Spanish is terrible? Thanks for any advice!

    • Hi Cindi,

      Congrats on getting VISA!

      Consulates are reluctant to tell you what to do in Spain because it could be different in every place. We had the same situation in Tokyo.

      The visa you got was not for you to travel around Europe, but for you to live in Spain. So yes, they’ll expect you to have a permanent address. Within 30 days of arrival to Spain, you have to register your new address in Valencia at the city hall. For that, you don’t need to make an appointment. You can just show up at the city hall, but you’ll need your passport and copy/original of your apartment lease contract. We brought all of our paperwork we submitted for VISA application as well.

      After you register yourself, you can get the registration certificate (Certificado de Empadronamiento). Only with that paper (along with other required papers), can you apply for TIE. If you’re not comfortable speaking in Spanish or utilizing translation apps (which we used all the time…), it’s best to go with a translator. There are relatively few English speakers in Valencia. This may be changing, but it was difficult for us to communicate in those offices. Good luck!

  14. The proof of address or contract i applied two times for the non-lucrative visa and i got it two times without this contract, even they only asked me for 5 papers only that’s it! i applied from Dubai

    • Hi Alan

      Interesting! This is the first I’ve heard of this. Maybe they have different rules in Dubai? No idea. But hey, the less paperwork the better. As I say to everyone, it’s always best to ask the consulate or embassy you plan to apply to. It differs drastically from place to place, it seems. Glad to hear that you got it!

    • Hello Allan,

      I am also from dubai and very much interested to apply for a resident visa aswell in spain. In terms of ahowing your bank account statement, do they have a minimum amount of money requires for them to give you the visa? Thanks so much in advance!

  15. Hi Jason Thank you for such an informative post and for sharing your experience!
    My family and I are planning to apply for NLV . Did you have to do background check and letter from a medical DR for your kids ? Mine are 5 and 10 I realize they need separate application but not sure if the other docs are required.
    I can not get an answer from the Spanish consulate .

    Many thanks

    • Hi Aleksa,

      We didn’t need to submit police records for the kids (you mentioned “background checks”). It’s required for 18 and up in Japan, where we applied. Ours were 9 and 12 at the time of application.

      As for medical certificates (you mentioned “letter from a medical DR”), yes, we did submit those for our kids.

      We had to submit every document for each family member, except for financial statements and proof of housing since those were prepared as “family documents.”

      However, it’s always best to check with the embassy (consulate) of Spain you plan to apply to.

  16. Hello, thank you for sharing your experience. I plan on applying for the non-lucrative visa and one of the concerns that I have regarding the requirements is getting a lease contract, since I was planning to stay with some friends and then start looking for an apartment. I was hoping the requirement was optional, in case I just happened to have a property or a lease contract, but I guess not haha.

    I have a few questions:

    1- In the application requirements it says or what I understand it says is that there should be no more than 90 days between the day I apply for the visa and the travel date. But what ive read in other places online is that you get 90 days to move in to Spain after your visa application gets accepted. Which was it in your case?

    2- When you decided to start looking for another apartment when you got to Spain, did you simply cancel the contract that you had at first without any issues?

    3- On the date of you applying for the visa did you have to go through an interview?

    • Hi Angel

      1. Our travel date was about 4 months ahead of our application day. My understanding was that our travel date should be no more than 90 days between your VISA issuing date. (applied, accepted and issued)

      2. Yes, the lease contract was a big headache to us too. It’s unfortunately not an option, but mandatory to provide the lease contract of some sort. As you might have read, we finally received a contract with a mother of our friend. Fortunately for us, she understood and accepted the possibility of voiding the contract early if the place is not a good fit with us.

      If you plan to stay with your friend, you may want to discuss on the possibility of your friend writing something for the embassy of Spain where you plan to apply. It may be accepted. It may not. If it works, it would make your friend legally responsible for you and your actions in the country. We didn’t want to take that chance to harm my friendship (it was a friend’s mother, not even our friend), but only you and your friend know if this would work for you.

      3. Yes and no. We didn’t have any “sit-down” interview in a room kind or whatever. Instead, we all huddled around the counter at the Spanish embassy and a staff member spoke to each one of us and asked a few questions: “Why you want to go? What you plan to do? How you plan to support yourself?” etc.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

  17. If I understand correctly, you applied in Japan, although you’re American. As an American, can you apply from a different country? I’m in Spain now and can secure a lease and planning to go to Thailand and India in after our Schengen time expires. However, I really don’t want to have to go back to the US and wait for them to process the visa. Do you know if I can apply at any Spanish embassy in any country or were you only able to apply from Japan because your partner is Japanese?

    If I did have to go back to the US, do you know how long I’d have to be stuck there waiting for them to process it? I emailed literally every Spanish embassy in the US with this question but none of them every replied. Thanks for any help and thanks for writing this post!

    • As far as I know, you must apply in your home country or where you are a legal resident. I applied in Tokyo because I am a permanent resident of Japan: lived there 13 years, wife and kids nationals, return regularly, home address there, will eventually move back, etc. Tokyo was the only place all four of us could apply together — my kids have US passports, but my wife is not a US citizen. I could be wrong or the rules may change someday, but I am fairly certain that when we applied, we had to do it in our country of residence. If you find new information, PLEASE let us know!

      In our case, we left from Japan as soon as we submit our VISA application (which we confirmed with the embassy in Japan if it’s ok). As you might have read in our post, we had some hiccups while we were out of Japan which might have contributed to our length of the wait. Thus, I recommend you to stay close to the embassy while you wait to be approved even if it’s possible to be away. Some embassy may even keep your passport for that long. Please check with the embassy you plan to apply.

      Once we were approved (after about 15 weeks of waiting in the US and Japan for us), we had to give our passports to get the visa stamped in. During that time, we were stuck in Japan passport-less (about a week for us).

      It’s probably best for you to contact one of the Spanish embassy (or consulate) you plan to apply to, not every one of them. Be reminded that you are not the only one who is contacting them… Thus, it may take several attempts to get the reply back from them.

  18. Hi Jason! We are yet again considering going this route and I have a question that I hope you can answer 🙂 Do you need to pay tax in Spain on a non-lucrative visa when earning money from outside Spain? Like in my case.

    • Hey Sharon! We are not tax experts, but I think I can answer your question here: If you stay in Spain for more than 183 days in one calendar year, you are considered a resident for tax purposes in Spain. However, Spain has signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with many countries. You should be able to avoid paying double taxes on your income earned from the source country/countries as well as the residence country. Check to see whether or not Australia is part of this. I’d be surprised if they’re not. It’s best to check with the tax office in your home country to confirm. Good luck!

  19. Hi there, thank you for the info, how long can you stay exactly in Spain with a non-lucrative visa? One year? What is the difference between this and residency? Is it the same, do you need both?

    Thank you

    • For us, we had one year, then we applied for a 2-year extension. Another 2-year extension is possible. Total of 5 years, then you can apply for 5-year residency.

  20. Aykut Altınışık says

    We will apply for this visa in Turkey. One of the lawyer in Spain told us that we must book a place in a Spanish school first for our son before the application. However, the Spanish Consulate in Turkey do not require this at all.

    • Hmm that’s strange. We couldn’t even look at schools until we had a an address. We changed places when we first arrived, so maybe that had something to do with it, but we never had to show the school for the visa application

  21. Hi Jason,
    We are in the midst of getting our first visa renewal here in Valencia. We have all of our documents, but I am trying to figure out if/and/or how to apostille our financial statements. Nothing else requires an apostille stamp and the only document that would be coming from the “country of origin” are the financials. Do you have any experience or knowledge to share regarding this? Thanks!

    • Hi Kathy. I don’t know the original country of the document is so it’s hard to say. However, in our case, we had to get an apostille in Japan since our bank statements were originally from Japan. (and written in Japanese) Keiko asked the Embassy of Japan in Spain how to go about it. You may want to check with your Embassy of your home country (or wherever the document is from) to see what the best way to get apostille stamp for it. Good luck! And let us know what you find out!

  22. Hi Jason! Thanks for the resources. Love the blog!
    My girlfriend and I are in our 40’s, American citizens and are planning to get this Non-Lucrative Visa and come live in Spain (probably Valencia or Granada) next year. I’m hopeful we meet all the requirements for the visa. My question is this: I have savings. I am in the enviable position of not having to work, but if I wanted to do some W-2, 1099, consulting or contracting work for, say, an American, British or German organization could I legally do that on a Spanish non-lucrative visa? How about independent contract work for a Spanish company? I understand and respect that the idea is not to take jobs away from Spanish nationals, just looking for a bit of clarity on where the line is [typically] drawn. I know it can sometimes depend on the day of the week or the mood of the official you speak to. 😉 Thanks in advance.

    • Hey Lane. The rules on work in Spain and for Spanish companies are clear: you are not allowed to do it. That said, if you work online for a company in US, and are paid to US bank account, then, that should be different. However, Not for a US company that exists in Spain nor being paid to a bank in Spain. Good luck with your Non-Lucrative Visa!

  23. Hi, how did it go with the renewal? How long was it before you got an answer?
    Also, is it for sure 6 months for each year that you can be out of Spain and still get renewal? Thank you

    • We did get a permission for renewal. It normally takes for 2-4 months, I have heard. It took much longer for us since we had some complication that can be an another long post sometime. We enjoyed our two years in Spain but then left in April of 2017. Be careful how long you stay out of Spain during your residency. According to my research, it was 6 months (not of your visa duration, but of each fiscal year). However, it’s best to confirm with the embassy of Spain or Foreigner’s office of your area in Spain. Good luck!

  24. Thanks for all the useful information! One quick question–when you initially applied, did the Spanish consulate keep your passport while your application was pending? From other resources, it sounds like they do, but it also sounds as though the decision could take up to three months; it seems odd that they would expect people not to travel at all for several months at a time…

    • They should not hold your passport, but you should check and confirm with whichever embassy you’re applying to. In our case, we applied in Tokyo and then went straight to the airport the next day to fly to the states…with our passports, of course. That’s our case. Check carefully with your embassy application spot

    • Little Sunny House says

      Our consulate held our passports until our visas were issued (about 2 weeks later). We came and picked up the passports with the visas inside and the paper copy plus our returned documents.

      In total, for a family of 3, our application docs came out to about a 1″ tall stack of paper.

  25. Guillermo says

    Hey there, good story. Im in the process of putting together all the documents for my visa application. I am having a hard time trying to get the proof of accommodation. What documents did you have to present to show that? I’m wondering if they would allow an Airbnb reservation as proof? even though it wouldn’t be for the whole year. Thanks

    • Hi Guillermo. Yes, proof of accommodation was the trickiest part for us too. We planned to rent an apartment that a (local) friend’s mother owned, so they were helpful to prepare the paperwork for our visa. The document had to be notarized as well. We were told by the Embassy of Spain in Tokyo that Airbnb reservations were not enough (Yes, we asked!). However, it’s best for you to ask the embassy where you plan to apply. They may have different answers. There seem to be different answers at different places… Good luck with the process!

      • To second what Jason said – you need a 1 year lease or a purchase agreement.

        This was a hard part for us. While on our “fact finding” trip to Spain prior to applying, we met with real estate agents and arranged an open ended contract. The plan was to send a deposit before we went to the consulate (some months in the future) and receive a lease contract via email.

        We tried to do this from home before we came to Spain and had very little luck getting any Spanish real estate agents to help us. For those moving to Spain, get used to this, it is sometimes difficult to get work done remotely.

        Your best bet is to find an English speaking real estate agent and contract (sight unseen) the cheapest apartment possible using the smallest down payment possible. Ask the agent to apply your deposit to another apartment if, when you arrive, you don’t like your apartment and you want to change.

  26. Hi Jason,
    Thank you for sharing your experience.I have two question:
    1) With this type of residency in Spain,Could children go to public school?or must attend in private schools?
    2) If I could show enough money in my bank account,Is it necessary to show my job or income documentation?

    • Hi Saeed! Answers to your questions:

      1) With this type of residency in Spain, Could children go to public school?or must attend in private schools?
      – Yes, you can go to public schools. That said, we opted for Concertado schools because there were no openings in public schools near us when we arrived in Spain. I know as the fact that there are children who are on the same visa and go to public schools.

      2) If I could show enough money in my bank account, Is it necessary to show my job or income documentation?
      – Hard to say. I thought that showing more than enough money in the account would be good too. However, in Japan where we applied, we were required to show proof of employment and proof of monthly income (salary, pension, real estate income, whatever). I urge you to check on this with the Spanish embassy where you plan to apply.

      Hope this helps!

      • Little Sunny House says

        We recently renewed our 1 year visas for 2 year and the lady at the extranjero office gave us the offical doc that states that you can substitute the monthly income with a bank statement that shows 200% of the annual requirement.

        So, it is in the law books that if you have 200% you’re good.

  27. I am starting the process to renew my non lucrative visa. Do i need to translate my bank statements into Spanish? One person at the office of foreigners told me that and another one didn’t. If so, can I do it and then how do I get the Apostille seal, if anyone knows, thanks

    • Hi Janet,

      I was told from my consulate in Houston that yes, bank statements do need to be translated.

    • I feel your frustration because we know what it’s like to get different answers from different staff in the same office… That’s Spain, I guess?

      Anyway, we’re not experts, but happy to share our experience. We prepared every document in Spanish, translated *only* by sworn (ie certified) translators. Don’t translate it yourself or anyone you know unless they have this certification. Keiko did ours when we first applied in Japan, but not for renewal in Spain. As you may have guessed, it was rejected. (yes, we tried…) Yours may be accepted, but I won’t recommend trying. You can find the list of sworn translators on the government site.

      As for Apostille seal for the bank statements, we had to get help from Keiko’s family in Japan and it was quite complicated. Keiko talked to the embassy of Japan in Barcelona and was given advice. We followed that advice. You may want to talk to the embassy of your country to see the best way for you. Good luck with the process!

    • Little Sunny House says

      On your bank’s website, you may be able to order the statements in Spanish – if so, that can save you some $ – Bank of America gave us statements in Spanish as did other finance companies (Fidelity, etc).

  28. Nathalie Palacios says

    Hello Jason!

    I am wondering. Are you quite sure that you cannot apply for the non-lucrative visa from Spain? I am from Los Angeles, but I thought I could apply from there while on a tourist visa.

    • Hi Nathalie. We’re not experts, but we’re pretty sure that you can’t get this type of visa while in Spain. If you do this successfully, please let us know, and how you did it! It would save so much time and trouble!

    • No, you cannot, you have to apply from US.

  29. Hi Jason,

    Thank you for posting your story. It is great that you guys like it 🙂

    I wanted to check if you have receive the 2 years visa by now and if you had to show double the amount for 2 years (as opposed to one year). Also, is it obligatory to have a residence during the whole stay there or can one go back and forth and rent as required?

    Thanks and I hope you all goes well!

    • Hi Moe. I’ll try to answer your questions:
      — We’re still waiting to hear about the 2-year extension
      — When we applied for renewal, we did show double the amount for 2 years just to be safe. If you have proof of regular monthly income, you may not need the large sum of money in the bank, though. I am not sure. It is best to check with Oficina de Eetranjeria in your residing area. It seems to me what’s accepted or rejected are largely up to the officer who happens to deal with you.
      — If I understand what you mean by “rent as required,” I think you have to stay in the country with a rental contract during your first year of residency. If you are approved for the 2-year extension, it is my understanding that you are required to be in Spain for 6 months of each calendar year, but we never left because we’re still waiting for approval.
      Hope this helps, Moe!

      • Hi Jason!
        You said you showed double the amount of $, do you also have monthly income coming in? I can show the amount in my bank but I will not have monthly income coming in. Will that be okay?

        Did you apply for the visa without any lawyers helping?

        Yes the rent part also concerns me. I was hoping to rent from spotahome or airbnb initially. But I’m not sure how many months I would need to initially contract for sight unseen in order for this to be acceptable by the consulate.

        I need to contact the SF consulate to get a lot of little things cleared up. Is the only way to contact the consulate by email?

        Thank you!

        • Hi! Yes, we were required to show proof of monthly income when we applied for the visa in Japan. So, yes. I showed both bank statements and proof of monthly income. However, I have heard of others who applied only with bank statements. Then again they may have a lot more money in their accounts than we do 😉 It’s best to check with consulate in SF.

          Yes, we applied for the visa without any lawyers.

          According to SF consulate website, they do offer the phone number (and FAX!), but that might be automated. We applied in Tokyo so it’s hard to compare, but the Embassy in Tokyo was fairly quick to respond to any of our inquiries via email.

          Good luck!

  30. Hello, I’m a Philippine national and planning to study and work in Barcelona, Spain. My question is “Is a student allowed to work? And is this a good way to have a citizenship? Is it hard to get a job in spain if you are a student and doesn’t know how to speak their language? Can you give me an advise please thanks.

    • Hi Jimson. To be honest, I really only know about the visa process we went through. I’d check with your embassy website about working with a student visa. I do remember reading somewhere that former Spanish colonies get a faster track to Spanish citizenship. For example, I think it takes us (USA/Japan) 10 years to get it, while nationals from former colonies can get it in much less time. Look into it and let us know what you find!

  31. Hi, My name is Paul. I am a Chinese Catholic. I want to raise my family in Spain.Because Spain is a Catholic nation.But I know nothing about Spanish, I only learnt English. I want to know how portion of Spains use English in daily life.

    • Hey Paul. Use of English in Spain depends entirely on where you choose to live. For example, very few people seem comfortable in English where we live in Valencia — no signs in English, little heard on the streets, and very few of our contacts through schools and soccer use the language (teachers, coaches, classmates, friends, etc). Plus, many people also speak Valenciano, the local dialect (altho not so much in the city). However, if you drive 2 hours south to the smaller towns of Costa Blanca, you’ll find lots of people speak English, English signage, English radio stations, etc. German, too. You can thank tourism for that. For the record, there are a lot of Chinese residents in Valencia and many other places across Spain. One of my daughter’s best friends at school is from Fujian, I think.

  32. Sajid Hassan says

    my name is Sajid Hassan
    i heard your story and find it very helpful and interesting, as im planning to shift to Spain with my two kids on Non-lucrative visa permit

    i need some information and i hope you will help me in this regard
    Advance, thank you so much.

    if you have non lucrative visa permit, then after how many years you will get the permanent residence of Spain.

    2. My job is in Kuwait, as Teacher,
    Can i leave my family there in Spain on (Non-Lucrative Visa) and come back to Kuwait for work to sport my family while they are in Spain? (every year for three month i can vist them in summer holidays from school)
    until we will not get the Permanent resident

    • Hi Sajid! As for your Q’s, I’ll answer as best as I can — keep in mind that I can only speak from my experience, but here is what I’ve learned from what we know.

      Q1. Tricky question. The first visa for non-EU citizens is only for 90 days. If you are approved for the non-lucrative residency visa beforehand like we were, you’ll then apply for temporary residency. The first permit is only for a year (from the day you land in Spain) After one year, you apply for renewal (this is where we are now). If you get it, then you get another two years residency. Then, after those two years, you apply again for 2 more years. Total 5 years (if approved). Then, after this five year period, you can apply for another 5year residency permit. Mind you, this is Spain — the rules and regulations change often, so all of this could be different in a year’s time.

      Q2. I don’t fully know your situation, but I do know a family whose mother stayed in the country while the father and son stayed in Spain for a year. In their case, the father who stayed in Spain with his son was still paid by his job (employment outside of Spain). As long as required documents are provided (financial statements, health insurance, housings etc, etc) and those standards are met, they should give your family visas. I am no expert, however. I only know how our process went.

      By the way, what we have is NOT permanent residency. Ours are still considered as temporary residency. At the time of writing, we are still waiting to see if we will be approved for another 2 years. It’s a lot of waiting and it’s very frustrating. Just sayin’.

      Again, please don’t take my words as expert advice. We have been flying blind through a lot of this process. It’s important that you ask the Spanish embassy where you plan to apply. They are the people with the answers. Hope things work out!

  33. Love it! I hope you are successful in your application for another two years:)
    MMBZL xxx

  34. Spain is certainly an option, but like anywhere, there is plenty of paperwork and other bureaucratic hoops to jump through. We’ve enjoyed the last year here a lot.

  35. Hi jason thanx for sharing your story. İ’ve been thinking about this non lucrative visa for a while. Even, when in spain i visited a lawyer regardinly. But, i was never given a clear answer whether i need to stay in spain at least half of the year to get qualified for the visa extension or is it ok to travel to spain several times a year or stay for three month or so. The lawyer told me that we can use some tricks which didn’t i believe anyway. Have you got any idea?

  36. Hi Peggy. We were told that we had to stay in Spain for half the calendar year to keep the visa.

  37. Aysen Zin Orhan says

    Non lucrative visa a temporary visa is an authorization that allows residing in Spain temporarily without the need to carry out work or professional activities. Applicant must prove that he/she has remained in Spain for a minimum 183 days in the year in order to renew the visa.