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How To Get The Non-Lucrative Visa To Live In Spain

I’m currently in the process of applying for a non-lucrative visa to come live in Spain for a year. While there are many different visa options you can apply for to enter Spain – such as a work visa or a student visa – the non-lucrative visa is great for people who want to enjoy Spain without being a student or working locally.

The name, “non-lucrative”, basically refers to the fact that you can’t earn any money with it. Unfortunately what that means is a bit confusing (as are many other things about Spanish visas in general, but we’ll get to that shortly). Basically Spain wants you to have an income stream for a year, but not necessarily get it by doing any work (and certainly no work in Spain itself).

Some people interpret the visa to mean that you can obtain this visa while working remotely and earning money in another country. So if that’s how you interpret this (and more importantly, how your consulate interprets it), then you are fine with applying for this visa and showing an income stream in another country to satisfy the requirements.

Another way to interpret this though is that you can’t be actively working in any country while holding this visa. I tend not to share this viewpoint, since technically even if you have passive income from investments in another country (like Canada, for example), it’s still income, and would likely be included on your tax return wherever you are. But this is a point of contention because people applying for the visa, as well as the consulates themselves.

For example, here is what the Spanish consulate in Los Angeles says:

Documentation proving economic funds sufficient for the duration of residence or proof of a minimum reoccurring monthly income. The minimum amount will increase for every additional member of the family. There must be proof of significant savings and proof of re-occuring, non-working income.

So they indicate that your income, if it’s recurring, must not be from active work – in other words, this income should likely be produced from investments.

The Ottawa consulate has this to say on the matter:

Sufficient economic means at the time of the visa application, or proof of a source of regular income without having to engage in any business or professional activity in Spain, for you and your family, where applicable, for the requested period of residence

Which seems to indicate that it’s fine to work, as long as that activity isn’t in Spain.

And to add even more confusion, let’s take a look at what Toronto says:

You must prove that you have enough means to live in Spain without working for the whole period that you want to stay in Spain.

Which seems to indicate that you can’t work at all.

Confused? Hold on tight, because we’re just getting started!

I think the safest option is to simply have enough savings to support yourself without working for the entire year, at least in terms of the application process. The current guidelines say you need to have at least 2,151.00 Euros available per month, or 25,812 Euros per year. So if you have that in some form of savings such as a retirement fund, bank account, or long-term savings account, you should be fine.

Official Requirements

I hesitate to use the word ‘official’, because it seems there is no real standard as to what each consulate wants to receive in terms of this visa. But there’s sufficient overlap for most of the items, and I’ll list the primary ones here (this particular list below comes from the Ottawa consulate):

  1. A valid passport or travel document recognized by Spain with a minimum validity of one year (some consulates only need six months).
  2. If the applicant is not a Canadian citizen, he/she must provide documentation proving his/her residence status in Canada (permanent residence permit, working permit, study permit, etc.)
  3. A medical certificate issued by your family doctor worded as follows:
    “This medical certificate states that Mr./Mrs.….. does not suffer from any diseases that may have serious consequences on public health in accordance with the provisions contained in the 2005 International Health Regulations” – [Read This]
  4. A Police Check issued by the authorities of all the countries where an applicant has resided for the last 5 years, including Canada.
    NOTE: The Police Check should be issued by the RCMP and contain the fingerprints of the visa applicant. You can find information on how to obtain one here.
    We will not accept Police Checks issued by local Police Stations.
  5. Sufficient economic means at the time of the visa application, or proof of a source of regular income without having to engage in any business or professional activity in Spain, for you and your family, where applicable, for the requested period of residence…
  6. A public or private medical insurance with an insurance company authorized to operate in Spain.
  7. A completed and signed visa application form with one (1) recent full-face photograph attached to its right top corner. The photograph should be a Canadian passport size picture, in color, on a light, plain and uniform background, without dark glasses or any garment that may prevent identification of the applicant
  8. A completed and signed non-lucrative residency permit application EX-01
  9. A completed and signed permit application form Modelo 790 Codigo 052
  10. Visa fee: CAN $ 91.20 (year 2018), except when a reciprocity fee applies to other countries, such as Canada and USA. Visa processing fee for Canadians is $ CAN 762.00. Please refer to the consular fee chart for other nationalities. Only cash, money order or certified cheque payable to the “Embassy of Spain” will be accepted.
  11. Non-lucrative residence permit fee: CAN $ 16.10 (year 2018). Only cash, money order or certified cheque payable to the “Embassy of Spain” will be accepted.

I’m guessing Canada did something really bad to Spain at some point, which is why we get hit with an extra $762 reciprocity fee. We’re sorry, Spain, please don’t hate us.

I’ll update each of the above items as I work my way through the process, as there is confusion at many of the steps. In addition, at least in Canada, it’s next to impossible to get ahold of anyone either by email or telephone at any of the Spanish consulates. Which basically means you have to rely on whatever information you can find.

Some consulates seem to want everything that’s in English to be translated (officially) into Spanish, while some seem to be fine with everything being in English. In addition certain documents (such as the criminal record check) also potentially require an Apostille (legalization of a document for use in another country).

Canada never signed Hague Convention, so legalization of authentication of official documents is very cumbersome involving:

  • Obtain the official document, such as a criminal record check, from Ottawa
  • Send that document to the department of foreign affairs where they will verify that the signature on the document is legitimate and stamp the document saying it’s official.
  • Send the now stamped document to the Spanish embassy in Ottawa and have their consulate investigate the stamp on the document, and add their own stamp to verify that the stamp from the department of foreign affairs was legitimate

Only after all steps have been done will the document be considered legal and official for use in Spain. There’s confusion as to whether this is necessary at all embassies (and in fact, given that the criminal record check comes from the government, seems completely redundant to have yet another government department verify the document, at least for use in Canada), but that’s what some people seem to have to do. In the United States you’ll need to find someone to act as an Apostille for your criminal record check.

Once you gather all the required documents (and pay your fees of course) and send them to the consulate, you’ll be able to live in Spain for a full year. I’ve heard in the US it often takes less than a month to be approved, but in Canada you should expect more like three months.

I’ve also been told it’s a good idea (and a silent requirement for some consulates) to include proof of travel to Spain for after you obtain your visa. That seems a bit risky to me, since you aren’t entirely sure when your visa will be complete, but I know some consulates (namely the one in Toronto) have asked other people for it prior to approving their application. At some level it may help guarantee you get your visa back before a certain date, but the consulates also say they aren’t liable if they don’t get it back to you in time, so it’s definitely a financial risk. I’ve chosen to be an optimist, and have booked a flight back to Spain, timed to be approximately three months after the date I plan to submit my application.

Once the process is done you’ll hopefully receive your passport back with a Spanish visa inside that’s valid for 90 days. You have to get to Spain generally within a month, after which you will obtain a place to live and apply at the local police station for your residence card. Once you have the residency card, I’m told the renewal process each year is much simpler, involving only showing proof of income or proof of funds, and also proof that you stayed in Spain for at least six months each year.

Given that the residency permit is renewable twice for two years each, in theory once you obtain your non-lucrative visa you can live in Spain for up to five years. And after those five years are up you quality for permanent residency, which would start the five year clock towards becoming a Spanish citizen.

If you want help with this process, make sure you buy a copy of our comprehensive 61-page guide for completing the non-lucrative application package. You can buy a copy of the Guide to Obtaining the Non-Lucrative Visa via our store.

June 2019 Update – This all worked! I’ve been a resident of Spain for ten months! You may be interested in what’s involved with renewing the non-lucrative visa in Spain

28 Comments

  1. Excellent post,
    Thank you Duane for collecting all this information, and making some order of what seems like a chaotic process.
    Good luck with you application!

  2. Duane, thank you for this post! It has some great information that is hard to find anywhere else. Do you know of anyone that was actually able to obtain their non-lucrative visa using Canadian employment as proof of their income? (ie. can you work remotely for a Canadian employer, and can that income used in the visa application?)

    • Hi.. It’s a bit of a grey area to be honest, and it seems to depend heavily on the person who is evaluating your application. I think I heard of one case, but the majority of people simply show funds in their account. So if you can pull that off (or open a line of credit or something and add the funds to your account), I think that’s the safer option. But you never know. Best of luck.

    • Can’t speak to a Canadian employer specifically but my good friend now living in Sevilla showed her husband’s work contract based (at the time) in Abu Dhabi (which is also where she went through her application process).

      We applied for our NL visas in San Francisco and we were open that we run an online consulting business which we planned to continue to do (serving our US based clients) during our time in Spain. That said, we also showed the income minimums in savings. My general feeling on this, unless the consulate you’re applying with specifically states remote work is okay, which many do, then it’s best to try to pull together the documentation reflecting savings or purely investment based income that they’re looking for, even if that requires a bit of “creativity” on your part. Best of luck. ~Jax

  3. Narina Prokosch

    March 11, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Duane – I will be starting to prepare my visa app for my husband and myself in about two weeks. One item I have found different info – re the payment. You state three payments on your blog ($91, $762, $16). On the consulate page from Toronto I found two fees ($762 and $16.30). I couldn’t find reference to the $91. Can you help please. Thank you.

  4. Great info!! Thanks for putting this together!

  5. Thanks for all your hard work. I particularly want to know about the requirement to prove residence in Spain for more than 6 months each year in order to extend the visa. I guess this means that you would become a tax resident in Spain, which I would like to avoid. Can you point me to where this requirement can be found?

    • Hi Ross,

      When you renew they will ask for a print out of *every* page of your passport and look for entry and exit stamps to Spain and the EU. So it’s usually pretty clear when you entered and left Spain and/or the EU.

      In terms of not filing in Spain, I obviously discourage that practice. All of us who are trying to move to Spain are guests, and as such I think we should treat it is a privilege, not a right. If a person is living in Spain for more than six months a year, they are using the roads, services, government, etc., and in my opinion, should contribute their share towards those services in the form of taxes. Most countries have tax treaties with Spain, so you wouldn’t have to pay double the tax. Regardless, as you pointed out, if you stay more than six months (183 days) a year you should be filing a return and paying taxes – this is standard is almost all countries.

      Cheers,
      Duane

      • Thanks for that. I really wanted to know where the requirement to reside for more than 183 days comes from. I can get a Schengen visa waiver for 90/180 days but would like to be able to stay in Spain for more than 90 days consecutively. However, I have other commitments which mean that anything over 183 days is impossible. I had hoped that the non-lucrative visa would accommodate that, but from what you have said, I have to reside in Spain for over 183 days. My country has a double taxation agreement with Spain so I know I won’t have to pay tax twice and I am happy to pay Spanish taxes if I qualify. I was just hoping you could tell me where the 183 plus day requirement is set out.

        • There are references to it at various places around the internet, such as – https://residencies.io/residency/spain/temporary-residency/es6.

          “The residence permit is usually issued for a period of 2 years, renewable, provided that you still meet the economic requirements and you have lived at least 183 days in Spain each year.”

          I have no idea where it actually is on a Spanish site, but I’ve seen people in various forums complain they weren’t able to renew because of it, so for sure it’s legit.

  6. Excellent source of information from a concerned Brit that is now having to plan to obtain this visa in order to spend more than 90 days in Spain should the Brexit process be completed with a ‘no deal’ scenario!

  7. Hi, thanks for this useful posting!

    Have you heard anything about the requirement of not having a mortgage in the US to be able to apply for this Visa? The consulate in Los angeles requires a copy of the most recent to tax return and then they make a comment on this. Do you have any insight on this?

    Thanks so much for your help!

  8. I’m a US citizen and just applied for a non-lucrative visa with my family. Based on what I read online, I thought that I could work remotely (independent contractor for US clients). We showed sufficient finances to not *need* to work, but I have ongoing projects and want to continue them.

    However at the visa appointment at the San Francisco consulate, they were very strict and emphasized that the visa allows no work of any kind, even remote; and even discouraging any trips back to the US where I might do some short contracts. They said that “the law changed on May 9” (i.e., 12 days ago) and implied that penalties for violation would be severe.

    Can anyone shed any light on this — is there a crackdown on remote work for foreigners with non-lucrative visas? What changed on May 9?

    • Unfortunately it’s one of those things that some people say is fine, and some people say isn’t. The ‘spirit’ of the non-lucrative is that you can’t take a job from a Spanish person. So if you’re working remotely for a US company, you should in theory be fine. I mean if you think about it, even people who have pensions back home technically have income, so you could argue that’s no different than a job. That said, most people who come in on the non-lucrative don’t say anything about working remotely. So did they still approve it for you, or no?

      • The appointment was just yesterday, so they took my documents (and money) but I won’t know for awhile. It sounded like they would approve it but gave me a very stern talk about not working.

        I know it’s been a matter of interpretation in the past, but the Consulate seemed to indicate that something changed on May 9, so I was wondering if there was something significantly different happening on the ground there.

        This link (translated) section 3.6
        https://deaboga.com/residencia-no-lucrativa/
        points to an actual Court decision that seems to affirm this. But was there a narrowing of the actual law that happened on May 9?

        • I did look, and there were some local changes on May 9th, but as far as I can tell those only pertain to local companies. So I’m not sure. I’ll do some more digging, but I haven’t heard anything regarding that. A friend of mine was recently approved from the SFO office and is now in Spain, and he works remotely too.

          • Thanks! Any info would be appreciated.
            As it stands now, even if my visa is approved, I’d be nervous about remote working. I’ll be coming with my family, including school-age kids, and don’t want a horror story about a knock on the door and a messy deportation/ban/fine in the middle of the year.

          • Hi… I wouldn’t worry at all once you are here, the bureaucracy is so disjoint here that they’d never know. The renewal process is much easier so don’t stress about it.

          • Yah I understand, but once you get here you will see. There are tons of people on the non-lucrative working from coffee shops daily. How would they know you aren’t just surfing the web? And plus, that would never happen, they have a hard enough time collecting taxes here and the police are busy relaxing and stuff 😀 So don’t worry at all about it…

  9. I totally get how you would be worried about this if the Consulate gave a stern warning. However I echo Duane’s comments that once you are in Spain they really have no way of tracking if you are doing work in the USA (presuming that payments are going into a USA bank account). Similarly, if you take trips back to the USA, how would they know that they are work related? The spirit of the non-lucrative visa is that when you move to Spain you will not take a job or income that would otherwise be held by a Spanish national.

  10. I’m intending to apply for this visa. I live in Vancouver, Canada and it seems that the consulate here doesn’t even have a website. Do you know if I apply through the Toronto consulate? I’m wondering how the visa appointment is done in that case.
    Thanks for compiling and posting such useful info!

    • Hi. You will apply through the Toronto consulate by mail. You won’t need an in person interview or appointment. It’s the exact same process I went through as detailed here.

  11. I’ve just found this site and thank you so much for all this extremely helpful and useful information! I’m Canadian, work remotely, and hoping to take the magic leap to relocating myself and husband to Spain in a year or so. Looking forward to reading all of your posts and educating myself on the tasks ahead!

  12. Really great and useful posting! We currently gathering information about non lucrative visa or any other ways to live in a Spain for year or so. We are Canadians however I also have EU passport, so for me there is no need to get non lucrative visa but my husband needs something in order to spend more than 90 days before he leaves Canada. I thought we can apply for non lucrative one and show income from his work in in Canada as he can work online but reading your post it’s seems not so good idea. I just wondering if the fact that he is married to EU citizen makes difference.? Have you heard anything about these kinda situations? Would appreciate any information.

    • Hi. You should post this in our FB group as some people there might know better. But if you are legally married I believe it’s quite trivial to get your spouse residency here. I think you would have to register as well, but he can get it at same time as you. You probably need an apostilled or certified copy of your marriage certificate. But check in the group. Cheers.

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