Tapas Forever

Helping make the dream of moving to Spain a reality

Tag: Non-Lucrative Visa

How To Move To Spain From The United States

If you’ve found this page, chances are you’re a citizen of the United States, looking out the window at the snow, the rain, or the endless months of winter dreariness, and wishing you were somewhere else. I know, because that’s exactly what I was doing approximately a year ago when I came up with the idea of moving to Spain from Canada. And here I am now, a year later, living in the beautiful coastal city of Valencia and eating paella with new my Spanish friends. You can read about some of my reasons for moving to Spain here.

So what does it take to move to Spain? Well, since the United States isn’t a part of the European Union, it’s a bit tricky. Normally Americas are only allowed to visit Spain (technically the Schengen Zone) for three months in every six month period. While some people thinks this resets the moment you leave, in actuality it’s a rolling six month window – if you’ve been in Spain for three months in the previously six months, then you aren’t allowed to stay longer. That’s a bit of a pain if you want to stay longer than three months.

But if you’re here, chances are you are looking for something more permanent. So I’ll give you a few of the options.

The first way to get into Spain is to have a job offer, at which point the company can sponsor a work permit for you and you can get in that way. The problem with that is most Spanish companies have to first prove that there isn’t a local who can do the job they want you for. Unless you have a unique skillset or are in demand, it might be difficult for the company to do that.

The second way is to become a student and obtain a student visa. The only problem with that is you have to go to school as a full time student. So if you want to spend most of your time in school, then that’s certainly an option. But for people who want to spend their time bouncing around Spain, or staying longer once school is over, that may or may not work for you.

Another way a person can enter into Spain is to register as a self-employed worker, or autónomo. I don’t have any experience with that personally, but you can read about how to become an autonomo on the Toronto consulate’s website. The one downside is that you immediately have to start paying into the Spanish social security system, and the taxes for an autónomo I believe are on the order of €264 per month. So if you aren’t sure you’ll have any income for a while once you become an autónomo, you should save up as you’re going to have to pay that fee each month.

The way I entered into Spain is via something called a ‘Non-Lucrative Visa’. The non-lucrative visa is a special type of visa for Spain that means a person can live here, but they cannot work. The latter part is a bit of a grey area in that it’s debatable whether or not a person can work remotely (for a company outside of Spain), but I do know some people who did get the visa while working remotely and declaring that with the Spanish consulate.

You can read the entire requirements for the Spanish non-lucrative visa here, but in short, you need to be in good health, to not have a criminal record, and to also provide proof that you can live for a year without working in Spain. While some people have successfully approved by showing income made by working for remote companies, I have heard about more people who have been rejected for that. So it’s best to be able to provide proof that you can live on your savings alone, which as of 2018 is €2151.36 per month for all 12 months (so a bank account with €25,816.32) in it.

I applied through the Toronto consulate in Canada, and surprisingly, it went rather smoothly. But in general you have to apply for a Spanish visa in your country of residence (and not within Spain). I started the process of obtaining documents for my non-lucrative visa in May of 2018, submitted the application at the start of July, and was in Spain at the end of August.

So if you are motivated and fulfil the requirements of the non-lucrative visa, you can pull it off rather quickly. If you can imagine yourself living in nearly perfect weather year-round and spending your off-time sipping cervezas (beers) or vino tinto (red wine), then perhaps moving to Spain is a great option for you – it was for me.

If you’re interested in learning about how to obtain the non-lucrative visa to live in Spain, make sure you purchase up a copy of our 65-page Guide to Obtaining the Non-lucrative Visa by clicking the button below:


How To Apply For The Non-Lucrative Visa – $40 CAD

Renewing The Non-Lucrative Visa In Spain

Well it’s hard to believe, but I’ve been in Spain nearly ten months now. My original non-lucrative residency is valid until August 30th, 2019, but the rules stipulate that a person can start the renewal process up to 60 days in advance, which means I can start the renewal process on July 1, 2019.

The renewal process is significantly less involved than the first application – you don’t need any criminal record checks for example, and the fees are basically administrative in nature. So I’m mostly looking at this as a formality. Compared to the original visa though (which was only valid for one year) this new renewal is valid for two full years.

The downside of that is that because the visa is non-lucrative in nature (in that a person can’t be working in Spain), Spain requires you to show that you can afford to live without making any money. For the first application, that amounted to one full year of expenses in the bank. But since this renewal is good for two years, basically you need to show two full years of expenses in the bank. Like most things in Spain, your mileage may vary. It’s quite possible a person can simply submit proof of funds for one year and have it approved, but in general most people need to submit proof of two years worth of savings at the current rates.

In terms of what’s required, here’s a rough list to assemble before renewing your non-lucrative visa:

  • EX-01 Form – this is the non-lucrative application form. The first time you applied you would have selected “INICIAL” for the type of application; this time around we need to select ” 1ª Renovación”, the 1st renewal.
  • Proof of funds (certified translation required) amounting to €2,130/mo, or €51,120. Sometimes they will ask for this to be in a Spanish bank account, but you should be able to get away without it. For the second case though, you will likely need a certified Spanish translation of the proof. I’m planning on taking one of my monthly reports for my retirement account and having it translated by a certified/sworn translator.
  • Padron Certificate – you need your empadronamiento certificate. If you have your digital certificate, you can easily generate a new one online. But hopefully you are still registered at a place, as this was one of my hang-ups with getting my TIE card originally.
  • Photocopies of every page of your passport – you need to actually prove you’ve been living in Spain for six months. In the old days people would obtain the non-lucrative visa and just come and go as they pleased, often only staying here a few months a year. Spain now only wants people who actually want to live in Spain (and ultimately pax taxes here – can’t say I blame them), so you will likely be denied the renewal if you didn’t spend six months here. So the point of asking for all the pages of you passport is to look at the stamps to get an indication of how long you spend in Spain.
  • Photocopies of the front and back of your TIE card – I’m not entirely sure why they need this, but apparently they do.
  • Medical Insurance – My Sanitas plan from last year (which I think was a great investment, they have been amazing to me) automatically renewed for another year on May 31, 2019. I did have to contact them via their online chat though and ask for proof of the extended period, since all the documentation I had only showed my plan was valid until May 31, 2019. But they send me a PDF via email in about 24 hours with proof of my renewal.
  • Tax Form: Code 790, Tasa 52 – You have to fill this out and pay the fee associated with the non-lucrative renewal. The option you want to select is “Renovación de autorización de residencia temporal”, and the fee at the time of this writing as €16.08, payable at most banks.
  • Proof of payment – keep your receipt for paying the Code 790, Tasa 52 form above.

One of my main sources of confusion is where to actually go to process the renewal. When I arrived in Valencia, I already was approved for my visa, and simply had to get my fingerprints taken while submitting the paperwork for the TIE card. This time around you need to get approval first, and then redo the procedure of getting an updated card.

I’m only about two weeks away from having to do this procedure, so I’ll update everyone with the results once I get started. I recently submitted a document to be translated by a sworn translator, and I’ll likely be able to pick it up in the next few days.

Update – I chose to attempt to renew my non-lucrative visa online. If you’re interested in that process, read how to renew your non-lucrative visa online.

Getting Your Digital Certificate In Spain

One of the aspects of living in Spain that always surprises me is just how up to date Spain is in terms of technology. For example, banking in Spain is way more advanced than in Canada – with just a few clicks I can send money to any other person in the EU using their IBAN number. Credit cards can easily be added to Apple or Android pay (unlike in North America where some banks are still holding out, trying to release their own competing services), and payments can even be split up over multiple months (not that this is a good thing, but it’s neat that they at least have the option).

Another area which is great to see some movement is in cryptography. Spain allows you to obtain a digital certificate which essentially can be used to verify your identity, cryptographically, when using websites online. I hardly know anyone who has done this, probably because it’s a bit complex, but it has a ton of advantages – for example, once you have a digital certificate you can skip going in person to many government offices for simple items, like getting another copy of your empadronamiento. I’ve even been told that once I obtain my digital certificate I can even renew my non-lucrative visa by submitting, and cryptographically signing (which proves my identify), all my documents.

The process for obtaining a certificate is as follows:

  • Visit the website, and start the process for a personal certificate (for a legal person, not a business or representative). You’ll need to enter your name and enter your NIE number. Start the process now.
  • Once done, you’ll receive an email with a 9 digit confirmation number. Next you have to visit a social security office in person with your residency card, passport, and confirmation information from the previous step. Once they verify you are who you say you are, they’ll activate your certificate, which you can later install on your computer. This step essentially links your physical identification to your digital one.
  • After you can download your certificate and install it on your computer, allowing websites to verify your identify.
Confirmation from the Certificate Request

Confirmation from the Certificate Request

A few days after I did this, I visited the social security office here in Valencia on Calle Colón. I told the receptionist I needed my digital certificate, after which they led me to a seating area on the second floor. After about ten minutes my number was called, and I went to the designated desk.

Once there, I gave the individual my original print-out, along with my TIE card and my passport. He typed things into his computer for a few minutes, then explained that I would receive an email shortly with the information I needed.

Sure enough, as I was walking out the front door of the social security office I received an email with a link to download my digital certificate. I downloaded the certificate and right away put a copy on Dropbox so I would never lose it. The website says the certificate only works in Firefox and IE I believe – since I use Chrome mostly, I downloaded a copy of Firefox and installed it. Once in Firefox, I went into the Certificates section in the settings and installed the one they gave me. You should see something similar to what I have here, showing an installed certificate from FNMT-RCM.

Installed Certificate

Uses For The Certificate

If you’re looking to make use of your shiny new certificate, here are a few articles with how you can use it.

How To Obtain Your Residency Card (TIE) in Spain

If you have managed to get yourself a non-lucrative visa (or other long-term visa), one of the first things you will likely notice is that the visa is only valid for approximately three months. When you applied, you did so with the belief that it would be valid for a year, so what’s with this three month nonsense?

Don’t worry, that’s just part of the process. Upon arriving in Spain, you basically have a month to make an appointment to convert your temporary non-lucrative visa into a one-year residency. To do so, you need to register at the appropriate place, at which point they will receive a “tarjeta de extranjero”, or foreigner’s card (TIE for short).

To receive the card, you typically need the following:

  • One colour photo on a white background, in European size. I brought a photo from Canada that I explicitly asked to be 40mmx30mm (the size of a European passport photo). I wasn’t sure that would work, but they accepted it just fine.
  • Your passport with your visa inside
  • A photocopy of your passport information page. I did mine in colour, simply because it wasn’t much more money and looks way cooler
  • A photocopy of your visa page. Once again, I did mine in colour
  • A photocopy of your entry stamp into Spain. If you didn’t get an entry stamp (for example, if you entered in the UK), bring a photocopy of that along with whatever boarding passes or other proof you have for the date you entered Spain.
  • Your empadronamiento certificate (your padrón) – this was the hardest item for me to get. Find out how to obtain your empadronamiento in Spain here.
  • A filled out EX17 form, which is your application form. You can download EX17 here.
  • A completed Model 790, Código 12, what you need to pay the associated fees. You can now fill this out online, which is best, since it will generate the barcode you need as part of the form. You can fill out the Model 790, Código 12 online. The option I selected was “TIE que documenta la primera concesión de la autorización de residencia temporal, de estancia o para trabajadores transfronterizos.”, which is for non-EU nationals applying for their first residency. It then auto-populates the fee to be paid at the bottom, which was just shy of 16 euros.
  • Proof that the fees were paid from a bank. Once you have the Model 790 printed out, you can go down to a bank machine and pay your fees right at the machine. I had help doing it, but I think the options the lady pressed were related to bill payments, and eventually she had to scan the barcode. Make sure you keep the receipt, since that is proof you paid.

You’ll also need an appointment at the corresponding office. You can book an appointment for your TIE here. Choose the region where you live (for example, Valencia in my case), and then, for non-EU nationalities, the option you likely want is “Policia – Toma De Heullas (Expedicion de Tarjeta).”

Usually this will be the office for foreigners in whatever city you are in, but it’s quite possible it could be a police station in a smaller area. You should reserve your appointment online as soon as you have a rough idea of when you will be in town as often the appointments are a few weeks away. I booked mine from Canada the moment I received my visa back along with my NIE number (which is what you will need to reserve – not your passport number).

I booked my appointment for the early evening, which turned out to be a good decision because it was pretty quiet inside when I arrived. Some people bring along someone who speaks fluent Spanish – I didn’t bother. I figured I needed the practice anyways, and maybe they would go easier on me if just did it myself and tried to smile and be friendly.

After sitting for about two minutes, I was called up to the desk where a police officer sat. I told him, in Spanish, I was here to get my TIE card. He spread my documents out over the table, casually looked over them all, then started punching data into the computer. At one point he asked me to place my fingers into the finger print scanner and take a scan. Then he asked me to do it again, but this time roll them from side to side. Strangely though he only took scans of two of my fingers, one on each hand.

My residency authorization

My residency authorization

Also I believe the only document he kept was the receipt for my payment and the application form. Everything else was returned to me.

Afterwards he gave me an official, stamped document that indicated I was a resident – this document was only valid for 45 days. I was told I need come back in 30 days, at which point my official card would be ready.The meeting itself was actually really easy, so if you are stressing out about it, try not to worry. The best way to ensure the process goes smoothly is to arrive with all your documents in perfect order.

I’ll pick up my card next week, so I’ll post a photo of that when I receive it. But in general this process went smoothly, so just make sure you are prepared when you arrive and you’ll do fine.

© 2019 Tapas Forever