An Overview of Spanish Visas and Residence

You can visit Spain for up to 90 days out of every 180 as a tourist. If you wish to remain in Spain for more than 90 days out of every 180, you must obtain a residence visa from the Spanish embassy or consulate nearest you before you come to Spain. At certain (unspecified) times, a limited number of visa applications will be accepted each day, on a first-come, first-served basis. You should try to be at the embassy/consulate office before 8.30 a.m.

Residence Visa for Non-Lucrative Purposes

Retirees or others who have the financial means to support themselves without working can apply for residence in Spain for non-lucrative purposes. To qualify, you must show that you have the means to support yourself and any dependents without working. For 2015, the official monthly minimum income is €2,130 for an individual and €532.51 for each dependent. However, the actual minimum income you’ll need to show will depend on where you choose to live (and how expensive that destination is). Spanish Immigration will determine this.

In addition, citizens of non-EU countries (including the U.S. and Canada) must show proof of private health insurance valid in Spain. Other requirements include a valid application form, a certificate of good conduct issued by the police in the city (or cities) where you’ve lived over the past five years, and a medical report, among other things.

You must submit all the required documents to your nearest Spanish embassy or consulate in person, and by previous appointment.

Processing your application may take up to three months. After your application has been approved, you have one month to collect your entry visa from the consulate and then three months to enter Spain. Initial visas are for one year.

Investor/Self-employed Visa

This visa allows you to reside in Spain as a self-employed person, or as a worker in a company in which you have invested the required capital. Apply to the Spanish embassy or the nearest Spanish consulate, in person, and by previous appointment.

As with the residence visa, you’ll need to submit an application; a certificate of good conduct issued by the police department in the places you’ve lived over the past five years; a medical report; and proof that you have the financial resources to support yourself and your dependents.

In addition, you’ll need to provide evidence of academic titles or training that show you are qualified to do the work you propose. You’ll also need to provide a detailed work plan for your proposed business, showing the type of business and projected profits.

Processing the application will take approximately three months. Once an application has been approved, the applicant has one month to collect the visa in person at the consulate. He/she then has three months to travel to Spain and validate the visa by entry. Once in Spain, the applicant has three months to officially set up the business, including registering with Spain’s social security system, the Seguridad Social.

Work Permit

You can apply to the embassy or your local consulate for a work visa. This visa allows you to work as an employee in a company located in Spain. Note that companies seeking to hire a non-Spaniard, especially a citizen of a non-European Union country, must justify the hire by meeting a series of requirements, both as a firm and for the position being filled.

Generally speaking, an employing company must prove that it’s legally registered in Spain, that it’s solvent and paying into Spain’s social security system (Seguridad Social), and that it guarantees to employ (and pay a salary to) the foreign applicant for the length of visa. Regarding the job, the company must show that the position can’t be filled locally, among other things.

The (non-EU) individual for whom the visa is being obtained then has to apply for the visa. He/she must include with his application materials a letter from Spain’s immigration office stating that it has approved the company’s request for the visa for work and residence. The applicant must also include the offer of employment from the company.

All documents must be submitted in person to the consulate within 90 days of the issue date (except for marriage and birth certificates, in the event you are taking a spouse and/or children). Processing the application will take about three months. The applicant then has one month to collect the visa, then an additional three months to enter Spain.

For all visas: All official documents, such as birth and marriage certificates and any professional certifications, must be authenticated to be accepted by the Spanish authorities. Most countries use the apostille process. The apostille process is a specific type of legal certification agreed to by countries—of which the U.S. was one—that signed a treaty at the Hague Convention. Canadians must have their documents authenticated via a different process; contact the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

All documents must also be translated into Spanish.

The address in Spain is Ministerio de Justicia, Departamento de Legalizaciones, Registro Civil; Calle San Bernardo 45, 28015, Madrid; tel. (34)9139-02011.