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How to Get Your Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa – February 2019 Update

In Gentle Journeys by Jamie37 Comments


  Important Notice 

Please be aware that we received our non-lucrative visas in July of 2017.  It's likely that some of the information included here and on our original post, How We Got Our Non-Lucrative Spanish Residence Visa Right, is out of date by now.  We aren't keeping up with the changes, so you really ought to double check on anything  you find here.

Susan and I got our non-lucrative Spanish visas back in June of 2017.  Our blog post about How We Got Our Non-Lucrative Visa Application Right has proven to be our most popular post.  If you are just getting started, you should  READ IT HERE before going further on this post.

Since that time we've been able to help answer many questions about our experience with the visa application process in the comments section of our post.  And even better, enough of our readers have been kind enough to reach out with such great new information that we have been able to put together this update.  We hope that you will find this update to be useful.

This is the best information we have.   However,  YOU should double-check EVERYTHING!!!

REMEMBER each Spanish consulate in the United States operates a little differently and you must follow the step by step process for your consulate.  Our experience is only with the San Francisco Consulate.

About Dates and Timing

Applying for a Spanish residence visa can be a bit stressful.  But one of the best things you can do to minimize that stress is to get the timeline and deadlines straight in your mind.  Or if your mind is as leaky as mine, at least get it straight on your calendar.

What to do after arriving in Spain


For the visa application, the greatest logistic difficulty seems to be getting all the documents together AND translated within the three-month window required by the consulates.

We spent a lot of time trying to locate a certified translator for our visa application.  We were reluctant to pick someone at random, especially with some of the confidential information we needed to have translated. I thought it was just us, but it seems almost everyone faces the same problem.

Since then we learned that the Spanish Government, has a Sworn Translators-Interpreters web page where you can find a link to a Spanish language list of approved translators and interpreters.   If you go to page 613 of the LISTA ACTUALIZADADE TRADUCTORES/AS - INTÉRPRETES document,  you’ll find the approved Spanish/English translators who are located in the U.S.

Financial Documentation

I'm not in any position to provide advice or insight when it comes to why some non-lucrative visa applications are rejected or how to fine tune your financial documentation.  Susan and I were able to show savings that more than covered the minimum monthly requirement for the duration of our visas.  That worked for us.

In 2018 the minimum financial requirement was €2,130.04 per month for the head of household, plus an additional €532.51 per month for each additional family member.

Medical Insurance and the Certificate of Good Health

Like many of our readers, Susan and I were reluctant to purchase a Spanish health insurance plan several months before we were even sure the consulate would approve our visa applications.  So we spent a couple months trying to chase down an affordable health insurance plan and looking for repatriation insurance. We didn't have confidence in any of the policies we found on our own through the internet. Fortunately, our relocation specialist, Linda, from Moving to Valencia, connected us with an agent in Spain who arranged for our policy to begin on the day we arrived in Spain.

  Make sure your doctor adds M.D. as part of her signature.

   We've received more than one report of a consulate rejecting a Medical Certificate because the physician neglected to include his/her credentials in the signature, as in D.R. Doolittle, M.D.

Background Checks and Apostilles

REMEMBER:   There are two different ways to get both the criminal background check and an Apostille for official documents - go through your state or go the Federal route.

If you have lived in the same state for five years or more years AND your marriage and birth certificates (for children) are from the same state, it is probably easiest (and cheapest) to work through your state's agencies.

On the other hand, if you have been out and about, it might be easier to go the Federal route.

Jamie  wants “life on gentle cycle” to be a story of enough rather than a search for more.  His focus is on simplicity, quiet presence, low impact travel, and mostly on living gently. He also manages the technical aspects of

Our visa application information is now three years out of date.  We are no longer confident that we can answer your questions appropriately.    Sorry.


  1. RE: “family member”; husband, wife and 32 year old daughter who has lived with us for 9 years: will that qualify for a “FAMILY? ” or will they require her to be a separate applicant; especially re: IPREM total?

    1. Author

      I’m sorry, I have no idea what your Spanish Consulate will require given your particular circumstances. I suggest you consult them directly.

  2. I am from Hong Kong. Can I use the original statements they send me to my Spanish address as financial proof? I don’t wanna put so much money in the spanish banks.

    1. Author

      I’m sorry I don’t know. We used our US accounts successfully when we applied.

  3. What an incredible information resource! Thank you so much to everybody participating! We are in the beginning stages of getting ready to apply for a non lucrative visa and are very confused about a signed and a notarized lease from Valencia that we need to bring with us to the interview in the Chicago Spanish consulate. Does it mean we have to go To Valencia, lease the apartment and pay for it even though we could be waiting in Chicago for months and possibly be denied a non lucrative visa for for some reason? I d appreciate any response, thank you very much!

    1. Author

      Hi Alla,
      I don’t have any information for you. We didn’t need to have evidence of a lease when we applied. Let’s hope that another reader with current information replies.
      You might also check at the SpainGuru Facebook Group.

      Good luck,

      1. Thank you so much! Hoping someone else would have an answer> All the best to everyone!

      2. Hi Alla,
        Sorry, I can’t help either. I didn’t need to provide a lease when I had my appointment at the San Francisco consulate last month. It’s interesting that the different consulates would have different requirements. In fact, I was using instructions for filling out the EX-01 form that look like they came from the LA consulate, and they say to use your “Contact address in Spain, If available. Otherwise, your current address in the USA.” So a Spanish lease doesn’t appear to be necessary there, either. I wish I could be more helpful!

  4. Hi Jamie,
    You answered my question above a few months ago, and I just wanted to check back in and say thanks! I used your advice to plan my travels, and everything worked out — my non-lucrative visa was recently approved by the San Francisco consulate. (They did end up keeping my passport while I waited, btw.) Thanks again for taking the time to respond to me, and I’m happy to answer any questions if it would add to your data or help anybody out.

    1. Author

      Hi Liz,
      Thanks for your kind offer to answer questions. Now it’s going on three years since we did our visa applications and I don’t keep up with the changes any longer, so your fresh information will be useful.

      Congratulations on your visa.


  5. Hi Jamie: Fellow Oregonian with appt Dec 3 2019 for visa interview. Question: When you presented your documents, did you have a full set and then a copy of that set to present? I’m just wondering how many copies to bring with us. Jim and I have appointments at 0900 and 0910 — but from what I hear, we can expect to wait up to two hours. Was that your experience as well? Finally, was there any way you could contact the consulate to ask a question about the visa? We’ve tried calling at all times of the day and get a recording and then an email saying to read the info on the website. Pretty frustrating. The Facebook groups such as Spain Guru and Expats in Spain give really diverse information based on their interview experiences — I try to only read those for SF — is it just the luck of the draw who interviews you? Sorry lots of different questions. Thanks.

    1. Author

      Hi Gail,

      • We brought originals and one copy of everything. Keep all the originals together.
      • From what I observed, your particular appointment time doesn’t matter. When we applied, the non-lucrative visa applications were processed last. We waitd two hours.
      • As far as I know, you cannot contact the SF consulate with questions. There’s plenty of information around the web to help you out though. Get used to the idea of being frustrated with your contact with government agencies. You’re moving to Spain. Fortunately, after you get settled in, you won’t need to.
      • Some functionaries as nice, others aren’t. When we applied only one person was processing non-lucrative visas. Who processes yours is out of your influence. It’s like that every time you have an appointment.

      We were really nervous before our appointment, needlessly so. It turned our to be friendly and easy. Good luck with your application, if you are prepared it should go well.


  6. Hi Jamie,

    First off, thank you for creating this valuable resource. My family is looking to start our time in Spain next Summer / Fall so I’ve started fact gathering now. I have reached out to YesValencia as well which looks like another valuable resource. Seems like one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the timeframe the consulates give you to operate within. Having multiple government agencies all return paperwork within the allotted time is optimistic but this site and the contributors prove its possible.

    So this is my first question here but I’m sure there will be more to come. Has anyone looked at the BookIt site for the San Francisco consulate lately? I know I’m way early but I like to know how things work before I need to have it work. There appear to be no visa appointments through the end of the year which I suppose is possible but everyday on the month says closed where as if you choose their Passport option it says none available. Is anyone familiar with the behavior of this app? Are they only doing passports through the end of the year but visas are closed?


    1. Author

      Hi Perry,
      You might want to check the Facebook group SpainGuru to see if others there have the information you’re after.

      1. Hi Jamie,

        Following up to the SF consulate. I was told (by a third party) their reservation system was hijacked by scalpers of sorts. A third party went in and reserved everything and was selling the spots. I did come across these spots for sale sites while I was trying to figure out what was going on. The consulate figured it out and had to shut the system down while they come up with a solution.

  7. Hi Jamie,

    Quick question regarding the consular fees. In your blog post, you state, “We knew the visa was $140 and the processing fee was $11, so I prepared an envelope with $151 for each of us.” but when I look at the list of consular fees on the SF Consulate website, I see the $140 fee for the visa, but I don’t see an $11 processing fee anywhere. Maybe it’s called something else? The only thing I see for $11 is the NIE application, but we already have our NIE (we got it last year so we could open a bank account). I’ll take extra cash with us, but just wondering how I’m missing it.


    1. Author

      Hi Russ,
      Thanks for your question. I may have mischaracterized the $11 fee back when I wrote this post. I thought the fee description “Authorization for Residence Visa for all nationalities” described a processing fee, separate from the $10 NIE application fee as listed on the consulate’s TASAS CONSULARES schedule. However, my information is from 2017 and is likely out of date. I like your idea of taking extra cash. We used our extra cash to buy a couple of celebratory beers after our appointment.


  8. Jamie,

    Your info is awesome!!!

    Question: On the National Visa Application, there is a question about current profession. I have an online app business that generates passive income. I do not sell anything physical. Yet, I am applying for a “no lucrativa” visa. Do you know if that will pose a problem?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.


    1. Author

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Recently many people have been denied a non lucrative visa because of remote or online work. This is a relatively new development.

      If I were you and if your business is generating truly passive income, I would not even bring it up. Better to leave out anything that might be easily misinterpreted.


  9. Hi Jamie,

    How are you? Hope you are enjoying your time!

    So,…. I have everything lined up, except for my health insurance. Can’t believe what an arduous and time consuming task it’s become! The LA consulate just told me that the Sanitas expat plan (which is the same for all first-year expats) is no good because the waiting time for some of the procedures is too long (and they have the same waiting period for all their plans)! Good thing I emailed the consulate before my appt. DKV won’t respond after an initial conversation (they don’t care I guess). MAPFRE keep trying to sell me travel insurance! Very frustrating.

    Can you advise as to which company you went with and who was your point of contact?

    Thank you much for any help you might be able to provide.

    Cheers and have fun!


    1. Author

      Hello Kyle,

      I spent several weeks chasing after affordable health insurance until Linda from YesValencia (formerly Moving to Valencia) put us in contact with our local agent. We’ve been happy with the options Ángel has offered us.

      Ángel Girón Descalzo, Director Comercial
      Centro de Negocios del Mar
      Av Puerto, 189, 3 A1 46022
      tel. +34 96 339 22 46

  10. Thanks for putting this all together! It has been helpful reading while assembling our application and I wanted to share an update of our experience trying to apply for the non-lucrative visa in Chicago yesterday morning. We had everything we needed all neatly ready to go. However, the appointment was an unsuccessful disaster and the consular officer refused to even look at our application, told us we could not apply, and shouted at us to leave. We didn’t even get a chance to take out the documents we’ve been assembling for months. Their main issue was that my husband and I “are too young” (we’re in our mid/late thirties, but do look a little younger) to apply for the non-lucrative visa, as it is “for retired people only.” We were going to live in Spain for 1-2 years, take a bit of a sabbatical, and live off of our savings. Then, they took issue with the fact that my husband owns a small company in the U.S., which is a source of passive income, even though we had proof of funding for double the required amount. They also took issue with the fact that my husband is a doctor and refused to believe that he wanted to take a break from medicine to live in Spain. “There is no way you aren’t going to keep working as a doctor,” she said, even though he is not licensed to practice in another country (and it would be very illegal).

    Every time I tried to ask a question or clarify our position, she interrupted to yell at us over and over that “lucrative” means “no work” and doing any kind of business or even owning a U.S. business would be forbidden and disqualifies us from even submitting the application. We would have to have proof that we dissolved the company and “notarized letters form our current employers” stating that we were unemployed (which, what??) to even be considered. It was as if she decided straight away we wouldn’t qualify and then refused to change her mind. When we were finally able to ask what kind of visa would be required to maintain passive ownership of a business and they said a work visa (which I don’t think our business would really qualify us for), followed by “is easy to apply for [the work visa]. Just follow the website.” The most unbelievable part is that she would not let us clarify, show our documentation to clear up what and why we were doing, or really even talk. She just yelled that ‘non lucrative’ means ‘no work of any kind in Spain or anywhere else’ over and over until we she told us we had to leave.

    It was a horrible feeling. I have no idea what happened to garner this extreme reaction. We were prompt, organized, looked nice, were polite, and had the first appointment of the day. We met all stated qualifications for the visa and had all paperwork needed. The only questions she asked were why we wanted to live in Spain and what are current jobs were. So, altogether, months of work turned into about four minutes of hell and now we’re back at nothing with all that time and money wasted. As she is the person who processes non-lucrative there, we don’t really have an option of trying again (short of hiring an attorney). Based on what she said, it seems like the consulate in Chicago is extremely strict now on who can even apply for this visa, so I wanted to warn others in case it is helpful. So, good luck out there, everyone! Hope you fare better than we did.

    1. Author

      Hi Anne-Marie,
      I am so sorry to hear about how poorly you were treated. i have no idea how to respond, especially since we know a young couple in their 30s who are just finishing up a sabbatical year here in Valencia.

      If you have it in you to try elsewhere, you might want to look into Portugal for your European break. Take a look at the Facebook group Americans & FriendsPT. After our recent visit we are considering Portugal as a future option.

      1. Thanks for the response! It was a shocking to say the least. We are working on Portugal next. We had originally started with Portugal, but then decided we enjoyed Valencia a little better than we enjoyed Lisbon. We have an attorney our friend used to get the Portuguese D7>Residency last year, so I think we’ll go that route, too. Our translator also mentioned she had never heard of age being a problem or passively owning a company. We’ve been hearing that official attitudes towards the non-lucrative have been changing, so hopefully our experience is not the start of a pattern.

  11. Hello!
    I am currently holding an emergency passport (I lost my official passport overseas) and Seattle Passport Agency they will not let me get a replacement.
    I’m just wondering whether presenting the emergency passport at my Visa appointment in SF Consulate will cause any issues in terms of being immediately turned away cause of it?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank You!


    1. Author

      Hi Krystal,
      I’m sorry I don’t really know how the SF consulate will consider a temporary passport. They do explicitly state that they require the passport to be valid for 6 months beyond the Visa period.

      Sorry, we aren’t visa experts just a couple of bloggers
      Good luck,

  12. The new proof of funds for San Francisco dictate that you must have %400 of the iprem (roughly 2150 euro/month)
    Proof of sufficient periodic income: Including, but not limited to: investments, annuities, sabbaticals and any other source of income, providing sufficient funds to live in Spain without working. The minimum income required is 400% of the IPREM (Public Income Index) annually plus the required percentage per each additional family member. For further information about the current IPREM, please follow this link. All documentation must be accompanied by a certified translated into Spanish.

    Does anyone know what the percentage is for each additional family member? I thought it was %50 of the 2150/month but I could be mistaken

    1. It’s 100%, so right now it’s 6,454 euros/year for each additional family member after the first one.

      So, 25,816 (400% of the IPREM) for the first family member, and an additional 6454 for each additional family member.

  13. Jamie: We’re fellow Oregonians, and your blog has been so helpful! And over the last two months, we’ve been carefully putting together all our documentation, in preparation for a May 31st appointment down at the Consul in San Francisco….

    Until we hit a major roadblock, caused by my own stupidity. You see, when I’d gone on line to use the bookit system back in February, I THOUGHT we had a confirmed appointment, since we were sent an “activation code.” What I FAILED to grasp was that I needed to go BACK to the site, enter that code, to get final confirmation. (Ah, the difference between an “activation code” and a “confirmation code).

    Which has now put the whole enterprise in jeopardy. I wouldn’t mind having to start over (if we get a June or July appointment) with the marriage license and the background checks — those have the 90 day expirations — but the current calendar shows the first available appointments are on August 30, just a week before our scheduled departure (and when our lease starts). At least the translator hasn’t started that process yet!

    Do you– or any of your readers — have any advice? The Consul site of course says that cancellations do happen, and keep checking back — but the calendar app doesn’t even let you go earlier than August. (Perhaps there are times of the days when cancelled appointments become visible?) We’ve had utterly no luck with getting any one at the Consul to respond to our e mails or phone calls — though we haven’t really expected otherwise; I’m sure they’re quite busy. At least someone at the reddit site offered us “good luck” wishes!

    Appreciate any thoughts anyone might have about potential resources out there. Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Phil,

      We had a similar booking problem with our passport renewals. Couldn’t confirm an appointment with an expired passport number. Pushed our appointment out a couple months.

      What I suggest is book the next available date. Then, keep checking. If a cancellation occurs, it will show up on the bookit calendar. But I don’t know what happens if you have your passport number already confirmed for a later date.

      Many people we have met go back and forth, coming in on a tourist visa, then going back to collect the resident visa. We couldn’t do that with five pets, but it might work for you. Also note, air fares from Europe to the U.S seem much less expensive that vice versa.

      Sorry, that’s the best advice I can offer. Maybe someone else has a thought?

      Good luck (you need it),


      1. Thank you for this website! I’m a fellow Oregonian as well. I’m happy to hear that many people have had success entering Spain on a tourist visa, and then coming back to the US to collect their resident visa, since that’s what I’m planning to do. Is there any advice or anything I should be aware of when trying to do this? Will the San Francisco embassy need to keep my passport while the visa is being processed, leaving me stuck here? Any thoughts would be much appreciated, thanks!


      2. Author

        Hi Liz,
        Happy to read that you like the website. There are a couple things you might want to consider:

        • A tourist visa in the Schengen countries is good for any 90 of 180 days on a rolling basis. They are quite strict about this these days. You can be barred from traveling to the Schengen zone for a period if you overstay a visa.
        • When we applied for our residence visas the SF consulate did not require, nor permit, leaving passports during the evaluation period. Check on their current practices.
        • Evaluation of an application can require as few as two and as many as eight weeks. But two or three seems to be most common.
        • The consulates in the U.S. appear to be amping up the financial, and insurance requirements. Read some of the recent comments on this and related posts for others’ experiences.

        Good luck on your next steps,

  14. Here’s an update on the FBI criminal background check, which we just recently completed. The FBI was as good as its word, in terms of the processing time. Our checks were completed halfway through the fourth day, counting from the day they received our fingerprint cards by mail, which was actually a Saturday. We were notified by email, which included links we could use to download and print our reports.

    I was a little concerned about whether a printed copy of the PDF version of the report would pass muster with the State Department for purposes of the Apostille. (They looked so cheap!) So, I called the office at State that handles this stuff on the following Monday, and the woman I spoke to confirmed that printed copies of the PDF are, in fact, sufficient. And when we eventually received the hard copies we’d requested, these turned out to be identical to our printed copies of the PDFs.

    Please keep in mind that this turnaround time applies only to the email service: If you submit your request by mail, you’ll wait much, much longer. According to the FBI: “Current processing time for Identity History Summary requests submitted via the mail is 14-16 weeks. Allow additional time for mail delivery.”

    1. Author

      Hi Jim,
      Your comments fill out a background possibility we did not explore. Thanks for the update.

  15. Hi Jamie. This is a great resource; I’ll be sharing it with others. One thought: I opened my bank account with a passport only and then converted the account to a resident account once I’d secured my residency card. I know of many others who have also used passports for banks, leases, phone service, etc., here and elsewhere, so this might be a helpful bit for those waiting on appointments at their local extrañarnos office.

    1. Author

      Hi Donna,
      Thanks for your input. I will add your insight on my next editing day.
      ~ j

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