Spanish Residence Application Packets

How We Got Our Non-Lucrative Spanish Residence Visa Application Right

In Living Abroad by Jamie154 Comments

Susan and I applied for Spanish non-lucrative residence visas at the San Francisco Consulate General on June 27, 2017. Thirteen days later we were notified that our visa applications had been approved. We were back in San Francisco on July 27 to pick up our visados and breathe a sigh of relief.

We didn’t encounter any of the roadblocks or delays that we’d heard about. In fact, our Spanish residence visa application process went very well. I’d even say it went smoothly.

Alba, the staff member who handles residence and student visas at the Consulate of Spain in San Francisco, told us that she dreads residence visas because most people simply aren’t prepared.

We told Alba we were going to document our experience to help others and asked if she had any tips. She said, “Just tell them to do exactly what you did.”

Here’s what we seem to have done correctly.

Check and Double-Check the Requirements

First, we put in a lot of effort ahead of time to track down and double-check exactly what to do to be successful. I think we checked and double-checked and double-double checked everything – TWICE! And I’m glad we did because the application requirements changed in the months between the time we chose Spain for our retirement destination and our application appointment.

We created this Spanish Non-Lucrative Residence Visa Application Checklist and made four copies of it. As I assembled our documentation, I used one copy to check off the various documents as we acquired them. Susan followed up with her own checklist to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Then just before we left for the airport, we each used a copy to check that everything we assembled was actually included in the application packets we were bringing to our appointment. Sure enough, my Form EX-01 had gone astray, misplaced in the recycle pile.

Whew!

Take the Letter of Purpose Seriously

Our original letter was a brief two sentence statement. We had it notarized and sent it along with everything else to our certified translator. She kicked it back, suggesting we make a more compelling case.

Trusting her advice, we rewrote our statement of purpose to included statements about:

  • being retired along with brief, two sentence summaries of our careers,
  • our income sources for the year abroad,
  • our desire to study the Spanish language and learn about Spanish history and culture, and
  • why we chose Valencia in particular.

Even though it meant going through the trouble of getting our statement notarized again, we’re glad we did. At our appointment, Alba spent quite a lot of time reviewing what we wrote.

Allow Plenty of Time When Scheduling Your Visa Application Appointment

Timing your visa application at the San Francisco consulate can be problematic. When we made our visa application appointment the first available date was about 10 weeks out. Over the summer of 2017, I noticed appointment times up to four months out and most recently, there’s been about a three month wait.

So plan ahead. And don’t forget, you’ll need your passport number to make an appointment. So if you need to renew your passport like we did, add that month-long turn around to your planning calendar.

Schedule Your SF Consulate Appointment

While you’re at it print a copy of your appointment confirmation and keep it with your application materials. You may need it at your appointment.

Proof of Health and Repatriation Insurance

It seems that most people are as confused when it comes to buying Spanish health insurance as we were. We spent about three months trying to research the options on our own but it was intimidating. Quite frankly, our Spanish language skills aren’t all that good and health care is not all that easy to understand.

We finally ended up enlisting the services of Linda Svilane at Moving to Valencia, and she put us in touch with a DKV Seguros agent. We went with this policy because the coverage suited our needs, and because DKV Seguros was the only company that sold and certified coverage that would begin at a future date.

The DKV policy does not include the required repatriation coverage, so we purchased a 12-month travel insurance policy that includes coverage for repatriation of remains as well as the usual stuff.

Use the Forms Provided by the Consulate

On the website for the Consulate of Spain in San Francisco, I expected the visa forms and information about how to apply to be located under the “Information for Foreigners” tab. But that’s not where they are. I found all the information I needed under the “Consular Services in San Francisco” tab as illustrated in the screen capture, below.

There are three official forms provided online. We download the pdfs, filled them out and then printed them. I had a little trouble with the formatting in some of the form fields but it appears there are new, reformatted pdfs on the consulate website now.

Don’t forget to sign and date the printed forms as required.

Finger Printing and Background Check

Based on the many comments I’ve read about the cost and inconvenience of getting an FBI background clearance and then the need to get a U.S. State Department Apostille, we chose to take care of the criminal background check close to home.

We lived in Salem, Oregon’s state capitol, so our process was pretty easy. We visited the State Police office a few miles from our home for the fingerprinting and and background check request. It took less than a half hour. They offered extra copies of the fingerprint cards and while we took only one extra, we would recommend taking two extra copies. We know we will need them to renew our visas.

Our background check reports came back a few days later stapled to the fingerprint cards and ready for the Oregon Apostille.

If you have lived in more than one state in the past five years, you might have to go the national (FBI) route.

The Apostille Certifications

Apostilles are required on the criminal background check, marriage and birth certificates. I didn’t know what an Apostille certification was when I first started investigating the documentation requirements for a non-lucrative residence visa. According to Wikipedia, an Apostille is an international certification comparable to a notarization in domestic law. It essentially supplements a local notarization of the document.

In the United States, the Secretary of State of each state and his or her deputies are authorized to affix an Apostille to documents issued or certified by an officer recognized by the state. When I got Apostilles for our marriage certificate and criminal background checks, they checked the notary signatures and seals against their database.

For anything that needed an Apostille , we got the Apostille before the translation. Our translator also translated the Apostille certificate, although I later learned that translating the Apostille may not be necessary.

Proof of Income

To document proof of income, I downloaded the benefit letter from my Social Security account and one-page balance statements from each of our IRAs. I also included the following sentence in our personal statement:

“We will use James’ Social Security payment and withdrawals from our retirement accounts for our living expenses in Valencia. “

The financial statements were translated, of course.

Medical Certificate of Good Health

We used the handy Word document on the consulate website that you can send or bring to your physician.

Just make sure yours is printed on the physician’s letterhead. Our doctor’s assistant used a couple of clinic stamps and our medical record labels to “official it up.” Alba laughed when she saw that, but added, ”We like stamps…”

NOTICE:  One of our readers who applied for her visa in July 2018 reports that the physician who signs your Medical Certificate of Good Health, must include M.D. (or the equivalent) as part of his or her signature.

Use Professionally Done Passport Photos

We thought about doing the photos ourselves but when I started reading about how often DYI photos are rejected by different consulates, we decided to play it safe and use our local AAA office.

Our AAA source photos were accepted instantly. Alba told us that bad photos were one of the top reasons she had to reject applications. And it’s not something you can fix on the spot. Apparently not everyone interprets a plain, white background the same. Then there’s the issue of shadows, sizing, framing proportions, and expressions. We suggest you get your passport photos done professionally. It’s a whole lot cheaper than an additional trip to the consulate.

Assemble the Originals and ONE Copy of Everything

Stack all your original visa application materials in one pile, and make sure you have one copy of everything – including your passport. Copies of a couple of documents were returned to us, but we suggest following the guidelines to the letter and make one copy of every original.

If you forget to copy something don’t worry, there is a copy shop just across the street from the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco.

Bring Cash or a Money Order

We were amazed at how many people in the waiting area with us thought they could pay with a card. The consulate will only take cash or money order and they tell you so on their website.

We paid for our visa application with cash. We knew the visa was $140 and the processing fee was $11, so I prepared an envelope with $151 for each of us. And I took extra cash just in case. Fortunately, we didn’t need it.

We’re Headed to Valencia

Exactly 30 days after we applied for our Spanish non-lucrative residence visas we scheduled a day-trip to collect the visados from the consulate. As I write this we are just a week away from flying to Spain with our family of four cats and a dog.

Stay tuned for word on how we manage the actual move to Valencia.  

Please Share this Post Gentle Reader

Jamie Wyant is a retired American living in Spain.  After a multifaceted career ranging from ecosystem science to digital marketing, he moved to Valencia in 2017 with his wife, Susan,  and their senior pets.   He writes about the joys and tribulations of living overseas.  Jamie also manages the technical aspects of GentleCycle.net

Comments

  1. Hi,
    I am planning to apply for a non lucrative visa through the Spanish consulate in San Francisco. I am concerned about the financial documents the consulate requires. I have been told by a couple of people that the consulate is requiring the documents be notarized by the financial institution that handles our accounts. I contacted my 401k provider and was told that they “don’t do that”. The Spanish consulate’s website does not mention this requirement but I am afraid to take a chance on having my visa application denied. Have you heard of anyone else having this issue? If so, any recommendations on how to accomplish the requirement.
    Thank you.
    Chloe

    1. Author

      Hi Chloe,
      We had the same problem with our visa renewal. Almost all of our financial resources are held by one of the big financial groups and they too told us they don’t do certified or notarized statements. We ended up using a printed copy of a recent statement with a notarized translation. That worked for us.

      Although there seem to have been more denied visas recently, every one that I have heard of has been because of insufficient documented assets. The change seems to be that it is now necessary to demonstrate sufficient financial reserves for the period of the visa rather than showing potential income. I haven’t heard of anyone being denied a visa or renewal because of Vanguard or Charles Schwabe or Chase doesn’t notarize their statements. You might want to add a notarized letter that you write that explains why your brokerage account statement isn’t notarized.

      After all, we know that the consulates know that the big institutions won’t notarize. Some folks might need certification to cover credit union or local, and thus unfamiliar, statements. Banks in Spain stamp and signs your statement as a matter of course if you pick it up at the branch office.

      You might also try contacting the consulate by email, though they are notoriously unresponsive you might get lucky.

      I woldn’t worry. If you are eligible for a visa, you won’t be denied because of a paper work glitch. The consulate will give you an opportunity to correct any mistakes you make. They really are nice people, once you get past reception.

      Good luck with you application,
      Jamie

  2. Hi!

    We also live in Salem, OR and we have our visa appointments next week and all we have left is to translate them by a sworn translator! I have reached out to Maria and she has been helping me, however, she says she has to mail them from Spain. Will the consulate accept faxed or emailed translations? Also can I use someone in Salem to Translate these papers as we are on a time crunch! Thanks so much for you time!

    1. Author

      Hi Samantha,
      The SF consulate will require original documents. They look for the original stamps and signatures.
      I am sorry but I don’t know any certified Spanish translation services in Salem.

      I think DSL or FedEx might be able to get the documents to you on time. I would look into it at least.
      Sorry I can’t be of more help.

      Good luck,
      Jamie

    2. Hi Samantha,
      My suggestion may be too late but might help others. On the website for the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco, there is a document that has approved translators. If you search the web for, Listado actualizado de T-IJ.pdf, and go to page 612 of the document, you’ll see a list of approved Spanish/English translators that are in the USA. Just yesterday I contacted three of them, and they replied back right away, ready to do my translations. Hope this helps.

      And, Jamie, thank you for the wonderful blog. Our appt is in January, and your info has been very helpful.

      Best wishes,
      Lisa

      1. Author

        Hi Lisa,
        Thanks for your comments and the useful information!
        Cheers,
        Jamie

  3. Hi Jamie,

    First of all, THANK YOU for this amazing and fabulous site! All the information you share here is so helpful it’s priceless–thank you for providing this labor of love.

    My husband and I are also retired and moving to Valencia on Jan 1, 2019 (literally that day; we have our flights ticketed). We were there for 10 days in early September and again the first 10 days of October, having checked out and decided against Porto and Berlin in between. But I have the sense that we’ve done some things out of order, although I don’t think it’s hurt anything.

    Specifically, we have already signed a commitment / reservation letter for a beautiful flat in the City of Arts and Sciences; we’ll be signing the lease (over email) at the end of this month. (We were lucky and found a great real-estate agent who speaks English and has been immensely helpful.) We’ve also opened a bank account in Valencia and wired enough money to cover the deposit and at least the first month’s rent. Finally, on the bank’s recommendation, we’ve also signed up for health insurance with DKV Seguros.

    Now, the hard part–and my questions! We’re back in Boston and have to apply for the non-lucrative visa. I’ve gone to the Spanish Consulate website for Boston (http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Consulados/BOSTON/en/ServiciosConsulares/ConsularServicesBoston/Pages/Visas.aspx) and downloaded the National Visa Application form and a supplemental application form. But what I’m unclear about is whether we need to have the appointment at the Consulate BEFORE completing the forms or AFTER they’re all properly filled out and notarized. Can you shed any light on that?

    Second question, do you know who are the officially approved translators? I can’t find any information on this on the Consular website.

    Third question, and this may seem silly given all the other expenses involved, but did you have to pay the State Police for your criminal background check and fingerprinting? What about the Apostille certification from the Secretary of State?

    Finally, I thought that the NIE would be assigned as part of the visa application process, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Can we apply for the NIE from the States or do we have to go to a specific Police station in Valencia after we arrive in January?

    Thank you VERY MUCH in advance!!
    Marlene

    1. Author

      Hi Marlene,

      Thanks for your kind compliments about GentleCycle. Susan and I are always glad to hear that it has helped folks.
      You know, I’m not sure there is an especially correct order to doing things in preparation for hopping across the Atlantic. Now that you have your lease squared away, you will be able to focus on getting the visa application process right. Now to your questions:

      Here’s a point by point summary of the visa application timing. The information I am sharing was current a few months ago, but as always I recommend you double-check my memory.

      • All the documents that you present at the consulate must be dated within three months of your appointment date. That means you have to procure things like background checks and financial documentation and then get them notarized and translated and apostilled and returned to you within that three-month window. For example, we couldn’t get our first choice for the visa application appointment. We wanted a May appointment and couldn’t get in until the end of June. We ended up repeating the criminal background check process because it was out of date.
      • After your visa application appointment, provided all goes well, within a couple to a few weeks you can expect to receive a confirmation letter or email. The SF consulate asked us to show up with confirmed flight information. They then used our arrival date in Spain as the beginning date of another 90 day countdown.
      • The 90 day visa affixed to your passport has you NIE number.
      • Once you arrive, you will have those 90 days to register with the community, and then go to the national police to be fingerprinted and apply for your resident identity card. Many people confuse “getting their NIE” with obtaining their national identity card. The NIE is a number similar to our Social Security number and is used on all sorts of documents, bank accounts, mobile phone contracts, etc.
      • In order to get your national identity card (which extends your residence visa to the full year), there are really two steps you will take. The first is to register for the padrón with the city (Ayuntamient). In Valencia, we needed to make an appointment online and then show up at your appointment time with your original lease and a copy of all pages of the lease, your passport(s) with photocopies of the visa page and front photo page. At that appointment, you will receive a letter confirming that you have registered. The padrón letter is useful for opening bank accounts, mobile phone accounts, etc. until you get your residence card.

      Getting your residence card here in Valencia requires a couple of trips to a particular Policia Nacional station. The first trip includes:

      • I think it can be difficult, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. That’s why Susan and I hired a local relocation expert to help us. And for us, it was money well spent. If you are trying to do it on your own, you might find this article about the registration card process in BARCELONA useful.
      • Two or three weeks after your first visit to the police, you can return to pick up your national id card which will expire when your initial 12 month residence visa expires. Then, ten months later, you’ll start the whole Spain-side process over for the two-year renewal.

      For the visa application, the greatest logistic difficulty seems to be getting all the documents together AND translated within the three-month window the consulates require. That’s why I just started advising people to find and arrange for the services of a certified translation service as their first task (or at least a very early step) in the visa application process. I thought it was just us who had a hard time trying to find a translator. But it seems almost everyone faces the same problem. Because we didn’t know Spain at all, we were reluctant to pick someone at random, especially with some of the confidential information we needed to have translated. Now that we know a little more about how thinks work I feel confident in recommending Spanish translators here in Spain. We did not use Maria, but she comes highly recommended. She specializes, so to speak, in American and Canadian visa applications.
      María del Mar Castellano Sonera

      I hope this clears up some of your questions. Good luck on a successful move to Valencia. It’s a very nice city.
      Regards,
      Jamie

      1. Hi Jamie,

        Thanks so much for your detailed responses! We’ve made some progress since I posted my questions here–i.e., completed our criminal background checks and contacted Maria for the translation. Now I’m working on getting the originals notarized and authenticated with the Apostille certification. Maria told us something that was a surprise–that different consulates have different requirements! In any case, now we are just battling the clock… trying to get an appointment at the Consulate in Boston is quite a challenge. But we’re undeterred! We agree with you: Valencia is a very nice city; that’s why we’re moving there!

        Hope we’ll have a chance to meet in person after we get there in January.

        Best,
        Marlene

      2. Author

        Hello Marlene,
        Good to hear of your progress. We just finished up the renewal/2 yr extension of our visas this afternoon. After you get to Spain, long waits for appointment times will continue to plague you. But each iteration seems to be a little easier. Good luck with the visas and please do get in touch once you get settled in. We’d be delighted to meet you.

        Jamie

  4. Hi there, I am going through the process now. I live in Hawaii and just returned from my appointment. I will have to go back to pick up my passport and visa once it’s appoved. Wish I would have found this site before going through the process. I paid an attorney to help with the paperwork and translate so it did take some of the worry away. One thing I can’t find a lot of info on is what happens after the visa is approved? I keep seeing I have to present a lease but I’m wondering how easy is it to lease a place when you arrive with just the non lucrative visa? My plan was to go in November spend 2 months scouting where i want to live and then renting a place. I was hoping to do the police station portion during that time but not sure it’s possible. Do you know of any resources that can guide me through the process? I’m willing to hire a relocation expert to help make it easier, any ideas?

    1. Author

      Hi Matthew,
      I’m sorry you didn’t find us before you hired an attorney too. When you receive your visa approval notification, you will be asked for a firm (i.e. ticketed) travel date. When you return to get your residence visa, the visa in your passport is for a period of three months and is dated from your ticketed arrival date.

      Once you arrive, you will have those three months to open a bank account, find and lease a residence, register with the community, and then go to the national police to be fingerprinted and apply for your resident identity card. Two or three weeks after that, you can return to pick up your id card that will expire when your initial 12 month residence visa expires. Nine or ten months later, you’ll start the whole Spain-side process over for the two year renewal.

      We did not have any trouble leasing a place with our non-lucrative visa. However, your first time through the unregulated Spanish rental market can be confusing. I heartly recommend Linda Svilane of Moving to Valencia she helped us settle in and continues to be helpful with health insurance and visa renewals. You can contact her and request a quote through her website. If you decide to make use of her services, I suggest you make arrangements early, she and her team are booked well in advance.

      Best of luck with the visa and let us know if you have any other questions.

  5. Hi Jamie,

    Would you mind sharing the contact information for the consultant you hired in Valencia to help with the steps to complete your visa process, TIE card ect.? We are coming to Valencia in November for three months. Then, will be returning to Oregon in order to apply for NL visas. Had a few roadblocks along the way. Anything you or Susan are craving from Oregon?

    As always,

    A great big THANK YOU

    Sandra & Jerry I

    1. Author

      Hi Sandra,
      Linda Svilane of Moving to Valencia helped us settle in and continues to be helpful with health insurance and visa renewals. You can contact her and request a quote through her website. If you decide to make use of her services, I suggest you make arrangements early, she and her team are booked well in advance.

      You are wise to come over for three months. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the various neighborhoods and streets and find one that will suit your particular needs.

      We are getting used to things over here and don’t miss much from Oregon aside from long walks at the Coast, butthanks for your kind offer. Let us know when you get here, we can have lunch or coffee.
      Warm regards

  6. As so many others have commented, you’ve done a great service with all the information you’ve provided on your site. If you don’t mind, I’d also love to know who you used for translation. We’ll be applying through the Boston consulate, but I’m not sure that really makes a difference. I have tried to contact the two sworn translators who live in the area served by our consulate, without success.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Author

      Hi Jim,
      We did not use Maria, but she comes highly recommended. She specializes, so to speak, in American and Canadian visa applications.
      María del Mar Castellano Sonera

      Thanks for the kind comments and good luck with the visa application.

    2. Hi Jim,

      My husband and I are also starting to apply for the non-lucrative residence visa through the Boston consulate. Can you let us know the name of the translator who ended up helping you? Also, did you make the appointment with the consulate BEFORE or AFTER you completed all the forms, etc.? And did you go through the MA State Police to obtain the iCORI report?

      Thanks for any advice!!
      Marlene

      1. Marlene,

        Sorry for the slow reply. We ended up choosing another translator we found in the foreign ministry’s list of sworn translators (http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/ServiciosAlCiudadano/Documents/Listado%20actualizado.pdf). His name is Pedro Bujalance. He’s not based in the Boston area, so he brings no particular expertise in what the Boston Consulate requires. We’ve so far only had him translate our marriage certificate, which he did a nice job with.

        Our intention is to get all the forms and other materials together before making our appointment next summer. Our plan is to make the move to Valencia in early October next year, so we can avoid any weather-related issues in flying our dogs over with us. So, it’s early days for us at this point. Also we live in Vermont. It turns out that the Vermont authorities don’t do finger print-based police record checks, so we’re going to use the FBI, even though the Boston consulate doesn’t specifically mention this requirement. Better safe than sorry. And if you sign up for the FBI check via email, they can actually turn around a records check in a reasonable period, as opposed to using the postal service, which evidently takes many weeks. Here’s a link to the page that describes the email service: https://www.edo.cjis.gov.

        Best of luck with your application!

  7. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Let the releasing of objects begin!

  8. Hello! We are in Portland, Oregon. Thank you for this great resource you’ve put together.
    Did you have a good experience shipping your things to Spain? We have a few pieces of furniture and personal items we plan to take but expect to purchase the bulk of household items there. Do you have a shipping company you’d recommend?

  9. Hi Jamie!

    This website is a godsend – thank you for putting it together – AND maintaining it!

    We live in San Francisco and have experienced lovely Alba when we applied for our NIE’s earlier this year. We are planning to move to Alicante, so we won’t be far away from where you and Susan are.

    Would you mind sharing the contact information for your translator?

    Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Russ,
      Thanks for the strokes. It’s nice to know when we’re helping. I agree, Alba is a lovely person with a difficult job.

      I misplaced out translator’s contact information and will have to dig around a bit. Meanwhile, I’ve asked other readers for their recommendation. Keep an eye on your email inbox.

      We haven’t been to Alicante yet, but there are several cycle routes that originate there and a trip south is on our radar.

      Cheers.
      Jamie

  10. Thank you for this post (and everyone’s comments)!

    I spent several months in Valencia last year and loved it! In fact, I walked from Valencia to Santiago (Camino de Levante) last March. In Valencia, I stayed in Rustafa area and everyday, walked the river park which goes through the city. The only challenge I had with Valencia is I found some of the Spaniards a little more stand-offish than I have been use to throughout Spain. It may just be a big-city/tourist thing. I am actually interested in Dania, which is two hours south of Valencia.

    Question 1: Given there are a number of documents needed for the application, how is the question of “vintage” handled? For example, how many months away from the scheduled interview date can I get my “apostille background check” and “doctor’s note of health” yet both still be considered good by the Spaniards?

    Question 2: As to Repatriation, could you give the name of the traveler’s insurance you bought? was it for the entire year? Also, if you have to have the Repatriation and Medical insurance purchased beforehand, how do you know what dates to purchase it for, yet have no idea when/if you will be approved by the Spaniards?

    Thanks in advance!

    Matt

    1. Author

      Hi Matt,
      We don’t spend much time in Russafa so I’m not sure why you found Valencianos stand-offish. We have found folks here to be warm, welcoming and generally willing to go out of their way to help. Russafa is the current hip neighborhood,so I imagine the neighbors are just tired of the hub bub.

      All of your documents, have to be dated within three months of your visa application appointment.

      We purchase an annual Voyager travel insurance policy on travelinsure.com. And we purchased our health insurance from Ángel Girón Descalzo (www.mesagseguros.com/). Ángel was able to sell us a package that did not begin until the month we arrived. Some companies will sell you a policy with the promise of a refund if your visa is not approved. I don’t who or whether their promises are reliable.

      I will be updating the SF visa application page fairly soon with information other GentleCycle readers have provided after their recent applications. So check back in a week or so.

  11. Hi Jamie,

    Thank you so much for the information you posted here. It helped me tremendously. I am from Seattle and applied through the SF Consulate and was approved for a Non-Lucrative Visa! I am now sitting in my beautiful apartment in Barcelona trying to follow through on the next steps. Did you make a blog about what you did after you arrived in Spain? I know I need to go to the police station with my passport and visa in order to obtain my residency card. I am struggling with this process because I don’t know where to go to make my appointment. In addition, I read that there was supposed to be an NIE approval letter that was to accompany my visa and passport, which I should have received from the SF Consulate. I did not receive a letter. Do you have any insight on this?

    Thank you for your help!

    1. Author

      Hi Eric,
      I have not written about how we completed the registration process, but I probably should. There are really two steps you need to take. The first is to register for the padrón with the city (Ayuntamient). We just revised our padróns because we change residences. In Valencia, we needed to make an appointment online and then show up at our appointment time with our original lease and a copy of all pages of the lease, and our residence cards and copies (front and back). Since you don’t have a residence card yet, you’ll need your passport(s) with photocopies of the visa page and front photo page. I think the padrón confirmation letter is the one you refer to. We didn’t get a letter from the SF consulate. The padrón is useful for opening bank accounts,mobile phone accounts, etc. until you get your residence card.

      Getting the residence card is difficult, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. That’s why Susan and I hired a local relocation expert to help us. And for us, it was money well spent. If you are trying to do it on your own, you might find this article about theregistration card process in BARCELONA useful.

      Sorry I don’t have better information at this time.
      Good luck!

  12. Hi , Thank you for this info! I’m moving to Valencia to teach at an International school so I’m excited to find your blog 🙂 My criminal background check requires translation an an Appostille stamp. The first two pages of the document in English state my good standing. The other pages are a description of what was done. Did you have every page translated or just the first two? Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Emily,
      Our background check from the Oregon State Police was only a single page statement. I think the consulate will accept your statement of good standing without the procedure explanation.
      Good luck.

  13. I need Non Lucrative immigration Spain visa with family. I am from Pakistan

    1. Author

      I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about the Spanish government’s visa requirements for Pakistan citizens. You might begin your research on the Schengen Visa info page. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

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  15. Hello! My husband and I recently moved from Vancouver, WA to Oviedo, Spain. We were confused and mystified by the non-lucrative visa process until we found your blog post and followed it to the letter. We received our visado approval 15 days later! We are now enjoying our third week here in Spain and (hopefully) wrapping up the remaining steps to getting our identification cards etc.

    When we met with Alba at the San Francisco Consulate, she said that we could leave our passports with her and that she would mail the passports and visas to the Spanish Consul in Seattle so that we could pick them up there rather than fly back down to San Francisco. While this made us pretty nervous, it worked out perfectly and we picked up our passports and visas with no problems.

    We would like to thank you so much for your kindness in providing this information to complete strangers! We are excited about our new life in Spain and wish you the very best with your adventure as well. Un cordial saludo (as they say here!), Margery

    1. Author

      Hello Margery,
      Thank you for your comment. Susan and I haven’t made our way to Asturias yet, but it looks lovely and green and we’ll make our way there eventually. I happy we could play a small part in your successful move to Spain. And thank you for the update on the SF consulate pick up policy.
      Saludos

    2. Hi MLeroux,
      I’m curious about Alma’s offer to send your passports and visas to the Seattle consulate. I’m in Seattle and obviously would love not to have to fly to San Francisco a second time to pick up the visas. When you met with Alma, did you have your flight ticket already? Or did you just give her the date you intended to leave for Spain? Thanks for your help with this.
      Lisa

  16. Hi Jamie
    Our trip to Miami went well and we should have our visas in the next three weeks or so. The Apostille did not require a translation and they will be mailing our visas to us via USPS Express Mail once they come in. This was the best news of all for us as we were not looking forward to that drive again. We found the staff in the consulate very nice and helpful as well. I wanted to pass this along to help others as they also consider this grand adventure.

    1. Author

      Hi Blake,
      Thanks for the update. I’m happy to hear all went well.
      Jamie

  17. Jamie, what a great resource this is! We are moving to Torromolinos in late August and traveling to Miami next week to apply for our visas.

    The only open question we currently have is if the actual Appostille for certain documents also requires a certified translation as well.

    1. Author

      Hi Blake,
      Thanks for your compliments.

      We had the same question regarding translation of the Appostille cover document. Some folks say translation isn’t required, some say it is. My guess was that it is an international document and should not require translation. Then we went ahead and had it translated just to be safe. I figured the few dollars we spent would be cheaper than an additional trip to San Francisco.

      If I had know this blog post was going to be so helpful to so many people, I would have asked for clarification when we applied. If you figure out the answer, maybe you’d be kind enough to come back and post a reply here.

      Anyway, good luck in Miami and enjoy the sun in Torromolinos come August.

  18. Thank you for all the great information you’ve provided! My husband and I are also in the process and have our appointment in SF next month. I’m trying to find a translator now, would you mind sharing yours? Thanks in advance!

    1. Author

      Hi Tracey,
      I’m happy you found our post helpful. I will send our translator’s particulars along under separate cover. Good luck with your applications,

      1. Hello Jamie,

        Can you recommend a couple of Certified English to Spanish translators in the San Jose/Fremont/South Bay areas that have experience working with Residence Visa applications for Spain, & are familiar to the San Francisco Spanish Consulate?
        Thank you!!

      2. Author

        Hi Brenda,
        Sorry, I don’t know any Spanish translators in California.

      3. Hi, Jamie,

        Could you share your translator’s name with us as well? We’re in Portland, Oregon and have our appointment in San Francisco on August 20, so we’re getting nervous. And THANK YOU for this wonderful site. It’s incredibly helpful.

      4. Author

        Hi Victoria,

        Thanks for the compliment. Check your email and good luck on the 20th.
        Jamie

  19. Hi Jamie –

    We are also applying for a non-lucrative Visa thru the San Francisco Consulate. Like you, our medical insurance does not cover repatriation. A few questions:

    – We saw the link to the travel insurance you took. Did the consulate end up requesting to see repatriation coverage?
    – Did the insurance company provide you with an insurance certificate? Was it for each person? Did you have to translate those to show it covered repatriation insurance?

    1. Author

      Hi Ed,
      The SF consulate did require and examine the repatriation coverage documentation the travel insurance company provided which we had translated along with all of the other documentation. It was a single document for the family but we included a copy in each of our applications.

      1. Hi Jamie —

        Thanks for the response . Extremely helpful! A quick follow-up question. I went with the same travel insurance company you recommended and got the automatic documents, (a) Confirmation of Insurance and (b) a lengthy Description of Coverage. Based on your previous response, I assume that you only translated the Confirmation of Insurance (the one page with the summary of amounts covered, duration + insured names). Can you confirm that this was all you translated and used for the visa application? (I want to make sure I get this completely right with the SF Consulate!)

        Thanks so much!

      2. Hello Jamie:

        Great site! But just for further clarification, exactly how much of your insurance coverage documentation did you need to have translated? For my Schengen Visa insurance policy, I have both a one-page summary and a 37-page contract. I assume you had something similar. Did you translate only the one-page summary or the entire 37-page contract?

      3. Author

        Hi Christine,
        We had a one page summary of our health coverage from our Spanish insurance company and that was all we provided, along with the two page summary of our travel insurance policy that covered repatriation.
        Good luck
        Jamie

  20. Hello!

    I noticied that consulates accept a cashiers check (certified check) as proof of suficient funds for your time in Spain. My question is: I dont have those funds available, but I have a wealthy relative who is willing to let me borrow the money for deposit into my account and produce a certified check. Would this be acceptable?

    The idea is to use the check to get my non lucrative visa approved, then return the money to my relative a few months later. I assume this is okay, since nothing is mentioned about having the money in my account AFTER my visa gets approved.

    1. Author

      Sorry, I can’t help you with this one. I’m pretty sure you’ll need to show evidence of sufficient funds on deposit for at least a year. Besides that, if you don’t have sufficient funds to qualify for a non-lucrative visa, how do you expect to pay your living expenses? You won’t be permitted to work.

      If you have a super idea for making money while living in Spain,there are other visa options that may be a better fit to your situation.

      Good luck

  21. Hello Jamie,

    I’m currently in the process of preparing my non-lucrative visa application to work remotely in Spain for a company. I have a salary that passes the required threshold but not adequate savings for the moment. I am considering asking my company to advance my complete years’ paycheck and then have me reimburse it in order for me to show an adequate amount of money in my checking account. I have heard of this type of thing being done before for relocation-related expenses. Any advice would be great.

    1. Author

      Hi Lo,
      I don’t have any firsthand experience with a situation like yours. My understanding is that if you can demonstrate adequate income from a non-Spanish source, you should have no trouble with the non-lucrative visa. A letter from your employer and a few “check stubs” should do it.

      Yours is a good question to bring up with the Facebook GroupSpainGuru. There are many folks who have a wider range of experience who contribute there.

  22. Hi Jamie,

    Hope all is going well in Valencia. Our consultants have told us that on a non lucrative visa you pay no taxes on income from outside of Spain. Has this been your experience. I have been reading a lot of comments on Spainguru to the contrary.

    Thank you

    Sandra I

    1. Author

      Hi Sandra,
      We have finally finished our move. It took much more out of us than we anticipated. I’ll be getting back to writing on the blog soon.

      Regarding income tax in Spain. I believe that your consultants are mistaken. Spain, like the U.S., imposes a tax on worldwide income. However, there are agreements in place between the two countries to avoid double taxation. On the other hand, dealing with two country’s tax codes can be tough. For example, we know a person who did not realize that Spain would tax the capital gains on the sale of her house in the States, which she sold after she became a Spanish resident.

      I think that if your financial dealings are at all complicated you should consult a Spanish tax expert. Of course, I am not that person.

      I’m working on that post about banking and finances that I promised a while back too.

  23. Hi Jamie,
    We need something translated ASAP and our certified translator in San Leandro (SF Eastbay) is out of town. Can u recommend yours?
    Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Jes,
      We have a blog post on the EU Health Certificate process available here. Once we arrived in Spain, we took some time identifying a veterinarian we trusted. That was the only difficult step. Our vet was familiar with the pet passport process and created it as part of Lizzie’s initial visit.

      We brought all of the paperwork we needed for transporting our pets into the EU and that completed the paper trail Inma needed to fill in the pet passport. And, of course, we brought Lizzie’s passport to be updated when she needed her rabies booster.

      I think almost every vet in the EU will be able to do the same. Aside from finding a veterinarian, I wouldn’t worry about the pet passport. It was easy.

  24. Hi Jamie,

    My husband, son and I have our appointment with the Spain consulate on June 5th.

    We are hoping to leave in august…

    My husband his fluent in Spanish, would you mind sharing the Email for your insurance contact.

    Also just curious about how you ended up in Valancia? We are currently thinking about Valancia or Malaga.

    This is the list of our needs that we came up with to find the right place…

    Close to an airport (Russ will have to come back to the US every 6 weeks)
    English/Spanish private school for our Son Nico, he is 9
    Tennis Club (the 3 of us play)
    Mild climate

    Any suggestions would be appreciate it!

    1. Author

      Hi Anne,
      Thanks for reading our blog. I will ask Ángel for permission to share his contact information.

      Susan and I chose Valencia for several reasons. We had friends in the community and up in Catalunya who were willing to help us adjust to Spanish culture. As it turns out, nearly every Valenciano we have encountered has been willing to help us, which is very nice indeed. Valencia is one of the more bicycle-friendly cities in southern Europe. It is compact and incredibly walkable. The public transportation system is inexpensive and well developed. Not too many people speak English, which helps us with our goal of acquiring passable Spanish language skills. Sort of do or die, but really there is almost always someone around to pitch in and help if you really need translation help. Airport and rail connections are good, the weather is almost mild.

      I can’t help you at all with Malaga, aside from my totally biased impression (based solely on reputation) that the English community on the Costa del Sol are an insular lot, little interested in being part of Spain.

      We don’t have children, but we know folks who do and there seems to be a several private school options. But you might want to ask on the closed Facebook group Americans Living in Valencia Heather is the admin and she’s nice.

      We aren’t tennis players either, I know there is a Meetup for non-beginner tennis players. You might ask on the Facebook group about tennis too.

      Good luck with your visa application. Let us know how it goes.

  25. Thank you Jamie and Susan for your outstanding work with this blog. My wife, daughter and I are planning to relocate to Valencia on a non lucrative residence visa. We are however a tad concerned about the letter of intent/purpose interms of what to include and what not to. From past experience, we know that a visa can be denied based on the contents of the letter. Our dilemma is that we currently have an online retail and wholesale business and we manufacture our products in Almansa, Spain and are wondering whether to include that in the letter or not. Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi David,
      I’m sorry, I do not have firsthand experience with anything like your situation, so my advice is nearly worthless. That said, I try to error on the side of openness and imagine that by having an existing relationship in Spain your visa application will be seen in a better light.

      I think you should consult the community that’s developed at the Facebook GroupSpainGuru. There are so many people sharing their experience there that is is sometimes difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, but for your question I think the effort might be worth your while. If worse come to worst, you might also consult a Spanish immigration lawyer.

      Thanks for reading our blog and I am sorry I could not provide better advice.

  26. Hi Jamie,

    We have almost all of our documents assembled now. Thanks to you, we will be picking up our Oregon State background check tomorrow. A question about the translation process. So far I have only had a response from translators in Spain. Did you have scanned copies translated and certified, or did you have to send your originals to have the seal affixed?

    Thanks again,

    Sandra I

    1. Author

      Hi Sandra,

      We sent pdf copies by email for the translation and our translator sent hard copies back.
      Glad your moving along on schedule.

  27. To the respondent about insurance- Do you have an health insurance agent in Mallorca?

    Thanks!!

  28. Our visa appointment is tomorrow in San Francisco. Just packaged everything together. We went with Sanitas Mas Salud health plan which I’m told is suitable for the visa, however our Spanish letter of coverage does not say zero deductible on it. I’ve read via a recent YELP review that the SF visa requests this is mentioned specifically in that letter (to anyone reading here). Fingers crossed we get this detail in time.

    Hoping we get to meet Alba.

    1. Author

      Hi Sandra,

      Our translator was recommended by someone who had gone through the visa application process in SF.

    2. Hi Jamie.

      I stumbled across your website this morning while searching for agencies to assist with my Spanish application process. I have to admit it seems overwhelming but I have come to the conclusion I have to just get started. In my case I’m looking for something longer term than one year. Why did you go with a lucrative visa vs. a retirement visa?

      I find your information very informative. Did you ever seek assistance from visa professionals or simply go with it on your own?

      1. Author

        Hi Bill,

        I’m glad you found us. I agree, the visa application process seems intimidating at first, but really, it isn’t that bad. You just have to keep organized and make sure everything get done on time, but not too soon. Unless you are hopelessly disorganized, I think you might save your money and manage the process on your own. We did.

        We selected a non-lucrative visa because the only difference is the matter of demonstrating sufficient periodic income in the case of the retirement visa and sufficient financial resources in the case of the non-lucrative option. We haven’t started taking our social security benefit yet, so we don’t have periodic income.

        You will find that you can only apply for a single year visa, regardless. After one year, you can apply for a two-year extension, then a three year extension and after that you can apply for permanent residency no matter what kind of visa you get.

        Good luck in your visa application process. And keep in touch.

  29. Hi! I just wanted to thank you SO much. This morning I had my appointment with the consulate. You were always so fast to answer my questions, and your detailed blog was truly a lifesaver. It all went well; Alba did not send me away or ask for more documentation. So now I wait. I hope to be back in Madrid by the end of June!

    1. Author

      That’s great Karen. Thanks for the feedback. A couple of weeks of waiting isn’t too bad. Time to start planning what to pack. 😉

      1. Thankfully, half of my stuff is already in Madrid. But I have a list including a huge bottle of crushed red peppers. 😉

        I keep hoping I will hear back within a months’ time like you did!

        Thanks again. Really, your blog was pretty much the most helpful resource for going through SF!

  30. Thank you for sharing all this info.
    I am applying for a non-lucrative visa for the family. We have an appointment with the consulate on May 15th. The only big hurdle we still have is the health insurance. I contacted DKV insurance . I received a quote but I can only get insurance through year end. Our plan is to stay till the end of June 2019. So i am worried that this will not meet the requirements. How did you get an insurance covering a year ?

    Can you give me a little more info. What forms did they request ? I received today a form to be filled in. The 3rd question worries me : ” Have you ever been, or about to be, admitted to the hospital”. I have to admit that I had a stay in the hospital 10 years ago… If I answer correctly , will they reject me ?

    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hello Kaat,
      Preexisting conditions are taken into consideration by Spanish health insurance providers. I had been hospitalized before we applied, but because there are no on-going concerns, it did not present a problem. In fact, we went through an additional interview covering everything in our medical histories (well my medical history, Susan hasn’t hand any problems). At the end our agent told us that most Spaniards would simple lie about most of the issues I disclosed.

      To be honest, I do not remember exactly what forms we filled out, they were rather simple. We’ve changed to a group policy meanwhile, and did not save copies.

      You are right, your health insurance coverage must be for the full year. Our insurance agent here in Valencia arranged the insurance to begin the day we arrived and cover the duration of our visa. And he got the proof of coverage letter for us. If you are coming to Valencia, I can share his contact info. Ángel does not speak English though. Or you might try contacting an agent where you intend to live.

      Everything in business is more personal here than in the U.S. Getting to know people like insurance agents is important.

      Good luck with your application…

    2. Thank you. Here is my last request.

      Can you give me the contact and e-mail address of the agent in Valencia. My agent in Majorca would love to talk to her.- Kaat

  31. Hi Jamie,

    Any suggestions regarding banking. We will have our Soc Sec checks along with other income automatically deposited into our bank account here in the U.S. Trying to find information about the least expensive way to access those funds and/or have them transferred to a Spanish bank account. Thanks again for your fantastic blog, has answered so many questions for us.

    Sandra I

    1. Author

      Hi Sandra,
      Susan and I are in the process of moving to a new flat in Valencia and are finally feeling like we have enough experience under our belts to add to our advice posts. So, I’m finally working on a blog post about banking and transferring funds. I’ve experimented with a couple different options trying to balance parsimony and efficiency. We like to get things right. If you can, wait a couple weeks for the full treatment that will be great.

      1. Thank you Jamie. So many things swirling around in my head. I will wait patiently.

        Sandra

  32. Hi Jamie,

    My husband and I are in the process of applying for our non-lucrative visas for Spain. I have a question about the background checks. We live in Portland, Oregon and have for the past 12 years. My husband is a native and I have been here since 1988. So, it sounds like you did not have to go the FBI background check route? And also were able to get the Apostille from the State of Oregon? This would save us a lot of time and worry. Thank you for your blog. We are also moving (fingers crossed) to Valencia.

    Sandra

    1. Author

      Hello Sandra,
      I don’t recall the exact number of years for the background check, but five sticks in my mind, a single digit in any case, so you’ll be fine with the State Police background. We got our fingerprints and ordered the background check with one quick stop at the State Police Headquarters office on Kuebler Blvd, just off I-5. The Apostille was at an office just across the street from the state Capitol building on the mall. That was also a stop of less than an hour duration. I’d say the criminal background check was probably the easiest step in the whole process. So don’t worry, just a couple of trips to Salem.

      Check these State of Oregon links:
      Oregon Criminal Background Information
      How to Get an Oregon Apostille

      You might find the Facebook group “Americans Living in Valencia” useful. It’s a closed group but Heather who is the moderator, is nice.

      Good luck and see you when you get to Valencia.

  33. Hi to you both,
    Great advice and help. I will be moving June of 2019. For my income proof l was planning on using my inheritance that should be about 60-75k after l pay everything off. Would that qualify as adequate income? I plan on staying a year.
    Thank you guys so much. Your site and input is invaluable.
    I look forward to reading more from you guys!

    Heidi

    1. Author

      Hi Heidi,

      As I understand the requirements, I think you easily would be showing adequate financial resources for a one year stay. Good luck.

  34. Hi guys,

    Another question. My appt in SF is next week but I’m here in Spain getting a few thighs together. I’m trying to pay the Centro Gestor (form 790-052) but I can’t seem to pay it at the bank as I was advised. What did you do for this form? Just fill it out and pay at the consulate? Or did you pay online? Thanks in advance. You are always full of great info.

    1. Author

      Hi Karen,
      Bring the filled in form to your appointment at the consulate with the cash. They take care of it there.

  35. This is a great blog, super informative, as are some of the questions/comments/replies. My husband and I will be applying for Retirement Visas in the next few months. I’m a little concerned about being able to get health coverage. The Sanitas site listed ages 1-74. My husband is 79. Bot of us are in
    excellent health, no problems of any kind so we can easily get a great report from our docs. But he is aged out re: health insurance, if you know?
    By the way, I went through this student visa process for our daughter who attended school in Madrid for two years in 2012.

    1. Author

      Hello Pamela,
      I’m sorry I do not know about age limits on various Spanish health insurance plans. However, one option is to carry an international plan for your first year in Spain and then after one year of residency you can participate in the national health plan.

      Susan and I are in a group plan with other expats who used Moving to Valencia to help us successfully settle in. If you intend to live here in Valencia, you might contact Linda for other options. She’s a real problem solver.

      Good luck, and please let us know how things turn out. I will ask our insurance broker for advice too, but we depend on face to face communication. My Spanish and his English need the help of gestures and dictionaries.

      1. Jamie,

        I’m intrigued by the thought that it’s possible to participate in the national health plan after a year of residency. Can you provide a bit of detail on how that works?

        Also, my wife Madeline and I will be in Valencia for a couple of weeks beginning December 30. Perhaps we could meet for coffee if you’re available.

        Cheers,
        Jim

      2. Author

        Hi Jim,
        We haven’t taken advantage of the national health plan, so I don’t have first hand information. Our current private insurance is slightly less expensive than the public health plan, so for us it doesn’t make sense. The national parliament recently passed a bill that mandates access to the national health plan for all legal residents. But so far as I can tell, that idea has not been implemented.

        I’ll check around to see if I can come up with some useful information for you. We can talk about it when we meet up for coffee during your visit.

        Regards,
        Jamie

  36. Great post! This is incredibly helpful for us as we get ready for our appointment next month in San Francisco. We’re also applying for the non-lucrative option and hope to meet the financial requirements first through the money in 401K and IRA accounts while we finish selling our house here in Seattle. We stand to have more than enough to live for a few years given the minimum money cited to qualify, but additionally I plan on doing work for a few clients here in the U.S. while in Spain through my LLC.

    I’m working on the Letter of Purpose and was wondering what you thought about mentioning my business in the letter and in person when we discuss our plans as a source of income. I have a day job right now and only one client, but if we get this Visa, I’ll leave my job and pick up a few more. It’s been my side business for the last couple years and can consistently show about $20K gross with minimal time spent in day to day operations. The goal would be to replace current income through that business and work from Spain like a digital nomad. Will running an American based business from Spain set off any red flags in the Visa process?

    Any help or guidance is very much appreciated!

    1. Author

      Hi Dave,
      The non-lucrative visa, as you probably already know, allows you to earn income outside of Spain. There are plenty of folks working as digital nomads here in Valencia, so your plan seems reasonable. I personally know only EU citizens who are still working so cannot consult with them for you, as their situation is quite different. So I can’t really give you informed advice on whether to mention your LCC and related income.

      You will be paying income and “wealth” taxes in both Spain and the United States for every year you are a tax resident of Spain. Not cumulative, but the difference between what you pay in Spain and what you owe in the US and Washington. I think evidence that you will contribute to the Spanish economy will be a benefit rather than a red flag. But I don’t know as a certainty.

      Check with the Facebook Group Spain Immigration and Residency Questions – SpainGuru.es. Many people have asked similar questions.

      Good Luck and if you would be kind enough to share your experience after your application is approved, it might help others coming along behind you.

      1. Hi Jamie,

        Thanks for you quick response! I tried requesting access to that SpainGuru.es Facebook group weeks ago, but checked again today and it was still pending, so I just canceled and submitted a new request. That’s interesting to hear about the “wealth” tax in Spain. I hadn’t seen that so eager to get in to that group to learn more.

        I’ll definitely share my experience with the group when I know more and whether I can hold my tongue long enough not to discuss it in the interview. For now I think I’ll at least avoid having it in writing on the Letter of Purpose unless that group provides compelling proof that it’s not a big deal.

  37. Do you think there’s anything I can do to fix our separate appointment times? I’m on April 5, my husband is on April 6th and my son in April 17. We live in Utah and I was hoping not to have to go back until maybe we needed to pick up the visas. Does anyone else have experience with kids’ visas? The visa website didn’t allow me to make multiple appointments in my name. Creating an account for my son seemed strange. But I did it later.

      1. I called yesterday and they told the residence visa folks don’t have a phone. So, I emailed, but haven’t heard back. It doesn’t say on the LA consulate website that a minor needs their own appointment specifically, so I’m hoping we can work it out.

      2. Author

        Good luck. If it works out, would you consider sharing your experience in a comment to help folks coming along behind you?

    1. Just to follow up on this. We all went in as a family on April 5th. There was hardly anyone in there, and they wound up fitting in my minor (who’s appointment was for the 13th) and my husband (who’s appointment was on the 6th) all on the 5th. It all went really smoothly. They took what they needed and didn’t ask for anything additional. It seems to me from reading lots of blogs that the consulates operate very differently. The LA consulate said I didn’t need the letter of intent, which I had notarized and translated, but they did take it. Also, they didn’t want to see and they didn’t take copies of our airplane ticket reservations or rental contract. We were told that both adults had to come back in person to pick up the VISAs. We were hoping we could leave an express mail envelope (since some consulates let you do that). Or, that only one of us adults would have to fly back. We were told our son didn’t have to come back in person. I’ll write again when we are told it’s ready. It says 2-6 weeks on the website but were told typically 3-4 weeks. Also, we weren’t given any numbers that they say they give out on the website to check on the visas’ status. So, we won’t have anyway to check on it’s progress. I did ask and they said they don’t do that.

      1. Author

        Thank you for the update Karen. I’m happy to hear your whole family was accommodated by the consulate. I hope the rest of your application goes as smoothly.

  38. I have an appointment at the Los Angeles consulate next week. My husband, son (10 yrs old) and I all need VISAs. I had my husband make an appointment for the next day because it was really unclear to me if we could go in as a family with just my appointment. It didn’t hit me until later that I maybe should have made one for my son too. Seeing as he’s a minor, I didn’t think he wouldn’t be able to come to my appointment. Do you know if you can go in as a family. Most of our documents, like our marriage license, we only have one official translation of. Also, do you have 90 days from the date of the appointment to get into Spain? Or date of issue of the VISA? and are those different things?

    1. Author

      Hi Karen,

      The SF consulate directions are that every family member, including minors, needs to have an appointment. WE made back to back appointments. We were taken through the application process together as a family. But you need appointments for ALL family members. LA may have different requirements.

      After our application was approved, we were asked to provide copies of our tickets and travel dates — for us that meant we got our approval in July, had travel dates in the middle of September and our temporary visas were good for 90 days from the day we expected to arrive in Spain (which is to say the visa was good from the middle of September to mid December). We then had to register in Valencia and obtain our resident identity cards (good for 1 year) by mid December.

      Hope this helps. Remember you need appointments for all family members.

  39. Hi Jamie,

    The information you provided here has been tremendously helpful. I just have a couple questions that perhaps you can provide some insight…

    1) I am a 33 year old teacher who lives in Seattle and I have a savings of about $33,000. I plan to take a year leave from teaching to live in Spain. This is the first I have read about needing to have more than the minimum requirement of about $25,500 euros. I had WellsFargo print off my current balances in my savings and checking. However, on this blog I read about needing to have double the amount if it is coming from savings. Is that true for applying for my visa through San Francisco?

    2) I am flying to SF in just a little over two weeks to apply for my non lucrative visa in order to move there on July 1st. I have looked over the application numerous times and JUST NOTICED that it says I must provide criminal background checks from the states where I have lived for the past five years. I have only been in Washington state for 3 years. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this before. Have I totally messed up? I have my Washington State criminal background check. I know I can’t get my background check from my previous state within this remaining two weeks. I just keep thinking…how would they know I lived in another state? There is nothing on any of my applications that says so… But that perhaps is me just trying to make myself feel better since I am so close and have all my documentation EXCEPT that one part.

    Any insight would be appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Eric

    1. Author

      Hi Eric,
      I hesitate to provide advice on exactly what level of resources the consulate will be looking for. It seems to me, based on many different conversations, that your finances are only part of the decision criteria. The Spanish government just wants to be certain that you will not become a social burden.

      Regarding your criminal background check, I advise you to reschedule your appointment until after you have have the background checks from all the states where you have lived. I have heard that the background checks are a stumbling point for some applicants. Sorry, criminal background checks seem to be very important.

      That said, you may want to double-check with the Facebook Group Spain Immigration and Residency Questions – SpainGuru.es. Many people have asked similar questions.

  40. Hi,
    Since your application was approved within the past year I wanted to clarify a couple things about your experience.
    1) Regarding the medical certificate of good health, the guidelines state that it wants a recent doctor’s statement with a certified translation in Spanish and then go on to indicate that an example of this letter can be found on our website. The example letter on their website already comes translated and as I understand your post, you used this letter for you application materials; did you provide an additional certified translation of the letter?
    2) Regarding proof of sufficient periodic income, did you also attach a notarized letter from a broker/banker stating that you have enough funds to meet the proof of income requirements?

    1. Author

      Hi Marie,
      We used the doctor’s statement letter provided by the SF consulate. We prepared the letter in both English and Spanish and brought it to the medical office. We did not have it translated. Our GP signed, stamped it with her name/business address stamp and her nurse added our record number labels to the letter. Alba laughed when she saw the stamps and told us, “We like stamps.”

      We did not include a notarized letter (or any letter for that matter) from bank or broker. Simply statements as described.

      Suggest you call the SF consulate to determine prescreening options.

  41. Hi!

    I just received my 90 day residency visa. Mine was mailed to me from a different consulate. The issue date is March 10, and it expires June 22. Ideally, I would like to arrive in Spain the first week of April so I can take care of a few things here before I leave.

    I have two questions. First, is it a problem to leave after the issue date (3/10)? Second, when you obtain the residency card from Spain, does it expire one year from the issue date or one year from your arrival in Spain?

    Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Kat,
      My understanding is that it is okay to enter Spain after the issue date. But that you have to arrive in Spain AND register with the community AND THEN submit the forms for your identity card (takes about 1/2day in Valencia) prior to the expiry date entered on your passport visa.

      The one year residency begins from the day you enter the Shengen Zone if Spain is not the first country you enter. Make sure you get a clear, legible date stamp in your passport.

      I recommend double-checking with the Facebook GroupSpain Immigration and Residency Questions – SpainGuru.es. Many people have asked similar questions.

      1. What great advice!! Thanks so much. If it’s not too much to ask, can you confirm how long it took to register with community and identity cards take? Is it 1/2 for both processes?

      2. Author

        Hi Maria,
        We had an appointment for both steps (actually there are three steps). Registering with the Valencia community was quick and took less than an hour.

        Once we had our documentation from the community we had to make our way to the proper National Police station with EU-sized passport photos, to be fingerprinted for our identity cards. Despite having an appointment, we waited for a fair amount of time. Although I don’t have a crystal clear memory of that particular day, I’d say maybe an hour and a half.

        Then we waited for about six weeks, using the documents from the community as temporary ID, until our ID cards were ready. Back to the inconveniently located national police station, which isn’t near any bus or metro stops, to pick up our cards. So, all told, probably a short day’s effort.

        We were accompanied by a Spanish-speaking friend for all three steps and that helped a lot. At that time our heads and hearts were still whirling from the move and new environment. Besides, we couldn’t understand a word of rapid-fire local Spanish accents.

  42. Jamie
    Great website! My partner and I are retiring to the Malaga area the last week of August and getting documents together now. I see that the Miami Consulate is different in some ways from San Francisco. (We are in Georgia). Your tips on the Purpose letter and medical health letter are great. I found that Sanitas Medical Insurance is responsive and we have the application in hand now, it looks like once we pay the annual premium for a policy we will have a policy document ready for our visit to Miami, which we are planning for June (3 month window).

    A note for those using Miami, they don’t do appointments! I called and a representative said that if we get there first thing when they open we will be OK. I hope so. She did confirm that we dont have tp ick up the Visa in person, they will send if we leave a prparid Fedex or Express Mail envelope. I understand that they don t need proof of residence when we apply as you stated, but we are going to rent a flat for 1 month sight unseen before go for the appointment if that helps. We did our recon trip last March so we feel comfortable on our choice of the Malaga area (Estepona or Nerja for example).

    We have an additional wrinkle in that we also have to provide an attested and translated police good conduct letter from the UAE because we just returned from living there the last 3 years. The UAE requires an State Department attested finger print card but I understand from the ProEx company (the one we are using to get our attestations done) that the attested FBI letter will be accepted.

    1. Author

      Hi Neil,
      Thanks for the comment and for sharing the Miami twist on the visa application process.

      Susan and I needed to rent a flat sight unseen too. I think after a month of getting to know the area you’ll be better able to find a neighborhood that particularly suites your personal needs. For us, getting our feet on the ground took nearly six months and we finally feel like we know the neighborhoods we prefer.

      Good luck with the application and move…

  43. Jamie,
    One additional question. How long is the initial retirement visa good? Upon the renewal, can that be done in Spain?
    Gary

    1. Author

      Hi Gary,
      The initial visa is for one year, first renewal is for an additional 2 years. It is possible to renew in Spain, provided you begin the process in a timely manner. We have not renewed our visa yet, but I understand it is easier than the first application.

  44. Hi! great post thanks a lot! Well Im from Argentina and got my non-lucrative visa approved 🙂 I just wanted to know how did you deal with renting an apartment. What paperwork did you have to show? because I know they ask for contract work but with this visa you are not allowed to work. Any advices here? Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Mariana,
      We used the some of the same documentation: 1) translated copies of purpose statement, 2) one of our financial documents, and 3) copies of our passport visa page — which seems to be fairly standard.

      We used a relocation service to find a flat before we came over with our dog and four cats. But we are in now the process of searching for a new flat and I will be able to write from better first-hand experience when we complete the process.

  45. Jamie,
    My wife and I live in Portland Oregon and we just returned from Gandia, Spain where we intend to relocate. In beginning our visa process research, I discovered the income requirements on the consulate web site being 400% of the IPREM. My SSA income, by itself, is just short of that amount, but combined with my wife’s SSA income, we have more than enough.
    In your experience, are incomes only considered on an individual basis or together as a retiring couple?
    Is there a way to contact Alba or someone at the consulate to clarify the income requirements?
    Your web site is fantastic!
    Gary Miller

    1. Author

      Hi Gary, Thanks for the compliment on the website. After six months we feel like we are finally getting our feet closer to the ground. These past months have been a whirlwind of learning. We might actually have bandwidth to produce more frequent posts relatively soon.

      We applied for our visas as a family. Therefore, all we had to do was demonstrate sufficient resources jointly. If your combined SSA income surpasses the requirement, you probably won’t have any trouble.
      If you have a savings account, a letter from the bank or credit union stating the average monthly balance over the previous year seems to work too.

      I don’t have contact information for Alba, but Dianne J (see comments below) reports that Alba is prescreening visa applications. You could check with her then.

      When we renew our visa, our plan is to apply as individuals in order to avoid the need to get a new marriage certificate. We’ll use our Spanish bank account, in which we keep an excess, to demonstrate our financial resources.

      Good luck and let us know when you get to Spain.

  46. Hi Susan and Jamie,

    Your blog about getting your visa is exactly what I needed! I hope to move to Spain in May 2018 to spend a year living on the “gentle cycle”. I have my appointment at the Consulate in San Francisco in two weeks and for the past 3 months I’ve been working on getting all of my documents together. In response to an request from Alba, I emailed her my documents in advance of my appointment so they could be pre-screened. Today I received an email asking me to submit new Purpose statement. I one that I already submitted made my Purpose sound like an extended tourism trip (“in -depth exploring”, etc.) which is not suitable for a Residence visa. She suggested that I keep in mind that I am applying to be a RESIDENT of Spain. Do you have any suggestions on the “Purpose” statement?

    kind regards,

    Dianne J
    Minden, Nevada, USA

    1. Author

      Hi Dianne,
      I think it’s great that Alba is prescreening applications. Now you have a chance to fix-up your purpose statement, without the expense of an additional trip to SF.

      Our statement was five paragraphs long. 1. Introduction. — essentially, retired applying for non-residence visa, would like to spend 1 yr in city of Valencia for the purpose of learning Spanish language, why we want to learn Spainish. 2. Brief professional history — Susan (3 sentences). 3. Brief professional history — Jamie (3 sentences). 4. How we will fund our residence in Valencia. (2 sentences). 5. Why we chose to live in Valencia and how we anticipate spending our time (6 very carefully crafted sentences, including strategy for adjusting to Spanish culture). By the way, unless you already have good language skills, adjusting to Spanish culture is a bit of a challenge.
      Good luck…

  47. Hi! Just one other question. After your initial appointment, when you brought in all the paperwork to the SF consulate, how did they contact you to let you know you were approved and could go pick up your visa? Was it email? Telephone? Regular mail? Thanks so much in advance. 🙂

    1. Author

      Th SF consulate sent an email to notify us and provide directions about what we needed to bring (passports and flight arrangements).

      1. Very helpful as always. I really appreciate the time and effort you have taken to detail this process.

      2. Author

        You are quite welcome. Good luck with your application…

  48. Hi, Susan and Jamie,

    I understand we need to have an apartment secured before we can get our non-lucrative Visa. How did you find a real estate agency you knew you could trust? Did you go to Valencia to find a place or do it all via Internet?

    Your site is wonderful and we feel especially fortunate because we’re coming from Portland, OR, so all of your references are perfect for us!

    1. Author

      You actually do not need to have a lease in hand to get a non-lucrative visa from the San Francisco consulate. When we applied we included a statement about our choice of Valencia city with a brief explanation about why we selected Valencia.

      However, I would urge you to make a reconnaissance trip. There’s plenty to like about life in Spain, but it isn’t for everyone. You’ll want to spend time exploring different neighborhoods trying to imagine what your everyday life will be. It’s different than visiting a city for a couple days as a tourist.

      We recommend Linda Svilane who runs Moving to Valencia for help finding a flat in the city. She helps with everything from getting health insurance, registering with the city and obtaining your identity card, to finding a flat and negotiating the lease.

      Linda and her team help you settle in and her help with health insurance saved us more than her services cost us. She even made sure there were litter boxes ready for our cats when we arrived.

      You can get an idea of what is available for rent on Idealista.com. But be careful, there’s plenty of bait and switch going on.

  49. Thank you Susan and everyone’s Q&A . We too are from Portland, OR and heading there with our 2 school age children for most of a school year. These details and subtleties are very useful as the task seems a bit overwhelming on the surface. Enjoy your time in Valencia!

  50. Thank you for this. We live in Portland and are in process of the non lucrative visa. I’m having a hard time finding the Apostille here. Any advice?

    1. Author

      I’m assuming you mean Portland, Oregon. In which case, I suggest the easiest thing for you would be to take a trip to Salem once you have your documents ready and get the Apostille’s at the Oregon Department of State office, which is just across the street from the capitol building. Search the state website for the address and business hours. But that only works for Oregon documents like criminal background check, and Oregon birth/marriage certificates. Good luck.

  51. Wow. We are knee deep in this process for our family of 3 (husband, wife and 4 year old son). Already caught a few things that would have delayed us thanks to this blog post. We are having trouble finding health insurance at this point. Looking for a good link or contact. Otherwise, plowing onward. Fingers crossed this all goes smoothly.
    Linda

    1. Author

      We’re happy you found our post helpful.We started out with DKV Seguros for health insurance but we had a broker here in Valencia to arrange things. If Valencia is in your future I can give you Ángel’s contact. He has many expat clients and understands the requirements. Unfortunately, he doesn’t speak English. Good luck with your application and don’t forget to double check for any new requirements.

  52. Thank you guys for “paying it forward.” Your info is a huge help for me (from Texas and not yet retired but looking for a way to get to Catalonia). Just curious, did you ever reach out to Alba to let her know what has become of your blog? She has the power to influence others.. a good thing!

    On another note, I would like to find myself in Spain by August 2018. I have rescheduled my Visa appt. in Houston to have more time to gather documents and verifications and seals. I’m also applying for the non-lucrative visa. I have a sponsor for housing while in Spain. I am not retired but I do have a hefty savings to live off of. I figure I can find a job someday soon there and return to the states and apply for my work visa. But for the meantime, I would like to travel north to south of Spain.

    I’m curious to know, how detailed the consulate was about your finances while living in Spain?

    And the other question is, how can I purchase health insurance for Spain if I have no security that my visa will be approved?

    Thank you for your time! And I’m looking forward to reading about “bringing your dog to Spain.”

    1. Thank you for your information! I too am applying for my non lucrative visa in SF. I was sent home because my doctor did not write MD after name although she provided a medical stamp. Also I wrote to DKV Insurance in Spain to ask for the correct health insurance for my Visa. I prepaid for a year but was it was denied by the Consulate because it had a 2.75 Euro copay. I also unstapled my Apostille in order to send it in a PDF and that was not accepted. Hopefully I can get another appointment with in two months. I started 6 months ago!

    2. Author

      Hello Hope. I’m sorry I missed your comment. We used statements from our Roth accounts to demonstrate financials and letters from the Social Security Administration, though we aren’t using the benefits just yet. That worked fine in San Francisco, but one thing is pretty clear communicating with others who live here in Spain now — things change between consulates. If you aren’t retired, they will probably look much more carefully, but if you can get a letter from your bank that states you have had an average balance above the required amount for the past year, that seems to have done the trick for others. I have heard of some people who were able to get a refund on health insurance policies that they ended up not using, but I can’t offer any explicit advice. We used ours.

      This Facebook Group is a great resource for current visa application information: https://www.facebook.com/groups/americanexpatsinspain/

  53. My wife and I are planing to move to Spain in about a year as well. Thank you for the detail you supplied! I have a couple of questions:
    How much was the Spanish health insurance policy? Did you order anything special?
    Who did you use for translation services? An how much did they charge?
    Also you did not mention anything about the proof of accommodation, What if anything did you need to supply?
    Thank you

    1. Author

      There are a several different health insurance options in Spain. The cost of the insurance is, of course, a function of age. We are in mid 60’s with no preexisting conditions and our annual cost is a little over 3200 euros. No copay, no deductible.

      As far as translations, we had an individual certified translator do our documents. I don’t recall the exact cost, unfortunately, around $300 as I recall. Check the Facebook group SpainGuru.esfor current recommendations.

      The San Francisco Consulate does not require proof of accommodation. They want to know where you plan to live in a general sense. We included a paragraph about why we selected Valencia as part of our letter of purpose.

  54. Wow that was a lot of work. Do you happen to know anything about the right of return for Jews to Spain? My understanding is is that Spain is letting Jewish people return to Spain as they were kicked out in the 1400s. Or do I have any suggestions where I might even start to find that out? I live in Southern California. Thank you very much. I would like to research my ancestors and find out if I have any relatives in Spain.

  55. Thank you for the visa comments. Hope you are doing well in Spain! One thing that is confusing on the San Francisco consulate site is that it says that the marriage certificate “cannot be older than 3 months at the date of our visa appointment”. It says the same about the birth certificates for minor children. Does this mean we need to order new marriage and birth certificates? Also, it doesn’t even ask for our (parents’) birth certificates, so do we not need birth certificates as part of this?

    1. Author

      Hello April, you will need to order a new marriage certificate and birth certificates for the children and have them translated and the apostille affixed –all within three months of your visa appointment. Adults do not need birth certificates. I believe the point of this exercise is to verify that everyone who shows up as a family are in fact legal, bona fide family members. I don’t know what the Spanish government does in the case of adopted children.

      Just to whet your paper chase appetite, if you decide to stay in Spain for longer than a year, you will go through the process again for your visa renewal.

      Good luck with your application. When do you plan to move?

  56. Very informative! We are planning our retirement move from Los Angeles to Valencia in 12 months . Read your posts about moving pets which is also a big help, as we will be moving our dog. We have also enlisted Linda’s help in the process.

  57. Susan and Jamie – I’ve been messing around searching for help on applying for our Visa application (we will also use the San Francisco Consulate). Why I didn’t think of you is beyond me (I knew you did a blog). We hope to see you when we visit Valencia in December.

    1. Author

      I’m glad you found us on GentleCycle Missy. We’re just about ready to publish a series on transporting pets to Spain. And now that we’re finally solid on the ground here in Valencia, our posts on GentleCyce should start appearing again.

  58. Thank you for this OUTSTANDING review of all that is needed for the visa application. My wife and I will be applying next February, and your article really helped clear up some questions that we had. Best of luck with your move to Valencia, which is where we will be going to as well.

    1. We are happy to help. We had to search far and wide for clarification and had help along the way so we are just giving a bit back. Look us up when you get to Valencia.

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