Moving From USA To Spain

Iberian peninsula at night

Are You Sure ?

Spain is not paradise. It has high unemployment and other economic problems, bureaucracy, some corruption, crime, stresses because of immigration, tourism, racism, regional strains, air pollution. The south/interior of Spain is very hot in the summer. It's a nice place, but have realistic expectations.

There are downsides to moving to another country: The benefits of moving to another country, and the good things about Spain, are too numerous to list.

Styled map of Spain
There is not one "Spain". Living in a big city (Madrid, Barcelona, etc) would be quite different from living in a small, quiet, traditional town, and both quite different from living in an expat-heavy tourist town on the Costa del Sol.

Also, living as a student, as a worker, as a business owner, as a retiree, as a tourist could be quite different experiences. Living childless versus raising a family; younger versus older people; Spanish-fluent versus not; etc. So take these differences into account as you read the experiences and advice of other people.

My story

I grew up in New Jersey. Worked as a computer programmer for 21 years or so, in NJ and then Silicon Valley. Early-retired at age 43 to live and cruise on a sailboat (info here). Did that for 13+ years, in southeast USA and Caribbean.

Took a 2-month vacation to Barcelona (info here), loved the place, and fell in love with a Peruvian-Spanish woman there (my AirBNB host). So, off to Spain ! I moved in October 2015. By the time of the move, I had spent a total of about 10 months over 2.5 years (on tourist visas) in Barcelona. After another 10 months in Barcelona, we moved to Jerez de la Frontera (Andalucia). While there, we got married. After 15 months in Jerez, we moved back to Barcelona.

So, my situation probably differs from that of others. I had been through the retirement and expatriation transitions already, I have money, I had some familiarity with my destination in Spain, I had housing, at time of moving I was going to live with a local person who speaks about 4 languages (including English).

Barcelona is wonderful, but my Spanish language ability is low, and adding Catalan to the mix makes it harder.

Nick Anders' "I Hate Spain"
Steve Hall's "Why Expats Struggle in Spain"
Rhiannon Davies's "Should You Retire Abroad?"
Spain Made Simple's "Advantages & Disadvantages of Living in Spain"
Spain Made Simple's "Advice From Expats Now Happily Living in Spain"
Nick Snelling's "Why Does Moving To Spain Go Wrong"
Jose Luis Barberia's "Spain - A great place to live, a terrible place to work?"
Karen Banes' "Moving Overseas - Mistakes to Avoid"
Curtis Poe's "The Young Person's Guide to Moving Abroad"
wikiHow to Move to a Foreign Country
Young Adventuress' "5 Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad"
Jo Fraser's "I Quit My Job To Be A Travel Writer, And Now I'm Broke And Unemployed"
Sarah McArthur's "What You Need To Know Before You Move Abroad"
Stephen Maunder's "How to retire in Spain"
A Texan in Spain's "Confession: Why I Won't Move Back to Spain"
Felix Wong's "Posts about Spain"

What are the DOWNSIDES to living in Europe as opposed to the U.S. ?
from /u/ajl1239 on reddit 10/2016:
I think I can give you some pretty honest analysis, because I've also lived in America most of my life, but traveled to around 50 countries (in Europe and around the world), lived everywhere from NYC to Phoenix to small towns in America, and have lived in England, France, and Slovenia. I'm also a U.S.-EU dual citizen, meaning I can live anywhere in the USA or anywhere in Europe, as I please.

First, however, let me disabuse you of the notion that Europe is one big place: no, it's about 30 different countries, and these vary dramatically in terms of quality of life and culture.

Anyway, that said, in no particular order, here are some things you might find "annoying". Note that I don't necessarily think these are bad things -- in many cases, I think they are good things -- but I'm trying to be open-minded as to what might bother your "average American".

1.) Gas is expensive and owning a car is more expensive -- from getting a license to registering the vehicle -- so if you're someone who just loves to drive a big car everywhere as much as you want as you please, Europe may not the be the best place for you.It's even harder to drive a car in/around most cities, which often have pedestrian zones in the center and cameras that ticket you if you drive in the wrong place at the wrong time.

2.) Apartments and homes are generally smaller than in the USA. For example, families in the UK often live in about the same amount of space as your average small-ish two-bedroom apartment in suburban USA.

3.) While most apartments and homes have their own washing machine (and this is nice, since a lot of apartments in NYC, DC, SF and LA don't have washing machines at all), they often don't have dryers; so Europeans have to hang their clothes out to dry.

4.) Fewer homes and apartments have dishwashers, although this is changing to some degree, given the Ikea-ization of European kitchens.

5.) Income taxes are, generally speaking, much higher in European countries. Now, if you're a young and healthy single man or woman, maybe this is bad for you, but if you have a few health problems, maybe dream of having children, maybe want to get a college degree or master's degree, maybe you prefer taking the train to driving; you'll find that those taxes do indeed pay for "nice things" in Europe, nice things that either cost money in America (visiting a doctor when you get sick or going to college) or nice things that just don't exist in America (excellent public transportation and rail service). So, you'll have to do the math for yourself: do the benefits for you outweigh the extra tax paid? And, again, taxes vary: for example, taxes are higher in Norway and Belgium than they are in the UK and France.

6.) Countries and societies may feel less welcoming to "outsiders." Canada and the USA, for example, are pluralistic nations of French, Italians, Jews, Catholics, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, etc. In contrast, in Europe, you might feel like "France is for the French", "Italy is for the Italians", and "Slovenia is for the Slovenes". In other words, it can be hard to "fit in" for some Americans in Europe. The other side of the coin is that if you have more liberal social values (e.g. atheist, tolerant of gay rights and drug use, progressive politics), you may feel like you "fit" more in Europe than in certain parts of the USA. It all depends on where in Europe and where in the USA we're comparing and contrasting.

7.) If you get hot easily and live in Central or Southern Europe, you may be surprised by the fact that, compared to the USA, many homes and businesses don't have air-conditioning. Similarly, in the winter, many Europeans are more likely to put on a sweater than blast the heat. Year-round indoor temperatures of 68-70 degrees are less common in Europe.

8.) By and large, Europeans are dramatically less religious than Americans. So, if you're a fan of "wearing God on your sleeve", you may not like living in Europe, particularly Northern Europe. The reality, though, is that even Italy is less religious than America -- let that sink in.

9.) Labor markets are much less "liberal" than the USA in many countries, which means it can be more difficult to find work as an "outsider" with education credentials from a different country. Of course, once you get a contract, it will be much harder to fire you than would be the case in the USA.

10.) Much of Europe is farther North than the continental USA, so in the winter, you will find it gets dark earlier and gets light later. In the summer, though, it will be light longer. If you like the desert climate of Phoenix or the sub-tropical climate of Florida, you won't find that in Europe. Italy's climate is a lot like California. The UK's climate is a lot like Oregon.

11.) Fewer stores are open 24/7. If you visit a small city or town in France on a Sunday (even the UK), you might wonder, "why is everything closed?". On Sundays, in many European countries, large stores and shops are closed, or only open for limited hours.

12.) Going back to #6, if you don't speak the language of the country in which you're living, life will be more difficult. Dealing with the government? Renting or buying a home or apartment? Talking to a doctor? Shopping? All of those things. Also, it goes without saying, that you will feel more isolated.

13.) Many countries have pretty restrictive immigration rules. If you're not a European citizen, getting the right to work and live in a European country is more challenging than, say, Canada or Argentina.

14.) In many countries, European professionals get paid less than U.S. professionals. That said, those in non-professional jobs (i.e. store clerks, etc.) will often make more than their U.S. colleagues in Northern Europe. In Southern Europe, almost everyone makes less money, but it's also the case that the cost of living is much lower than the U.S. and health care is still free, along with maternity and paternity benefits and paid vacation.

[GUIDE] So you're an American who wants to live in Europe, eh?
from /u/Purdue49OSU20 on reddit 5/2020:
Hi all, I wanted to put together a brief overview or sort of wiki thing for one of the biggest groups I see on here: Americans wanting to move to Europe. If you have questions or more to add (or you disagree!) please leave a comment and I can edit my post accordingly.

DISCLOSURE: I'm just an American guy who did it myself, and I see a lot of people who seem to want to move to Europe. Your experience may vary ... dramatically. I'm sure plenty of people will take exception.

So you want to move to Europe, huh?

Welp, you're probably not the first person to think of that. Before you make the leap, I think it would be helpful to hear a few things from someone who has done the leap before. Twice, actually.

My background: I am a 35 year old college-degreed (Bachelor's degree only) man with a wife and two kids. When I moved to Germany in 2014, I was only a US Citizen, though I was pursuing Italian citizenship via Jure Sanguinis. My first move to Europe had me qualifying via a Blue Card, but now I have an Italian passport and moved back to Germany this year.

OK, enough about me. Before you move, you need to really think about what you're trying to accomplish by moving to Europe.

Why do you want to move?

  • "The politics are just too much!"

    This is probably the number one reason I see as to why people have decided that now is the time for them to move. Interestingly, this argument tends to increase in popularity as we get closer to a Presidential election. It's true, American politics are increasingly hostile, and as one watches TV (on any side of the spectrum) all they can see is more division.

    While this is certainly true, I will remind you that just because you're ignorant of politics in Europe doesn't mean that they're any less divisive. Hungary has a de facto dictatorship. Poland is edging that way as well. Germany has seen the rise of nationalistic politics and so has Italy. Fact of the matter is, political tensions globally are rising at a dramatic clip. "Yeah well, at least I'll be blissfully ignorant" you may respond, but if that is the case, it would just be a lot simpler for you to turn off your TV, stop reading Facebook and Twitter, and build like minded friendships than moving yourself half a lifetime away.

  • "The healthcare though!"

    Yep, this is going to be a big one, I'm sure. The truth is that healthcare isn't always as cheap as it's hinted in the US, but it on the whole is better. Every country takes a different approach. For Germany, I was eligible for a choice between public and private insurance. Private insurance cost me about 700 Euro a month for my wife and I, and it opens the doors to top-notch care, no waits, and really a totally different system. Friends in the public system sometimes dealt with waits, a little less choice, but nothing remotely miserable. Quality of care is a lot different as well, with a focus on the patient rather than falling back on pharmaceutical drugs. But I just included this to remind everyone that it's not free-free. It's funded by higher taxes, or if you're in the private system also, taxes and decently high monthly premiums. The good news is that 700 EUR/month covered 100% of everything I had to pay. My oldest child was born in Germany and we paid 450 EUR out of pocket, because I stayed in a bed for five nights with my wife to help take care of the baby. Otherwise it would've been completely free.

  • "I just want to be somewhere different!"

    I think there's probably a lot more diversity, opportunity, and lower risk by staying in the US. From the Pacific Northwest, to the Great Plains, to Hawaii to the Virgin Islands, the US passport gives you access to live in a variety of climates, political landscapes, and with a lot more economic opportunity. Which brings us to my next point.

  • "But I went on vacation and I just fell in love with it"

    Yeah dude, I go on vacation in Italy once a year and love every moment of it. What I wouldn't love? Waiting a month to get the cable or internet guy to show up to my apartment. Sure the pace is cute when you're on vacation and have no need to do anything particularly quickly, but there's a huge difference between "Life on Vacation" and "Life in the real world". In a lot of places you will likely be unable to afford (or want to live in) the touristy areas (which are overcrowded due to tourists like you once were). Obviously tourism also keeps prices higher than they would be for the normal local economy, which we'll come back to later.

Do you realize moving to a foreign country sucks?

OK, yes, I've done it twice now. But suggesting that it's "easy" by any stretch of the imagination would be laughable at best. Moving to a foreign country means dealing with differences, many of them bigger than any differences you've ever had to deal with in your life. The cultural differences can be massive, and can even hurt your professional life as you struggle to adjust.

  • "Yeah but I went on vacation to XYZ and they said everyone speaks English there"

    Yes, this may be the case that most educated people speak English in a particular country, and you can probably mostly get around speaking English in places like Amsterdam or Berlin. But the fact of the matter is that most government offices (which you'll be spending a lot of time in, especially at first) and contracts will be in the local language, so as to not have any confusion about what the author's intent is. Plus, once you get a place to live, if your pipe breaks at 2 AM, you'll need to call someone who can come fix it immediately, and you'll have to be able to communicate what the problem is to him or her.

  • "OK but the language is fine, I studied it in school and stuff"

    Sure, but then there's the culture. Things that are the norm in the US are not the norm in Europe and vice versa. It's not even things like personal space, it could be office norms (Germany as an example is very hierarchical, so if you go for an office job, expect to be told what to do, unless it's a very international firm), outlook (Americans are very optimistic as a whole, and it is not well-appreciated in all countries in Europe).

Besides these things, there's the elements of just moving to a place where you don't know anyone, have very few common cultural experiences with which to build friendships, and perhaps other European cultures are less friendship-inclined than America (my experience is that it has been very tough to make German friends due to them tending to stay in their own friends-circle from their early adult years throughout the remainder of their life).

You may not be welcome here

OK so a few elements to this. First of all, in a foreign country in which you aren't a citizen, you are, by default, a guest. That means that at any time, you could be potentially deported if you F*ck Up Real Big™. It doesn't happen a lot, but understand that you're at a huge disadvantage of not 1) Knowing the rules very well because you didn't grow up with the same rules. 2) Don't speak the language so you can't get yourself out of trouble as easily and 3) The local government doesn't need to put up with your sh*t if they don't want to, unlike a citizen.

But besides this, remember how you didn't like the American politics? You know who else might not? Your neighbors, or your coworkers. You know how some Americans have hostility towards immigrants for the perception of stealing their jobs? Yeah, that exists everywhere and you're going to just have to deal with it. For most Redditors, I'm assuming many of you are on the upper social rungs of society ... As an expat or immigrant, you're brought down a few notches.

What would you say you do here?

I've seen a lot of posts where people have no education, skills, or language, and want to move to a particular European country. Dude, really? Going back to my previous point, you're about to be a guest in a country. Who wants a guest who shows up to the party and just drinks too much of the host's beer, throws up on the coffee table, and breaks a vase before going home scot-free?

Edit: A possible opportunity exists if you have Italian, Irish, or Jewish-German ancestry, in which case you may have a claim to citizenship. That is a great question to ask here on the sub.

This goes for "free education" too. Coming to Europe simply to save on school fees (funded by taxpaying local citizens) and then going home? Kind of a dick move, to be fair, and gives some people a bad reputation. If you're truly looking to emigrate (for a long-ish time) then pursue the education, it's definitely your best way into Europe if you are at that stage of your life, but just make sure you find a way to provide value to your host country.

If you do have some semblance of job skills, your best bet is likely to pursue an opportunity through a multinational US corporation with a European presence. That'll likely help you deal with the aforementioned cultural gaps (since they'll be used to American culture), and may allow you to get a visa through company transfer, rather than having to compete for a Blue Card or some other heavily-contested visa.

The Blue Card is probably the best approach if you're a seasoned veteran. That's how I was able to make my first European move, but it required me being an executive in an industry that's decently small for them to make the case that they couldn't find someone to do my job who already was within the EU. If you have high skills and a strong career, you will have an easy path. If you do not, the best way is to figure out how to get into this skillset in the US then transfer over. (My opinion here only)

Are things really that bad for you? Is the grass really greener?

The US offers unprecedented opportunity, a market of 350 million English speakers, geographic and cultural variety, and perhaps most important to some of you: the world's strongest wage environment. Expect to take a 30-50% pay-cut if you move to Europe. My US company started analysts at $60,000 per year. The company in Europe I went to had the same role and they made 28,000 EUR. Coupled with the taxes, your take-home will be a lot less. Sure, you might spend less on rent, healthcare, car, etc., but it's something to think about before pulling the trgger.

Other things to consider:
  • Do you really want to be a 6+ hour flight from your family in case things go wrong? Sure, maybe your parents are healthy now, but they might not be forever, and if something happens and you're the only child (or you have a strong family attachment), that last-second transatlantic flight will be ... very ... expensive.

  • Are you more culturally-attached to the US than you think? For me, being 6 hours ahead during sports seasons was brutal. Easily the thing I missed the most about the US. But this can be applicable to a million different things.

  • Having one foot in Europe and one in the US is frustrating for: taxes, family life (if you meet a European spouse and have kids, the kids won't have the same growing up experience as one of the parents, if that's important) and a lot of other things. Be careful!

That's all I have for now, but I'm sure more things will pop into my head.

If you're still not scared through all this, go for it. It's very rewarding, but it'll be a huge challenge (and for those of us who love the challenge, it makes you a better person!)

What do you miss about the US that could be a deal-breaker for some people ?
from people on reddit 4/2021:
Money/tax is honestly a big one. My earnings potential would be higher in the US and my investment opportunities are a lot better there too (I am in Ireland). Expat finance and overall planning is a real nightmare if you are a US citizen abroad. Due to reporting requirements and taxes, it is hard to do investment and banking abroad. Many banks and brokerages won't open an account for you if you are a US person for tax purposes. But then US based banking and investment options often don't want to work with US citizens abroad, if you don't have a US address. Also hard to plan for retirement when you don't know where you will retire!

The tradeoff is the security of a social safety net - not going into bankruptcy for medical expenses. Statuatory redundancy, good family benefits such as parental leave, etc. Lots of annual leave every year.


American in France here. There's absolutely nothing here that's a deal breaker exactly, but I miss lots of things, primarily my friends. I also miss good friend chicken, Mexican food, Korean food, and other food stuff. Other than that, I'd never trade my healthcare and extra free time for a life back in the US.


I've been living in Spain for 17 years. The downsides for me have been:

Lack of professional development: I made a huge sacrifice professionally by moving here, even though I got a Spanish undergrad and masters degree. I knew I was doing this, but underestimated how it would feel now that I'm older.

The weirdness of raising a child in a radically different culture. This was fine when he was younger, but the teenage years were made tougher because of our oddball bicultural background.

The difficulty of watching my parents grow old and die (in the case of my dad) from afar.

Friends. I live in Madrid, which is a big city where people come and go a lot, so it's been tough to make and keep friends. And I've avoided other foreigners as much as possible. I'm in a pretty cosmopolitan sort of environment and a lot of my good friends have moved elsewhere over the years, which is painful, because I already have a huge set of long-distance friends in the US and in other countries..

Losing touch with American culture. I don't feel very authentically American anymore. I've been changed too much by living here. But I'm also ALWAYS going to be a foreigner (albeit a highly integrated one) here. That can be annoying at times. I would say you can easily feel like an outsider forever here. And if you do start to feel like an insider (and this takes years and years), then you will feel like an outsider in the US.

Don't underestimate how important it is to learn Spanish extremely well and to understand Spanish culture on a deeper level. If you don't, you won't be able to have meaningful friendships with most people here. I've met a lot of people from the US who are very unhappy here, and don't realize it's because they can never do anything that's beyond the tourist surface, because they lack the ability to really engage in Spanish culture.


I've found Europeans to be a lot more traditional than I expected and that can sometimes be a bit alienating. And frustrating because there's also a huge resistance to change, which means things are not always as modern, technically advanced, or efficient as we are used to. This doesn't just affect infrastructure or the things we buy. For instance, while my health insurance is much better than in the US, my actual healthcare is much worse here. Doctors are resistant to progressive treatment. It takes longer for medication that is common in the US to reach the EU. And if you do any kind of research on your own, no matter how credible the sources, you won't be taken seriously. This is not a big deal if you have no major health issues, but it's something to consider if you do.


you will never have the sheer number of choices for anything that you have in the US. That's probably the thing I miss the most. All of the low-calorie diet pages have these amazing low-calorie options for tortillas, ice cream, bread, basically all carbs and there isn't a lot of that where I'm at.


the number one reason is lack of a well-paying job. many European countries are great places to live IF you have a good job that includes local healthcare.


want to start a business as a US expat? the regulatory burden can be massive


I've been living in Spain for the last 6 years and I'd say the biggest negative are the salaries / earning potential. I could be making 2-3 times what I am now if I were doing the same job in the US.

Besides that major negative, the others are relatively minor. Such as lack of good customer service, inconvenient business hours (worse if you're in a small town), convenience in general, and a lack of some food options to name a few.

Overall though I'm pretty happy here ...

Random note after living in Spain for 5 years:
Those romantic outdoor cafe tables ? That's where the people sit who smoke and brought their dogs with them. And the tables may have car-traffic going past on one side and foot-traffic going past closely on the other side.

What Visa ?

I am a retired US citizen, little income but lots of savings, just want to live in Spain without working. Most things on this web page relate to that situation; things are different if you're an EU citizen, may be different if you want to work in Spain, etc.

Levels of permission

Looks like what I want is "long-stay visa, temporary residence". From NY consulate's "Residing in Spain":
Residence in Spain can be temporary or permanent. Temporary residence is the situation authorizing a stay in Spain for a period longer than 90 days and shorter than five years. Authorizations for a period not exceeding five years may be renewed regularly, at the request of the person concerned, depending on the circumstances leading to their issuance.
If you have a student or research or tourist visa, you don't get "residence", you get "estancia". One difference that makes: only residency time, not estancia time, counts toward getting long-term residency and then citizenship.

Types of long-stay visas

  • Student (you have to enroll in a school, and get letter from them).

  • Work (you need to be sponsored by a company in Spain).

  • Non-lucrative (not allowed to work).

  • Special (religious, research, etc).

If US citizen wants to stay in Spain full-time and not work:
Expatriator's "General, Investment, Retirement Visa, and Holiday Visas in Spain" Expatica's "Visas & Permits in Spain"
International Living's "Spain Visa and Residence Information"
Trevor Huxham's "How to Apply for a Student Visa for Spain at the Houston Consulate"
Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen"
The Frugal Vagabond's "How to Get a Spanish Non-Lucrative Residence Visa"
Wagoners Abroad's "10 Tips for Spanish Resident Visa Application"
Aventuras en España's "The Non Lucrative Visa Process"
Aventuras en España
Mark Hendrickson's "Applying for the Spanish non-lucrative residence visa"
Gentle Cycle's "How We Got Our Non-Lucrative Spanish Residence Visa Application Right"
Dave Hoch's "How to Apply for a Visa for Spain from the USA - 1 year Non Lucrative Visa"
Tim Adams' "USA to Spain: Going Expat"

There are some e-books you can buy, about the process of getting a visa or moving abroad. I haven't bought any of them.
Wagoners Abroad's "Live In Spain Non Lucrative Visa Requirements"
COMO Consulting's "Moving to Spain"
Claude Acero's "Relocate, Survive And Be Successful In Crazy Spain: Families, Pensioners And Entrepreneurs Move To Spain The Easy Way"

If non-EU citizen wants to stay in Spain full-time and work:
Victoria Fontana's "Freelancing in Spain; Work Permits and How to Get Them"
Balcells Group's "How to Find a Job in Spain"
Balcells Group's "How to Get the Work Permit in Spain"
Expat Arrivals' "Work Permits for Spain"
SpainGuru's "Self-employment visa timeline: becoming an 'autonomo' (freelancer) in Spain"
Apparently there is a "highly-skilled worker visa" (trabajadores altamente cualificados) you can get or convert to even if you're already in Spain on another type of visa ?
Andrew Stetsenko's "International Tech Job Search Handbook"
New in 2022: digital nomad visa: Travel In Your Own Way's "Visitors will be able to live and work in Spain for up to three years"

Diana Edelman's "Getting student visa for Spain as an American"
Cale Gram's "How to Apply for the Spanish Student Visa at the Consulate in Chicago"

You have to apply at the consulate in USA that has jurisdiction over the US state in which you reside.

There is no "retiree visa", although you may see that term on some consulate web pages. There is only the "non-lucrative" (not allowed to work) visa. Application form from NY consulate web site just has a "Residence without work permit" category, nothing that says "retiree". But: Expatriator's "General, Investment, Retirement Visa, and Holiday Visas in Spain" and Spanish Visa's "Living in Spain" talk about a retiree visa. Consular Fees New York shows separate lines for "Retirement Residence visa" and "Non-Lucrative visa". Chicago consulate has Chicago's "Residence Visa for Retirees" (PDF). San Francisco consulate has San Francisco's "Residence Visa for Retirees" (PDF).

From Carole W:
We own an apartment on the Costa del Sol and spend about 6 months / year there. We opted against residency because a) you MUST declare your world-wide investments and assets. If you have income from those assets and pay US taxes at a lower rate than would be the case in Spain for the same assets, the Spanish will tax you for the excess. If you do not declare all your assets, you could run into a huge problem and a very steep fine.

The second reason we opted against residency is the health insurance problem. They want absolute proof that you are covered in the event of health care needs or an emergency. Some companies issue travel insurance that does cover emergencies but not doctor visits. It is up to the individual Spanish Consular Officer to accept or reject your insurance as qualifying.

The reason you find conflicting info on different web-sites is because practically no one inside Spanish immigration offices or in the Consulates know the latest rules or are in any way consistent. Living in Spain is just that: everyone will tell you something different. And the reality of living there doesn't always coincide with the legalities that you might read online.

A dodge, supposedly

While I was in Barcelona, a Pakistani guy told me a trick that he swears works, if I have a local partner.

Enter Spain on a tourist visa. Rent an apartment in a small town 30-50 KM outside Barcelona. Have the partner move her padron to there, and write a letter saying that you are living there with her. Apply there for NIE, padron, residencia. All of the processes will be complete in a month or so. Terminate the apartment rental and both of you get on the padron in Barcelona (where my partner lives and I want to live).

He says Barcelona (and other big cities) have tough, long processes because many immigrants apply there.

I don't think this trick would work. I think if you try to apply for residencia with no long-stay visa in your passport, they will tell you to go back to your country and apply for a long-stay visa. But I could be wrong, or you could get lucky.

And even if it works, you still need most of the same things (criminal record check, health insurance, assets, medical examination) to apply for residencia as you need to apply for long-stay visa.

Can you work and get paid outside Spain (perhaps remotely) while having non-lucrative residence in Spain

Previously, some people were completely open with the consulates when they applied for the visa, telling them they were going to have a remote/internet job while living in Spain, and that was okay, they got the visa and residency.

In 2019, some US consulates have been saying no, you can't do any kind of work anywhere if you have non-lucrative residence in Spain.

From someone on Facebook:
In fact the Spanish Supreme Court ruled on this in 2012:

"It is not that the applicant for this type of visa does not do any work, but does not do it in Spain. It is not true that temporary residence in Spain is a situation "in essence" for wealthy pensioners who seek a temperate climate to comfortably drain their old age, as in a reductionist way and without any normative support points the judgment of instance. On the contrary, we can think of the possibility that a person not necessarily retired fix their residence in Spain because they have businesses in their country of origin that provide income and sufficient income to live from them without having to work in our country and without the need for a continued presence in their country of origin to attend to the progress of these businesses (which is increasingly possible and viable in the globalized economy of the digital era). The fact that this person moves with some periodicity to that country of origin to serve his business is irrelevant as long as what is really important is maintained, the effective residence in Spain, as corresponds to the authorization requested."

(STS de date March 22, 2012, R ° 299/2010).

STS 1859/2012 - ECLI: ES:TS:2012:1859
Id Cendoj: 28079130032012100146
STSJ M 13092/2009, STS 1859/2012
But response from a lawyer on Facebook:
I believe you may be misinterpreting the supreme court resolution in that particular case. It would be a legal absurdity for Spain to have a self-employment residence and a non-lucrative residence if the two overlapped this way.

Please also note that, unlike in the United States and its various States, supreme court decisions in Spain are indicative of what should be in general, but do not have erga omnes effects unless they specifically strike out norms/rules of inferior rank to laws. In this case, they have done no such thing. At best, if you feel you have been treated improperly by the Administration, you could appeal and argue unequal treatment.
And from someone else on Facebook:
To piggyback on the point made by [the lawyer], though that court case does indicate that remote work isn't necessarily explicitly banned by this visa, it doesn't necessarily mean the reverse (e.g., that anyone has a right to a visa just because they can work remotely and meet income guidelines). That case wasn't an evaluation of a simple digital nomad and their income, and the passage you cited is only a small component of the writing.

Getting a Visa

While your application is pending, can you travel in and out of Spain using the normal tourist visa (3 months out of every 6) ?

/u/alaninsitges says: yes.
From /u/GlobalTumbleweed:
You can travel freely within Spain and other Schengen countries while applying. However, when you present yourself to the police within 30 days of arrival, be sure you have an entry stamp for your most recent trip. So if you travel to Spain for a week (receive an entry stamp), fly back to the states and pick up your approved paperwork, then head back to Spain be sure you receive a second entry stamp. I had a police officer question how long I had been in the country since he didn't immediately see my second stamp.
From NYC consulate:
You can take your passport with you after the interview and travel to Spain for 90 days but have in mind that once you apply your visa should be ready in about 1 month and you have another month to pick it up since it is approved.

How expensive to get a visa agency in USA to handle all the paperwork ?

From /u/alaninsitges:
Your first stop should be the Spanish consulate nearest you in the US; they can put you in touch with certified translators and will likely be able to recommend a visa service.
I searched for "visa agency", contacted a couple of them, and they won't handle my application. Maybe I should be looking for "immigration lawyer" instead ?
Email response from TravelVISAPro:
The only thing we can assist with is document attestation. But as far as process goes, you will have to figure that on your case basis with embassy staff and they will tell what documents need to be apostilled.


For Apostille of documents with the New Jersey Department of State we charge $99 per document (this includes government fees) plus final return shipping back to you.


[Fee for] document translation will depend on the specific documents/number of pages which need to be translated. We would need a high-quality scan of the documents in order to provide a cost estimate.

From Wagoners Abroad's "10 Tips for Spanish Resident Visa Application":
Should you hire a lawyer or firm to assist you? I can't answer that, as it is entirely up to you. When I found out all that needed to be done BY ME (us), even with a lawyer or visa firm, I decided I was doing all of the work anyway. It is tedious and is like putting a puzzle together. Every item has a different lead time and is in a different location. Depending where you are currently located, it can even become more complicated. The bottom line: YOU are going to have to request your Birth, Marriage Certificate, Police Background, Medical Records and Bank Statements. If you're going to do this yourself, make sure you are organized. Have a checklist, and double/triple-check it.

How to contact the consulate ?

NYC, Houston and Miami consulates haven't responded to any of my emails in 2014. San Francisco and Los Angeles consulates DID respond ! (But not very usefully.) Eventually in 2015 I did get one person at NYC consulate to respond to emails.

From CIEE's "Spanish Visa Application Guidelines" (PDF):
If you are having a problem or have particular circumstances, it may be best to fax or email the Consulate with your question or concern (be sure to include your phone number and a return fax number). They often refuse to answer inquiries by phone.

From Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen":
"All my phone calls and emails to the Chicago Spanish consulate went unanswered."

Documents needed

In my particular case (non-lucrative retiree visa, single person, US citizen, not buying property, will live with citizen in Spain):

From CIEE's "Spanish Visa Application Guidelines" (PDF):
Specific visa application procedures vary from Consulate to Consulate, so for up-to-date and accurate instructions, it is IMPERATIVE that you check directly with the Consulate having jurisdiction over your place of residence. You must follow the instructions the Consulate provides with the application you request (or their web-site instructions).

I strongly recommend that, after reading the instructions and gathering what documents you can, then if at all possible, you visit the consulate in person to show them what you have and ask questions. Almost certainly you will find that their answers do not quite match what is said on the web pages. They may say you don't have to bother translating some things, or they want official stamps on other things, or whatever.

[List omits some things that don't apply to me: marriage certificate, birth certificates for children, school or work letter.]

  • Application form.
    Used to be link to NY consulate National Visa Application form (DEAD LINK)

    Miami consulate web site says two originals of form, filled out. Applying at NYC consulate, I submitted just one form.

    Names in Spain are a bit of a pain:
    Spain doesn't do "middle names" the way we tend to do in USA. Many Spanish people have a name of form "FirstName SecondName FirstLastName SecondLastName" (but some have 3 or 5 names).

    The visa application form is pretty clear: it says "Surname (family name)" and "First name(s) (Given name(s))". But get it right; if your name is "First Middle Last", put only "Last" in the "Surname" field, and put "First Middle" in the "First name(s)" field.

    Your US passport should have your name the same way; if your name is "First Middle Last", it should have only "Last" in the "Surname / Nom / Apellidos" field, and "First Middle" in the "Given Names / Prenoms / Nombres" field.

    Later in Spain, forms will have "Nombre" and "Apellido". Others will have "Nombre" and "1st Apellido" and "2nd Apellido". Be consistent; if your name is "First Middle Last", put only "Last" in the "Apellido" or "1st Apellido" field, and put "First Middle" in the "Nombre" field.

    Check that Spanish officials put your name correctly on documents when they're typing it in. Often their instinct is to put "Middle Last" in the "Apellido" field, and put "First" in the "Nombre" field.

    You don't want your various documents to have your name partitioned differently.

    Specify your name similarly when buying airline tickets and such. You don't want to show up at the airport and have the agent say "but the last name on your ID card doesn't match the last name on the ticket". I made that expensive mistake, with a Spanish person's name. Safest to just specify first and last names, not first-middle-last for US people, or first-middle-last-secondlast for Spanish people.

  • Two Spanish-passport-size photographs.
    Good idea to write your name on the backs of the photographs.

    Box on application form is Spanish passport-sized: size is 40 mm x 30 mm.

    Miami consulate web site says photographs should be glued to the application forms. Applying at NYC consulate, I gave them two photos, and they gave back one and stapled the other to the application form.

    Wagoners Abroad's "How to get Passport Photos for $0.35"
    Nora Dunn's "Passport Pictures for Under a Dollar" (and read the comments)
    Nora Dunn's "Cheap Passport Pictures (Part Two): Online Ordering" (and read the comments)

    For a US passport renewal, I found it tricky to take a decent passport photo at home with my digital camera. Had to fiddle with lighting and camera position to avoid glare from my eyeglasses and avoid shadows. And sometimes my facial expression was wrong, or the angle was wrong. Ended up retouching the photo to get rid of a small spot of glare.

    I used to crop the photo, and then it made a 4-photo layout which was saved as one JPG file onto my computer. Copied that file onto an SD card, and went to a photo shop. There the trick is to print that big JPG at a 6"x4" size, to make the four individual pictures the right size (2"x2" each). And the printer cut the top off slightly, making only the bottom two pictures usable (probably); maybe I should have left slightly more blank space around the edges of the solo photo. Even so, printing the 4-photo picture cost about €1.

    Some confusion about whether the pictures should have me wearing my eyeglasses or not; State Dept web site shows lots of people wearing glasses in passport photos and explains that glare is not allowed etc, but Barcelona consulate site says don't wear glasses in the picture. So I did another set without eyeglasses, and spent another €1 for printing.

    Went to US consulate in Barcelona to renew my passport, and they rejected my pictures as being too dark. Pictures look brighter on the computer than they do printed; make them overly bright on the computer, and maybe they will print better. Had to pay €5 for pictures at the consulate. And they told me: don't wear eyeglasses in the pictures.

    For visa application, I took a photo (no eyeglasses) at home with my digital camera, edited it to make it brighter, used to crop it properly and make a block of Spanish-passport-sized photos, printed a block of 4 at a pharmacy for $0.31. Worked fine.

  • Application fee: money-order for $140.
    NY consulate fees

    From Yelp reviews of NYC consulate:
    "Money-Order" to pay the non-refundable visa fees (no personal checks or cash accepted). ...

    Can get money-orders at the Post Office, Western Union, payday check-cashing place, maybe a bank. Cost only about $1 apiece at Post Office. Consulate says can pay total amount all in one money-order.

  • Passport.
    For long-stay visa, passport must be valid for at least 1 more year.

    Miami consulate web site says passport must have at least two empty pages for visas; other consulate web sites say 1 empty page, or just space for the visa, or say nothing about it.

    Make sure you have signed your passport.

    It MAY be possible for you to keep your passport, if needed for travel, while the visa application is being processed. Ask the consulate, and ask during the appointment. If so, you'd have to bring it back later or mail it back later to have the visa applied.

  • Way to ship passport back to applicant.
    NYC consulate page says pre-paid and self-addressed UPS label to USA address only. At the NYC consulate, they said give them a labeled envelope, UPS-prepaid. No other service accepted.

    Chicago consulate page says "United States Postal Services Express Mail or Priority Mail with tracking number envelope, pre-paid and self-addressed".

    From Yelp reviews of NYC consulate:
    If you are granted a visa it is ready the next day [after approval]. You can either pick it up or bring them a pre-paid UPS envelope and they will mail the passport to you. That would take 2-3 business days.

  • Proof of current address (driver's license or State ID).
    Miami consulate web site says this, and A Texan in Spain's "How to Apply for a Student Visa for Spain at the Houston Consulate" says it too; haven't seen it elsewhere.

    Applying at NYC consulate, I showed them my NJ driver's license and gave them a photocopy of it; not sure that was necessary.

  • Criminal record check(s).
    For a US resident, one of:

    • FBI criminal record check ("Identity History Summary").

      COMO's "How to Request an FBI Background Check"
      FBI's "Identity History Summary Checks"
      SpainGuru's "How to get an FBI background check in 2 weeks instead of 6"

      (3/2018: Apparently there is a new "eDO" way of electronically submitting a request to FBI, so probably you shouldn't use a channeler any more. See FBI's "Electronic Departmental Order".)

      From /u/GlobalTumbleweed:
      There are companies that will help you with the FBI background check. There are quite a few companies known as FBI Channelers that will charge more than the FBI for the background check but GREATLY speed up the process: List of FBI-Approved Channelers.

      NBCI's "FBI Channeling FAQs"

      NBCI charges $50 plus shipping; FBI charges $18; in either case, you have to send the result to State Dept to be apostilled (takes about 1 week; $8/document).
      State Dept's "Office of Authentications"
      From Consulate of Spain in New York's "Visas New York":
      "The CJIS Division will authenticate U.S. Department of Justice Order 556-73 fingerprint search results for international requests by placing the FBI seal and the signature of a division official on the results if requested at the time of submission. Documents prepared in this way may then be sent to the U.S. Department of State by the requester to obtain an apostille if necessary."

      From Ben Raznick's "How to Get the FBI Background Check and Apostille for Auxiliares Program":
      IMPORTANT: On a sticky note, write that you need the FBI Certificate "Authenticated" in order to get the Apostille. If you do not do this, the FBI Report may not come back NOTARIZED, which is NECESSARY for the Apostille.


      It seems like each consulate varies in the requirements needed to obtain the student Visa. If you are applying for a Visa, I recommend contacting the consulate that will be issuing the Visa to ask whether the FBI background check needs to be notarized or have the apostille.

      [Normal FBI seal and signature may be enough to get it apostilled; may not need "notarization".]

      As far as I can tell, no company will do the background-check-and-apostille for you in one operation; the results of the background check have to come to you, and then it has to be sent out for apostille. There are companies who specialize in just the apostille part; they seem to be very expensive. Maybe get a quote from US Authentication Services.

      From comment on Ben Raznick's "How to Get the FBI Background Check and Apostille for Auxiliares Program":
      I got my FBI check and apostille by using a company Rushdocs [they seem to be gone now]; it was $45 with shipping included and it was less than a week total time even with shipping. But like Ben said ... IMPORTANT: Write that you need the FBI Certificate "Authenticated" in order to get the Apostille.

      If you're in Spain (or maybe other countries) when you want to start the FBI check, you may be able to go the US Embassy and pick up the FBI fingerprint forms, then take them to a police station to have the prints done.

      From /u/smacksaw on reddit:
      Most [US] courthouses have live scan fingerprinting and it's much faster as it's all digital. When I emigrated to Canada, I had to provide criminal background checks by fingerprint for the FBI, as well as every state that I lived in.

      Doing it with live scan really streamlines the whole process.
      From Fieldprint's "FAQs":
      3. I need an official sealed/apostille copy of my background check results for a specific agency. Can Fieldprint provide this?

      No. All requests for a sealed or apostille copy of your FBI criminal history record information MUST be requested directly through the FBI. FBI-approved channelers are not able to provide results in this manner.
      But FBI's "Identity History Summary Checks" says:
      "Fingerprints taken with ink or via live scan are acceptable."
      Fieldprint's "FAQs"

      Taking your fingerprints yourself:
      My experience:
      A Puerto Rico police station took my fingerprints for free using a LiveScan machine, and gave me the printed fingerprint cards.

      I paid a channeler (nbinformation) $40, and had the FBI results back in a little more than a week. This channeler's web site says results will be appropriate for apostilling; I didn't write anything special on the order.

      I paid the State Dept $8 for apostille, and had the results back in a little less than 2 weeks.

    • State criminal record check.

      From KurpeDiem's "How to Get Residence in Spain as a US Citizen":
      In lieu of the FBI background check (which I hear can take upwards of 3 months) they accepted a State background check which took about two weeks, since we lived in the same State for 5 years.

      New Jersey Criminal History Records Checks
      $40.70 money-order.
      Then send to NJ Dept of Treasury to be apostilled (may take 3 weeks; $25/document): NJ Department of the Treasury's "Apostilles and Notary Certifications".

    11/2014: Spanish consulate in NYC told me they really prefer FBI background check, not a state check.

    From someone on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group 12/2014:
    Re: FBI check, state check, or both ?

    Depends on the situation, what type of visa/residency and the requirements of your consulate or local extranjeria office. In my case, for work residency applied for from Spain, I had to present the federal AND state background check, which I didn't learn until after I submitted my papers. I showed up with only the FBI check and they gave me 10 days to submit the state check, or I would have had to start all over (and a bunch of my other paperwork would have "expired"). In contrast, when I first applied for a student visa at the Chicago consulate, they accepted either the state OR federal check. If they explicitly tell you that you only need one, you should be fine. But if in doubt, I definitely recommend getting both, just in case.

    Some states will give results in Spanish if you request.

    In some states (such as California) there is a two-step process, you get a "fingerprint check" and then a "criminal background check certificate" ?

    Miami consulate web site says:
    If the applicant has spent six months or more during the last five years in another country, he/she must submit the police record from that country, legalized with the Apostille Certification and translated into Spanish. If the country is not part of the Hague Convention the document must be legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then by the Spanish Consulate of that country. This certificate cannot be older than 3 months from the application date.

    Chicago's "Residence Visa for Retirees" (PDF) says "You must also get a police record from the countries where you have lived during the last 5 years". Same on Houston's "Retirement Residence Visa".

    From CIEE's "Spanish Visa Application Guidelines" (PDF):
    [About NYC consulate:] Police Certificate from ALL PLACES lived in during the past 5 years.

    ESL Certified's "How to Obtain a Criminal or Police Record Check" (for many different countries)

    Does "spent six months or more during the last five years" include Spain itself ?
    Request criminal record check from Ministerio de Justicia's "Certificado de Antecedentes Penales". I assume it doesn't have to be apostilled/legalized; a Spanish consulate should accept a Spanish legal document, right ?

    From conversation with NYC consulate:
    Criminal record check only from USA; they don't seem to care about the "lived 6 months in any other country in last 5 years". I mentioned visiting Spain as a tourist for total of more than 6 months, but they said I don't need a record check from there. Perhaps you need criminal record checks from other countries if you officially were a resident there, not just a tourist.

    2018: one person using NYC consulate had a DUI and marijuana possession about 5 years ago on his record, still got approved for visa.

    2018: one person applying for arraigo social had a dismissed traffic offense about 12 years ago on his record, and got rejected. But that can be appealed, and only criminal offenses, and convictions, should matter.

  • Doctor's examination letter.
    Homer Simpson with 'not insane' certificate

    How to find a doctor who understands what kind of examination and certification is needed ?

    Take immunization records with you to the doctor's appointment.

    From International Living's "Spain Visa and Residence Information":
    [Non-lucrative visa requires] A medical certificate printed on a doctor's letterhead, verifying that you are free from yellow fever, cholera, and the plague, and drug addiction, and mental illness, along with a translation into Spanish, plus two photocopies.

    Miami consulate web site says:
    Health certificates submitted to this office must verify that applicant/patient is free of any illnesses that could have serious repercussions to public health and that could easily spread internationally. The first list includes smallpox, poliomyelitis by wild poliovirus, the human influenza caused by a new subtype of virus and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The second list includes cholera, pneumonic plague, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers (e.g.: Ebola, Lassa, Marburg), West Nile Virus and other illnesses of special importance nationally or regionally (e.g.: Dengue Fever, Rift Valley Fever and meningococcal disease).

    For this reason, the mandatory health certificate that should be submitted with residence visa applications and student visa applications for more than 180 days of stay, must verify the information listed above in a manner similar to the following: "This health certificate verifies that Mr. /Mrs. /Ms (...) does not suffer from any illnesses that could cause serious repercussions to public health according to the specifications of the international sanitary regulation of 2005."

    This certificate cannot be older than 3 months from the application date.

    Los Angeles consulate web site says:
    This Certificate must be signed in the hand of the doctor (M.D. or D.O.) in a letter-head paper in the following format: "This medical certificate attests that Mr./ Mrs. .......... does not suffer from any illness that would pose a threat to public health according to the International Health Regulations of 2005." Visit the web page of the World Health Organization to learn the exact information regarding the control and containment of known risks to public health. The certificate must also bear the official stamp of the administering center; however, this will not substitute the absence of the doctor's signature. Any amendment to this certificate or erasure may render it invalid. This certificate must be issued in the place of residence, and is valid for 3 months counting from the date it has been issued.

    San Francisco's "Residence Visa for Retirees" (PDF) says: "Medical Certificate ... indicating that 'the patient has been examined and found free of any contagious diseases according to the International Health Regulation 2005'." Same on Houston's "Retirement Residence Visa".

    Message on The Expatriate Cafe forums says California consulate (which one ?) wants letter to say:
    This health certificate verifies that Mr/Ms ...... is free of drug addiction, mental illness and does not suffer from any disease that could cause serious repercussions to public health according to the specifications of the international sanitary regulation of 2005. These contagious diseases include, but are not limited to smallpox, poliomyelitis by wild poliovirus, the human influenza caused by a new subtype of virus and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), cholera, pneumonic plague, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers (e.g.: Ebola, Lassa, Marburg ), West Nile Virus and other illnesses of special importance nationally or regionally (e.g.: Dengue Fever, Rift Valley Fever and meningococcal disease.) Ms./Mr. ______________ is a very healthy individual in all senses, she/he has no pre-existing medical conditions, and she/he is capable of traveling abroad.

    NYC's "Visas New York" says "... verifying that the applicant is free from any contagious diseases; this certificate must also certify specifically that the applicant is free of drug addictions, mental illnesses or any kind of illnesses which could lead to Public Health repercussions according to the International Sanitary Regulations ...".

    Someone said the DC consulate accepted this form from the LA consulate, no translation needed: Medical Certificate of Good Health (PDF).

    From Rookie Notes' "How to Get Your Spanish Student Visa (Part II) !":
    "Make sure to have your doctor write your name as it appears on your passport."

    Someone said it's important to have your doctor include "MD" at the end of their signature.

    If you have the doctor hand-sign letters both in English and Spanish, you won't have to get a certified translation later ?

    Some comments on Ben Raznick's "How to Get the FBI Background Check and Apostille for Auxiliares Program" say that doctor's letter might have to be notarized, or even apostilled (don't see how that is possible). Check with your consulate.

    San Francisco consulate said (in email 8/2014):
    "No, we don't have a list of instructions [about what tests or examinations to do] to give to the doctor."

    Los Angeles consulate said (in email 8/2014):
    "You need to go to your family Doctor with our instructions, and He must Know what to do". (But of course, the consulate's "instructions" are not specific instructions on tests or examinations.)

    I'm starting to realize it may be kind of an "ask the doctor what it will take to get him/her to sign the letter" deal. The consulates have no instructions or details, other than the language they want in the letter.

    Walk-in clinics at big stores such as CVS use nurse-practioners, not doctors, so can't do this.

    Urgent-care clinics, or county health clinics ?

    From someone on "Citizens Advice Bureau Spain" Facebook group:
    "The medical thing is quite simply something they need to check off so just follow the form (write the letter) and have your doctor sign it."

    Los Angeles consulate web site says "This certificate must be issued in the place of residence"; no other consulate web site says this.

    One doctor I contacted in Grenada with a general "what needed to get a visa" question replied:
    Normally they require a past and present medical history with medications, vaccinations up to date, a current physical and labs to rule out communicable disease. This will include a STD screen.


    I must see you, get a history, do an assessment (physical and psychological), check your vaccinations and the labs as I mentioned. I just don't sign letters without assessing the patient.

    From someone on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    "The doctor usually does a TB test and looks at your vaccination record, then asks you some questions, and that's it. I had no insurance when I had to do it so I went to an urgent care and they did basically nothing and then signed their lives away. $90 in five minutes for them, happy easy visa letter thing for me."

    From someone else on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    "I did mine in Paraguay and I had to have a series of tests done ... psychological exam, dermatological exam, an EKG, and many others ... blood tests including HIV and TB ... it was crazy."

    From someone else on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    "She just did a check-up, a chest x-ray to detect TB (I think), some standard blood work and confirmed that I was up to date on my immunizations before she signed."

    From someone else on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    "... as you can see by the responses of the consulates, the people working there really don't care what your letter says. They will scan for the words 'international sanitary regulations of 2005' and then check it off the list. (You will notice this trend in all of your bureaucratic interactions in Spain.) Whether or not the doctor does tests is up to the doctor. Just do whatever it takes to get a letter that includes the name of that 2005 regulation. The rest really doesn't matter."

    From a NJ family-care practice 1/2015:
    We would do a physical examination, blood test, titer, take a history. Physical costs $250+, blood tests ???

    From another NJ practice 1/2015:
    We don't do mental illness screening; would have to do a referral. Can't do drug addiction screening either. Generic physical for $40.

    My experience:
    I found a very cooperative doctor who gave me an eyeball examination, wrote a prescription for a dozen blood and urine tests, and promised to write the letter in Spanish for me, for free !

    Went to a hospital and had the blood and urine taken and sent off for tests; $208.

    Then struggled for several weeks to get the results and the letter. Both doctor and hospital forgot about the notes I left with them, or lost the notes, and forgot to do what they promised. Then faxes wouldn't go through, or got lost at destination.

    Finally the doctor paper-mailed the results to me, along with a terrific letter in Spanish that is just what I asked for. No problem when I submitted that at the consulate.

    Routine physical, ended up in heaven

  • Proof of sufficient financial means.
    Bank account statements, maybe income tax return ?

    I understand they ask about your annual income. I have little income but tons of savings; I'm living off my savings for the rest of my life, slowly drawing them down. Do the authorities understand this kind of situation ?

    Answer from /u/alaninsitges: "you'll have to provide proof of solvency; I think it's something like €75,000 liquid".

    From /u/ultimomono:
    If you have a lot of savings in the US, it should be easy to get the visa. Once you get to Spain, you would be required to show a much smaller amount in a Spanish bank account to prove that you can sustain yourself for one year and apply for residency.


    I've never been able to use any kind of funds that were in the US or generated in the US to apply toward any of my many residency applications and renewals. I had to always show:
    1. money in a Spanish bank (movimientos bancarios), or
    2. taxable income on a Spanish "declaracion de la renta" and/or
    3. the Spanish "nomina" of someone who claimed me as a dependent.
    It doesn't seem that the immigration authorities here have a mechanism for taking into account foreign financial documents.

    From /u/GlobalTumbleweed:
    I had no income when I applied and just showed savings, investments, etc. It wasn't a problem.


    I did not have any money in Spanish banks and no one ever said that I should or mentioned it. Everything was in the US.

    From International Living's "Spain Visa and Residence Information":
    [Non-lucrative visa requires] Proof that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself (and any family members accompanying you). This can be proof of pensions, social security payments, investments, and the like. Documents must be translated into Spanish, with two photocopies. (Please note that the exact amount of income required is at the discretion of the consulate and depends on the cost of living where you plan to live.)

    Confusing; I keep hearing a large INCOME (not assets) requirement. For example, from Chicago consulate's "Non-Lucrative Residence Visa": "Bank statements of the previous year, investments, sabbaticals, annuities and any other source of income totalling a minimum of 2.130 Euros/month." Maybe it's either-or: either €75K liquid assets or €2130/month income ?

    I kept pressing the San Francisco consulate (via email) to give me a "total assets required" number, and finally they said "We will send to Spain the information that you bring. They will be the one that will decide." So, no help there.

    From Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen":
    To prove you can live for a year in Spain without stealing a Spaniard's job, they require proof of recurring income. The instructions say you need income totaling a minimum of €2,130 per month ...

    I had read about other applicants simply submitting bank statements showing savings that eclipse the monthly amount extrapolated to a year. ... I submitted one year's worth of bank statements that totaled an amount almost three times this. [And his visa application was approved.]

    From Wagoners Abroad's "Non Lucrative Spain Visa Requirements & Process":
    "You must bring documents showing that you have at least $100,000 - either in bank accounts, savings or investments - to be able to live in Spain without earning money."

    From Wagoners Abroad's "10 Tips for Spanish Resident Visa Application":
    > what did you use for proof of income?

    We used a screen-shot of our bank statement as well as 401k summary statement. It is best to have the bank logo on the paper as well. Depending on the consulate which is aligned to you, there will be different $ amounts required. You can prove you have a set amount of money or a set amount of an income stream. Please verify with your local Spanish consulate.

    From Washington DC consulate's "Visa information":
    [Non-lucrative visa:] Financial proof. This is the most important requirement for this type of visa. You must bring documents showing that you have at least $100,000 - either in bank accounts, savings or investments - to be able to live in Spain without earning money.

    Applying at the NYC consulate, I gave them the summary sheet from my USA bank account, showing a large balance (well more than $100,000), and it was accepted without comment.

  • Letter of intent, to confirm address and reason for staying.
    Miami consulate web site says:
    Proof of accommodation in the city where you want to live as follows:
    • Notarized invitation letter from a family or friend where he/she assumes responsibility for lodging, or
    • Lease, or
    • Deed of the property or
    • Letter explaining the reason why you have chosen that city in particular.

    Chicago's "Residence Visa for Retirees" (PDF) says "Notarized document explaining why: you are requesting this visa, the purpose, the place and length of your stay in Spain and any other reasons you need to explain.".

    I sent email to the NYC consulate asking if "letter of intent" from me had to be notarized, and they said no.

    In my case, perhaps:
    A notarized letter from citizen I will be living with in Spain, in Spanish, with copy of my passport's ID page:
    To whom it may concern:

    [NAME] is invited to reside with me in my home at [ADDRESS] for the foreseeable future.
    Plus a letter from myself:
    Letter of Intent

    To Consulate General of Spain:

    I wish to reside at [ADDRESS] with [NAME], a Spanish citizen with whom I have a personal relationship. I plan to reside there for several years. I have spent several 2-month vacations in Barcelona with her, and very much want to live there. I am retired, support myself with my savings in bank accounts, and will not work. I request that you please grant a long-stay, non-lucrative visa to me. Thank you.

    Found this: "New Jersey law requires that a Notary must be able to read the documents to be notarized. Notaries cannot notarize documents written in languages unfamiliar to them."

    My experience:
    I asked my lady in Spain to write a simple one-line invitation letter in Spanish ("[NAME] is invited to reside with me in my home at [ADDRESS] for the foreseeable future.") and have it notarized.

    Instead the notary made it into a huge production and eventually I received a booklet containing 5 pages of text in Spanish and a sixth page attesting to the lady's ID, all stamped and numbered and whatever. Cost: €70.

    The "letter of intent" I wrote:
    To Consulate General of Spain:

    Dear Sir:

    I wish to reside at [address] with [name], a Spanish citizen with whom I have a personal relationship. I plan to reside there for several years at least.

    I am retired, after working for [number] years as a [job]. I support myself with my savings in bank accounts, and will not work. I promise to be a responsible and law-abiding resident of Spain.

    I request that you please grant a long-stay, non-lucrative visa to me.

    Thank you,

    Applying at the NYC consulate, both letters were accepted without comment.

  • Proof of medical insurance.
    NYC consulate's web site doesn't mention it, but a couple of applicants do mention it being required, and Miami consulate's web site does say it is required. When contacted, NYC consulate said it IS required.

    Los Angeles consulate web site says:
    Proof of travel/health/accident insurance: a letter from your insurance company stating that they will cover 100% (no deductibles) of the medical expenses with emergency and repatriation services and a minimum coverage of €30.000 or its equivalent in dollars. Policies with reimbursements or co-payments will not be accepted. You can buy travel insurance from your travel agency, through the internet, or an insurance company in Spain.

    From KurpeDiem's "How to Get Residence in Spain as a US Citizen":
    There are also many inexpensive health insurance plans out there, however, it has to be $0 deductible. (We use Mutua General de Catalunya, which is only available in Catalunya I believe. We pay 41.88 eur per month, no co-pay, no deductible.)

    From Yelp reviews of NYC consulate:
    Travel medical insurance document for Spain with a minimum coverage of €30,000 and "Repatriation Coverage". An insurance card will NOT be accepted as proof of coverage. ...


    If you have regular US insurance (as a benefit from your employer for example) and they cover emergencies outside of the USA (in my case Cigna does it for at least $50K) the document from the insurance company that states it is enough.

    From Wagoners Abroad's "Private Health Insurance In Spain - For Non Lucrative Visa Application":
    What is the difference between Medical Insurance and Travel Insurance?

    ... Travel Insurance typically covers emergency medical procedures. In addition, they often cover the policyholder for insurable events that may occur before or during travel, such as trip cancellation/interruption, medical expenses for injury or illness, theft of valuables, baggage delay or damage and more. Many of these companies do not cover you in your home country at all or within a certain radius from your home city.

    ... Medical Insurance usually covers your medical needs preventative as well as injury or illness. Of course there are wide ranges of coverage available within this area, with a variety of deductible amounts. It was difficult to find coverage for Spain as well as the US.

    At the time, we decided to opt for high-end "Travel Insurance" through World Nomads for our coverage. We weren't sure if it would be accepted for the application, but it did meet all of the coverage requirements and repatriation too. In the end, our visa was approved with this coverage in Summer of 2012.

    In hindsight, which Medical Coverage would we have chosen?

    After living in Spain for 1 year, it was time for us to apply for our Spanish resident card renewal. As part of this process we needed to again show proof of finances as well as Medical Coverage. We started to do more research on Medical Coverage here in Spain and found it to be much more affordable than the US options. We decided not to renew our Travel Insurance and instead purchase Medical Insurance from one of the Spanish insurance companies.

    See my Health Insurance and Healthcare in Spain page.

    From someone on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    I know Mapfre sells stand-alone repatriation insurance for about 100 euros, good for one year. I'm sure others do too. So if all you need is repatriation coverage you could buy a policy just for that rather than duplicating insurance you already have.

    My experience:
    I bought a policy from IMG. It has a $1000 annual deductible, and co-pays, and $50K of medical evacuation coverage. Their site gives you a wonderful one-page visa letter explaining the coverage, and I submitted a printout of that when applying for the visa. No problem.

  • Solicitud de autorizacion de residencia temporal no lucrativa - Request for authorization for temporary residence nonprofit (EX-01).
    Form EX-01 (PDF).

    NYC consulate's web site doesn't mention it, but Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston consulate web sites do say it is required. When contacted, NYC consulate said it IS required.

    From Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen":
    [I wasn't sure how to fill in this form.] As a result, I only completed the first portion - 1) Datos del Extranjero/a and left the rest blank. The attendant at our appointment helped complete the rest and unfortunately, I don't remember how it was ultimately filled out (if at all beyond that first section - I do remember that it wasn't much).

  • Authorization of initial residence Fee (790 code 052).
    Was link to Form 790 code 052 (DEAD LINK).

    NYC and Los Angeles consulate web sites don't mention it, but Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston consulate web sites do say it is required, and various applicants mention it. When contacted, NYC consulate said it IS required.

    From Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen":
    "Per instruction while at the appointment, I just completed the top portion with my name and U.S. address, checked option 1c, and signed the first page."

    How much is the fee ?
    Chicago's "Tasas Consulares"
    NYC's "Consular Fees New York"

  • 790 code 052 fee: money-order for the fee.

  • Solicitud de autorizacion de estancia y prorrogas - Request for authorization to stay and extensions (EX-00).
    Hard to get a readable copy of this form online. I found this one (PDF).

    NYC, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Houston consulate web sites don't mention it, various applicants don't mention it, but Los Angeles consulate's web site does say it is required, if retirement visa.

    When applying at NYC consulate for non-lucrative visa, I did NOT have to submit this form.

  • Reservation for travel to Spain, to match date on application form ?
    NYC and Miami consulate web sites don't mention it.

    San Francisco's "Residence Visa for Retirees" (PDF) says:
    Once your visa is authorized, we will contact you immediately by email or mail, and you (and all your family members applying for a visa) will have to come in person to this Consulate General within a month with your passport and an itinerary of flight to Spain in order to obtain the visa.

    Houston's "Retirement Residence Visa" says: "We highly recommend you not to purchase your travel tickets until your visa has been approved."

    From Yelp reviews of NYC consulate:
    ... must show Confirmed reservation of your airline ticket (Round-Trip). Just a Flight RESERVATION is required. It is highly recommended not to confirm the reservation or buy the tickets until you get your visa. ...


    Nowadays, most airlines don't really do any kind of reservation, especially for the economy class. So it's on your own to decide if you prefer the risk to fail the interview or lose money you spent on the flight in case the visa isn't issued. Kind of stupid requirement to have.

    From Rookie Notes' "How to Get Your Spanish Student Visa (Part II) !":
    > Do I need to show my flight itinerary?

    No. I brought mine, but they didn't look at it.

    Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen", Wagoners Abroad's "10 Tips for Spanish Resident Visa Application", and A Texan in Spain's "How to Apply for a Student Visa for Spain at the Houston Consulate" don't mention it.

    When applying at NYC consulate for non-lucrative visa, I did NOT have to show travel reservations. But I did have them set the visa availability date to match my intentions.

Can you get an NIE before going to Spain, by filing EX-15 form (PDF) at consulate along with your visa application ? Probably yes, but I'm not sure it's worth doing unless you really have to, and it will be a pain if anything goes wrong with the paperwork.
Spanish Property Insight's "Spanish NIE numbers: Why you need one, and how to get one in or outside of Spain"

When I received my long-stay visa, stamped into my passport, it had an NIE on it, so they did that automatically.

Other document requirements

Still unclear on the process; is this it ?
  1. If a document is an official US government document (birth certificate, marriage license, FBI criminal record check, state criminal record check, etc), it must be apostilled. Then:

  2. All English-language documents, apostilled or not, must be translated and certified by a Certified Translator (AKA "Official Sworn Translator"). Then:

  3. Originals and photocopies of the Spanish-language documents are submitted along with the application form.

  4. You keep the English-language originals (birth cert, marriage license, apostilled FBI criminal record check, doctor's letter, medical insurance letter, etc); don't submit them.

  5. Probably a good idea to take everything, and more, with you to the consulate appointment, just in case. English-language versions of documents, birth certificate even though you have passport, etc. Just in case.

  • Apostille:
    From International Living's "Spain Visa and Residence Information":
    All official documents such as birth and marriage certificates must be apostilled to be accepted by the Spanish authorities. The apostille process is a specific type of legal certification agreed to by countries - of which the U.S. was one - that signed a treaty at the Hague Convention. Canadians must have their documents authenticated via a different process; contact the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

    All documents must also be translated into Spanish.

    From Wagoners Abroad's "10 Tips for Spanish Resident Visa Application":
    For the documents that were not from a government agency, the documents do not need an Apostille or notary. The only exception to that is the document where you describe the reasons for your visa request. In that case, a simple "Attestation" or "True Copy" may be used. Your state/county may have a different name for it, but if you contact a local Notary, they should know the proper form.

    Looks like documents can be apostilled by either the US federal govt or a state govt:

    It may be possible to hand-carry a document to the apostilling agency and have it done the same day (walk-in). It seems to be a pretty straightforward process: they verify that the seal and signature on the document are that of a registered official, then attach a page saying that the document has been apostilled/verified.

    It may be possible to mail a document to a private company, who will then hand-carry it to the apostilling agency and have it done the same day (walk-in), for a fee.

  • Translation:
    From CIEE's "Spanish Visa Application Guidelines" (PDF):
    Many consulates require that you get all official documents translated; check with your consulate to see which documents require Spanish translation (usually the medical certificate and police certificate).

    I ended up not having to get ANY documents translated, although my doctor's letter and invitation letter were written in Spanish originally. I asked /u/AidenTai on reddit about this:
    Current official procedure is to require documentation in Spanish or some other locally official language of Spain in all cases. However, certain consulates and government delegations may be more lenient than this due to various reasons. In the case of consulates in other EU countries or in advanced developed countries, they may be particularly lenient given the high approval rates and desireability of the applying individuals of certain nationalities. This is particularly the case when the applying individuals request residency that is generally beneficial to the Spanish economy without affecting local employment negatively (non-lucrative residency and students). Official procedure remains, however, to require translation of all documents not in Spanish or some other co-official language.

    From Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen":
    "Bank statements primarily showing dollar amounts and dates do not need to be translated into Spanish."

    From someone on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    BTW, the reason it takes 4 months to get the visa is because all those documents (it took me over 1 month to assemble all the required documents and that was before translation) we are asked to provide are parcelled out among various official government agencies back in Spain for examination/follow-up. I was told many of these agencies' funcionarios do not speak English, which is why everything must be translated. ...

    From /u/alaninsitges:
    There are many ["official translation" services], and they are pretty cheap.

    From /u/GlobalTumbleweed:
    What you're looking for re: translations are Certified Translations. I'm unsure where you live, but there were 5 to 10 companies that offered certified spanish translations in my city. A certified translation will come with a cover sheet of sorts that will be signed by the translator certifying (!) that it is a true translation and not an interpretation, etc. A company has to be licensed to do this, so don't just go with a friend who speaks Spanish fluently. If I remember correctly the certified signed sheet will also be notarized. They aren't incredibly expensive, but on the other hand they certainly aren't free. For 20 pieces of paper plan for a few hundred dollars.

    Comments from KurpeDiem's "How to Get Residence in Spain as a US Citizen":
    We found an official translator on Craigslist who was very inexpensive (Tampa Bay Translations).

  • Must submit originals and copies:
    Must submit originals and copies of the above-mentioned documents, and they will not be returned, so keep additional copies for yourself. You will get back a copy of the application form, stamped to show receipt.

    Seems that short-stay visas require original plus 1 copy of each document, and long-stay visas requires original plus 2 copies of each. Some consulate pages vary on this. Best to have 2 copies of each, plus a 3rd copy to keep for yourself.

    From Wagoners Abroad's "10 Tips for Spanish Resident Visa Application":
    I highly recommend you not only make the 2 copies required for the application, but that you also save a copy for yourself. At least scan it, so you have electronic copies. You don't want to have to retrace any of the steps.

    When making copies, you should copy all pages. (The Apostille page with seal, the translated page and the original English copies).

    Do the copies have to be color copies, or just black-and-white ?

    From Rookie Notes' "How to Get Your Spanish Student Visa (Part II) !":
    > Do I need a copy of each page of my passport?

    No, save your ink.

    Maybe see if you can get some original documents back with the visa, or just show the originals at the appointment but submit photocopies with the application. The original medical certificate and criminal record check may be needed to get Residency Permit/Card when you arrive in Spain.
    From Ben Raznick's "How to Get the FBI Background Check and Apostille for Auxiliares Program":
    When I applied for my Visa, I included a note to the consulate asking to please return my FBI report document with my Visa [so I would] be able to extend my visa upon arrival in Spain. They did return it to me.
    My experience:
    When I applied for the visa, I said a couple of times: I need to get my original documents back so I can use them when applying for residency in Spain. Official did not comment about this at the time.

    When my visa was approved and my passport and visa were sent back to me, the other documents I wanted returned (FBI check, doctor's letter, invitation letter) were not with them. Sent email to consulate, and they said "We can't send you the documents because these documents are our files. You don't need to submit these documents in Spain." [And they were right.]

    Houston's "Retirement Residence Visa" says you must submit English-language originals plus certified translations of the documents. Other consulate web sites don't say this.

    From Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen":
    All original copies of our background checks (including Apostille), medical certificates, marriage license, and birth certificates were returned to us. I think they needed to see the originals during our appointment, but only ended up keeping the copies. The attendant helping us said to bring the originals with us to Spain as they would want to see them at that time.

    From From here to home and beyond's "Spain Student Visa":
    [Used NYC consulate.] Make a color copy of your apostilled background check. Because they want a copy not the original. The original is yours to keep because you may have to use it to obtain your NIE card in Spain.

From /u/alaninsitges:
There is going to be a lot (a lot) of paperwork and red tape and rubber stamps and oh-no-this-one-isn't-right-start-all-over-again. Welcome to Spain.

Sounds like I'm going to have to visit the consulate in person and ask about each specific document:
  • Application form: one or two originals, or original plus copy ?

  • Passport: copy needed, color or B+W copy, just ID page or whole thing ? Can travel to Spain as tourist while application pending ? Can keep passport while application pending ?

  • State ID: copy needed, color or B+W copy ?

  • Criminal record check: apostille, translate, color or B+W copy, can submit copy or get original back later ? Can be state police, or must be FBI ?

  • Spain criminal record check doesn't have to be apostilled ? How to do "true copy of a valid identification" for mail-in ?

  • Medical certificate: notarize or not, translate, can submit copy or get original back later ? Has to be a doctor in country of my passport ? Have a list of doctors ?

  • Bank statements: notarize or not, translate, can submit copy or get original back later ? If have no income, what level of assets is required ?

  • Letter from citizen: notarize or not ?

  • Medical insurance: requirements, notarized or not, translated ? Can just show insurance membership card ?

  • Which of EX-01, 790 code 052 (initial residence Fee), EX-00 forms ?

  • Travel reservation: required or not, translate ?

  • Submit Spanish-language originals and copies, not English-language originals ?

  • Have a list of translators ?

Or maybe it's better to just follow the consulate web page blindly, do the simplest thing, give it a shot, play dumb. But if I need something else, things I already have could expire while I'm getting the additional thing.

Well, I went to the NYC consulate 11/2014 to ask questions:
Since I didn't have an appointment, they wouldn't let me in through Security. But the guard got someone knowledgable to come out and I had a rushed conversation with him across the Security desk.

Amazingly, he said everything is simpler than the web site and other reading had led me to believe. Nothing has to be translated into Spanish, except for diplomas and such (not relevant to me). Nothing has to be notarized. No criminal record check from Spain, just one from FBI (they don't really like State Police check, would rather have FBI check). Black-and-white photocopies; color not needed. Copy only ID page of passport, not the whole passport. Don't have to show a travel reservation for going to Spain.

One new thing: I said I was going to have my lady in Spain write a one-sentence invitation letter to show I had somewhere to live in Spain: "[NAME] is invited to reside with me in my home at [ADDRESS]." Instead, he said they'd like it if she went to the police station in Spain, got some kind of letter from them saying she invites me to live with her, and then I give the letter to the consulate when I apply. He said the police would have the letter she needs to sign.
[I think this is a "Carta de Invitacion". But the application form says it's for maximum stay of 90 days; it's really for tourists not staying in a hotel. And cost is unclear; may be €77 !
Ministerio del Interior's "Carta de Invitacion"
National Police's "Requisitos, Resolucion, Tramitacion y Denegacion de la Carta de Invitacion"
National Police's "Solicitud de Expedicion de Carta de Invitacion" (PDF)

The man said something like this a couple of times: "you are applying from USA, you are US citizen, so things have to be from here". Doctor has to be in USA. Criminal record check only from USA; he didn't seem to care about the "lived 6 months in any other country in last 5 years". I mentioned visiting Spain as a tourist for total of more than 6 months, but he said I don't need a record check from there. Perhaps you need criminal record checks from other countries if you officially were a resident there, not just a tourist.

And he seemed to say one main concern of the process is to make sure the applicant is taking the change of residence seriously, that you'll be a responsible resident of Spain, that it's a serious step. I may have to make my "letter of intent" a little more flowery.

I am a retiree with lots of assets (savings) but no monthly income. That's okay, but he's completely unable to give me a number for "minimum assets required".

For the doctor's letter, I showed him example text and asked if it was acceptable, and he kind of waved it away, saying "we just want something that says you're healthy".

For medical insurance, you must show a receipt showing that you paid for it. Not really a letter from the insurance company, certainly not anything notarized or translated.

He gave me the email address for the head person who will be doing the actual application interview, and encouraged me to gather the documents, then email this person before making the appointment, to confirm that I have everything the interviewer wants. I said that the main consulate email address never gets answered, but he assured me this person WILL answer his email. [I sent email to that address 6 months later, when I was ready to apply; no answer.]

An odd moment: he asked "just out of curiosity, where are you going to live in Spain ?", I said "Barcelona", and he said "Aha, I guessed so !". Hmm.
Occurred to me: the consulate may not require anything translated into Spanish for the visa, but later in Spain, when applying for the residencia card, translations may be required. [Answer turned out to be: no.]

A month before applying, I found an email address at NYC consulate that DID respond:
> Are documents in English acceptable ?

We accept all the documentation in English but since you would have to submit some of them in Spain I recommend you to get a translation into Spanish.

> When I apply for the long-stay visa,
> may I leave a copy of my passport, and keep my actual
> passport with me for travel while the visa application
> is pending ?

You can take your passport with you after the interview and travel to Spain for 90 days but have in mind that once you apply your visa should be ready in about 1 month and you have another month to pick it up since it is approved.

> For an invitation letter from the lady I will be living with,
> do I need a "Carta de Invitacion" through the Spanish police,
> or will a simple notarized letter from my lady in Spain
> be adequate ?

You don't need Carta de Invitacion.


Yes, you have to submit EX01 and 790 code 052. The fee, in total, is $151.


> Do you require any specific provisions in the
> medical insurance, or just require that I have
> paid for some insurance that is effective in Spain ?

Your medical insurance must cover at least $30,000 in medical expense and repatriation/evacuation.

My experience

For visa application at NYC consulate, I submitted: apostilled FBI criminal record check (in English), doctor's letter (in Spanish written by Spanish-speaking doctor), bank account statement (in English), medical insurance letter (in English), invitation letter (in Spanish written by Spanish notary and notarized in Spain), my "letter of intent" (in English), and photocopies of passport ID page and driver's license.

I didn't have anything translated into Spanish.

I submitted originals of FBI criminal check, doctor's letter, and invitation letter, and asked to have them returned to me when the visa was approved, so I can use them when applying for residency. [They were not returned, but I did not need them in Spain.]

bureaucracy not proper form

(Of course, US visa bureaucracy is no better: Colleen Hennessy's "Horrendous lessons I learned on a mission to get my husband a US visa").

Order and timing of doing things


From International Living's "Spain Visa and Residence Information":
All documents must be submitted to the consulate within 90 days of the issue date (except for marriage and birth certificates, if applicable). Processing the application [for non-lucrative visa] may take up to three months.

Chicago consulate page says "Visa applications are accepted 3 months prior to the departure date, not before."

  • It took about 1 month to get all the necessary documents together.

  • I didn't have any documents translated into Spanish; maybe add a couple of weeks if you do that.

  • Schedule appointment to go to consulate.

    Some consulates (Houston) and the Washington embassy don't do appointments; just walk in.

    Consulate of Spain in New York's "Visas New York" says send email to to get appointment, but I get no response from there.
    Used NY consulate appointments. But it offers slots for only "tourist visa", "business visa" and "transit visa". Found out that for a long-stay visa, you MUST get an appointment through email, not that web site.

    From Yelp reviews of NYC consulate:
    My visit to Spain is coming up soon and I couldn't find an open appointment before my travel date. Hence I called the office many times and no one ever picked up. Very frustrating and their voice message was in Spanish - I didn't really understand and kept asking the empty voice recording do you speak English. ugh

    But once I paid a personal visit, the people in the consulate were very nice and super professional. I could tell they were really trying to help and had empathy over my situation. Both the front desk security guard / receptionist and the counselor. They gave me a few options and told me to check their calendar regularly. He was absolutely right. Immediately after I returned to work, I saw an open slot for that day. At around 7 PM, I found an open slot the next week and that was perfect for me. I'd say the visit certainly calmed me down and helped a lot!


    ... slots for appointments get filled up very fast. So make sure you book an appointment early on. They also allow you to change the appointment so if at a later time you think the appointment is not going to work for you, you can always change it. ...

    It was hard to find out all these specifics on the website or phone (their phone services is horrible, they just redirect you to the mailbox) so I had to learn it in practice. [in person, the people were very helpful, but] their website and call center suck.

    From Bucking the Trend's "How to Apply for Non Lucrative Visa for Spain as US Citizen":
    "I would recommend booking the earliest time slot (usually 9 AM) as the process takes a while and you don't want to be waiting behind a bunch of other people."

    For the NYC consulate, there is a nice appointment web site, but that is not for long-stay visa appointments. You MUST get an appointment through email. I contacted them in mid-June and got an appointment in 10 days time.

  • Go to consulate, submit application, get interviewed.

    NYC consulate: 150 E 58th St, floor 30, New York NY 10155.
    From NJ: train to NYC Penn Station, buy Metrocard, out Madison Square Garden exit, cross 7th Ave and walk E on 32nd St, find and take Q32 bus to 59th and Lexington, walk to consulate on 58th between Lexington and 3rd Ave.

    From Yelp reviews of NYC consulate:
    ... I made sure I had all of the documentation they needed by looking at their website. So please make sure you have all of your paperwork in order and double check.


    ... it is a big office building and the Spanish Consulate is on the 30th floor. The interview itself does not take very long but as there are few interviewers the wait might be long. Make sure you get the right sum for the visa ...

    My appointment:
    I had a 10 AM appointment at the NYC consulate. Arrived at 9:10. Within 5 minutes they called my name. Went in and the process turned out to be very easy and fast (too fast; I forgot to ask a couple of questions). All it involved was making sure I had all the paperwork, had signed in the right places, handed over the money-orders. No interview, no questions. The official did seem to look at my passport and the medical insurance letter a bit carefully, probably read the doctor's letter (it was only one sentence), definitely didn't read the invitation letter (it was 5 pages). Done in 10 minutes. Apparently all the decisions will be made in Spain.

    I explained that I needed to retain my passport for travel to Spain on tourist visa. And that when the visa was approved, I'd mail the passport to the consulate from Spain, they'd put in the visa and mail it to my address in USA, and I'd have someone mail it to me in Spain. The official seemed to grimace a little at that, and I asked him why, was it because mailing a passport is risky ? He kind of said no, kind of shrugged, I never quite got an answer. He did clarify that I need to send them a prepaid UPS envelope, not just a label, to mail the passport back to me.

    Exactly what I handed in: filled-out application form, one Spanish-passport-sized photo I took myself and had printed at a pharmacy, money-orders for $140 and $11, B+W copy of my passport's ID page (the official examined my actual passport), B+W copy of my driver's license (I handed over my driver's license, but I'm not sure the official looked at it), apostilled FBI criminal record check, doctor's letter (in Spanish), first page of a bank account statement showing total value in the account, letter of intent I wrote (in English), Spain-notarized letter of invitation from my lady (in Spanish), medical insurance letter printed off IMG web site (stated limits for medical evacuation), EX-01 form, 790 code 052 form.

    What I got back: passport, driver's license, receipts for the fees paid, stamped copy of first page of application form.

    Later, I sent email asking that my originals of FBI check, doctor's letter and invitation letter be returned to me when the visa is approved, so I can use them to apply for residency in Spain. [They weren't returned, but it turned out that I didn't need them.]

    I had a slightly tricky situation: I didn't want to get the approved visa too SOON, because I had other travel commitments that would prevent me from using it right away. I notice that the official wrote exactly the right things on the application: make the visa valid starting three months from now, valid for about 105 days. Perfect !

    I guess I had it easy; from someone on "Spain Immigration and Residency Questions" Facebook group 4/2017:
    I just wanted to report back on our appointment at the San Francisco consulate for the non-lucrative visa. Thanks to all you who helped me prepare. The woman who helped us was very kind, professional and flexible to work with. However, despite our 9am appointment times and our having arrived in line outside 15 mins before opening, we ended up having to wait in the small waiting room for 2+ hours and didn't leave the office until 12:15. There is only ONE visa staff member for all of the states covered by this consulate (other staff members handle passports and other issues.) I saw several people come in who were told that the next appointment times aren't available until something like June. We did a lot of preparation for this appointment but still had a few surprises:

    • We'd made an AirBNB reservation so we'd have a temp address to put on the application, but we were told this wasn't necessary. We could have just put the city where we're moving.

    • As proof of financial status, we'd submitted a translated statement showing all of our investments. She rejected this and said we need a letter from our checking/savings bank that shows our average balance over the past 12 months, and it needs to be translated of course. They want to see that you have cash available.

    • We had a letter from an insurance co offered through my husband's work, which seemed to meet the requirements listed on the website, but she rejected this as more like "travel insurance" and said we really should get Spanish insurance that shows we will full coverage in Spain -- she said most people get Sanitas or Cigna. She said they would be updating this info on the website at some point.

    • In addition to the 2 copies of everything that was specified on the website, they also required ORIGINALS of all documents that were apostilled (ie the original document + the apostille letter).

    • She wasn't happy with the passport photos we'd submitted and said that for our appointments in Spain we should get the photos taken professionally in Spain. But she accepted the photos.

    • She said it's very important that when we first land in the EU, we need to get them to see our visa and stamp our passport.

    We now have to get the 2 missing items and send them via email. So, we're through the hard part! Thanks again for all your advice.

  • Receive passport (containing visa) back from consulate (could take anywhere from 3 days to 4 months ?).

    From Yelp reviews of NYC consulate:
    If you are granted a visa it is ready the next day [after approval]. You can either pick it up or bring them a pre-paid UPS envelope and they will mail the passport to you. That would take 2-3 business days.

  • Buy airline tickets (find out cancellation/change fees).

    But San Francisco's "Residence Visa for Retirees" (PDF) says:
    Once your visa is authorized, we will contact you immediately by email or mail, and you (and all your family members applying for a visa) will have to come in person to this Consulate General within a month with your passport and an itinerary of flight to Spain in order to obtain the visa.

  • Travel to Spain.

    Note: arriving in August may not be a good idea; many businesses closed, many people on vacation, while you'll be trying to get things done. And arriving in September/October, you'll run into the backlog left from August, and new students getting their documents done.

From /u/AidenTai on reddit:
[When the visa is granted, you have been approved for residency.] In your home country you applied for residency and the Secretary of State of Public Administrations' government delegation in the province that you requested to live in made a decision as to allow you or not based on your application as presented in one of the consulates. From that point on, their decision to allow you or not into their province became an official decision to grant or not grant residency. If you were granted residency by them, the decision was then sent to your local consulate where they, noting that you had been granted residency, processed the additional paperwork to also grant you a visa. A visa in Spain is merely a sticker attached to your passport that is needed to enter the country from abroad. It grants no rights of residency, but rather is freely given when you have already previously acquired the right of residency associated with the visa type (as you already had by that point in the process).

Money I paid

  • Travel: $40 trip to consulate for questions, $10 trip to fingerprinting, another $40 trip to consulate to apply.
  • Printing, copying, postage: $5 + $3 + $2 + $20 + $5 + $14 + $5.
  • Fingerprinting at police station: free (nice police in Puerto Rico).
  • FBI background check through channeler (nbinformation): $40.
  • FBI background check apostilled: $8.
  • Medical tests: $208.
  • Doctor's exam and letter: free (nice doctor in Puerto Rico).
  • Notarized invitation letter from lady in Spain: €70.
  • Medical insurance: $753/year (IMG).
  • Translation: $0
  • Fees to consulate: $151.

Timing of my application

  • May 13-14: Did fingerprinting, sent fingerprints to channeler, did medical tests, my lady in Spain started getting invitation letter.
  • May 20: FBI criminal check in mail to me.
  • May 29: FBI criminal check mailed to State Dept for apostille.
  • June 5: received invitation letter from my lady in Spain.
  • June 10: received apostille from State Dept.
  • June 15: put in application for medical insurance.
  • June 15: finally received results of the medical tests, and the doctor's letter.
  • June 16: medical insurance approved.
  • June 16: consulate says soonest appointment is June 25th.
  • June 16: bought money-orders at Post Office.
  • June 20: did photos for application myself.
  • June 20: received 2nd doctor's letter (backup).
  • June 25: submitted application at NYC consulate.
  • July 29: received email from NYC consulate, visa is ready, come pick it up.
  • July 30: mailed my passport and prepaid UPS envelope from Spain to NYC consulate, using Correos 2-week rate.
  • August 7: consulate sent my passport to address in NJ.
  • August 10: passport and visa arrived in NJ, but other documents I wanted returned (FBI check, doctor's letter, invitation letter) are not with them. Sent email to consulate, and they said "We can't send you the documents because these documents are our files. You don't need to submit these documents in Spain."
  • August 11: passport and visa mailed (first class) from NJ to me in Spain.
  • August 15: passport with visa delivered to me in Spain.

In 2018, some people are reporting approval of their visa application as little as 1 or 2 weeks after submitting it, through various consulates. A lot faster than the 5 weeks mine took in 2015.

My experience

When I received my passport back, the visa was stamped into one page (about 3" x 5"), and a small paper notice was clipped on with a paperclip.

The notice says "Take notice. Once you arrive to Spain you should go to the Police Station, within the FIRST MONTH, to request your Studies Card, which is valid for the duration of your program."

But I applied for a long-stay non-lucrative visa ! Did they give me the wrong visa ? Or is this just a standard notice they add to every visa ?

The visa says Type "D", Number of Entries "Mult", Duration of Stay "90 days", Remarks "Residencia", and gives an NIE. Start date is a month earlier than I requested, but the 3.5-month window to use the visa will work fine for me.

Explanation of some of the terms here: SchengenVisaEU's "Como leer y entender facilmente la etiqueta de tu Visado Schengen". "A" is transit visa, "C" is tourist visa, "D" is long-stay visa. Looks like I have the right visa.

Others who received long-stay visas say theirs are type "D" also. I think it's making sense now. The visa allows me to come in and to stay long enough to get the residencia. And the "Remarks: Residencia" must signal that to the Extranjero office. Consulate says my visa is correct type, and after arriving I must start applying for residency within first month.

Anti-climax: when I entered Spain with my shiny new visa in the passport, they ignored it ! As I handed the passport to the Immigration officer, I said "I have a long-stay visa", but he just looked at the ID page of the passport, found a free space on another page, and stamped the usual entry stamp. I pointed out again that I had a long-stay visa, he glanced at it, said something like "you don't need this to come in". I said "I'm going to apply for residency", he shrugged and handed my passport back. (I assume the visa will matter when I start applying for residency.)


As with any move, everything is easier if you first simplify your life. Sell things, give things away, donate things, throw things away. Do not rent a storage locker and store things ! (You won't want half of it if/when you come back, storage costs money, your stuff might get damaged during storage, if you miss a payment they'll auction off your stuff.)

Fix any legal/tax/financial/paperwork issues you have in USA (missing documents, divorce not finalized, child custody issues, sale of business not complete, inheritance probate not complete, legal dispute, pension about to kick in, about to cash in bonds, will not up-to-date, accounts you've been meaning to close, etc) before complicating things by moving to another country. Give up any signing authority or power of attorney you have over someone else's affairs, so their accounts don't have to be reported on your Spanish tax forms.

One idea: move from a high-income-tax state to a low-income-tax state, before moving to Spain ? And maybe give up anything that ties you to any state.
Taxes for Expats' "State Taxes and American Expats"

Also a good idea to do any big transactions (selling a house, collecting an inheritance, converting a retirement account from pre-tax to post-tax) before you become tax-resident in Spain.

Family Move Abroad's "Our 10 Biggest Mistakes Moving Our Family to Spain - And What We'd Do Differently Next Time"

Before leaving for Spain, what has to be done ?

[Note: retaining US address and driver's license etc may have tax implications.]

  • Keep a valid US mailing address, if possible. Makes everything easier, I think. Some US banks, credit card companies, tax software, etc don't like foreign addresses.

    If necessary, use a mail-forwarding service, such as Earth Class Mail or St. Brendan's Isle or PostScan Mail or similar.

    From someone on reddit:
    "Word of warning ... I have never had a package go missing but a number of letters/envelopes have. You might have a better go with a place that opens your mail and scans it and emails you."

    Venturists' "Beyond Mail Forwarding: Mail Options for Nomads and Travelers"
    Eric Ravenscraft's "Change Your Address Everywhere On This Printable Checklist When You Move"
    File IRS form 8822 to inform IRS of your new address, if your old address now is invalid.

  • If you're going to stay in Spain only a year or so, consider keeping your US medical and auto insurance active. Maybe you can put them on some kind of "hibernation" status. Then reactivate them when you return, instead of having to start fresh policies. This might be cheaper and easier.

  • Legal/official stuff:

    • Renew US driver's license, if needed.

    • Get an International Driving Permit (IDP).
      This is a permit to use your home-country driver's license temporarily in another country. DGT's "Permisos validos para conducir en España" seems to say you can use it for up to 6 months after getting residency in Spain.

      State Dept's "Driving and Road Safety Abroad"
      AAA's "International Driving Permits"'s "International Driver Permits"
      NAC's "Everything You Need To Know About Receiving Your International Driving Permit"

    • Perhaps execute a USA power-of-attorney, so someone back in USA can handle legal and financial affairs for you while you're overseas. Especially useful if you still own property in USA.

    • Don't leave any paperwork behind in your home country; take it to Spain with you. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, everything you used to apply for the visa, tax returns, credit-card records, etc. You may need it.

    • If you haven't done it already, get US birth certificates for children, and your marriage certificate, apostilled and translated ? Will need that for residency application, I think.

    • May be useful to bring documents establishing your history: recommendation letter from last job, credit report, mortgage payment record, utility payment record, insurance records, school transcripts, diplomas, bank account statements, credit card statements, tax returns, etc.

    • You don't have to notify the government, in general. The federal IRS and state IRS will find out your new address next time you file a tax return. You could file IRS form 8822 to inform IRS of your new address, if you wish.

  • Money:

    • Probably want to keep your US bank account active. It's hard to open a new one later, if you're still overseas and US driver's license has expired and there are lots of paper forms etc (but see ACA / SDFCU article). If you collect Social Security benefits, they will direct-deposit into a US bank account. US credit card account may link only to a US bank account, not a foreign account. If later you inherit money, simplest if the transactions stay in the USA.

      Some US banks and brokerages will close or restrict your account if you change the postal address to a foreign address. Easiest to keep a US address on it. See "Foreign address on US accounts" section of my Living in Spain page.

    • Figure out how you're going to do international money-transfers. You might want to change to a different US bank; some people recommend Schwab's Investor Checking because they have no ATM fees worldwide. See International Money Transfer.

    • Probably should keep your US credit card active. It's useful for online shopping, and on visits back to the USA. Keeping it will provide continuity in your credit history. Some US web sites, tax software, etc don't like foreign credit cards.

      Credit cards seem harder to get, and less routinely used, in Spain ? But: Money Saver Spain's "No Annual Fee Credit Cards in Spain"

    • Renew any credit cards or debit cards about to expire.

    • See if you can change your credit card to chip-and-PIN type (best) or chip-and-signature type instead of magnetic-stripe type.

      Chip-and-PIN also called "EMV". Not sure if that term covers chip-and-signature also.

      In Spain, some automated kiosks (subway card kiosk, fuel pump, etc) may require chip-and-PIN.

      John Kiernan's "Chip-and-PIN vs. Chip-and-Signature"

      From Kristin Wong's "How the Newest Generation of Credit Cards Protects Your Information From Getting Stolen":
      "Some [US] travelers request a PIN from their credit card issuer to use for cash at ATMs, but this is not the same PIN [as used in a European chip-and-PIN sale terminal]."

      There is yet another type of credit card, called "contactless" or RFID. This uses a chip, too, but uses very-short-range radio to allow reading the card without inserting it into a reader. Not so common, yet.

    • Don't file change of address (to foreign address) with bank and credit card companies; they might refuse, may even close your account, or might accept the change now and close your account later. [This last thing happened to me: credit-card company let me change mailing address to Spain, then a couple of months later suddenly closed my account because of that.]

    • Maybe notify bank and credit card companies that you will be visiting Spain (maybe don't say "moving to Spain" or "living in Spain") so they don't flag charges from there as suspicious.

    • Maybe get advice about any pre-tax retirement accounts (e.g. 401K) that you have. It might be advantageous to convert them to post-tax accounts before becoming tax-resident in Spain. [I am not an accountant; this is not financial advice.]

  • Technology:

    • Not sure what to do about cell-phones and SIM cards; I'm not a phone person.

      Also affected: other devices with cell-network capability, such as some models of Kindle or iPad.

      Turn off "roaming" before you go, otherwise you might run up big charges ?

      If you use two-factor authentication with phone to log onto any web sites (they send a text message to your cellphone as part of the login process), disable that, because your phone number will be changing.

      Some people suggest porting your US phone number to NumberBarn (Call Forwarding plan, $6/month) or similar to be able to get SMS messages sent to it. Or get a new US phone number that can accept SMS: OneSimCard.

      From From here to home and beyond's "Phones in Spain":
      If you have an Iphone or an Android in the states or some phone that can fit a sim card and has 3G access, bring it abroad with you. ... As long as your phone is unlocked (a fairly easy process) you can purchase a SIM card and pay as you go for minutes and data, it is a dream come true. No more huge bills for barely using or going over your data usage, no more contracts (although you could sign one if you are staying put for more than a year). ...

      Young Adventuress' "Key tips for auxiliars in Spain, part 4: bank, internet, and phone"
      EuroCheapo's "Using an American iPhone in Europe ... without going broke"
      Rick Steves' "Travel Tips: Phones & Technology"
      Seth Kugel's "How to Pick a Cellphone Plan for Traveling Abroad"
      Alan Henry's "How to Upgrade to a New Android Phone and Take Everything with You"
      Wes Siler's "?Traveling With Two-Factor: How To Access Your Accounts Abroad"

      See Virtual phone numbers section of my Computer Security and Privacy page

      Star Trek phones do nothing except make calls
    • Good time to back up your computer and phone data. And maybe improve your security practices (see info here). Write down serial numbers and model numbers and SIM numbers and phone numbers. Devices may be lost, stolen or damaged during the move. You may be using internet cafes and other insecure connections during the transition. You may need to copy contact lists from old phone to a new phone.

    • If your computer is old and failing, probably better to buy a new one in USA rather than Spain. English-language keyboard may be hard to find in Spain, and prices of electronics are lower in USA. I believe DVDs bought in Americas will play only on a laptop bought in Americas, DVDs bought in Europe will play only on device bought in Europe.

    • Don't delete browser cookies or re-install anything while moving. If you do, you may get to the new place and your email service may say "hey, we've never seen you log in from here before, answer these security questions", and you may not have the answers. Also don't have your two email accounts using each other for verification, because both of them may fail in the same way at the same time. Sometimes using a VPN will cause these problems or cure them; you could sign up for a VPN service either before or after moving.

    • Online services:

      Some online subscription services (maybe video streaming) are country-specific or region-specific, and your US service will stop working after you move to Spain (maybe unless you fool it by using a VPN or something).

      Titles in non-USA Kindle stores generally cost at least $2 more than same titles in USA Kindle store (from Kindle Help Forum's "Moving Abroad with Kindle").

      Some online content you've bought (from iTunes or Kindle, for example) may really only be "leased", and the "lease" may be specific to region. So titles may disappear out of your account/device when you move.

      Some online stores might link country of store to country of credit card. For example, only German credit cards can be used to buy content from the German iTunes Store and App Store (from Apple's "Change your iTunes Store country or region").

      Kirk McElhearn's "Crossing borders with the iTunes Store"
      Tim Brookes's "Don't Switch to an International iTunes Media or App Store Until You've Read This"
      Steven Drew's "Q: I moved country, changed iTunes stores and now my Apps can't be updated!?" on Apple Support Communities

      Owen Williams's "How moving my digital life was harder than physically shifting countries"

    • Some devices (game consoles, printers, etc) use country-specific or region-specific cartridges, so your US-bought device will not accept Spanish-bought cartridges. See Wikipedia's "Regional lockout".

    • If you're going to communicate with family back in USA using Skype or some other app, and users at one end or the other are not technically savvy, set up the software and test it before leaving the USA.

      International audio-calling from computer to real phone: Skype.

  • Gather a supply of prescription medicines to keep you going through the transition while you figure out doctors and prescriptions in Spain. Bring your old prescriptions and medical records with you.

  • Maybe update your vaccinations ? I'm not sure if they're cheaper in USA. Spanish NHS generally doesn't vaccinate adults for vaccinations they were expected to get in childhood. New shingles vaccine in Spain given only to over-65's as of 4/2023.

  • Arrange for mail-forwarding. Where possible, make things electronic instead of paper.

  • Do the things you'd do for any normal move within USA: cancel subscriptions and utilities, gather medical records and medication/prescription records to take with you, photograph items before shipping them, etc.

Among Cultures' "10 things I wish I did before moving to another country"

From /u/degroves on reddit:
+/- [Re: moving USA to UK:]

Advice: Take nothing. Seriously. Your electronics will not work for the most part (save computers with adapters). [Formal business suits are different.] Your furniture is too large for small UK flats. etc ... Plus, it costs a lot of money to move all that stuff you need to replace - oh, and it is not even possible to donate to charity because it violates UK safety laws (the "do not remove under penalty of law" tags are not valid in the UK).

In short, we took everything, had to get rid of it all, after paying to move it. ...

I didn't ship anything, but shipping advice from other people

If you are shipping things over, the most important thing to state on all boxes is your NIE number so it can be tracked to a person. Have an inventory in each box so if they do open randomly, they can see what you have in each box. It needs to state exactly what is in each box and to state it is personal effects. Use a company that has shipped to Spain before so they understand the process when here in Spain. The likelihood is that the first point of Customs will either be Madrid or Barcelona and then forwarded once Customs cleared.


I shipped my entire household - which had been reduced to 8 boxes - to Mijas Pueblo. They were stuck in Madrid Customs for 4 weeks, I had to hire an attorney ... finally got approved to complete shipping, but then they decided to send all contents back to the USA. In hindsight ... there are so many couriers going from UK to Spain ... I would only ship what you absolutely cannot replace ... to a location in England, then either drive them over yourself or hire someone to do it.


Typical "what should I know before moving to Spain ?" tips from people who have done it already

  • Do the research: read article online, read forums, etc.
  • Visit before moving.
  • Rent, don't buy.
  • Learn some Spanish.
  • Try various areas before settling down.
  • Don't delay; do it sooner rather than later.

Spain has 17 regions (AKA autonomous communities) and 50 provinces within those regions. For example, Andalucia is a region that consists of the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla, Cordoba, Jaen, Granada, Almeria, Malaga, and Cadiz. Often the province will have the same name as its major city.

Spain Explained For Americans: Spain Explained For Americans


See my Living in Spain page.