Moving to Spain? Your Spain Visa Guide

Moving to Spain? Your Spain Visa Guide

Do you dream of settling in Spain?  Spain holds many attractions for potential tourists and expats. A beautiful country from the seas to the mountains, amazing weather, friendly people and world class cuisine – Spain ticks so many boxes. Add in the great cost of living, first world infrastructure and an excellent, accessible medical system and it is no surprise that so many people want to live in Spain.

Those lucky enough to hold a passport from the European Economic Area can visit, work and live in Spain with no restriction, but what about the those who are not so lucky?

Well, moving to Spain might be easier than you think as there are many Spanish visa options available for all sorts of situations.  Have a look at the table below to find out which visa is appropriate for your situation.

Table of Spain Visa types and situations

Schengen Visa

For 69 countries in the world (check out this list to see if you qualify) you can just arrive in Spain, and as long as you can show you can support yourself and have no intention of working, you have full travel access to all 26 Schengen visa states.

If your passport is not one of the 69 countries , you’ll need to apply for a Schengen visa.  Have a look at this list to see which countries need a visa

  • The Schengen visa grants access to the all the 26 countries that make up the membership of the Schengen area (see the map below). You have unrestricted travel around the area for the length of your visa.
  • The visa is for a maximum of 90 out of 180 days, meaning that you can spend a maximum of 3 months in the area during a 6-month period.
  • The visa does not allow you to work while you are in Spain. You may be asked at your entry point into the Schengen area how you will support yourself, and what your plans are. Make sure you can show the authorities you have enough funds to cover your expenses and that you do not intend to work during your stay.

Map of the Schengen area

The Non-Lucrative Visa

This allows you to live in Spain for the long term if you do not work or carry out professional activities that generate an income in Spain. So, for Digital Nomads, retirees and people with income producing investments, the non-lucrative visa, Spain is a great option.

This Spanish Visa allows you to stay in Spain for a year, and after that it is renewable for an additional 2 years at a time. This Spanish visa is also a great path to permanent residency and eventually citizenship and a passport.

To be eligible for this Spanish visa you need to meet the following requirements.

  • You can show an annual income produced outside of Spain of at least €26,000 per annum.
  • You have eligible health insurance while you live in Spain
  • You pass the required police and medical checks.
  • You need to spend at least 183 days in Spain to be eligible to renew the Non-Lucrative Visa, Spain for the additional 2-year periods.

The Non-Lucrative Visa is a great option for many people, but the application process is complicated and needs to be completed in Spanish. We highly recommend using a reputable and effective local immigration partner to ensure success with your Spanish Visa application.

A good partner will help you as follows:

  • Ensuring you apply in the correct jurisdiction.
  • Ensuring you have the complete set of documents for the application, and any translations that are required
  • Filling in all required forms
  • Drafting the motivation letter required
  • The process of getting your residence card once you have arrived to live in Spain. This will include:
    • appointments at the immigration department
    • Another set of documents to be filled out and translated
  • Getting you settled on your arrival which can include assistance with bank accounts, drivers’ licences, insurances etc

Click here if you would like to speak to the partner that helped us when we arrived in Spain.

Spanish Student Visa

This is an excellent offering and covers a wide range of options from a 6-month part time Spanish language course all the way through to a full time University degree. Spain’s education sector is world renowned and many of its world class universities offer courses in English as well as Spanish.

The Student Visa has some great allowances.

  • You can get a permit to work up to 20 hours per week.
  • You can be immediately joined by a spouse or partner, and any dependent children, if you can show your ability to financially support them.

To be eligible for a Spanish Student Visa you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • You are enrolled in a course, diploma or degree and the study requirement exceeds a minimum of 20 hours per week. Spanish language courses are eligible for the Student Visa
  • You can cover your expenses for the duration of your studies. This requirement can be met by saved funds, scholarships/bursaries, or parents/guardians assuming full financial responsibility for the duration of the studies covered by your Spanish Student Visa
  • proof that you have medical insurance
  • a medical certificate confirming that you don’t have any diseases that would require you to be quarantined;
  • you can show where you will be living in Spain while completing your studies.
  • a criminal record certificate from your relevant home country authorities.

An amazing new ruling in late 2018 now gives people who have taken  advantage of the Student Visa a wonderful opportunity to live in Spain after their studies. After the completion of a degree or post graduate degree, you can apply for a residency visa for an additional year to give yourself time to find a job in Spain.

Our local partner has a fantastic track record in helping people get  the Spanish Student Visa and can assist with the full preparation, translation and submission of applications and documents. As the process can be complicated, we strongly recommend using a trusted local partner to ensure you succeed in your application on your first attempt.

Village in Spain

Entrepreneur Visa

The Spanish government is very keen to attract new business to boost the Spanish economy and they have made it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to start new business in Spain. Areas like Barcelona are booming due to government policies, big talent pools, first class infrastructure, unbeatable lifestyle and a low cost of living.

You’ll need to start a new business in Spain and be able to show a business plan for at least your first year to access this visa to live in Spain. The business needs to be of “public interest” as assessed by the Spanish Commercial and Economic Office. The criteria for the assessment of the Entrepreneur Visa, Spain are:

  • Your new business will create new jobs in Spain, or
  • Your new business will have a positive economic impact on the community, or
  • Your new business will contribute to scientific and/or technological innovation.

This visa is valid for one year and after that you can apply for a residency visa to live in Spain, and after serving a qualification period, for citizenship and a passport.

You will need to show that you have sufficient funds to operate the business, and to support yourself and any dependents living with you in Spain. Your spouse and any dependent children can be included on the visa, if you can show sufficient funds to support them.

Criminal record check and health insurance are also required.

A local partner experienced in the Spain Entrepreneur Visa is essential to ensure that your business plan meets the requirements and that the documents are submitted correctly.  If you would like to speak to our recommended immigration partner then please click here.

The Skilled Professional Visa

To qualify for a Skilled Professional Visa (the exact definition is vague), you will generally have at least 3 years of tertiary education in your field and be offered a role that pays more than €28,000 per annum. You will need to have been offered a role by an appropriately sized Spanish company that is in good standing.

You’ll need to prove your professional standing, as well and show you have adequate health insurance and you have police clearance from your home country.

The visa is valid for 1 year and is renewable, and as long as your employment meets the criteria of the Skilled Professional Visa you can live in Spain.

Your spouse/partner and any dependents can also live in Spain if you can show that you have the ability to support them financially.

As the Skilled Professional Visa has some grey areas, it is essential to work with experienced, local immigration professionals to ensure that your visa is secured as soon as is possible after you secure a job offer. It may also be a good idea to check with a local immigration expert to see if your qualifications and profession will meet the standards prior to starting a job search in Spain.

Ibiza beach and town scene

Spanish Golden Visa

Spain’s Golden Visa is popular among investors and rightly so. In 2018 it became Europe’s number one Golden Visa. The Golden Visa was created by the Spanish government in 2013 specifically to address inbound investment into the Spanish economy. The Golden Visa allows you to live in Spain, and is a path to permanent residency, and ultimately citizenship and a passport.

You need to be able to show that you are personally willing to invest in the Spanish economy. The investment requirements vary depending on the investment class, and they are currently:

  • A minimum of €500,000 in Spanish property including a residence and/or investment property.
  • A minimum of €2,000,000 in Spanish Government Treasury Bonds.
  • A minimum of €1,000,000 in Spanish companies shares.
  • Deposit at least €1,000,000 in Spanish bank accounts.
  • A ‘major’ business investment in a Spanish company with one or more of the following:
    • Significant employment opportunities created as a result of the investment.
    • Significant economic impact in the community where the investment is directed.
    • Significant technological or scientific impact created as a result of the investment.

You’ll also need to meet the normal requirements of being able to financially support yourself, your partner and any dependents. You also need to show health insurance cover and police checks.  You also must live in Spain at least 6 months of each year of the Golden Visa.

Your spouse/partner and any dependent children can apply for residency as a result of your Spanish Golden Visa.

The application process has been streamlined recently but a local partner will ensure that your Golden Visa application is managed without issue.

Granada Palace Spain visas

Spain is one of the most popular destinations for a new life across many demographics. In 2018 visitors to Wherecani.live chose Spain as their 5th most desired destination and for over-50s it was the 2nd favourite country.  This comes as no surprise to anyone who has been lucky enough to visit and experience all that living in Spain has to offer.

Luckily there are ways to make the dream come true and with the right information and assistance you could be one of the lucky people who get to call this amazing country home.

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Live in Spain couple on beach  Visa Options for Spain



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Alastair Johnson

A digital nomad, born and raised in South Africa before heading off into the wider world. Developed a serious case of itchy feet and found some amazing places to live along the way including London, Sydney and now Spain. Happiest sipping a sundowner looking over the ocean talking about the day’s diving.…


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