I’m currently in the process of applying for a non-lucrative visa to come live in Spain for a year. While there are many different visa options you can apply for to enter Spain – such as a work visa or a student visa – the non-lucrative visa is great for people who want to enjoy Spain without being a student or working locally.
The name, “non-lucrative”, basically refers to the fact that you can’t earn any money with it. Unfortunately what that means is a bit confusing (as are many other things about Spanish visas in general, but we’ll get to that shortly). Basically Spain wants you to have an income stream for a year, but not necessarily get it by doing any work (and certainly no work in Spain itself).
Some people interpret the visa to mean that you can obtain this visa while working remotely and earning money in another country. So if that’s how you interpret this (and more importantly, how your consulate interprets it), then you are fine with applying for this visa and showing an income stream in another country to satisfy the requirements.
Another way to interpret this though is that you can’t be actively working in any country while holding this visa. I tend not to share this viewpoint, since technically even if you have passive income from investments in another country (like Canada, for example), it’s still income, and would likely be included on your tax return wherever you are. But this is a point of contention because people applying for the visa, as well as the consulates themselves.
For example, here is what the Spanish consulate in Los Angeles says:
Documentation proving economic funds sufficient for the duration of residence or proof of a minimum reoccurring monthly income. The minimum amount will increase for every additional member of the family. There must be proof of significant savings and proof of re-occuring, non-working income.
So they indicate that your income, if it’s recurring, must not be from active work – in other words, this income should likely be produced from investments.
The Ottawa consulate has this to say on the matter:
Sufficient economic means at the time of the visa application, or proof of a source of regular income without having to engage in any business or professional activity in Spain, for you and your family, where applicable, for the requested period of residence
Which seems to indicate that it’s fine to work, as long as that activity isn’t in Spain.
And to add even more confusion, let’s take a look at what Toronto says:
You must prove that you have enough means to live in Spain without working for the whole period that you want to stay in Spain.
Which seems to indicate that you can’t work at all.
Confused? Hold on tight, because we’re just getting started!
I think the safest option is to simply have enough savings to support yourself without working for the entire year, at least in terms of the application process. The current guidelines say you need to have at least 2,151.00 Euros available per month, or 25,812 Euros per year. So if you have that in some form of savings such as a retirement fund, bank account, or long-term savings account, you should be fine.
I hesitate to use the word ‘official’, because it seems there is no real standard as to what each consulate wants to receive in terms of this visa. But there’s sufficient overlap for most of the items, and I’ll list the primary ones here (this particular list below comes from the Ottawa consulate):
- A valid passport or travel document recognized by Spain with a minimum validity of one year (some consulates only need six months).
- If the applicant is not a Canadian citizen, he/she must provide documentation proving his/her residence status in Canada (permanent residence permit, working permit, study permit, etc.)
- A medical certificate issued by your family doctor worded as follows:
“This medical certificate states that Mr./Mrs.….. does not suffer from any diseases that may have serious consequences on public health in accordance with the provisions contained in the 2005 International Health Regulations” – [Read This]
- A Police Check issued by the authorities of all the countries where an applicant has resided for the last 5 years, including Canada.
NOTE: The Police Check should be issued by the RCMP and contain the fingerprints of the visa applicant. You can find information on how to obtain one here.
We will not accept Police Checks issued by local Police Stations.
- Sufficient economic means at the time of the visa application, or proof of a source of regular income without having to engage in any business or professional activity in Spain, for you and your family, where applicable, for the requested period of residence…
- A public or private medical insurance with an insurance company authorized to operate in Spain.
- A completed and signed visa application form with one (1) recent full-face photograph attached to its right top corner. The photograph should be a Canadian passport size picture, in color, on a light, plain and uniform background, without dark glasses or any garment that may prevent identification of the applicant
- A completed and signed non-lucrative residency permit application EX-01
- A completed and signed permit application form Modelo 790 Codigo 052
- Visa fee: CAN $ 91.20 (year 2018), except when a reciprocity fee applies to other countries, such as Canada and USA. Visa processing fee for Canadians is $ CAN 762.00. Please refer to the consular fee chart for other nationalities. Only cash, money order or certified cheque payable to the “Embassy of Spain” will be accepted.
- Non-lucrative residence permit fee: CAN $ 16.10 (year 2018). Only cash, money order or certified cheque payable to the “Embassy of Spain” will be accepted.
I’m guessing Canada did something really bad to Spain at some point, which is why we get hit with an extra $762 reciprocity fee. We’re sorry, Spain, please don’t hate us.
I’ll update each of the above items as I work my way through the process, as there is confusion at many of the steps. In addition, at least in Canada, it’s next to impossible to get ahold of anyone either by email or telephone at any of the Spanish consulates. Which basically means you have to rely on whatever information you can find.
Some consulates seem to want everything that’s in English to be translated (officially) into Spanish, while some seem to be fine with everything being in English. In addition certain documents (such as the criminal record check) also potentially require an Apostille (legalization of a document for use in another country).
Canada never signed Hague Convention, so legalization of authentication of official documents is very cumbersome involving:
- Obtain the official document, such as a criminal record check, from Ottawa
- Send that document to the department of foreign affairs where they will verify that the signature on the document is legitimate and stamp the document saying it’s official.
- Send the now stamped document to the Spanish embassy in Ottawa and have their consulate investigate the stamp on the document, and add their own stamp to verify that the stamp from the department of foreign affairs was legitimate
Only after all steps have been done will the document be considered legal and official for use in Spain. There’s confusion as to whether this is necessary at all embassies (and in fact, given that the criminal record check comes from the government, seems completely redundant to have yet another government department verify the document, at least for use in Canada), but that’s what some people seem to have to do. In the United States you’ll need to find someone to act as an Apostille for your criminal record check.
Once you gather all the required documents (and pay your fees of course) and send them to the consulate, you’ll be able to live in Spain for a full year. I’ve heard in the US it often takes less than a month to be approved, but in Canada you should expect more like three months.
I’ve also been told it’s a good idea (and a silent requirement for some consulates) to include proof of travel to Spain for after you obtain your visa. That seems a bit risky to me, since you aren’t entirely sure when your visa will be complete, but I know some consulates (namely the one in Toronto) have asked other people for it prior to approving their application. At some level it may help guarantee you get your visa back before a certain date, but the consulates also say they aren’t liable if they don’t get it back to you in time, so it’s definitely a financial risk. I’ve chosen to be an optimist, and have booked a flight back to Spain, timed to be approximately three months after the date I plan to submit my application.
Once the process is done you’ll hopefully receive your passport back with a Spanish visa inside that’s valid for 90 days. You have to get to Spain generally within a month, after which you will obtain a place to live and apply at the local police station for your residence card. Once you have the residency card, I’m told the renewal process each year is much simpler, involving only showing proof of income or proof of funds, and also proof that you stayed in Spain for at least six months each year.
Given that the residency permit is renewable twice for two years each, in theory once you obtain your non-lucrative visa you can live in Spain for up to five years. And after those five years are up you quality for permanent residency, which would start the five year clock towards becoming a Spanish citizen.
If you want help with this process, make sure you buy a copy of our comprehensive 61-page guide for completing the non-lucrative application package. You can buy a copy of the Guide to Obtaining the Non-Lucrative Visa via our store.
June 2019 Update – This all worked! I’ve been a resident of Spain for ten months! You may be interested in what’s involved with renewing the non-lucrative visa in Spain