How Can I Legally Stay in Spain Long Term? *HINT* It’s Easier Than You Think

Nomadic FIRE Spain Retirement Visa

Spain Retirement Visa Key Summary:

The Non Lucrative Visa, sometimes called the Spain Retirement Visa, does not allow employment in Spain. However, the Non Lucrative Visa allows early retirement in Spain without an age limitation. If you meet the minimum income of €25,560 annually, you have a path to legally stay in Europe long-term.  

Living in the Spain: Quick Facts <click to expand>

Are you ready to Retire Early? Ready to dip your toes in the warm water of the Mediterranean? Or sip refreshingly boozy sangrias in a cosmopolitan European city? What about enjoying a mid-day siesta in a charming Old World villa? Spain combines warm sunny beaches with the ease of developed European infrastructure and a surprisingly Low Cost of Living. Spain is a dream destination for early retirement and Spain's Non Lucrative Visa is how to make it happen.

Nomadic FIRE Spain Coast

The 2nd largest country in Southern Europe, Spain has a vast changing landscape.There is the natural beauty of the Mediterranean beaches, Sierra Nevada mountains, and the Northern vineyards along with the rich culture, arts, and social nightlife you would expect from major European cities. High-speed train and bus routes crisscross Spain to allow for easy exploring and intra-country travel. From Madrid, you can swim on the southern coast in four hours or enjoy tapas in Barcelona in three hours. Madrid and Barcelona are the main airports connecting Spain with the rest of Europe and the World.

Live in Spain for beautiful sunsets in Barcelona

If you are from the United States and Canada, you can enter Spain Visa Free. Spain is part of the Schengen Agreement allowing short-term stays for up to 90 days out of every 180 days. That is 90 days for ALL the 26 European countries that comprise the Schengen Area. There are no renewals or extensions allowed. You can stay for 90 days, but then you must leave the entire Schengen area for 90 days before you can return.

This short-term visa works if you want to travel through the cities and get an idea of where you’d like to live long-term. Once you chose a city right for you, you must obtain the Non Lucrative visa from the Spanish embassy of your HOME country. You cannot apply for Spain's Retirement Visa while you are in the country. 

For people working toward Financial Independence and Early Retirement, living in Spain can help accelerate those goals. If you have passive income sufficient to support yourself and your dependents, you may apply for a Non Lucrative Residence Visa. As this visa does not allow you to work in Spain, your income must come from passive sources: investments, rental income, annuities, pensions, etc.

The income requirements are a relatively low $28,885/€25,560 annually, plus $7,221/€6,390 per each additional family member. Assuming a 4% Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR), you can retire in Spain with a retirement nest egg of roughly $722,125.  

The Non Lucrative Residence Visa is a temporary residence permit valid for two years, but is renewable, provided you still meet the financial requirements and you have lived at least 183 days in Spain each year. After five years of holding the temporary residence permit, you will be eligible for permanent residency, allowing you to live and work in Spain indefinitely. After ten years of permanent residency you may be eligible for Spanish Citizenship. 

*INSIDER TIP*: People born in the Philippines, Andorra, Spanish-American countries, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, as well as individuals with Jewish Sephardic origin, are eligible for citizenship after two years.

A view of Santiago Del Teide in Spain

Requirements for a Spain Retirement Visa

  • Must apply in person in the Spanish Consulate of your home country.
  • Be over 18 years old.
  • Documented proof that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself, and any accompanying family, to live in Spain without working. 
  • Medical insurance accepted in Spain, valid for the entire duration of your stay.
  • Personal Statement of Purpose: A letter explaining why your are requesting the visa, the purpose, where you plan to stay, and length of your stay in Spain. The document must be notarized with a certified translation into Spanish. See notes below on certified translations. 
  • Clean criminal record documented by the police in every country you have resided in the last five years. Apostille certification is required. See Apostille explanation below. 
  • Your Spain immigration records cannot have any irregularities (overstays, deportations, etc.).
  • Spain residency applicants cannot have loans or mortgages in the United States.

Documents Needed When Applying for Non Lucrative Visa

Documents, Documents, Documents. The Spain retirement visa application process is a beast of paperwork. We created this FREE Document Organizer to ensure you don't miss any of the 22 REQUIRED forms. 

Spanish Retirement Visa Application Forms

  • Official Spanish visa application form and 2 photocopies
  •  EX 01 Form and 2 photocopies
  • 790-52 Form and 2 photocopies

Home Country (US) Official Documents

Pretty much every document you submit to the Spanish consulate for your application will need a "certified translation" and an Apostille. 

What is an Apostille?

An apostille is a certification that a document is “legal” or “authentic” by a Federal or State agency. Basically, it's one government (the US) certifying that the document you are sending to another government (Spain) is legitimate. After the your document is apostilled, the document will be attached with an official seal.  DO NOT attempt to separate the document from the seal.  

For Federal documents (FBI Background Check), your document will need to be apostilled by the State Department in Washington, DC. For state level documents (state police background checks, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc.), you must get these documents apostilled in the state they were issued. If you lived in several states in the last five years, you will need documents AND separate apostilles from each state. 

What is a certified translation?

Spain is very particular about this. Any documents that are submitted in English MUST be translated into Spanish by a Sworn Spanish translator certified by the Government of Spain. The latest list of official translators can be found at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs website. Be prepared to pay between $35 to $50 per page for certified translations. This was easily the biggest expense for my application. 

Note that Apostilles must also be translated, but translations DO NOT need to be apostilled. Get your documents Apostilled first, then send everything over to the translator. 

  • Recent Federal (FBI) or state police Criminal Background Check. Local police certificates are not good enough. These background checks require police fingerprinting, which can be done a most police stations. Online background checks are NOT valid. Only background checks from the FBI or State Police will be accepted.
  • Apostille of the Criminal Background Check
  • Certified Translation of the Criminal Background Check

Passports and Photos

  • Original and photocopy of passport
  • Two Passport sized photographs

Optional For Non-US citizens residing in the US: Alien Residence Card (Green-Card) or residence visa valid in the USA. Original and photocopy. Please note, B-1 and B-2 Visa holders cannot apply in the United States. You will need to apply in your home country.

Medical Documents

  • Proof of Spanish Health Insurance
  • Medical Clearance Certificate by a doctor showing good physical and mental health
  • Apostille of the Medical Clearance Certificate
  • Certified Translation of the Medical Clearance Certificate

Additional Documentation

  • Notarized Personal Statement regarding the purpose of your stay *see details above.
  • Certified translation of Personal Statement
  • Proof of Accommodation in Spain
  • Proof of income (annuities, social security checks, pension statements, etc.) showing a €2,151.36 per month income, and an additional amount of €537.84 per month for every dependent family member. See notes below.
  • Certified translation of Proof of Income. See notes below.
  • Proof of Economic Means
  • Certified translation of Proof of Economic Means
  • Copy of Most Recent Tax Return
  • Signed Consulate Disclaimer
  • ID Card proving you are a resident in the state this Consulate is responsible for. Valid U.S. Driver license, State I.D. card, Voter’s Registration Card, current Student I.D. are accepted. 
  • Signed and notarized acknowledgement of Consulate Disclaimer policy stating they are not responsible for loss or damage of your documents. 
  • A $152 Money Order or exact amount of cash to pay for visa fees ($140) and taxes ($12). 

Required Documents for Spouse and Dependent Children of Primary Applicant

  • Official Marriage Certificate
  • Apostille of the Official Marriage Certificate
  • Certified Translation of the Official Marriage Certificate
  • Official Birth Certificate
  • Apostille of the Official Birth Certificate
  • Certified Translation of the Official Birth Certificate

In addition to the documents above, your spouse will need a lot of the same documents you need. The easiest way to keep track of everything is using our FREE Document Organizer. 

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What Is Proof of Income vs Proof of Funds?

Ideally, you will have verifiable Proof of a Income equal to or greater than €2,152 per month. Proving your income is straightforward if you have easily documented income: annuities, social security, pensions, etc. If you are are like me (and most early retirees), your ability to fund early retirement is through assets: stocks, ETFs, and/or real estate. You will need Proof of Funds to convince the consulate you have enough savings to support yourself. 

This is where it gets tricky. The Consulate gets to decide how they want you to prove you have sufficient savings. The Visa Administrators can request more documents at their discretion, until you can prove to them that you can meet the income requirements. 

I've known some people who had to show 6 months of bank statements, while I was asked to only show my most recent. I've known a husband and wife who showed a net worth of less than $700,000 and was approved. As a single person, I showed over $1,000,000 in net worth AND $1500 in monthly rental income and my Visa Administrator was still skeptical. 

Can I work doing Digital Nomad, Remote, or Location Independent work while on a Spain Non Lucrative Visa?

Short Answer, No. Non Lucrative means no money. Long Answer, Maybe? This is another topic that is up to the discretion of the Visa Administrator. I have read about people who successfully argued that all their income came from outside of Spain, that none of their clients were Spanish, and that they had to plans to attract new clients in Spain. 

I have also read Immigration Attorneys in Spain suggesting that Spanish Consulates are no longer allowing remote work on Spanish Non Lucrative Visas. The safe answer is do not count on working and prepare to show sufficient Proof of Funds.   

Features and Benefits of Spain Non Lucrative Visa

Live Legally in Europe Long-Term with a Spain Retirement Visa


  • Land Ownership Is Allowed  
  • Relatively low €25,560 minimum income requirement
  • Language Exam Not Required
  • Personal Interviews Are Not Required
  • No Minimum Age Requirement
  • Visa valid for 2 years
  • 5 Years to Permanent Residency Eligibility


  • No Dual Citizenship Available 
  • Showing enough assets to meet the €25,560 minimum income can be a hassle
  • Private Spanish Health Insurance Required. International Travel Insurance is NOT allowed.
  • No Working Allowed
  • Visa must be renewed
  • 10 Years to Citizenship Eligibility

Conclusions on the Spain Non Lucrative Visa

With no minimum age requirements, a reasonable income requirement, first-class infrastructure and health care, a low Cost of Living, and a High Quality of Life, Spain should be on the top of the list of anyone looking to Retire Early in Europe. 

The city skyline of Barcelona Spain

Spain Retirement Visa Key Takeaway:

Warm climate, European charm, and Low Cost of Living make Spain an ideal Early Retirement destination.

If Early Retirement is in your future, you can enjoy a European lifestyle, First Class infrastructure, and some of the best food and wine around for about 50% less than the US. In Spain, you really can have it all: sunny beaches, scenic mountains, sprawling vineyards, and sophisticated cities. And, even better, living here is a fraction of the cost of the US, Canada, or the UK. Spain has one of the lowest costs of living across all of the EU. If you’ve ever dreamed of an affordable European retirement, it's time to check out Spain.

A view of the architecture in Salamanca Spain

photo credit: Miradortigre/Photopin

FAQs: Spain Retirement Visas

Do I need to speak Spanish to qualify for a Spain Retirement Visa?

There is NO Spanish language requirement.

Is there a minimum age to apply for a Spain Retirement Visa?

Unlike many other countries' retirement visas, Spain allows anyone over the age of 18 years old to apply. The Spanish Non Lucrative Visa ideal for Early Retirees.

Can a Spain Retirement Visa lead to citizenship?

After 10 years of continuous residency you qualify for Spanish Citizenship. However, dual citizenship is only available in LIMITED circumstances. Most US citizens would have to give up their US citizenship.

What are the requirements for a Spain Retirement Visa?

To start, you will need to show:

  1. Income sufficient to support yourself
  2. Proof of private Spanish medical insurance
  3. Police background checks from your country of residence

Complete visa requirements can be found here.

Can I apply for a Retirement Visa in Spain?

No. Spanish Long Term Visas must be applied for at the Spanish Consulate of your HOME country.

Next Steps: Find Out What Life is Like Living in Spain. View Our Retirement Guides For the Best Cities In Spain to Retire in.

  • Retirement Living Guides for Barcelona, Sevilla, and Salamanca coming soon. Sign up in the box below for updates.
  • View our current Retirement Guides for Medellin, Colombia and Manila, Philippines.

Are you looking to apply for the Spain Retirement Visa? Be prepared for LOTS of paperwork. The easiest way to ensure you don't miss a form is to use our FREE Document Organizer with the 22 REQUIRED forms you need to apply for a Non Lucrative Visa

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  • Bunny says:

    Great detailed article. I’m living and working in China. Using my lucrative salary here to pay down good debit so I can retire to Spain when I can no longer get a work visa for China. Thanks so much for this. As a single expat sometimes its lonely so this keeps me fighting and motivated.

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