Retire in Spain: Spain's Retirement Visa Requirements and Application

Written By: Richard Nathan
Fact Checked By: Lamia Darwish

Sep 23, 2022

17 min read

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In this post we'll discuss the Non-Lucrative residence visa as an option you can use for retiring in Spain. We'll be looking at the key requirements, document requirements and how you get your Spain Retirement Visa easily.

Spain is an attractive option for individuals who plan to retire soon. Spain has plenty of benefits for expats who choose to retire in Spain. Retirees can benefit from a low cost of living, excellent climate, and affordable healthcare.

If you are planning your retirement in Spain, the first thing you need to consider is the type of visa you need to apply for to successfully and legally retiring to Spain.

The Non-Lucrative Residence Visa is often referred to as a retirement visa.

spain beach
spain beach

What Is A Retirement Visa?

In short, a Retirement Visa is a permit that allows an individual to travel to their country of choice to legally live and retire there. Many countries have implemented specific types of visas that allow retirees to easily retire in their country.

In most cases, your initial Retirement Visa will be reverted into a temporary residence permit once you enter the country. It's typically valid for 1 year and can be renewed for additional years if you wish to do so, and provided that you still meet the minimum requirements.

One of the main requirements for each of these types of Retirement Visas is that you must be able to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your stay.

With a Retirement Visa, you'll be able to legally retire in Spain in and enjoy everything it has to offer.


What Are The Types Of Retirement Visas Available For Spain?

In this post, we discuss 2 types of visas you can use to retire in Spain. The 2 options are the Spain Golden Visa program and the Spain Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV).

Let's take a look at the 2 options available to retire in Spain...

The Golden Visa As A Spanish Retirement Visa

The Spain Golden Visa is a popular option amongst wealthier travelers. Spain Golden Visa holders will enjoy the benefit of working, living and studying in Spain. Nevertheless, to qualify for the Spain Golden Visa, you must make a substantial investment in Spain. The investment options include real estate, bonds, company creation, and so on.

If this sounds like the type of visa for you, check out our in-depth guide about the Spain Golden Visa and how to apply for one so you can effortlessly retire in Spain.

The Non-Lucrative Visa As A Spanish Retirement Visa

The Spain Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) is created for non-EU citizens who have the financial means to live in Spain without working. The NLV is amongst the most popular type of visas for retirees. A great benefit of this visa is that it allows you to bring along your entire family, provided that you can meet the minimum financial requirements.

The NLV is simple to apply for and has very few requirements, unlike other types of Spanish visas. You are not required to include a business plan, make substantial investments in Spain, or present a work offer like other Spain visas.

The Non-Lucrative Visa will grant you a residency permit, which allows you to live in Spain for a year. If you wish to extend your stay, you can renew your NLV for an additional 2 years. After 5 years, you'll be able to apply for permanent residency. Note that you'll need to meet the minimum stay requirements to be eligible for a permanent residence permit.

To obtain a permanent residence permit, you must live in Spain for at least 6 months per year for 5 consecutive years.

Throughout this post, we'll be referring to the Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) as the Spain Retirement Visa. Here, you'll find everything you need to know about the Non-Lucrative Visa as a Retirement Visa, and how you to retire in Spain.


Who Can Apply For A Spain Retirement Visa?

The Retirement Visa is suited for the following people:

  • Individuals who wish to retire in Spain.
  • Individuals who want to live in Spain and experience everything Spain has to offer, provided that they have the financial means to support themselves for the duration of their stay.

The Spain Retirement Visa is specifically created for non-EU citizens who wish to retire in Spain. Retirees from the EU don't need to apply for a visa to live, work and study in Spain.


What Are The Benefits Of A Spain Retirement Visa?

When applying for your Retirement Visa, you'll be able to enjoy the following benefits:

No Investments Are Required

Unlike the Spain Golden Visa program, you are not required to make any investments if you want to apply for a Retirement Visa. The only requirement you need to meet is that you have the financial means to support yourself for the duration of your stay.

Travel Through Europe

Another benefit of the Spain Retirement Visa is that you'll be able to travel through the Schengen Area with total freedom.

You can visit any one of the following European countries without any hassle:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Bring Along Your Family

With this Spain Retirement Visa, you'll be able to bring along your entire family to Spain with you. The process of doing this is easy, and they'll be able to get their visa the same time you get yours. The only requirement is that you'll need to present proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and those coming along with you.

Get Long Term Residency And Citizenship

If your long-term plan includes permanent residency or citizenship in Spain, you'll be happy to know that it can be easily achieved with your Retirement Visa.

Your Spain Retirement Visa will allow you to enter and enjoy Spanish residency for a year. Afterward, you can renew it for an additional 2 years. You'll be able to renew your NLV two times. After 5 years, you can apply for a long-term residency permit, provided that you meet the minimum stay requirements.

To obtain your long-term residence permit, you'll need to live in Spain for at least 6 months per year for 5 consecutive years.

Once you have your residence permit, you can start the path towards Spanish nationality. To qualify, you need live in Spain for 6 months per year for another 5 consecutive years.

Invest In Spain

Although you don't need to make any investments to obtain your Retirement Visa, you can still invest in Spain. If you choose to do so, you can make any type of investment in Spain, allowing you to create an additional source of income.

Spain Retirement Visa
Spain Retirement Visa

What Are The Key Requirements For A Spain Retirement Visa?

To be eligible for your Retirement Visa, you must meet the following key requirements:

Proof That You Have Sufficient Funds To Support Yourself

One of the main requirements for a Non-Lucrative Visa (your Retirement Visa) is that you must prove you have the financial means to support yourself for the duration of your intended stay. If you plan to bring your family along with you, you'll need to be able to support them and yourself fully.

To be eligible for the Spain Retirement Visa, you'll need to show that you have a total amount of €27,115.20 per year. Alternatively, you can show that you have a guaranteed monthly income of €2,259.53. Alongside this, you'll need to show an additional amount of €6,778 for each family member you plan to bring along with you to Spain.

Proof That You Have Private Health Insurance

Unfortunately, you're not able to access the public health care system of Spain with your Retirement Visa. Due to this, you're required to obtain valid private health insurance that will cover any medical expenses for the duration of your stay. Your health insurance should provide coverage for yourself and any dependents you may have.

Your health insurance must meet the following requirements:

  • Your health insurance must be provided by a Spanish insurance company that operates in Spanish territory.
  • Your health insurance policy must be valid for at least a year.
  • The health insurance your purchase must offer the same coverage as that of the Spain public health system, and not have any copayments.

Private health insurance in Spain can be obtain at a fairly low cost. You can expect to pay between €50 - €200 per month, depending on which coverage plan you choose.

You Must Meet The Minimum Stay Requirements

If you wish to renew your Retirement Visa, you'll need to spend at least 6 months in Spain during your stay.


What Are The Required Documents For A Spain Retirement Visa?

Every applicant of the Retirement Visa must present the following documents if they wish to retire in Spain:

  • A Non-Lucrative Visa Application Form: The National Visa application form should be filled out and signed. Ensure that the information you provide is correct. Incorrect information can lead to your visa application being denied.
  • A Filled Out EX-01 Form: You can find the form on the official government website. Note that the form is only in Spanish. You'll need to fill it out and provide your signature.
  • Your Valid Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least 1 year and have 2 blank visa pages available for your visa.
  • 2 Passport Photos: Your passport photos must be recent, in color.
  • A Notarized Document Explaining Your Reason For The Application: The document must include why you are requesting the visa, your purposes, the place, and the length of your stay in Spain. Note that the document should be translated into Spanish by a certified translator.
  • Proof Of Sufficient Funds: As mentioned above, you'll need to present proof that you can support yourself and your dependents for the duration of your stay. Documents you must present your proof of income (current bank statement, annuities, social security checks, pension statements etc).
  • Clean Criminal Record/Police Record: Your Criminal record document must be translated into Spanish and have an Apostille stamp. The Apostille stamp is a certificate attached to your document that proves it is legitimate and authentic. Once you have an Apostille stamp, your document will be accepted by countries that are members of the Hague Convention.
  • A Medical Certificate: You must be examined by an officially registered doctor. He/She must confirm that you have been examined and free of any contagious diseases under the International Health Regulation. It must be signed by the doctor and include a letterhead that is not older than 3 months.
  • Proof Of Valid Health Insurance/Travel Insurance: As mentioned above, you'll need to provide all relevant documents that prove you have purchased valid private health insurance from a Spanish company.
  • Payment Receipt: You must pay your visa application fee and provide proof thereof. You can expect to pay around €121.26 for your visa application.
  • The Spanish Health Declaration Form: Due to the global pandemic, Spain has implemented a new health declaration form to ensure the safety of all visitors and locals of Spain. The health declaration form is a mandatory requirement for all visitors. Read our post on how you can travel to Spain right now to learn more about the health declaration form.
  • Recent tax return

You can now use Atlys' free passport photo tool to get yours. It's as easy as taking/uploading a photo, and the tool crops and resizes everything for you.

For Your Spouse

In addition to the above-mentioned documents, your spouse must also present the following:

  • A Marriage Certificate : The marriage certificate presented must not be older than 3 months. It must be translated into Spanish by a certified translator and must have an Apostille Stamp.

For Your Children

You'll need to present the above-mentioned documents along with the following:

  • A Birth Certificate: The birth certificate must have an Apostille Stamp and must be translated into Spanish by a certified translator.
   
spain visa
spain visa    

How To Apply For The Spain Retirement Visa?

Finally, we can start your Retirement Visa application process. Here's where you learn how to retire in Spain.

There are plenty of Spanish Embassies around the world. Each of these Embassies has a slightly different process when it comes to their Spain visa applications. We recommend that you contact your nearest Embassy before applying to ensure that you follow their specific process. This guide will give you a general idea of how you can apply for your Spain Retirement Visa and retire in Spain.

It's a easy 4 step process:

Step 1: Schedule An Appointment At The Embassy

When applying for your Spain Retirement Visa, you'll need to do so in your home country. If you want to lodge an application, you'll need to contact your nearest Spanish Embassy or Consulate via email or telephone call and schedule an appointment. Once you have scheduled an appointment, you'll need to start gathering your documents.

Step 2: Gather The Required Documents For Your Spain Retirement Visa

Now that you've scheduled an appointment, you must gather the required documents. You'll notice that there are quite a few documents you must get. We recommend that you create a checklist of the required documents. This makes the collection process easier and quicker. Also, you must ensure that all your documents are translated into English and gets an Apostille Stamp (Only if applicable).

Note that during the examination process of your visa application, embassy officials may require you to add additional documents to your visa application. This is asked to ensure that you meet all the visa requirements.

Step 3: Attend Your Visa Appointment

After you have gathered all the required documents, you need to travel to your appointment at the embassy. At the embassy, you'll have an in-person interview with Embassy officials. During the interview, you'll be asked to answer some simple questions about your trip to Spain. Be sure that you answer truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. Furthermore, you'll need to submit all the documents you have gathered and pay the visa application fee.

Once you have completed the interview and submitted your documents, embassy officials will collect your biometric information. Your biometric information will include your fingerprints, a digital photo, and your signature.

You can expect to receive feedback within about 2 - 3 months from the day you submitted your documents.

Step 4: Collect Your Retirement Visa

If your Retirement Visa application is successful, you'll be contacted via mail or email. You need to collect your visa in person at the Spanish Embassy where you applied at. You must do this within a month of receiving feedback. Ensure that you bring along your passport and your flight itinerary.

Congratulations, you now have your Retirement Visa. However, you still need to travel to Spain and replace your Retirement Visa with a residency card (TIE).

spain sunset
spain sunset

What Must I Do Once I Arrive In Spain?

Applying for your residency card (TIE) is a key part in the "how to retire in Spain" process. As such, you'll need to travel to Spain and replace your Spain Retirement Visa with a residency card.

Your Retirement Visa will be granted for 90 days. Within this time, you must travel to Spain and present it at the Oficina de Extranjería (Immigration Office) or “Comisaría de Policía, Departamento de Extranjería". Here, you'll need to apply for the residency card that will replace your Retirement Visa.

To apply for your residency card (TIE), you'll need to make an appointment at the police station in person. Before you tend to your appointment, you need to gather and submit the following documents:

  • 3 recent passport photos
  • Your passport and a copy of your main page
  • Your resolution letter from the Spanish government. The resolution letter is an approval letter that you'll receive from the Immigration Office.
  • Fee Form that has been paid
  • Clean criminal record
  • Medical Certificate

At the appointment, you'll provide your fingerprints and receive a temporary residency document. You'll be informed of when you can get your TIE. Depending on where you lodge the TIE application, it can take about a month to receive it.


How Do I Renew My Spain Retirement Visa?

Your initial visa will be valid for 1 year. You can renew your visa for an additional 2 years. To renew your visa, you'll need to head over to your nearest Immigration Office and submit the following documents:

  • Your current Residency Card (TIE)
  • Two copies of the EX-01 form
  • Paid/stamped authorization form M790 C052
  • Your valid passport
  • Copies of your visa pages in your passport
  • Proof of sufficient funds. Note that you'll be renewing your visa for 2 more years. Meaning, you'll need to prove that you have the financial means to support yourself for the following 2 years.
  • Proof of private medical insurance
  • A copy of your address in Spain. It must not be older than 3 months.

As mentioned, you'll need to submit these documents to the Immigration Office. Once your application has been approved, you'll have 30 days to apply for a new TIE. You can follow the same above-mentioned process to get your new TIE.


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Apply Early

We see that travelers leave their visa applications till the last minute. So please ensure you apply at least 2 months before your planned trip.

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You can use Atlys to obtain a visa for any of these Schengen countries on your next trip: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

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You’re finally finished with the entire process and you can now start your Retirement Visa application and successfully retire in Spain. After reading through this guide, all your "How to retire in Spain" questions should be answered.

retired couple in spain
retired couple in spain

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Work In Spain Legally With A Non-Lucrative Visa/Retirement Visa?

There is a way to obtain a working permit with your NLV/Retirement Visa. This would be the best alternative for individuals who wish to work in Spain legally.

This will require you to spend 1 year in Spain without working. If you have the financial means to do so, you can easily get a working permit in Spain. All you need to do is the following:

  • In the last few months of your Retirement Visa, you need to start searching for a job. Once you have found an employer willing to employ you, the process from there is easy.
  • Because you already have a residence permit that allows you to live in Spain, your employer only needs to apply for authorization to allow you to work in Spain.
  • The authorization will allow you to work and live in Spain for an additional 2 years.

It's also possible to get a work residency as a self-employed individual. With this status, you're not required to work for anyone. However, the main requirement is that you provide a business plan that shows you'll earn the Spanish minimum wage. This is most suited for entrepreneurs who wish to work in Spain.

Do I Need A Spanish Bank Account And How Do I Open One?

Yes. This is not a mandatory requirement, but if you're planning to stay in Spain for a while, a Spanish bank account will make fiscal activities considerably easier. The easiest way to open your Spanish bank account is when you are in Spain. You simply need to go to your preferred bank and bring along the necessary documents. Bear in mind that you might have to bring a translator as there are few English speaking staff.     You'll need to bring the following documents with you:

  • Your passport or a government issued travel document- Spanish foreigner identification number (NIE) and certificate (número de identificación de extranjeros)
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of employment status.

All of the documents you provide must be in Spanish. If it's not, you can get it certified and translated by a certified translator.     Once you arrive in Spain, you can head over to your nearest bank and open your own Spanish bank account. Note that you'll need to bring along all the required documents. Ensure to make copies of them and keep them safe during your travel.

What Are The Tax Requirements For A Non-Lucrative Visa/Retirement Visa?

The NLV requires you to stay in Spain for a minimum of 6 months. This means you'll be considered as a tax resident of Spain. Unfortunately, you'll need to pay tax on your worldwide income.     To avoid double taxation, Spain has formed a specific agreement with certain nations.     You are eligible to pay Spanish income tax on your worldwide income:

  • If you have an annual income of more than more than €22,000 from employment
  • If you’re self-employed in Spain or own a business there
  • If you receive rental income that is more than €1,000 a year
  • If you have capital gains and savings income that is more than €1,600 a year
What Is An TIE?

A TIE or Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjeros is a residency card that'll allow you to live in Spain legally. The TIE is issued to foreigners who plan to reside in Spain for a duration that exceeds 6 months.

Do I Need To Apply For My NIE?

If you plan to apply for a Non-Lucrative Visa as your Retirement Visa, you don't need to apply for an NIE. Your NIE will be assigned to you on your Retirement Visa.

Do I Need To Present Proof Of Accommodation When Applying For My Retirement Visa?

When applying for a Spain Non-Lucrative Visa as a Retirement Visa, you don't need to present proof of accommodation. However, this might not be the case for all Spanish Embassies or Consulates.     It is highly recommended that you contact your nearest Spanish Embassy to ensure that you collect the correct documents and follow their specific visa application process.

Can I Work In Spain With My Non-Lucrative Visa/Retirement Visa?

No. You are not allowed to work for a Spanish employer in Spain with your Non-Lucrative Visa.

When Should I Start The Retirement Visa Application?

We recommend that you start your NLV application at least 3 months before your intended date of travel to Spain.

What Documents Of Mine Require An Apostille Stamp?

When applying for your Retirement Visa, you'll need to get an Apostille Stamp on the following documents:    

  • Criminal Record Background Check
  • Medical Report
  • Marriage Certificate
How Long Does My Retirement Visa Take To Be Processed?

When applying for your NLV, the process can take up to 2 to 3 months from the day you submit your documents. Once your visa application is successful, the Spanish Embassy or Spanish Consulate will contact you via email or mail. You'll need to travel to the embassy or consulate in person within 1 month of receiving feedback. Ensure that you bring along your passport and a flight itinerary to Spain.

What Is The Retirement Visa Fee?

When you're at the Consulate General of Spain to submit your documents, you'll need to pay the application fee. You can expect to pay around 121.26 EUROS (2021) for your visa application, payable with money order to the order of “CONSULATE GENERAL OF SPAIN”. Note that the fee is non-refundable, and paying it doesn't guarantee a successful visa application.

Can Citizens From the European Union Apply For a Non-Lucrative Visa?

No. The NLV is designed and created for non-EU/EEA and Switzerland citizens. EU/EEA and Switzerland citizens enjoy the benefit of living, studying, and working in Spain without the need to apply for a specific visa. Note that EU citizens who wish to stay in Spain for a long period will need to register themselves with government authorities.

What Are The Best Spain Destinations For Retirees?

If you are searching for enjoyable Mediterranean weather, cheerful and vibrant towns, here are top 5 destination when planning to retire in Spain    

  • Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Mallorca Island
  • Marbella
  • ​Alicante
  • Valencia
Why Is The Spain Retirement Visa A Very Attractive Option For British Expats After Brexit?

British expats now have the same rights as other 3rd country nationals: US, Canada, etc. UK citizens can follow the same retirement visa and residency process detailed below like other non-EU citizens.

How Can US Citizen To Retire In Spain?

Americans that 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, retirement pension, etc.

How Can I Obtain Spain Citizenship?
  • Spanish citizenship by residency After 2,5 or 10 years of living in Spain with your residency permit, you can easily get Citizenship by residency.
  • Spanish citizenship by option If your parents were Spanish nationals, you can also get citizenship for yourself, as long as you meet the requirements. You or your children must be under 18 years old.
  • Spanish citizenship by descent Are you the grandchildren of Spanish citizens (for example of those who got it to trough historical memory)? Then under this a law, you may be able to also apply.
  • Spanish citizenship based on marraige If you get married to a Spanish citizen, you just need to live in Spain for one year in order to qualify for the nationality.

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