Family of Four Taking Flight to Financial Independence

Non-Lucrative Visa: How Do You Live In Spain For More Than 90 Days?

One of the biggest perks of FIRE (financial independence retire early) is availability and flexibility.  We will be available and flexible to travel, move elsewhere, and travel to spend time with family (and not be tied down to full-time jobs).

So why not Spain?  Why not Spain for more than 90 days?  On an American passport (I am not sure about others) you can only stay for 90 days so we plan to obtain Non-Lucrative Visas.  So what does that mean?  That means we need to prove we have the financial ability (among other things!) to live in Spain on our own without taking a job from a Spaniard.

So what does the process of obtaining a Non-Lucrative Visa for Spain involve?  To be honest, a lot.  I am a bit overwhelmed by the process, but the good news is there is quite a cohort of American expats that are willing to help if I have any questions including some Texans that have obtained them recently out of the Houston consulate.

We are now entering the time period where we need to work on this.  (Note, many Americans often lament about how these requirements vary not only by Spanish Consulate location, but they also may very depending on the person at your appointment, etc.)

Step 1?  Schedule a Visa appointment with the Consulate of Spain in Houston.  The Non-Lucrative Visa falls under a Resident Visa.  It looks like appointments are only available on Wednesdays and Fridays for Resident Visas.

You have to gather all your information and documents prior and schedule an in-person appointment per person (so we will need 4 appointments).  It seems like you can only schedule the appointments on-line, and it looks like the week we are looking at opens up this week to book appointments (we are looking to schedule the appointments in early June because of timing and a few other reasons).  We were told by the Consulate of Spain in Houston to not schedule an appointment earlier than 90 days before when we want to travel (so their example was if you want to travel in July 2020 schedule in May 2020 ... we plan to travel in August 2020 so we will schedule in June 2020).

The good news for us is we don’t have to go far to go to a Spanish Consulate since we have one right here in Houston.  Not everyone has that luxury ... in fact some people have to drive or fly to their appointment depending on where they live.

Where is the Consulate of Spain in Houston located?  It is located in the Tanglewood / Galleria area of Houston.

1800 Bering Drive
Houston, TX 77057

Update: Earlier this week (week of Feb 10th 2020) on Tuesday at midnight I went on the Spanish Consulate Houston website and scheduled four Non-Lucrative Visa appointments for early June.  Why midnight?  I was tracking their website for several days, and my guess (based on the evidence before me) was they would release the date I wanted at midnight that night.  I wasn’t sure ...but I assumed it was an automatic release at midnight or later that morning.  The good news was ... I was right!  Setting my alarm for shortly before midnight worked.  I wasn’t sure how “competitive” it would be to get an appointment since they only offer those appointments on Wednesdays and Fridays.  I wasn’t taking any chances.  It was much smoother than say ...trying to book dining reservations at the castle in Walt Disney World!  Step 1 - check!

So what’s next?  What is required at the Visa appointment?

Step 2:  Gather all necessary documents for the Visa appointment within a specific 90 day time period (Part I).

The Consulate of Spain in Houston lists the following on their website:

Bring the following to the Visa appointment:
-2020 Visa Fees (Exact Cash or Money Order ONLY)

For the Non-Lucrative Visa the fees are: $140 Per Person which would equal $560 for our family of four.

It also lists authorization for residence fee $12 which I will need to ask about, but I assume we will also pay that per person which would equal $48.

So ... as of right now looking at $608 total for the Visas.

Update: As of the week of Feb 10th the Spanish Consulate confirmed that the above fees are correct.  $140 per applicant plus the $12 per applicant.

-Two Visa Application Forms Filled Out Completely (Yes, I think you have to fill out two copies unless I am not understanding this correctly).  This form (I assume) is per person so we will have 8 filled out total.

-All remaining documentation needed for the Non-Lucrative Visa.  This is a big one here ... and so we bring you, Step 3.

Step 3: Gather all remaining documents.  (Original copy and photo copy of EACH document below).  See the link for all details.

1. Visa application form filled out (see above).
2. Passport (Valid for at least a year with at least two blank pages for the Visa.  The Passport will remain at the Consulate while the Non-Lucrative Visa is being processed).
3. ID (Such as a US Driver’s License.  I assume the kids do not need an ID in addition to the Passport, but that may be something I need to make sure about!).
4. Two recent passport sized photos.  (White background, 2 x 2 inches, glued into applications).
5. Letter explaining why we are requesting a Visa (including purpose, place and length of stay, and any other reasons we need to explain).  I didn’t see anything about this needing to be in both English and Spanish, but I may ask about that.
6. House property / leasing or renting contract.  We already secured Airbnb housing for beginning of September 2020 through end of June 2021.  We were told by the Spanish consulate: The minimum required for an Airbnb reservation is 6 months (counting from the day of intended entry into Spain).  So fingers crossed this will work (this various again, by Consulate).

We must provide proof of the Airbnb contract along with a copy of the Landlord’s ID and copy of title deed of property or property certificate.  We were a little concerned with getting this information from our Airbnb owner, but she’s already sent us what we need!  Here’s hoping what she sent works.

7. Proof of sufficient funds.  You must provide last three months of bank statements of checking and savings accounts.

How much is needed?  26,333 Euros plus 6,583 Euros for each additional family member.  For us this would equal about 46,082 Euros.  This was a big reason why we sold the house in plenty of time (and now we have just what we need in checking / savings without moving around any investments).

8. Background check issued by the U.S. Department of Justice - FBI Again, this can’t be older than 3 months (that old 90 day time period!).  It must be legalized with the Apostille of The Hague.  Both documents must be translated by a certified translator (this is not for minors under 18 years old).

Wait, what?

It looks like the Consulate of Spain in Houston wants us to use this link with the FBI.

The Apostille of The Hague?  The Consulate sent me to this link which is located in Austin (our Capital).  I’ll have to research this process more.

Per their website: ”an Apostille is a form that legalized the document it is attached to.  Its function is to certify that the document it is attached to is legitimate and authentic.  The Apostille can be used in the countries that have signed The Hague Apostille Convention (such as Spain).

Certified translator?  You can only use certified / sworn translators from Spain.  I found this 2019 document on their Consulate website, and I found at least one in the Houston area that I plan to contact soon.

9. Medical Certificate: “A doctor’s recent statement (within 90 day time period) signed by a M.D. with a doctor’s or medical center’s letterhead.  It must indicate the following - “the interested does not suffer from any of the diseases that may have serious public health repercussions in accordance with the provisions of the 2005 International Health Regulations.”  This also needs certified translation into Spanish (and includes adults and minors).

10. Proof of International Medical Insurance (travel insurance will not be accepted).  This must include a letter from the health insurance company providing proof it can operate in Spain.  It must include the following coverage:  “Emergency medical coverage, sickness and accident, hospital in-outpatient, general practitioners & specialists, prescript medicine and repatriation.”

11. Authorization form M790 C052-  ̈Autorización de residencia ̈. Only available in Spanish.  Instructions to fill this out are found here.

12. Form EX-01-  ̈Solicitud de autorización administrativa ̈: Signed and filled out in print. Only available in Spanish.  Instructions to fill this out are found here.

13. For Spouse: Marriage certificate (not older than 3 months) authenticated with the Apostille of The Hague. Both documents must be translated by a certified translator.  (Also everything listed above).

14: For Minors: Birth certificate (not older than 3 months) authenticated with the Apostille of The Hague. Both documents must be translated by a certified translator.  (Also everything listed above except minors do not need background checks).

So wait ... what?  Where to begin?  So I spoke with my American expat on-line friend (that is also from Texas) who recently (January!) moved her family to Granada, Spain ...and she went through this exact process also (and we have at least one mutual real life friend, so there’s that).  She said obtain documents first.  Then do the Apostille of The Hague.  THEN do the certified translations because the Apostille of The Hague ALSO needs to be translated.  Oh, and do not take out any staples or the documents will NOT be valid.

I think I plan to make TWO copies of everything first or two copies of everything total so I will have the original and copy for the Consulate and one copy for us.

Step 4: Bring all documents (and all family members all four of us) to the Visa appointment.

Step 5: (Fingers crossed) ... Obtain Visas!

Is there a Step 6?  Of course.  Step 6 is what we need to do once we arrive in Spain, but I will save that for another post.

Whew.  So that is our first snap shot of what it takes to obtain a Non-Lucrative Visa.  This will definitely be an on-going work in progress with some updates and adjustments made as we learn more.  Total cost?  To be determined at this point.  (Note, all of this information is based on the Consulate of Spain in Houston during this time period (early 2020)).

So there you have it (for now).  What do you think?  Have you obtained a Visa before?  What was the process like?


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