Moving to Spain: Which Visa is Right for You?

Charming streets of Frigiliana
Charming streets of Frigiliana, photo via @delafuente___

So you’ve fallen in love with Spain and want to stay. What are your options? Well, you could go the easiest and most extreme route by marrying a Spaniard. You can also apply for different temporary residency permits that can be renewed throughout your time in Spain. Read on to see what your best options are.


Tourist Visa

This is the easiest, but also the shortest, option to stay in Spain. A tourist visa allows you to stay in Spain and the Schengen zone for 3 months within a 6 month period. Depending on the visa type, you’ll either have single entry or multiple entry allowance. This map is a great way to see whether you are automatically allowed entry, or if you need to apply for a tourist visa.

Schengen Tourist Visa Requirements According to Nationality
Schengen Tourist Visa Requirements According to Nationality, photo via Invest in Spain


Student Visa

A student visa is a great option for non-EU residents. If you are planning to stay for a period longer than 3 months that is authorized by a tourist visa, enrolling in a Spanish university or Spanish language classes can help you gain your footing in the country. To read exactly how to apply and what is needed, see our blog post about How to Get a Student Visa to Spain. Once you are living in Spain as a student, you also have the option to get a “modification” of your visa to be changed to a work permit. This is possible if you have an employer that is willing to hire you.


Self-Employed Visa (Visado Trabajo Cuenta Propia)

If you’re already a self-employed freelancer (or autónomo in Spanish) and are really invested in living in Spain, this visa might be your best option. With this type of visa, you’ll be registered in Spain’s social security system and receive public healthcare. You will also be required to declare your income and pay taxes in Spain. Once you have been officially living in Spain for 5 years, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residency. The downside is that the monthly fee to go freelance can be quite expensive, so you’ll have to make sure your wage is sufficient enough to pay said fees along with an accountant that can help you sort out all of the legal stuff.


Work Visa (Visado Trabajo por Cuenta Ajena)

This one is generally harder to come by as you need to already have a contract offer from an employer in Spain. If you’re an EU resident or native, then it can be as easy as transferring from one European office to another. If you are a non-EU resident, it is hard to get an offer like this unless you are a higher-level professional or highly skilled worker.


Non-Lucrative Visa

If you want to live in Spain but don’t plan to work there, the non-lucrative – sometimes referred to as the “retirement” – visa is another choice. You will be required to prove “sufficient economic means”, meaning around 2,200€ per month, to support yourself during the requested residency period.


Are things clearer now? Moving your life to a new country is challenging and requires patience. If you are willing to take all the right steps and do your due diligence, you’ll look back years from now, happy that you went through the hard work.


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