You Must Be Kidding: Steps to Get a Spanish Visa

9 Aug

This is the third in a series of three posts on getting my initial non-lucrative residential (or retirement) visa to reside in Spain. After many challenges with both the initial application at the Spanish consulate in San Francisco, and completing the remaining requirements once in Spain, I finally received the actual visa three and a half months after arriving in Spain.

Based on my experience of the seeming indecipherable or changing requirements to get my initial Spanish visa, in the fall of 2014, I started looking into the requirements for my first visa renewal. I used the identical forms and letters for documenting the required financial ability to support oneself with their specified minimum amounts, and medical insurance. However, when I went to the local Oficina de Extraneria, office where foreigners process visas, after several hours wait, the worker curtly told me that my financial documents were not originals and not “autorizdo.” When I asked what that was or how to do that, she just kept repeating the word. I was also told that my medical insurance, which had qualified the prior year, was the incorrect type, that it was a tourist medical insurance, not that for a resident.

I was concerned about meeting the deadline for the visa reapplication, but the worker told me I had up to 60 additional days to complete the requirements. I later saw online that the deadline was up to 90 days past the expiration date of the visa.

For the financial documentation, I asked my California financial advisor, to get the letter he had written about my finances and income, notarized. As well, I asked my California banker to print an original bank statement and notarize it. I had my financial advisor mail them expedited. When the original and notarized documents arrived two days later, I took them for official translation. By then, I was within a few days of the additional 60 days to submit all paperwork. I didn’t want to take the chance of missing the deadline if the online 90 day extension was incorrect.

When I returned to the Oficina de Extraneria, I feared the requirements would be changed, as is not uncommon in dealing with Spanish government workers. In addition to the newly minted financial documents, I brought the other required documents. When I contacted my medical insurance company, they insisted their medical coverage met the Spanish visa requirement, so I brought it (with official Spanish translation). I was pleased when told that the documents met their requirements, with the possible exception of the insurance. However, they indicated they would submit the documentation and if the government did not find the insurance to be acceptable I would be notified.

Several weeks later, I received a registered letter from the Spanish government saying I needed to get qualifying medical insurance. I went online to try to find qualifying medical insurance. While I speak decent conversational Spanish, I did not feel equipped to deal with the intricacies of making sure the insurance met all of the requirements, so I called a company who had English advertisements for medical insurance. When I called, the woman who answered did not speak English. After I asked, she put on an English-speaking colleague who was helpful. He got my information and told me a representative from the specific company that met my needs would be contacting me. I was surprised when I received the call that the caller and none of her colleagues spoke any English.

After laboring through the application process in Spanish, printing out and filling forms which had to be scanned and returned, and sending a copy of my NIE card, I was told I needed to submit my bank name and account number for billing purposes. I do not yet have a Spanish bank, but I offered to pay the policy in full. That was unacceptable to their policy. Thus I had to start over and I had been given a short time by the Spanish authorities to submit qualifying medical insurance. I found a local insurance “seguros” English-speaking broker who was able to secure qualifying medical insurance with the required zero deductible/no co-pay. I could either pay monthly through a Spanish bank account or the full annual amount, so I did the latter. I returned to retrieve the actual policy a week later, which fortunately was in Spanish. I then went to the Oficina de Extraneria where I submitted the original policy, the required copy, and the whole insurance book. After a discussion between two of the workers, they decided the insurance qualified. Hurray!

I then proceeded to contact the original insurer that the Spanish government said did not qualify so I could cancel that policy to receive a refund. They asked me to send the documentation from the Spanish government saying their policy did not qualify. After several communications, I told them it didn’t matter if they thought their policy qualified if the Spanish government would not accept it. I finally got a refund.

Several weeks after submitting the insurance documentation, I got a letter saying my renewal was approved, that I needed to go online to schedule an appointment, and they provided yet another required payment to be submitted before retrieving the actual visa. The payments have to be made at a bank only on a limited number of days of the month within a very narrow range of hours. My appointment is set for the very end of September, again in somewhat distant Alicante. At that time, I believe I will be submitting my photos and being fingerprinted again, which means it will likely be another 30 to 45 days (as it was the first time) before I actually can retrieve my visa. Once I receive my visa, which will likely be in early November, it will be set to expire in a little more than four months.

And one final recent frustration in the dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy…I had my son send a box of personal items to my home in Spain. One prior shipment was a fiasco. When I received the usual demand from the Spanish post office to name the contents, provide a receipt for the contents or provide and swear their value, I honestly told them, they had no monetary value and were only gifts, souvenirs, and very old personal items. In spite of sending them this response, they kept dogging me with the same request, to which I gave them the same answer. I learned this week that the returned the box to the U.S. I have yet to find out where or if is completely lost. Surely, it cost them more time and money to do this than to forward the box to me. Ridiculous.

Anyone else had similar problems with the Spanish bureaucracy?

10 Responses to “You Must Be Kidding: Steps to Get a Spanish Visa”

  1. Louis August 10, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    Wow sounds complicated and confusing. I guess patience is going to have to be a virtue when trying to apply for a non lucrative visa! As I am looking to apply for a visa for my wife and myself could you tell me what are they looking for as far as financial documents are concerned? Are they more interested in things like guaranteed monthly income like social security and pensions or is your total financial package like bank accounts, IRA’s and brokerage accounts also included. Is there a actual yearly income they are looking for or if your total assets in your accounts is enough.
    Could you give me an idea of how much the health insurance would cost? I know of course it would be dependent on the age of the applicant but lets say a 64 year old male and a 56 year old female. Is it reasonable say in comparison to US healthcare costs?
    I happened upon your blog just recently and have enjoyed it tremendously. Wonderful pictures and great writing!
    Good luck and hopefully no more hassles with the bureaucracy!


    • dawnrstarr August 11, 2015 at 7:51 am #

      Louis: Thanks for your comments, questions and interest. I don’t know where you are living, but if you google “non-lucrative visa Spain,” you will find connections to the Spanish consulates in the U.S. Remember that they can vary depending on which consulate where you are required to apply.
      You will find the financial, as well as other requirements, outlined there. As a single person, I needed to demonstrated 2130.04 Euros per month. I got a statement from my Certified Financial Advisor on their letterhead, stating the overall value of my portfolio and that assuming a reasonable 3% annual interest earning that I would have to $xxxx or the equivalent in Euros, XXXX Euros (which was based on current exchange rates.) I also had him print out an original copy of my Retirement account, documenting the overall value of my portfolio, as it had been reported. He also printed out my social security statement, which provides estimates of annual earnings depending on one’s age (or if you are getting social security, you would include that documentation.) I also had my banker print out an original bank statement, which showed my current balance. I had each of them type a statement as to the authenticity of these original documents, and have them notarized. Then they had to be translated by a certified Spanish interpreter. Per my article, make sure the interpreter is acceptable to the Spanish government. I chose someone to whom I mailed documents, who was certified by the Spanish government as an interpreter.
      I already described the insurance fiasco. For my first visa renewal this year, with two minor health issues, at 58, my cost per month for private insurance was around 83 Euros per month with the required no co-pay. You are prevented from receiving any medical care for pre-existing conditions for the first year, I think it is. Interestingly, they did not ask for any documentation re: health history, so I don’t know if they don’t do it, or only do it in the event you seek medical help for an issue. In California, being self-employed,my policy was a whopping $333 per month, with something like a $4500 deductible that first had to be met. When I got insurance for my initial application, it was through Insubuy for around $1200 a year, so that is more than what I am now paying. I had to have the policy certification of coverage translated into Spanish. I am not sure if you can apply for one of the Spanish health plans, though, if not living in Spain. I have no idea what the costs are for a man. Keep in mind, you have to buy the policy long before you ever arrive in Spain, in order to meet the visa application requirements. I bought mine and had it translated about a week before my consulate appointment in September 2013 and did not get to Spain until March 2014. Quality and cost of health care are generally excellent here, although there tend to be long waits for government run programs, for which I do not currently qualify.
      Hope that helps. Please keep me posted on your efforts. Have you decided what part of Spain?

    • dawnrstarr August 11, 2015 at 7:54 am #

      Louis: one more thing, in case I wasn’t clear. I had my financial advisor also include the amount of social security I would be entitled to monthly starting at age 62.

      • Louis August 11, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

        Thank you so much for your reply. It is very helpful. I am just in the beginning stages of researching for the visa. I have looked at the Spanish consulates website and see what they are asking for. One question I see is “What is your reason for wanting to move to Spain”? I guess because I have been there a couple of times and really enjoyed myself? Not sure of what they are looking for an answer there. As far as deciding where in Spain we are looking to be along the coast anywhere from Valencia all the way to the Costa del Sol which I know is quite a broad area. Mostly would like a smaller village or town where I would not be vehicle dependent. I have lived and worked the past 25 years in the big cities of Houston and Atlanta and I am very weary of the big city lifestyle and traffic. Thanks again for your answers and if I think of any more questions I will ask you. The health insurance costs seems very reasonable too. A lot better than I could find here in the States thats for sure.

      • dawnrstarr August 13, 2015 at 8:54 am #

        I listed my enumerated reasons as to why I wanted to move to Spain as I love the country; I like the quality of life; I like the warm friendly people; I like the food; I like the cultural activities; and I can speak enough Spanish to have basic conversations. I added that I have travelled extensively including Spain, which I liked the most, and hoped to become part of the Spanish community.
        I like a little over an hour south of Valencia, in Altea, as you can see from my blog. In the event you are interested about this or surrounding towns, I could give you more personal info once you two are on the ground here in Spain.

  2. Pedro1312 August 12, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    hi Dawn, it is sad that you have had problems and delays to become resident in Spain, but as i said before it is not the fault of the authorities but the fault of civil servants.

    if your first medical insurance was valid and then it is not a second time, obviously it is the fault of someone, the same with the person telling you that you have 60 days to submit documents, whereas the webpage says 90.

    as for 45 days to collect the residence card…well i am not sure, perhaps they need to find out if you have got criminal records in Spain or within the EU…i do not see any other reason, for all the process is computerised and they should give you the residence card the same day right after submitting the pictures and being fingerprinted, just like us Spaniards get our identity cards right after the pictures and the fingerprints whether to renew or to get it for the first time.

    anyways Spain is a very bureaucratic country just like France or Italy, even Italy is even more! we must thank the ancient Roman Empire as all of this bureaucracy comes from it, a legacy..whereas Anglo-Saxons and Northern European countries are less bureaucratic

    • dawnrstarr August 13, 2015 at 8:45 am #

      I love Spain, just not the bureaucracy, just as there are things I don’t like about the US, such as the crazy politics.

      • Louis August 13, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

        Thank you, I appreciate it.


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