Tag Archives: Shipping to Spain

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?