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VISAS

What financial proof can I show for Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

A non-lucrative visa is one of the residency options for non-EU nationals who want to move to Spain, providing they have enough financial means. But what exactly counts as financial proof? Can you show evidence of rental income or pensions or does it have to be money in the bank?

What financial proof can I show for Spain's non-lucrative visa?
If the required amount for an NLV you and your partner is €34,741, the general recommendation that is to prove that you have at least €35,000. (Photo by MIGUEL GUTIERREZ / AFP)

Spain’s non-lucrative visa – visado de residencia no lucrativa – allows non-working individuals with a reliable source of income or substantial savings to live in the country for more than three months and is valid for one year.

The visa, which is also referred to as the non-working residence visa at some consulates, could be for those who want to retire in Spain, those who receive a passive income from their home country or simply those who want to spend a year living in Spain and have ample savings to do so.

For 2022, applicants need to prove that they have 400 percent of the annual IPREM (Indicador Público de Renta de Efectos Múltiples). In 2022 the annual IPREM, is €6,948.24, so four times this amount is a total of €27,792.96.

For every family member included in the residency application, it’s an extra 100 percent of the IPREM, which is an extra €6,948 for the year.

This means that a couple will need to prove savings or passive income of €34,741.20.

READ MORE:

In recent years, many applicants have been confused about the exact nature of the non-lucrative visa, using it to live in Spain, but to continue working remotely for companies abroad. This in fact isn’t allowed as you are still earning money and working in Spain, even though it’s for a foreign company. Many consulates are cracking down on this, meticulously checking that you’re not still receiving funds for working.

But what exactly counts as proof of income and what can you show to the consulate to show how much you have?

This is where it starts to get tricky because, in fact, different Spanish consulates around the world define savings and assets slightly differently and are asking for different methods of proof.

Spanish Consulate in London

The Spanish Consulate in London states that applicants for the non-lucrative visa need to have:

“Financial means required to cover the living expenses and, where appropriate, those of their family members, for one year…The availability of sufficient financial means will be evidenced by the submission of original and stamped documents that verify the perception of a periodic and sufficient income or the holding of an estate that guarantees the perception of that income. If the financial means come from shares or participations in Spanish companies, mixed or foreign companies, based in Spain, applicants shall prove, by certification thereof, that they don’t carry out any work activity in such companies and will submit an affidavit to that effect”.

This means that the consulate will accept passive income as well as savings, such as rent from a property or dividends from a company, as long as you’re not actually working for that company. Proof could include documents such as bank statements and contracts.

Spanish Consulate in New York, US

The Spanish Consulate in New York states:

“The applicant must submit the originals and a copy of the documents proving that they have sufficient financial means to cover the expenses of residing in Spain for the initial year of the residence permit, or accrediting that they have a regular source of income, for themselves and, where applicable, for the family members accompanying them… Foreign documents must be legalised or apostilled and, where applicable, must be submitted together with an official translation into Spanish.”

While the wording is slightly different from the Spanish Consulate in London, they also state that they will accept proof of a regular source of income, so again in theory they will accept income from passive sources such as rental income.

Spanish Consulate in Sydney, Australia

The Spanish Consulate in Sydney, Australia uses the same wording as the consulate in New York.

Spanish Consulate in Toronto, Canada

The Spanish Consulate in Toronto, Canada is far more specific about what type of proof and types of passive income it will and won’t accept. It states that applicants need:

“Three most recent bank statements. Bank statements from other countries must be legalised. Investments will be considered a supporting document. You must have the total quantity when you apply for the visa. The applicant must submit the originals and a copy of the documents proving that they have sufficient financial means to cover the expenses of residing in Spain for the initial year of the residence permit, or accrediting that they have a regular source of income, for themselves and, where applicable, for the family members accompanying them.”

What the experts say

Immigration lawyers at the international relocation company Where Can I Live suggest that you should prove that you have slightly more than the required amount because “Applying with the exact amount does raise questions”.

For example, if the required amount for you and your partner is €34,741, they suggest that you actually prove that you have €35,000 instead, to act as a financial buffer. They also suggest you have a financial buffer for each family member on your application, showing you have more than the required amount each time. 

They say that “savings can be in a bank account in your home country. But, for some nationalities, including China and Russia, the funds should be deposited into a local Spanish bank account”.

Immigration lawyers at Balcells Group based in Barcelona say: “Many times the different Spanish consulates request a bank certificate of liquid money in your account. The exact date of the certificate must be as close as possible to the application day. Bear in mind that it will depend on the consulate, but the government will usually look at bank statements from the last six months”.

Legal experts at Immigration Spain say that there are two ways of proving income: “Either proving that you have sufficient means for the whole period beforehand (for example in a bank account) or by accrediting the existence of any type of source that periodically generates income, such as a pension or the rent of a house you own”.

They suggest that the proof can be in the form of “Bank statements, property deeds, certified checks or credit cards, as long as they are accompanied by a bank certification that accredits the amount available as credit on the card”.

What the applicants say

In reality, applications can always play out a little differently, so we had a look at what type of proof real people were asked for when they applied for Spain’s non-lucrative visa. These experiences were published on the Spanish NVL Facebook group.

One person who applied through the San Francisco consulate said: “As long as you show the required amount over three months’ worth of statements, you can use your savings account. I used my combined checking and savings account + Roth IRA investment”.

Another person applying through the Manchester Consulate in the UK said: “We presented six months of bank statements. Translation of bank statements was not required – they do spend some time going through them looking at funds coming into the accounts and questioning where from. They are looking for evidence that you are still working which would be an automatic no no. As long as you have proof of funds then that is ok, that’s all they are interested in…. There is no request for any information about mortgages/credit card debt at your appointment so if you have those then just don’t refer to it in any of your paperwork. On the bank statements, they have to be stamped by the bank so a downloaded statement from online banking could get refused. We use Barclays and you can get a stamped print from a machine in the branch which was accepted”.

Another applicant in Chicago in the US said they needed: “Proof of adequate liquid financial resources and income: Bank statements from the last three months from all your bank accounts; social security benefits, private or public retirement benefit other (Army Veteran, Teachers’ unions, etc); proof of sufficient periodic income, including but not limited to: investments, annuities, sabbaticals and any other source of income, providing sufficient funds to live in Spain without working…. If you are not officially retired you cannot present your retirement plan (IRA, 401-K) as proof. You also need the last three years of complete TAX IRS returns”.

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For members

MOVING TO SPAIN

Six hard facts Americans should be aware of before moving to Spain 

There are 40,000 US nationals living in Spain but the road to residency and integration isn’t always straightforward for them. Here are six practical points Americans should factor in before embarking on a move to 'España', from work, to tax and healthcare.

Six hard facts Americans should be aware of before moving to Spain 

If you’re a US national who is considering making a move to Spain, you’ve no doubt already been captivated by all the country has to offer: the food, the people, the rhythm of life, the culture, the wine (of course), the scenery, the festivals, and so on. 

There’s a long list of quality-of-life positives that come with a move to Spain which could indeed make you happier than you are in the US. 

But before you start considering a permanent or long-term move to the country of your dreams, you should first think of the practicalities and potential downsides of such a big life change. 

MAP: Where in Spain do all the Americans live?

Above all is the fact that despite the United States’s reputation as a world leader in many regards, for the Spanish government you’re a third-country national with the same rights (or lack thereof) as any other non-EU national, from a Chinese person, to an Australian or an Indian citizen.

This is the crux of the matter, and a factor which will influence most of the important points to be aware of that we will now list.

Finding work or building a career isn’t easy

You’ll no doubt already know that Spain is renowned for its high unemployment rate, unstable work market and relatively low wages, but as a non-EU national there is an added set of obstacles to consider.

Firstly, applying for residency through a contract job is near impossible. Spanish employers would have to first demonstrate that they have been unable to find a suitable EU candidate for the position before being able to sponsor/hire you. 

Alternatively, you’d have to have the skills and experience which are included in Spain’s shortage occupation list, but this is made up almost entirely of jobs in the maritime and shipping industry.

It is true that Spain is set to make it easier to recruit non-EU foreigners to cover some of its most pressing labour shortages, but these are mainly in the tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors.

Then there’s the nightmare non-EU foreigners in regulated professions are currently enduring – think doctors, dentists, engineers, lawyers and so on – as the validation of their qualifications (known as homologación) is a pricy and convoluted process which takes at least three years. Others who need to have their qualifications verified for non-regulated professions (known as equivalencia) will have to wait two years on average.

With that in mind, setting up your own business might be one of the best bets to make a living for yourself and gain Spanish residency. This self-employed work visa is also a bit arduous as you’ll need proof of financial means and a business plan among other requirements, but on the whole it’s probably one of the most feasible residency options.

The Spanish government did announce an upcoming Startups Law and digital nomad visa in 2021, legislation which could indeed make it easier for Americans to remote work from Spain, but it isn’t clear yet when this will be approved.

A final option is that of becoming an English-language assistant at a Spanish school. It’s an easy way to get into Spain, it offers decent pay for the few hours you’re required to work and it can be a stepping stone to other work goals from within Spain.  

You need a lot of money to ‘buy’ Spanish residency

If you’re retired or don’t plan to work in Spain, then you’ll need to show you have the financial means to cover your costs. 

This can best be done through Spain’s non-lucrative visa or the so-called golden visa. 

As the name suggests, the non-lucrative visa (NLV) is a residency permit which doesn’t allow you to work in Spain or technically carry out professional activities you have abroad from Spain.

A US national wanting to apply for the NLV for the first time in 2022 will need to prove they have €27,792 ($31,390) for one year, an amount which rises if you include other family members. You’ll have to show proof of financial means when you renew the NLV again.

You can find more in-detail information on the NLV’s financial requirements as well as a breakdown of the pros and cons in the articles linked directly below:

As for the other main option for those who won’t work in Spain – the golden visa – the main options are buying a property (or more) worth €500,000+ (the option most applicants choose) or investing €1 million in a Spanish company or having €1 million in a Spanish bank account.

READ MORE: What foreigners should be aware of before applying for Spain’s golden visa

So all in all, applying for Spanish residency as a US citizen who can’t or doesn’t want to work in Spain involves having a lot of money saved up.

Public healthcare is the standard in Spain, but access to it as an American is subject to conditions

As you hail from a country where healthcare is notoriously not available to all, you may have assumed that here in Spain, where the approach is starkly different, anyone can walk into a public hospital and receive treatment. 

And there would be nothing wrong in thinking that initially, but the truth is that access to Spain’s sanidad pública is based on social security contributions, which are paid through your taxes as a contract employee or self-employed worker.

What this means is that if you’re a US national residing in Spain you won’t automatically get access to Spain’s public healthcare system. 

In fact, if you’re applying for the NLV or golden visa, you will have to take out comprehensive private health insurance for your application to be accepted, something which can be difficult and costly if you have pre-existing conditions.

You should also keep in mind that there’s a scheme called the “convenio especial” (special agreement) which allows foreigners who have been registered as residents in Spain for a year to pay a monthly sum into the country’s public health system to have access to it.

Under 65s pay a fixed monthly fee of €60 per month and over 65s pay €157 per month to obtain full cover through Spain’s public health system.

You’ll have to resit your driving exam again

The US is for the most part a nation of drivers. In Spain, if you live in a town or city you will be able to move around easily on foot or by using the country’s efficient public transport network.

However, if your intention is to buy a car and continue driving in Spain, keep in mind that after six months of residency in the country you will need to resit your driving exam again in Spain and get a Spanish driving licence.

Unfortunately, Spain and the United States have no mutual licence exchange agreement or recognition scheme.

READ MORE: How much does it cost to get your driving licence in Spain?

It’s certainly frustrating to think that you will have to cough up a considerable amount of money for something that you already know how to do, but on the plus side you’ll get to understand Spanish roads and driving, and possibly learn how to use a stick (gearbox) as most cars are manual in Spain.

You have to commit to living in Spain

Keep in mind that when you obtain Spanish residency, it won’t necessarily entitle you to enter and leave the country for the rest of your life, especially if you spend extended periods of time outside of Spain. Permits have to be renewed and their conditions respected.

At first you will be given temporary residency (which lasts five years) and with this permit you risk losing residency when you leave Spain for more than six months in a period of one year.

In the case of sporadic absences from Spain, the sum of these periods outside of the country during those five years of temporary residence must not exceed ten months if you intend to apply for permanent residency. 

Permanent residency is valid for ten years (you can then renew it or apply for Spanish citizenship), but you can lose your residency if you’re outside of Spain for more than 12 months continuously, or for more than 30 months during the last five years.

Only the golden visa offers more lenient rules in terms of time spent outside of Spain. 

None of this means that you can’t spend several months at a time back home in the States – in fact extenuating circumstances such as caring for a sick family member, work or study allow for a bit more time outside Spain – just keep in mind that you have keep tabs on long absences outside of Spain as a non-EU citizen.

You have to pay taxes in Spain even if you’re not working here

As a Spanish resident (someone who spends more than 183 days in a calendar year in Spain), you have to pay taxes here.

Foreign residents in Spain pay tax on their worldwide income at personal tax rates which are progressive, from 19 percent to 45 percent.

Fortunately, there is a treaty between Spain and the US which helps determine which country to pay taxes to and the tax deadlines.

Equally, if you live in Spain and own assets abroad worth more than €50,000, you have to declare all this to the Spanish taxman, through the Modelo 720.

There are plenty more tax matters to keep in mind if you have assets and/or income sources on both sides of the Atlantic (it may be worth consulting a tax expert), so just keep in mind that if you move to Spain you will have to deal with all of this complex scenario.

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