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How long does it take to get a non-lucrative visa for Spain?

The Local Spain
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How long does it take to get a non-lucrative visa for Spain?
Applying for Spain's non-lucrative visa. Photo: Global Residence Index / Unsplash

Spain's non-lucrative visa is one of the most popular residency options for non-EU citizens to be able to live in Spain, but how long does the application take to be processed before you can move here?


The non-lucrative visa, or NLV as it is often referred to, is an authorisation that allows non-EU foreigners to live in Spain without working or carrying out economic activities, by demonstrating that they have sufficient financial means for themselves and, if applicable, their families.

In Spanish it’s called a 'visado de residencia no lucrativa' and is often referred to as a retirement visa, as this is the best option for retirees from non-EU countries who want to spend their golden years in Spain.

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

However, those of any age can apply for the visa, as long as they meet the requirements such as having the correct amount of savings or passive income, having private health insurance, and not working while they're in Spain. 

It may take a while to get proof of all of this and get all your documents together, but how long will it take for your application to be processed and receive a response to say if you’ve been successful or not?

When they apply, many people may have already given up or are about to give up their job back home or made plans to rent or sell their house. They are understandably anxious about how long the application will take, wanting to begin their new adventure in Spain as soon as possible.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about applying for Spain’s non-lucrative visa

In theory it takes one month

According to article 48.4 of the Immigration Regulations,the Government Delegation or Subdelegation must decide within a maximum period of 1 month from receipt of the request”.

This same law is echoed by several law firms in Spain when talking about the application time for non-lucrative visas, including Balcells Group in Barcelona, DEABOGA in Madrid and Sigma Seis Abogados in Valencia. 

In reality, it can take longer

In reality, however, many applicants are finding that they’re having to wait a lot longer than one month in order to receive a response.

In the last year, backlogs were being blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic and strikes among staff at Spanish embassies and consulates, among others, but sometimes applications are just taking a lot longer because of the number of people applying and the number of staff available. 

Anyone who applied in 2023 over the summer period, particularly in August may also find that there's been a delay because of the Spanish summer holidays.

The amount of time you need to wait for your application to be processed seems to primarily depend on where you apply.

Waiting times for applying from the US

Things in 2023 are moving a lot more quickly than they were in 2022 with the backlog from the pandemic. 

On the Facebook Group Spanish NLV one member said: "I think the San Francisco consulate is moving quickly. My visa approval was September 8, six weeks after submitting". 

Another member also applying in San Francisco confirmed that they received their approval in a total of six weeks. 

While in Los Angeles, another member wrote: "From appointment to approval 5 weeks and 1 day (went June 5) now the fun begins!"

A member of the Facebook group who went through the Chicago consulate said they got theirs in approximately 2.5 months.

But, as we said above, it seems to entirely depend on where you apply because some consulates are managing to process applications within the required time.


Waiting times for applying from the UK

Processing times for Brits seem to be slightly quicker than in the US at the moment. Many are still typically having to wait more than a month, but we've had several reports of people who have received responses in just two weeks. 

One member of the NLV group who applied in Manchester said: "It took 6 weeks for us to hear but people we knew who also applied at Manchester waited 12 weeks". 

While another applying through the London consulate explained "Our experience with the London Consulate was 3 months of waiting". Not everyone had the same experience in London though and one reader said it took him just 15 days to be approved. 

READ ALSO: How much money do Britons need to move to Spain in 2022?

Several readers who applied from the Edinburgh consulate in Scotland confirmed it took them just two weeks, while others reported it took them between 20 and 27 days. 

Our advice is to contact the consulate in your city or area of the country first to find out how long the processing might take, so you have an idea before you apply. 


Waiting to get an appointment is also causing a delay

It's not just the processing time, which is making the whole NLV application take longer, it can sometimes can a long time just to get an appointment to go to the consulate in the first place. 

An applicant wrote on social media: "Shaking, finally got an appointment at the London Consulate for September 20th, been trying since August 16th". 

While another confirmed: "We got our appointments for the same date and have been trying since the end of July!" 

This could add another two weeks or more to the process. But, it's important to point out that some people get their appointments very quickly. 

One reader said that they received their appointment at the Manchester consulate after only one week, while another said they got a response in just 24 hours, offering them an appointment for the following week. 


The delay might be down to you 

A delay, however, may not only be down to the staff at the consulate, it could also be down to you.

If you haven’t provided all the necessary documentation or sorted out everything you need to such as bank statements and proof of private medical insurance, then the consulate will need to come back to you, asking for more information and creating a setback. 

It may also depend on the time of year you decide to apply for your NLV. If you apply in August for example, many staff may be on holiday. You may decide to apply in January because your New Year’s resolution is to live in Spain for a year, but if many others have decided to do this at the same time, the processing time will take longer.

The best solution is to contact your local Spanish consulate several months ahead of time and ask them when the best time of year is to apply and when they receive the least amount of applications. 

One reader pointed out that consulates are processing student visas throughout the summer, up until September, so those applying for the NLV, should try after that time instead. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
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Anonymous 2022/08/30 18:21
I have a NLV and applied in New Zealand. There was no need to visit the Embassy until all the paperwork was in order which took over 2 months Police reports, proof of funds and long term income (pensión). Once deposited my visa was ready in about 5 weeks. I had no Contact with the Embassy staff except to pass the documents through a grill and take my passport when picking Up the visa.

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