Do you want to move to Spain, but don’t have a job there?
The good news is, you don’t need one!
You can get Spanish residency using the Non Lucrative Visa Spain (NLV).
In this article, we’ll explore this visa, including the different types of eligible income, what sort of health insurance you need, the documentation you need to gather, and what the application process itself involves.
We’ll also weigh up the pros and cons of the Non Lucrative Visa Spain as a pathway to eventual Spanish citizenship.
In the wake of Brexit, and as both the US and the UK experience heightened political instability, it’s likely 2022 will see a new wave of immigrants looking to make Spain their home – many with a Plan B in mind.
Let’s dive in!
What is the Non Lucrative Visa Spain?
The Non Lucrative Visa Spain is designed for non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss foreigners who wish to live full time in Spain, but without working there or making a large investment in the country (such as for the Spain Golden Visa).
The Non Lucrative Visa Spain (NLV) allows foreigners to get residency based on proof of sufficient economic means, originating from a source outside Spain.
The visa can be used to start your journey to Spanish permanent residency, then Spanish citizenship.
That would make you a full member of the EU, with the right to live, work, do business, study, and retire anywhere in the EU or EEA or Switzerland.
Benefits of the Non Lucrative Visa Spain
- Easy to get approved, provided you meet all the requirements
- No large investment needed (such as for the Spain Golden Visa)
- Travel anywhere in the Schengen zone as a tourist, for up to 90 days at a time, without needing an additional visa
- Perfect for retirees – Enjoy a sunny and relaxed retirement using your pension income
- You can live in Spain, study at school or university, invest in Spain, and buy property in Spain
- Bring your family to Spain with you to enjoy all the same benefits
- Start your journey towards Spanish permanent residency (5 years) and Spanish EU citizenship (10 years)
What does “non lucrative” actually mean?
“Non Lucrative” means that the visa holder (and their family members) can’t conduct any economic or professional activity in Spain during their time there.
Instead, you’ll need to prove you can support yourself and your family in Spain from your own funds, which come from outside the country.
Types of acceptable income:
- Pension income (state or private, or a mix of both)
- Income from an annuity or endowment
- Dividends from investments (e.g. an index fund)
- Dividends from a limited company of which you are a shareholder
- Rental income from property located outside Spain
- Interest earned on your savings located outside Spain
- Income from royalties
- Income from disbursement of a trust fund
- A substantial amount of savings (enough for at least one year of living expenses in Spain)
Basically, the Spanish government wants to know that you can live in Spain without becoming a burden to the Spanish state, or taking jobs away from local residents.
The Non Lucrative Visa Spain is a type of passive income residency visa (there are many of these in the EU), similar to the popular Portugal D7 visa (we’ll compare the two later in this article).
Working remotely with an NLV in Spain — is it possible?
Technically, income from non-Spanish sourced remote work isn’t included in the types of income accepted for the non lucrative visa Spain.
However, this is still somewhat of a grey area for the purposes of the visa application.
Many people ask if remote work for a foreign company is acceptable for the Non Lucrative Visa Spain application. It’s an extremely popular topic in online forums, Facebook groups and Reddit threads.
Hence, there’s loads of conflicting information online about the issue of remote work for the Non Lucrative Visa Spain.
Based on our research – talking to Spanish lawyers and reading about others’ first-hand experiences – Spanish embassies around the world are increasingly likely to reject applications based on remote work – especially as growing numbers of people apply for the visa and the embassies can be more picky.
So we strongly advise that you avoid using salary from remote work as your basis for the NLV application. In fact, we suggest you don’t even mention it when you apply for the NLV.
One possible solution might be to form a limited company (for example in the UK) and bill your clients through it. Then you could extract your income entirely as dividends (without taking any salary).
Dividends are classed as a form of passive income, so they may be acceptable for the purposes of the NLV.
However, this is not legal advice. We recommend that you discuss this issue with a Spanish immigration expert before moving forward with your application.
Non Lucrative Visa Spain: In Brief
You’re probably curious about what you can and can’t do while on the Non Lucrative Visa Spain. We’ve created this table to make things clearer for you.
|Working in Spain?||No|
|Studying at a Spanish school or university?||Yes|
|Buying property in Spain?||Yes|
|Investing in Spain, including businesses, stocks, and funds||Yes|
|Paying taxes in Spain?||Yes|
|Timeline to permanent residency||5 years|
|Timeline to Spanish citizenship||10 years|
|Physical stay requirements||183 days per year|
|Minimum passive income (annual, one person)||€27,792|
Non Lucrative Visa Spain Requirements
Basic requirements for the Spain NLV:
- Sufficient passive income to support yourself and your family while in Spain
- Suitable medical insurance policy so you don’t become a burden on the Spanish healthcare system
- No criminal record within the last five years
- Show proof that you and your family are in good health
To apply for the Non Lucrative Visa Spain, you must not be a citizen of any EU/EEA country, or of Switzerland. You can include your family (spouse, civil partner and dependent children) in the application.
Passive income requirements for the NLV
Let’s now take a detailed look at the exact figures you’ll need to meet the income requirements.
The Spanish government calculates the income requirements according to a system called IPREM (“the Public Multiple Effects Income Indicator” or Indicador Público de Renta de Efectos Múltiples in Spanish.
For an NLV application, you need to show proof of having 400% of the IPREM as a lump sum in your bank account. Per month, that’s €579,02 (according to latest 2022 figures).
We’ve broken the figures down into a convenient table, so you can see how much you’ll need according to how many family members you want to bring to Spain.
|Number of Applicants for NLV||Minimum Annual Income (€)|
|Main applicant only||€27,792|
|Main applicant and one dependent||€34,731|
|Main applicant and two dependents||€41,689|
|Main applicant and three dependents||€48,638|
We’ve noticed that applying with income at just the minimum threshold can be problematic with some embassies.
So we recommend that you aim to exceed the minimum threshold by at least €500 per dependent, especially if you’re bringing several dependents with you.
Basically, more income leads to a stronger application.
How to Apply for a Non Lucrative Visa in Spain 🇪🇸
Applying for the Non Lucrative Visa Spain happens in two stages – the first at the Spanish embassy or consulate in your country of citizenship (or permanent residence), and the second with the immigration authorities after you arrive in Spain.
After submitting your application at the embassy, you’ll receive the visa affixed to a page of your passport. This will allow you to enter Spain and be exempt from the regular 90 day tourist stay.
Once you arrive in Spain, you’ll complete stage two with the local immigration department, which is where you will receive your Spanish residence permit.
Stage 1: Getting your visa [Spanish embassy]
Documents & Fees
This list may vary slightly depending on the embassy or consulate where you apply, but in general you’ll need the following items.
All documents must be translated into Spanish by a government-approved translator, and legalized with the Apostille of the Hague Convention.
- Completed national visa application form (two copies)
- Form EX-01
- Authorization Form M790 Codigo 052
- Three passport sized photos
- Original passport (valid for at least 1 year)
- Certified copies of each page of your passport
- Proof of income (e.g bank statements)
- Police criminal record
- Medical certificate
- Proof of having a international medical insurance policy
- Marriage certificate (if you’re bringing a dependent spouse with you) — must be apostilled and translated into Spanish
- Birth certificates (for any dependent children) — must be apostilled and translated into Spanish
You’ll also need to pay a non-refundable processing fee for the NLV application. This amount varies according to your citizenship. Citizens of most countries will pay €80, but US citizens must pay €123, while Canadians must pay €507.
The embassy officials typically take up to three months to process your NLV application. The exact timeframe depends on the specific embassy, but some may approve the visa more quickly.
The visa includes authorization to be resident in Spain for a period of one year. You must enter Spain within a maximum period of three months to complete the second stage.
The one-year validity period begins from the date you enter Spain. Spanish border control will record this date by stamping your passport when you arrive.
Stage 2: Getting your residence card [in Spain]
After you arrive in Spain, you’ll need to complete the second stage within one month of arrival – applying for your residence card at your nearest Foreigners Office.
Take along your passport (you’ll need to show them the visa), three passport sized photos and proof that you’ve paid the residence card fee. You’ll be issued with a Foreigners Identity Card, known as a TIE (“Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero” in Spanish).
Renewing your NLV and changing residency status
Your Non Lucrative Visa Spain will be valid for an initial period of one year. After that, you’ll need to renew it for another two years, followed by a further two years.
Each time you renew your Non Lucrative Visa status, you’ll have to show proof of sufficient funds (from passive sources), along with suitable medical insurance and a valid passport.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to show double the original amount of funds (800% of the IPREM), because this time you’re applying for two years of residency.
Upon reaching the five year mark, you’ll become eligible to apply for Spanish permanent residency. Once you become a permanent resident, you’ll no longer need to prove any income requirements.
You also have another option after the first year of the Non Lucrative Visa Spain – switching to a different residence status. For example, some foreigners choose this option because they want to start working or running a business during their stay in Spain.
Spain has a wide range of work permits to choose from, each with their own special requirements.
Non Lucrative Visa and Paying Tax in Spain
The Non Lucrative Visa Spain requires the holder to spend at least 183 days per year physically in Spain. This typically triggers an obligation to pay Spanish taxes on your worldwide income.
However, Spain has a wide range of double taxation treaties with many countries, so you probably won’t be taxed twice. We highly recommend talking to a qualified cross-border tax advisor about your specific situation.
Non Lucrative Visa Spain vs Golden Visa Spain
The Golden Visa Spain is another popular option for foreigners who want to get residency in the country.
By making a significant investment – such as €500,000 in Spanish real estate – investors can get a residency permit.
This can be converted into permanent residency or citizenship after the requisite number of years.
But how does the Golden Visa measure up against the Non Lucrative Visa Spain?
|Spain Golden Visa||Non Lucrative Visa Spain|
|Financial requirements||Min. €500,000 investment||Min. annual funds €27,792 (1 person)|
|Physical stay requirements||None (1 visit per year)||183 days per year|
|Can work in Spain?||Yes||No|
|Tax residency required?||No||Yes|
|Apply from Spain?||Yes||No|
The Golden Visa is a better fit for those who plan to work in Spain, as it includes permission for this. Also, the Golden Visa has no physical stay requirements.
That means you don’t have to move to Spain (unless you want to). You can maintain your residency status by visiting Spain just once every year. NB, if Spanish citizenship is your goal, then you would have to live full time in Spain.
In contrast, the Non Lucrative Visa requires you to make Spain your main home for at least 183 days per year.
For the Golden Visa, you can apply from within Spain (for example, while visiting as a tourist). But for the Non Lucrative Visa you must apply at the Spanish embassy or consulate in your country of citizenship or permanent residence.
For more information, check out our complete 2022 guide to the Golden Visa Spain.
Non Lucrative Visa Spain vs Portugal D7 Visa
Portugal and Spain both offer similar passive income residency visas.
But which one is better? Let’s do a quick comparison.
|Non Lucrative Visa Spain||Portugal D7 Visa|
|Min. annual income (1 person)||€27,792||€8,460|
|Physical stay requirements||183 days||183 days|
|Must become tax resident?||Yes||Yes|
|Must apply in home country?||Yes||Yes|
|Remote work allowed?||No||Yes|
|Can bring family?||Yes||Yes|
|Pathway to permanent residency?||Yes||Yes|
|Pathway to citizenship?||Yes||Yes|
As you can see, these two visas offer very similar conditions.
The main differences are that Portugal’s D7 Visa has a much lower passive income threshold than the Non Lucrative Visa Spain.
What’s more, Portugal (generally) allows applicants to apply with income from remote work.
Because of that, the D7 visa is a good fit for a wider range of people, including retirees, investors, and digital nomads.
Spain, on the other hand, typically doesn’t allow applicants to get the NLV with remote work, even from abroad. Applicants may have to commit to not working during their stay in Spain, which could be problematic for some.
What’s more, both visas require their holders to live full time and pay taxes in the respective countries. But in Portugal, applicants can benefit from the non-habitual residency (NHR) special tax program.
The Portugal NHR tax program provides preferential tax treatment on certain kind of foreign-sourced income, according to tax treaties between Portugal and the origin country.
FAQs: Non Lucrative Visa Spain
How much money do you need for a non lucrative visa in Spain?
You need at least €27,792 per year for a single applicant for the non lucrative visa. If you want to bring dependent family members with you, you’ll need to show proof of additional income to support them.
Is Spain accepting non lucrative visa applications?
Yes, Spain is accepting new applications for the Non Lucrative Visa (as of May 2022).
How many times can you renew the Non Lucrative Visa Spain?
You can renew the Non Lucrative Visa three times in total. The first initial residency is valid for one year. Then, you’ll need to renew your residency status for a further two years, followed by a further two years after that. After five years of temporary residency, you’ll be eligible to apply for permanent residency in Spain.
Can I work remotely on a non lucrative visa in Spain?
No you can’t, because income from remote work is not usually eligible for the Non Lucrative Visa Spain. Many embassies around the world are rejecting applications based on remote work.
How can I stay in Spain for a year?
You can stay in Spain for a year by applying for a residency visa, such as the Non Lucrative Visa Spain or Spain Golden Visa.
Can I get residency in Spain if I buy a house?
Yes, you can get residency in Spain with the Golden Visa if you buy a house with the value of at least €500,000.
How do I renew my Spanish non lucrative visa?
To renew your Spanish non lucrative visa, you’ll have to show proof of sufficient funds, along with suitable medical insurance and a valid passport. Keep in mind that you’ll have to show double the original amount of funds, because this time you’re applying for two years of residency.
Can I work for a UK company on a non lucrative visa in Spain?
Technically no you can’t, because income from remote work is not usually eligible for the Non Lucrative Visa Spain. But once your visa application is accepted and you start your residency in Spain, it may be possible to begin working remotely for a UK-based company. But for the purposes of the initial application, you should avoid using income from remote work. If in doubt, we recommend you contact a Spanish immigration lawyer for further advice.
How can I stay in Spain for longer than 90 days?
You can stay in Spain for longer than 90 days by applying for a residency visa. Popular choices include the non lucrative visa and the Golden Visa.
Will I be able to work in Spain after Brexit?
Yes, but you’ll need to apply for one of Spain’s work permits. You could also work in Spain after Brexit if you apply for the Spain Golden Visa.
Does Spain have a retirement visa?
Spain doesn’t have a specific retirement visa, but the Non Lucrative Visa is a good fit for those who wish to retire in Spain. Pension income is considered passive income, so you’ll just need to make sure you can meet the minimum income requirements with your pension.
How much money do I need to live in Spain after Brexit?
You need either €500,000 to get a Golden Visa, or €27,792 per year (single applicant) for the non lucrative visa (NLV). If you want to bring dependent family members with you on the NLV, you’ll need to show proof of additional income to support them.
Do I pay tax in Spain on a non lucrative visa?
Yes, you will need to pay tax in Spain when resident on the non lucrative visa. This is because you must spend at least 183 days per year physically in Spain, which can trigger tax residency obligations. However, thanks to Spain’s numerous tax treaties around the world, you can (probably) avoid double taxation.
Do I get a refund if my NLV application is denied?
No, you won’t get a refund if your NLV application is denied. The application fees are non-refundable.
Is the Non Lucrative Visa Spain good for retirees?
Yes, the non lucrative visa Spain is an excellent option for retirees. Pension income is valid for the application, and you’ll be able to live comfortably in Spain with your foreign pension.
How long is my Non Lucrative Visa Spain valid for?
The Non Lucrative Visa Spain authorizes you to be resident in Spain for one year. You must enter Spain with the visa within a maximum period of three months, in order to get your residence permit. After one year, you’ll need to renew your residence permit.
Can I apply for Spanish permanent residency after living in Spain on a non lucrative visa?
Yes, you can apply for Spanish permanent residency after living in Spain for five years with the Non Lucrative Visa.
Can I apply for Spanish citizenship after living in Spain on a non lucrative visa?
Yes, you can apply for Spanish citizenship after living in Spain for ten years with the Non Lucrative Visa. Those with citizenship from Latin American countries (plus Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, or Portugal) can apply for citizenship after two years of residency in Spain.
Can I get a Spanish non lucrative visa with a criminal record?
The Spanish authorities ask for a criminal record check from the last five years only. So if your crime happened before this timeframe, then you should still be able to get the Non Lucrative Visa. It also depends on whether the crime you committed is classed as a criminal offence in Spain. If not, then you should be able to get the visa.
The Non Lucrative Visa Spain is a popular way for non-EU foreigners to move to this exciting EU country.
For those seeking Spanish permanent residency and eventual EU citizenship, the NLV is a good way to start this journey.
However, there are two major downsides with the NLV.
First, the income requirements are substantially higher than those for the Portugal D7 Visa.
Secondly, Spain usually doesn’t accept remote work as a valid income source for the NLV. In contrast, remote work is usually considered eligible income source for the Portugal D7 Visa.
In terms of a pathway to citizenship, Spain’s minimum residency timeline is double that of Portugal.
What’s more, Spain doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, so you’ll probably have to give up your original passport upon taking a Spanish one.
We believe two passports are always better than one.
So if you’re just looking for a passive income pathway to EU citizenship, we recommend that you consider Portugal instead of Spain.