Types of visas to Spain

Depending on your citizenship, you might or might not need to get visa to Spain. In this overview, we'll talk about the available visa varieties, the required paperwork and the process of applying for a visa to this Mediterranean country.

Who Needs a Visa

Let's see which categories of foreigners need to obtain a Spain visa and which don't:

  • Residents of the EU, EEA and Switzerland can freely visit Spain for any purpose, including work or business. If they're planning to stay in this country for the long term, it's necessary for them to get an NIE. It's a unique number that the authorities will rely on to identify them as foreigners.
  • UK and US citizens can arrive in Spain visa-free and stay there for 90 days. If they'd like to stay longer, a long-term visa will be mandatory. Besides, the British and the Americans have to obtain a visa if they're planning to work in Spain. For short business trips, a visa is not necessary.
  • Attention: the rules for Green Card holders are not the same as for US citizens. If you're one of them, be ready to visit the Spanish Consulate or Embassy in your homeland to get the visa. Its type will depend on the purpose of your trip.

In total, the citizens of around 60 states can enter Spain visa-free and those of over 100 other states need a visa.


The list of papers to prepare depends on the visa variety. Typically, it's essential to provide:

  • Filled-in application form
  • Two photos
  • Passport
  • Health insurance
  • Proof that you have enough savings to afford the trip
  • Proof that you're employed
  • Proof that you booked a hotel in Spain
  • Plane ticket back to your homeland or some other state

Plus, you might need to collect additional papers — we'll mention them below when we'll be talking about each visa variety separately.

Step-by-Step Guide on Applying for a Spanish Visa

The exact instructions might vary depending on your citizenship and the required visa variety. In general, the process looks like this:

  1. Fill in the application form. It should be available on the website of the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your country. It's crucial to provide full and up-to-date information about yourself.
  2. Prepare the documents. Start collecting them in advance because it might take time to get certain papers. If the papers are not in Spanish or English, make sure to translate them.
  3. Schedule an appointment in the Consulate or Embassy and have a face-to-face interview. Please wear formal clothes, avoid being late and take all the documents with you. The Consulate or Embassy representative will ask you about the goal and duration of your trip as well as about personal details (job, previous trips to Europe and so on).
  4. Pay the fee.

In most cases, everything goes without a hitch. However, some people fail to get the visa — for instance, if they make a mistake in the application form accidentally or deliberately.

Short-Term Visas

The average processing time for such visas is around 2 weeks. The exact duration depends on how many applications the Embassy or Consulate has to process. In peak times, be ready to wait up for one month.

Tourist Visa

It's the most common type of visa. It allows you to visit the country for a few days or weeks to see its sights, sunbathe on the beach and have fun in many other ways.

Visa for Business Trips

Such a visa doesn't allow you to work in Spain. But you can travel to this country to receive business training, attend a meeting or take part in a conference. In addition to the above-listed documents, be ready to provide a work certificate and an invitation letter from the local organization that explains the goals of your trip. It's important that you don't receive any financial remuneration for your activities in this country — otherwise, you'll need a work visa.

Airport Transit Visa

This one is suitable only for people who travel to another destination and aren't planning to spend time in Spain. You'll only be allowed to stay in a local airport to wait for your next flight.

Schengen Visa

When applying for a Spanish visa, you may get a national one or a Schengen one. The latter enables you to travel around multiple (but not all) European countries. The conditions of your stay there will be the same as in Spain.

Long-Term Visas

You'll need such a visa if you're planning to stay in the country for over 90 days. The only exception is EU citizens.

First, it's necessary to apply for an NIE through the nearest Spanish Embassy or Consulate. The authorities of this Mediterranean country will need this number to track your activities within the state as a foreigner. Then, apply for the visa.

Work Visa

This one comes in handy for individuals who'd like to either get employed or run a business in Spain or work remotely from this country. Be ready to provide work authorization, proof of professional qualification and a work contract.

The requirements for this visa variety differ greatly depending on the applicant's citizenship. It's vital to consult with the Spanish Embassy about your situation.

Visa for Scientists

The target audience of this one is professionals who're invited to:

  • Teach at Spanish universities or business schools
  • Conduct scientific studies in local private or public research centers
  • Contribute to technological innovation in the country

Depending on the terms of the contract, the foreigner can be allowed to prolong this visa for 2 years once or twice.

Family Reunion Visa

You might need it if you become a Spanish resident and will want to relocate your family member to this country. Each case is individual. You may be able to take to Spain not only your spouse and kids but also your parents, a partner with whom you haven't officially tied the knot, kids and parents of this partner and members of your so-called extended family, such as nephews.

It's vital that your relatives are economically dependent on you. Be ready to prove it with the history of your bank transfers to them. As soon as your kid celebrates their 18th birthday or finishes their studies at the university, they will officially become able to sustain themselves without your help. Then, they might have to leave Spain. If you'd like to stay in this country with your dearest and nearest for the long term, consult a legal expert about ways of obtaining a residency for all your relatives.

Student Visa

There are two types of student visas in Spain: short-term and long-term. The former enables you to stay in the country for a period of 3 to 6 months — which is twice as long as the maximum stay with a tourist short-term visa. This offer is popular among foreigners who come to Spain for language courses.

A long-term visa allows you to get a degree in this country. Within one month after your relocation to Spain, it's necessary to apply for a residence permit. In addition to the standard set of documents, be ready to provide a medical certificate, proof that you've always been law-obedient and an admission letter from an educational institution. This type of visa also lets you carry out research and complete training.

Religious Visa

To get this one, you should provide:

  • Ticket or invitation to the event that you're planning to attend
  • Any other papers that can confirm your participation in the event (for instance, your name might be mentioned on the official website of the event)
  • Proof that you took part in similar events in the past
  • Letter from the organizer of the event

It's one of the least popular visa varieties but it has its audience.

Visa for Volunteers

Spain offers an extensive range of programs for volunteers. You need to choose one and sign a contract or agreement with it before applying for the visa. Prepare for the Consulate or Embassy a description of the program that you're about to join and explain the terms of your upcoming work. Prove that you have the necessary qualification and enough funds to sustain yourself. If the organization that launched the program will cover some part of your expenses, don't forget to mention it.

Golden Visa for Spain

The Golden Visa was designed for wealthy foreigners who'd like to spend in Spain as much time as they wish. It's a superb retirement opportunity — but the age of the applicant doesn't matter, provided that they're older than 18.

To obtain this visa, you need to invest at least half a million EUR in local real estate. It can be one or several objects. It doesn't matter whether you purchase a residential property, a commercial one or a plot of land to build something. However, residential properties enjoy the highest demand among Golden Visa owners.

Alternatively, you can invest over a million EUR in local business and economy. Yet this method is less popular for three reasons:

  • It requires larger expenses
  • You'll need to consult with experts about your investments, you can't just invest in any random business that you like
  • The approval might take many months

With the Golden Visa, you don't need to stay in Spain any minimum number of days per year. Your family members can apply together with you and the sum of the investment won't grow because of that. In 5 years, you'll be allowed to apply for permanent residency and in 10 years, for Spanish citizenship.

Attention: the Golden Visa is not synonymous with the non lucrative visa. The latter is more affordable but has a serious drawback. On the one hand, to apply for it, it might be enough to have only €28,800 in your bank account. To boost your odds of approval, try to deposit more funds. The minimum required threshold tends to grow over time and might be higher depending on where you apply from. You have the right to bring your family with you — and in this case, it's crucial to have at least €7,200 per year for each relative.

The sad news is that with a non lucrative visa, you have to spend at least 183 days per year in this Mediterranean country. You'll become its tax resident and will have to pay your taxes here. This option deprives you of flexibility and mobility.

Plus, you'll need somewhere to live, so you'll have to spend money on buying or renting accommodation anyway. You may say that it's easier to invest €100,000 in an apartment than €500,000. But in 5 years after you get your Golden Visa, you'll be allowed to sell your investment. Alternatively, you can rent it out. So if you calculate thoroughly, the Golden Visa might become a more reasonable decision from a financial point of view.

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