Spain is a part of both the European Union and Schengen Area, making it easy for EU citizens to immigrate to Spain. If you are a non-EU citizen, you can still move to Spain to work, study, or retire – there are just more requirements and paperwork involved.
There is no dedicated visa for foreigners retiring to Spain, but there are a few options for obtaining Spanish residency as a retiree. There are several long-stay visas and residence-only visas to choose from, depending on what you’ll be doing in Spain.
The most popular Spanish visas for retirement are the Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa and the Spanish Golden Visa. Here’s what you need to know about these two visa types, and what you should consider before retiring to Spain as an expat.
Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa as a retirement visa
The most straightforward option for someone moving to Spain without intending to work is a Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa (visado de residencia no lucrativa). While you don’t have to be a pensioner to apply, it’s suitable for retirees because it’s a non-working visa.
This visa is for non-EU citizens who can live in Spain without working, having enough ‘passive income’ to support themselves and any dependants they might bring with them. This money can be from pensions, savings, dividends, or other investments.
Each applicant must prove they have a minimum of €27,793 a year to cover their living costs in Spain, plus another €6,948 per additional family member. This means that a married couple retiring to Spain together must have at least €34,731 a year to live on.
Neither you nor anyone else on your Non-Lucrative Visa will be able to conduct any kind of professional economic activity or earn money while in Spain – including remote work. You can, however, earn money outside of the country, such as rental income from properties outside Spain.
Of course, you’ll need to be an adult with no criminal record to apply for this Spanish visa, and you must have private healthcare arranged through Spanish health insurance. Once you get your visa, you can move to Spain within the next 3 months and 15 days, then apply for your Non-Lucrative Residence Permit, which will last for up to 1 year.
You must stay in Spain for at least 183 days (6 months) of the year to maintain your permit, which will also make you a Spanish tax resident. Doing this will enable you to renew your Spanish residence permit every 2 years, until you can apply for permanent residency in Spain after 5 years.
Spanish Golden Visa as a retirement visa
For those with more disposable income, the Spanish Golden Visa gives you more flexibility to become a Spanish resident without minimum stay requirements or limitations on earning money in Spain. However, it does require a significant investment in Spain’s economy.
The Golden Visa investment options include €500,000 in Spanish real estate, €1 million in a Spanish company, €1 million in capital transfers to a Spanish bank, or €2 million in Spanish government bonds. You’ll also need to be an adult with a clean criminal record and Spanish health insurance.
Like the Non-Lucrative Visa, you’ll have to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself – but with the Golden Visa, this can be active income from current employment or economic activity. You’ll also be able to stay in Spain for up to 1 year before needing to renew your visa, and will then need to renew every 2 years.
However, you can stay in Spain for as long or as little as you like out of the year – as long as you maintain the investment, you can come and go as you please on your Golden Visa residency permit. You only need to spend 183 days (6 months) a year in Spain if you plan to apply for permanent residency after 5 years.
The process of getting this type of visa is generally much faster, and allows you to bring more family members that can benefit from the same privileges – including free travel throughout the Schengen Area. This is ideal for married couples where one person wants to retire but the other wants to continue working and earning income for the family to live on.
Requirements for retiring to Spain
To retire in Spain, you’ll need to meet the requirements of the Spanish visa you choose to apply for – whether that’s a Non-Lucrative Visa or a Golden Visa. Generally, you must:
- Be financially independent (having enough money to support yourself and any dependants)
- Not have any criminal charges or previously rejected Schengen Visa applications
- Be in good health and have full-coverage private health insurance in Spain
Not only will you need around €30,000 to live on annually under these visas, but you’ll also need to factor in the cost of living in the area you wish to move to (including healthcare costs).
As with any other country, property prices and rental prices vary from one place to another, so you should do your research on whether moving to Spain is financially viable or not first. This will depend on whether you’ll be relying on savings or actively earning while residing in Spain.
If you plan to completely retire to Spain, living in the country full-time, you’ll also have to consider taxes. Even without earning money in Spain, you’ll still have to pay taxes on any property you own – and if you’re drawing a pension from outside the country, you may still have to declare it as income and pay tax on it in Spain. This is sometimes avoidable if your country has a treaty with Spain to avoid double taxation in situations like these.
As long as you stick to the terms of your visa – such as maintaining the original investment for a Golden Visa or meeting the minimum stay and non-working requirements for a Non-Lucrative Visa – it’s relatively simple to retire to Spain and become a legal resident.
Is it easy to retire to Spain?
Moving from one country to another takes a lot of planning, and adjusting to another culture can take a lot of time and effort – so in that regard, retiring to Spain won’t necessarily be easy. That said, there are ways to make it an easier and smoother process, and applying for the right Spanish visa for your retirement circumstances is one of them.
More than a third of the 6 million foreigners living in Spain are non-EU citizens, and almost a quarter of these have a temporary residency document such as a Non-Lucrative Visa. So, it seems that Spain is a popular choice for non-EU citizens looking for somewhere new to live – whether they’ll also be working there or not.
If you’re committing to retirement in Spain, spending the rest of your days in the sun without working, then a Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa is the best choice for you. However, if you want to be able to travel for more than half the year, and you have the money to invest, then a Spanish Golden Visa will offer you more freedom – and be processed faster.If you still aren’t sure which option is right for you, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice from a Spanish Golden Visa adviser. An immigration lawyer in Spain will be able to help you decide the most suitable path to Spanish residency and assist with the paperwork for your application.