Entering Spain is a pretty straightforward process for Americans. Citizens of the European Union and nationals belonging to one of the countries on the Spanish government’s designated list –where the US are included–, are afforded visa-free entry and the right to a 90-day stay.

You just need to have a passport  valid for three months from the final date of travel, and neither a tourist nor a business visa is required. On top of that, once in Spain you can freely access any of the other 25 European countries included in the Schengen Area.



If you want to live, study, work or do research in Spain for more than 90 days you need to apply for a long term visa, which will vary  depending on the purpose of the stay. There are three main types:

  • The Combined residence and work visa (visado de trabajo y residencia) allows you to live and work.
  • The Student visa (visado de estudios) for the duration of a educational or training course.
  • The Residence visa (visado de residencia) for family reunification, non-lucrative residence or retirement.


This is the type of visa you want to obtain if you plan to spend long periods of leisure time in Spain, and, of course, when thinking of retirement.

These visas authorize the applicant to live in Spain without engaging in any lucrative activity. In order to apply for it, you must prove that you have sufficient financial means to cover your expenses while staying in the country.

There are different ways to prove that you receive such income, for example, a trust fund, investments, annuities, sabbaticals or any other document proving that you have kept a high enough average balance in your bank account during at least 12 months.


The requirements for this visa are pretty straightforward:

  • A certificate of a public or private institution certifying that you receive a retirement settlement, specifying its monthly amount, as well as proof of any other type of income in Spain or USA.
  • A police clearance certificate issued by the US Department of Justice.
  • health certificate
  • Proof of heal insurance with full coverage in Spain (American or Spanish)
  • And, finally, a proof of the accommodation in the city you have chosen, which could be a lease, deed of the property or, simply, a letter explaining why you chose that city.

All the documentation has to be submitted in Spanish or translated by a certified public interpreter. The application process takes place in a diplomatic mission or consular office of Spain in the US, and have to be presented in person.


The Law on Support and Internationalization of Entrepreneurs has open an attractive alternative for those seeking a long term stay in Spain. As of 2014, non-EU national investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals and researchers can apply for fast-track visas and permits, which offer preferential treatment, such as automatic residence for the whole family with no minimum stay, and free travel throughout the Schengen visa region.

These advantages come with a price: € 500.000 in real estate, € 1,000,000€ in shares/bank deposits or €2,000,000 in public bonds.


Applicants must provide proof of an investment of real estate in Spain with a value equal to or greater than 500,000 euros through the Certification of Ownership and Outstanding Liens from the local Land Registry (“Certificación con información continuada de dominio y cargas del Registro de la Propiedad”) of the property or properties.

If at the time of the visa application, registration of the property at the local Land Registry (“Registro de la Propiedad”) has not been completed, it will suffice the submission of the aforementioned certification stating that purchase documentation has been submitted, as well as outstanding payments for current property taxes have been paid off.  The part of the investment that exceeds the required amount may be subject to any liens or mortgages.


Once you have lived in Spain legally for five uninterrupted years, non-European Union nationals can apply for an EU long-term residence permit. A long-term residence permit allows you to stay in Spain indefinitely working or otherwise, under the same conditions as Spanish citizens.

You have to prove that you have adequate financial resources to provide for you and your family (if applicable) and proof of public or private health insurance with a company authorized to operate in Spain. When you have this permit, you can work freely and enjoy social services and benefits in Spain. You can generally move between other EU member states for up to three months, and longer for certain purposes if you’re granted a permit to do so.
You can apply for Spanish nationality after 10 years of residence in Spain. You can also acquire Spanish nationality through marriage or through having Spanish parents even if they were born outside Spain.

You can apply to become a naturalized Spanish citizen after you’ve lived in Spain for 10 uninterrupted years and can prove ‘good citizenship’ and a ‘sufficient’ degree of integration into Spanish society, for example, being able to speak Spanish and taking part in social activities that are part of the Spanish way of life.



 • Residence Visa for Retirees. From the Spanish Foreign Ministry

 • Spanish Embassy in the USA

• Spanish Consulates in the USA

• US Embassy in Spain