Moving to Spain from the USA

Emigrating to Spain from the United States has gained significant popularity in recent times. Spain offers an enticing combination of factors, including its favorable climate, top-notch healthcare system, rich art and culture, renowned Mediterranean cuisine, efficient transportation networks, picturesque beaches, and an overall high quality of life.

When contemplating a move to Spain, it is essential to have a well-defined purpose for relocation. Depending on the specific reason for the move, obtaining the correct visa is crucial. The primary distinction lies between relocating for employment or academic purposes and the desire to establish residence in the country without participating in remunerative activities.

Types of visas for Americans moving to Spain

If you’re considering establishing residence in Spain from the United States, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the necessary steps. The first and foremost requirement is obtaining a visa, and typically, this process initiates at the Consular or Embassy office of the United States corresponding to your area of residence.

Choosing the appropriate visa is paramount, given the diverse types of visas available for Spain. It is imperative to select the visa that aligns with the specific purpose of your stay. The following are the main visa options, with detailed information on the most commonly sought-after ones to follow:

Golden Visa or Investor Residence Authorization: This is designed for those intending to invest in Spain, whether in public debt or real estate.

Entrepreneur Visa: Tailored for individuals seeking to initiate a business activity in Spain.

Visa for Highly Qualified Workers or Intra-Company Transfer: This visa requires sponsorship by the employer in Spain. The residence permit is linked to the employment contract and renewable consecutively with the contract’s validity.

Researcher Visa

Non-Lucrative Residence Visa (Retirement Visa): This visa is ideal for individuals with sufficient financial resources who do not plan to engage in economic activities in Spain.

Digital Nomad Visa (for remote work)  

Visa for Employment by a Third Party

Self-Employment Visa:

Study Visa: Granted to American students in Spain, ensuring compliance with all requirements and timely visa renewal to avoid legal complications.

Job Search Visa

Internship Visa

Schengen Visa: This visa is issued to nationals of third countries listed in Annex I of Regulation (EU) 2018/1806. According to this regulation, US nationals are exempt from the obligation to obtain this visa for stays of fewer than 90 days within a 180-day period.

Family Member of a European Union Citizen Visa

Family Reunification Visa

Important Changes to Consider for Entry into Spain: Citizens of visa-exempt countries that are not part of the European Union, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, have so far not been required to apply for a Schengen Visa to visit European Union countries and the Schengen Area. However, starting in 2025, citizens from these countries will need to obtain the ETIAS permit. This electronic travel authorization allows its holder to stay in the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 consecutive days within any 180-day period. This applies to purposes such as tourism, business, or short-term studies.

However, if someone wishes to reside for more than three months or has other travel objectives, they must apply for the corresponding visa according to their circumstances.

At Tejada Solicitors, our team of specialists is well-versed in this domain, providing comprehensive guidance on the entire visa process, tax matters, and property transactions. While these areas are subject to distinct regulations, they are intricately connected. We consistently emphasize the importance of contemplating the repercussions of obtaining a visa in relation to taxes. It’s not uncommon for clients to reassess their decisions once they become aware of the tax implications associated with being a resident in Spain.

Non-Lucrative Residence Visa

This visa category permits stays in Spain that extend beyond 90 days, albeit without authorization for engaging in professional or economic activities. To qualify for this visa, one must demonstrate the availability of ample financial resources to cover the stay in Spain, supported by evidence of financial solvency, such as certified bank statements from the respective bank. While this visa doesn’t grant permission for employment in Spain, it allows remote work for a foreign company from Spanish territory. However, for those specifically interested in telecommuting, there might be a more appealing alternative.

The Spanish embassy in the US jurisdiction where the applicant resides will be responsible for issuing this visa. The visa is valid for 90 days, during which time the beneficiary must enter Spain. Once on Spanish soil, there is a one-month window to apply for the Foreigner Identity Card at the relevant immigration office or police station.

The initial residence authorization is granted for a period of one year from the date of entry into Spain, with the possibility of renewal for an additional two years, contingent upon continued fulfillment of the necessary requirements.

Digital Nomad Visa

This recently implemented visa is designed for highly skilled professionals who will conduct remote work for companies based outside of Spain, utilizing computer, telematic, or telecommunication means exclusively. An additional requirement for this visa is that the US citizen must demonstrate a work contract with a foreign company that is at least 3 months old, and the company must permit remote work.

This visa is part of Spain’s effort to attract talent and enhance the appeal of taxation and bureaucracy for remote workers of this nature. It is valid for a maximum of 1 year and also serves as proof of residence in Spain, eliminating the need to obtain a Foreigner Identity Card. However, obtaining one is optional if desired.

Golden Visa

Embark on a strategic path to secure your residency in Spain through prudent investment. Our visa program is tailored for discerning individuals who seek to make a significant investment in the thriving Spanish market, presenting a range of carefully crafted options:

Invest a minimum of 2 million euros in Spanish public debt securities or a minimum of 1 million euros in shares or social participation.

Explore the dynamic real estate sector with a property acquisition valued at a minimum of 500,000 euros, free from encumbrances. For couples under a community property regime, an attractive option is for one to obtain the investor visa, while the other can be recognized as a family member of the investor.

Alternatively, spearhead an innovative business project in Spain with substantial socio-economic impact, job creation, or significant contributions to scientific or technological innovation.

In the case of investments routed through an entity, we ensure a seamless process. You can invest through a legal entity, provided it meets specific criteria, such as not being based in a tax haven, and you maintain control over most of its decisions as the investor.

living in Spain as an american

Beyond establishing residency in Spain, our visa offers the added benefit of unrestricted movement within the Schengen area, covering 26 European countries and eliminating the need for additional visas.

Initiate your application process at the Consulate in your home country to obtain a 1-year visa. Subsequently, you can apply for a two-year residence authorization in Spain, which is renewable. Alternatively, for a streamlined approach, commence the process directly in Spain upon arrival, securing the initial residence authorization for 2 years, which is also renewable.

Furthermore, there’s no mandatory requirement for a Foreigner Identity Card. However, should you prefer to have one, you can request it at the Immigration Office or the local Police Station.

Permanent residence

Envision immersing yourself even further into Spanish life. Following five years of lawful and uninterrupted residence in Spain, U.S. citizens have the thrilling chance to seek permanent residency. This unique status permits an additional five-year stay and allows you to live and work independently or as an employee, enjoying the same privileges as any other resident of the country.

Family Reunification Visa

First and foremost, it’s essential to define the concept of family reunification. This process enables US citizens with at least one year of legal residence in Spain to reunite with their immediate family members on Spanish territory. This process involves granting the reunited family members permission for residence and work. 

It’s crucial to note that not all family members can benefit from this option; it is restricted to spouses or legally recognized partners, children, parents, and in-laws of the residence permit holder. A critical requirement in this process is demonstrating that these family members are financially dependent on the residence permit holder.

Regarding the necessary documentation for the family reunification visa application, the requirements may vary depending on the type of family member one seeks to bring to Spain. For example, the documentation needed to reunite with a child may differ from what is required to reunite with a parent.

Job Search Visa

This visa is intended for US citizens who hold student visas and wish to stay in Spain after completing their studies to seek employment. The visa has a maximum duration of 24 months and cannot be renewed. To obtain it, the applicant must demonstrate having the necessary financial resources to support themselves and must have private health insurance.

It’s important to note that this visa does not permit employment, as it is considered “non-lucrative.” If a US citizen finds a job related to their studies or decides to start a business in Spain, they must initiate the process to obtain a work permit.

Checklist for moving from the USA to Spain

Embarking on the journey to relocate to Spain from the USA involves navigating a series of essential steps, regardless of the motive behind your move. Whether before your arrival or once in Spain, fulfilling specific legal and tax obligations in both the USA and Spanish territory is imperative. To facilitate the relocation process, the Tejada Solicitors team has crafted this comprehensive checklist:

  1. Assess Your Situation for the Appropriate Visa: It is paramount to evaluate your individual circumstances and objectives in Spain to determine the most suitable visa type. Notably, as USA citizens are not part of the European Union, the process may entail added complexity, necessitating strict adherence to all requirements.
  2. Initiate the Visa Application Process: Typically, visa applications commence at the Embassy or Consulate of Spain in your home country. Exceptions include investor visas like the Golden Visa or Digital Nomad Visa, which can be initiated directly in Spain. After obtaining the relevant visa, plan to travel to Spain within the next 90 days. Once in Spain, depending on your visa type, you may need to apply for the Foreigner Identity Card.

1. Spanish NIE Number

Securing your NIE, short for ‘Número de Identificación de Extranjero’ (Spanish Foreigner Identification Number), is a pivotal milestone in your venture to Spain. It is strongly recommended to undertake this process before your arrival to ensure a seamless transition.

If applying in advance is not feasible, obtaining your NIE while you are already in Spain is an alternative. This can be accomplished through the immigration office or a local police station. Alternatively, our team of legal experts is available to handle the procedure on your behalf, providing a convenient and efficient solution.

2. Driving License

As a US citizen establishing residency in Spain and becoming a tax resident, it is essential to be informed about the regulations concerning your driver’s license. It’s important to note that there is no agreement between the United States and Spain for the exchange of driver’s licenses. However, you will be able to drive in Spain with your US license only during the first 6 months after obtaining your residency in Spain.

Following this timeframe, acquiring a Spanish driver’s license becomes necessary. Achieving this requires successfully passing both a theoretical and practical examination. Upon obtaining it, renewal is mandatory every 10 years until reaching the age of 65, after which renewal is required every 5 years.

We recommend applying for an international driving permit that is valid for 1 year. It’s important to note that this international permit serves as a supplement and should always be presented along with the passport and the original driver’s license.

Spanish visas for americans

3. Tax Residence in Spain

As you establish permanent residency in Spain, it becomes imperative to meet your tax obligations as a Spanish tax resident, a prerequisite for obtaining your TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). In accordance with Article 9 of the Personal Income Tax Law, individuals residing in Spanish territory for over 183 days or having their primary financial interests located in Spain are obligated to become tax residents. To fulfill this, adherence to the following tax obligations is essential:

Personal Income Tax (IRPF) – Model 100: Your global income is subject to taxation in Spain. To mitigate the risk of double taxation, it is crucial to establish a double taxation agreement between Spain and your country of origin.

Declaration of Assets – Form 720: Completion of Form 720 is mandatory for every individual and legal entity to declare overseas assets exceeding €50,000 outside of Spain. This step is pivotal to prevent any allegations of tax evasion.

Wealth Tax: A tax applied to worldwide net assets exceeding 3,700,000 euros.

Remaining informed and staying current with these obligations is vital for you to fully enjoy your residency in Spain.

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4. Spanish medical care

The Spanish healthcare system is renowned for its excellence, and it is provided free of charge to those affiliated with and contributing to Social Security.

For Americans in the visa application process for Spain, it’s crucial to note that private health insurance is a requirement for most visa types.

On the other hand, if you are already residing in Spain as a tax resident, you have the opportunity to access the healthcare system at no cost, provided you are employed—whether as a self-employed individual or an employee—and consistently contribute to Social Security.

5. Register your new Spanish address

Upon your arrival in Spain and after securing a property through purchase or rental, it is imperative, as a resident, to promptly visit the Town Hall office in your locality to register your new address. This registration, commonly referred to as the “padrón,” grants you access to certain rights in Spain, even before attaining full Spanish citizenship.

6. Utilities in Spain

Following the acquisition or rental of a home, the next step is to organize essential utilities, including electricity, water, gas, internet, and phone services. In cases where the property lacks these services, activation is necessary, or alternatively, you can update the account holder’s information.

Commonly, basic utilities such as electricity and water are billed bimonthly, and it is recommended to establish direct debits for these payments with your bank. Conversely, other services like gas, phone, and internet typically incur monthly billing.

7. Bank account

If you are contemplating establishing yourself in Spain, it’s vital to kickstart the process of opening a local bank account. This account will play a pivotal role in various procedures, including property acquisitions, payment for health insurance, gym memberships, and more.

Having your Foreigner Identification Number (NIE) is essential to commence this process. While the required documentation may vary among banks, you will generally need to provide your NIE, passport, proof of income, and a declaration regarding your residency status in Spain. Depending on whether you are a resident or not, the complexity of the account opening process may vary.

Recognizing that opening a bank account in Spain can be a bureaucratic and occasionally cumbersome procedure, we at Tejada Solicitors are here to assist you, making this process more straightforward and manageable for your convenience.

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Buying property in Spain as an American

Solicitors in MalagaOur team of specialized attorneys in property transactions is dedicated to guiding you from the very beginning, ensuring that every detail and nuance of the process is meticulously addressed and you are informed of all aspects regarding the cost of buying property in Spain. We manage all necessary documentation, always with the primary goal of optimally safeguarding your interests. Once all aspects are in order, we seamlessly move towards the contract signing, facilitating the smooth completion of the acquisition.

Moreover, our experienced tax advisor will provide comprehensive guidance on pertinent tax considerations, both before and after the completion of the purchase. Additionally, in our commitment to assisting you in making the best decision, we offer a detailed study of the tax implications as tax residents in Spain.

Additionally, investing more than 500,000 euros in real estate can facilitate obtaining a residence permit, as you may opt to acquire an investor visa or Golden Visa, as it is commonly known. Tejada Solicitors specializes in these procedures, where the immigration lawyer, property lawyer, and tax advisor collaboratively examine your case to find the optimal solution from both legal and fiscal perspectives.

Renting property in Spain as an American

For American residents, a key incentive to invest in Spanish properties lies in the enticing opportunity to generate additional income through tourism rentals; in other words, you could buy to let. If you are contemplating this avenue, our tax advisor can thoroughly analyze your real estate investment, offering insights into the tax implications to consider before finalizing the purchase and renting out the property.

If you decide to designate your property for tourist rentals, it becomes imperative to register it with the Tourism Registry of Andalusia. The team at Tejada Solicitors is well-prepared to furnish you with all the essential information and assistance throughout this process. It is crucial to underscore that neglecting to register your property in this registry may lead to significant penalt

Which are the best places to move from the USA to Spain?

With its breathtaking beaches, exquisite cuisine, iconic architecture, and unparalleled hospitality, Spain has become the favored destination for many Americans seeking a new home. Here, we showcase some Spanish gems that are sure to capture your interest if you’re from the USA:

Madrid: Not only is it the dynamic economic and business hub of Spain, but it also stands as a center of historical and cultural richness. Madrid is the ideal place for those with entrepreneurial ambitions.

Barcelona: Renowned for its impressive architecture and scenic landscapes, this city will captivate you with its unique way of life. Living in Barcelona means immersing yourself in a blend of tradition and modernity.

Alicante: A genuine paradise on Earth, Alicante charms with its sunny beaches and the warmth of its inhabitants, making it an irresistible place to settle down.

Málaga: A true jewel of the coast, Málaga is the Silicon Valley of southern Europe, well-connected globally and offering a variety of beaches and upscale restaurants. Its friendly people and unbeatable climate make Málaga a place where you’d simply love to live.

How much is the cost of living in Spain?

The pleasant climate of Spain is not the only allure that entices Americans to move here. Another noteworthy factor is the cost of living, which tends to be more economical than in the United States. Housing prices, the cost of groceries, and medical services are notably lower compared to the United States. However, it is essential to research these costs in advance, as they can vary depending on the Spanish city you choose to relocate to.

At Tejada Solicitors, we caution our clients never to forget to study the tax cost of residing in Spain as an expatriate. It’s crucial to remember that as a tax resident, you will be taxed in Spain on your worldwide income. While the cost of living may indeed be more economical, when it comes to the tax cost, surprises can arise. To avoid unpleasant surprises, Rosana Tejada, an expert in International Taxation, advises thorough tax planning before making the definitive move to Spain.

Can Americans move to Spain without a job?

It is possible to move to Spain without having a job, but under this circumstance, you will need a special type of visa. The primary condition to obtain it is to demonstrate that you have income from outside of Spain that allows you to sustain your resident status. This is the case with the non-lucrative visa, which is commonly chosen by retirees looking to establish themselves in Spain.

How hard is it for Americans to move to Spain?

Moving from the US to Spain can pose a challenge, especially considering it involves a relocation outside the European Union. However, with proper planning and the support of experts like the team at Tejada Solicitors, this process can become much less daunting.

One obstacle you may face is the intricate Spanish bureaucracy, which can sometimes prolong procedures. Additionally, language can be a barrier since, outside the tourism sector, fluent English speakers are rare. In many public offices, bilingual staff is almost nonexistent.

Need a professional consultation for preparing for your move to Spain from the USA?

Navigating tax, immigration, and real estate matters in Spain can be complex for foreign individuals lacking proper guidance. At Tejada Solicitors, we adopt a comprehensive approach to your case. Our team, comprising an immigration specialist, tax lawyer, and property conveyancing expert, collaboratively studies and analyzes your situation. We are dedicated to simplifying this process, alleviating stress, and ensuring the success of your move to Spain. Place your trust in the confidence and support of our team of specialized lawyers with extensive experience in these procedures.

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