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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I'm a US citizen (web designer by trade) looking to live in Spain for a year or two. I've been to Spain on a tourist visa 3 times, and I've spent 6 months there total.

The state I live in falls under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Consulate, so I went over the different visas they have listed there and found the Non-Lucrative Residence visa, which states: This visa allows you to reside in Spain without engaging in any type of lucrative activities. Since my income would come from the United States, I imagine that doesn't count - but having some experience with Spanish beaurocracy, I don't want to take the chance without researching it exhaustively.

So questions are:
Should I be looking at a different visa?
If not, does anyone here have any experience with obtaining a non-lucrative visa, and if so can you tell us how it went?
What documents did you use to prove you made enough money?
What kind of international health insurance qualified?

Thanks! Any comments / answers much appreciated.
 

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:welcome:
Since you would be physically in Spain while you worked, then yes , that income would count, so you wouldn't qualify for the non-lucrative visa
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
:welcome :
Since you would be physically in Spain while you worked, then yes , that income would count, so you wouldn't qualify for the non-lucrative visa
Hmm. So I wonder what people who work remotely do exactly? Get a work visa as self-employed somehow? Other options?
 

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Hmm. So I wonder what people who work remotely do exactly? Get a work visa as self-employed somehow? Other options?
I don't think (99% sure actually) that there is a work visa for self-employed

I would guess that people in your position either come & stay illegally, working illegally

or they don't come

I doubt it will make you feel any better, but the situation is the same for any EU citizen wanting to work in the USA - if we can't secure an employment contract we just can't do it ........ unless we have a substantial amount of money to invest in a business there

same for you coming here - there's a 'Golden Visa' which requires the investment of 500,000 €
 

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Hmm. So I wonder what people who work remotely do exactly? Get a work visa as self-employed somehow? Other options?
I work remotely. There is no self-employed visa. You do not qualify for a non-lucrative visa if you will be working in Spain. You cannot work legally in Spain in any capacity, remotely or otherwise, without a work permit or residency which gives you the right to work.
 

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General observations that apply not only to Spain but elsewhere.

You don't really have good options as a US citizen wanting to spend 1-2 years in an EU country, working remotely to support yourself.

You could go to the consulate, explain the situation, and ask for a visa. Might work, who knows? To keep it official you'd probably need to enter the local tax system, and carry some form satisfactory health insurance.

The less legal route is to find some other means of staying past 90 days - then continue working remotely. You don't need a work permit, just a residence permit. If you can prove sufficient savings for the non-lucrative visa, tell them you want to spend a year working on your language skills, researching your novel, painting watercolours, whatever. Or sign up for some classes and come on a student visa.

This will likely provoke a moral debate. Some will claim you're working in the country illegally, which is by definition bad. Others will claim that you're not taking jobs away from locals and even if you're not paying income tax, you're contributing money to the local economy and paying sales tax. I tend to the latter view - no harm is done. I don't think there are enough itinerant web developers to distort rental markets, particularly not in areas with significant tourism.
 

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even if you're not paying income tax, you're contributing money to the local economy and paying sales tax. I tend to the latter view - no harm is done. I don't think there are enough itinerant web developers to distort rental markets, particularly not in areas with significant tourism.
Where that argument falls down is that Spanish citizens (and indeed foreign ones) who are working legally in this country, or retired and in receipt of pensions, have to pay income tax AND sales tax, thus contributing even more money to the local economy. We don't get the choice of whether or not to pay both. I fail to see why somebody who just fancies a move here, temporary or otherwise, and is willing to be more than economical with the truth to achieve it, should be more favourably treated in respect of taxation.
 

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As I said...



It's doable, particularly if limited to a year, but not everyone approves.
Righto, then, next year when I will have a 5 figure income tax bill to pay I'll just toddle along to Hacienda and say look here, my man, I bought a house here and paid transfer tax, and I pay IVA on everything I buy here. That ought to be quite sufficient for anyone, and I shan't be paying your income tax bill. I wonder if they'll say "vale, no harm done", because I'm not working so not taking a job away from a Spanish person. Somehow I think the response would be rather different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Righto, then, next year when I will have a 5 figure income tax bill to pay I'll just toddle along to Hacienda and say look here, my man, I bought a house here and paid transfer tax, and I pay IVA on everything I buy here. That ought to be quite sufficient for anyone, and I shan't be paying your income tax bill. I wonder if they'll say "vale, no harm done", because I'm not working so not taking a job away from a Spanish person. Somehow I think the response would be rather different.
Well I wouldn't be buying a house, just renting a flat - most likely with roommates. Is the situation you've described an actual scenario that you often see in Spain or just speculation?
 

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Well I wouldn't be buying a house, just renting a flat - most likely with roommates. Is the situation you've described an actual scenario that you often see in Spain or just speculation?
I was being ironic, Crispbeans, and it wasn't aimed at you as you weren't the one suggesting that you should try to obtain a visa under false pretences.

Of course the Spanish tax office wouldn't find it acceptable for someone living here not to pay income tax because they were paying sales tax instead. It's a ludicrous suggestion.
 

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I definitely understand your concern, but I think I can speak for many Americans on that. It's not that anyone wants to do it illegally. I'd personally be happy to pay the taxes in full. The problem is that there doesn't seem be an easy way to do it. Let's look at the situation. There are thousands of post-college Americans living and working in Spain "legally" on student visas that magically get renewed. And then you also have the American illegals overstaying because they can, running around teaching or tutoring English under the table. So really, Spain is creating its own problem by making it hard, if not impossible, for Americans to obtain work visas the right way. Get all Americans working in Spain paying taxes and viola, they either leave or they pay up. And those that stay put value back into Spain (such as the tech industry which is suffering immensely there) and the EU by default. Problem solved.

Frankly, the Spanish government needs to understand its massive economic problems and adapt. And being Spanish, they aren't going to do it until they absolutely have to.
No, there isn't an easy way to do it for non-EU citizens. And as xabiachica pointed out earlier, your country makes it extremely difficult for foreign citizens to obtain visas to work in the USA, too. Why should you expect Spain to be any different?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Of course the Spanish tax office wouldn't find it acceptable for someone living here not to pay income tax because they were paying sales tax instead. It's a ludicrous suggestion.
Are there no property taxes there? In the state I live in property taxes apply and are huge source of revenue for the state. If you own a home, which I do not, you pay property taxes. I'm also taxed on my income at the state and federal level.
 

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No, there isn't an easy way to do it for non-EU citizens. And as xabiachica pointed out earlier, your country makes it extremely difficult for foreign citizens to obtain visas to work in the USA, too. Why should you expect Spain to be any different?
The difference is that if you and I become friends or colleagues, and I want to get you a job in the states, and you have the necessary skills for that job, I can get you hired. It won't be easy, but it's very possible. Not so with Spain. I have tons of connections there, but they can't get me jobs. They can offer me a contract (and I've been offered one before), but the government will not honor it because 'if it's a job that someone in the EU can do' they won't hire the American. Even if the market is screaming for workers in that field. It's beaurocratic stupidity at its finest.
 

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Are there no property taxes there? In the state I live in property taxes apply and are huge source of revenue for the state. If you own a home, which I do not, you pay property taxes. I'm also taxed on my income at the state and federal level.
We pay transfer tax when we buy a property (at least 8%, more in some regions) or sales tax if it's a new build property. There is an annual local tax called IBI which pays part of the cost of local services, and in addition local authorities receive funding from central government to meet the cost of the services they provide (which of course comes from the income tax paid by residents). If you rent a property, the landlord normally pays the IBI tax rather than the tenant, although of course the rent will be set to reflect that. The annual property tax here is much lower than I was used to paying in the UK, and from what I have read previously is far lower than most people in the US pay, too.

But as I tried to point out, whatever level of tax you were paying in the US would be irrelevant if you were living in Spain, as none of it would be received by Spain.

That large amount of tax I mentioned I would have to pay next year is because I received a pension lump sum this year. Had I still been living in the UK I wouldn't have had to pay any tax on that at all, because such payments aren't taxable there. However, that is irrelevant because I don't live there, I live here in Spain and therefore I have to pay Spanish tax.
 

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The difference is that if you and I become friends or colleagues, and I want to get you a job in the states, and you have the necessary skills for that job, I can get you hired. It won't be easy, but it's very possible. Not so with Spain. I have tons of connections there, but they can't get me jobs. They can offer me a contract (and I've been offered one before), but the government will not honor it because 'if it's a job that someone in the EU can do' they won't hire the American. Even if the market is screaming for workers in that field. It's beaurocratic stupidity at its finest.
How's your German? Plenty of work in your field, and far fewer obstacles to legally obtaining it.

Also lots of Spaniards to commiserate with during the darkest days of the winter.
 

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My personal criteria for "harm" in terms of host-country services is this: am I a liability for the local medical system - not if I have some type of travel or expat insurance; am I using the local schools - not if I don't have kids.
I have private medical insurance. I still have to pay income tax.

I don't have any children, but I paid income tax in the UK all my working life to contribute towards the cost of educating the children of others (as those who went before me paid for mine). I still have to contribute towards the education of the children of the country I live in now, too.

I suppose the OP (or anyone else in his/her situation, I don't want to personalise this) would arrive in Spain via a Spanish airport, travel to wherever they will be living along Spanish-built and maintained roads, possibly use Spanish-subsidised trains or buses to get there, if they had the misfortune to become a victim of crime would expect the Spanish taxpayer-funded police service to assist them, if their house or anywhere else they happened to be suffered a fire, explosion or flood they would expect the Spanish taxpayer-funded fire and emergency service to help them, if they were involved in an accident a Spanish-taxpayer funded ambulance would be called to help them even if their insurer eventually paid the bill, and so on.
 

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Lynn R. I would love some more information about your private medical insurance (just as crispybeans asked in the OP)
I also have another off topic that I would like to know about.
Your,I assume, British pension being taxed by the spanish government.
I'm American and Irish dual citizen and am planning to move to Spain. I also have a pension from Alabama and would like know what taxes I'm obligated to pay.
I've lived in Ireland for the past year and haven't been subject to any taxation there unless I am employed in Ireland.
 

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Lynn R. I would love some more information about your private medical insurance (just as crispybeans asked in the OP)
I also have another off topic that I would like to know about.
Your,I assume, British pension being taxed by the spanish government.
I'm American and Irish dual citizen and am planning to move to Spain. I also have a pension from Alabama and would like know what taxes I'm obligated to pay.
I've lived in Ireland for the past year and haven't been subject to any taxation there unless I am employed in Ireland.
My particular private medical insurance is with a Spanish company (called Prevision Medica) but they only cover Málaga province and part of Cordoba province in Andalucia (although I am covered if travelling to other parts of Spain and to a limited extent abroad). The cost is very reasonable, we currently pay €115 per month for the two of us, aged 65 and 59, and there are no co-payments or deductibles. This particular company allows cover to continue once a policyholder reaches 65 and does not increase the premiums. Spanish health insurers in general are much cheaper than you might imagine.

Regarding taxation, Spanish residents are liable to pay income tax on all their world wide income including, as I mentioned, on payments that would not attract tax in your home country. Other US citizens could, I'm sure, tell you more about any double taxation arrangements that might apply to Spain/USA, likewise ROI, and I don't know enough about either to comment on that, sorry.
 

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Lynn R. I would love some more information about your private medical insurance (just as crispybeans asked in the OP)
.
I have noticed that crispybeans asked "what kind of international medical insurance qualified".

According to people who have posted on the forum previously, only medical insurance from Spanish providers seems to be acceptable for the purposes of registering as a resident, and the policy must be one with no co-payments.
 
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