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Digital Nomad Visa: How I Obtained a Spain Residence Permit

What documents do I need to get a residence permit for Digital Nomad? What are the requirements? Instructions step by step!
9 min
September 23, 2023

Andrey Posnov was one of the first individuals to obtain a residence permit in Spain as a digital nomad. This European country recently launched this program. Currently, Andrey runs a Telegram channel about the life of a digital nomad in a land known for flamenco, tapas, Don Quixote, and Gaudi's architectural heritage.

Why do many people choose Spain today?

We considered several countries, and Spain was only one of our top choices initially. However, we settled on Spain when encountering insurmountable difficulties in other countries. What appealed to us was the opportunity to enter the Schengen area and apply for a residence permit on-site. Initially, it was a student visa (estancia) for language courses, but then the option to apply for a digital nomad residence permit became available, which I took advantage of :)

I have worked as an Engineering Manager in an American startup for several years, and this residence permit ideally suited my requirements. I only had to gather a little documentation since most of it was readily available.

Basic requirements for a digital nomadic residence permit in Spain

👉 Income level: at least 200% of the monthly minimum wage (SMI) (~€2520).

👉 Type of income: remote work (service agreement contract or employment contract/self-employment).

👉 Contract/agreement valid for at least three months (before the application).

👉 You must either work for a foreign company that has been in existence for at least one year (and your contract has been for a minimum of three months) or be self-employed and engaged in your activity for a minimum of three months with a contractor that has been in existence for at least one year.

👉 You can be absent for no more than six months during a calendar year.

👉 Family members can also apply for the Digital Nomad Residence Permit simultaneously with or after the principal applicant. Sufficient financial means will need to be demonstrated.

Now let's talk about the process itself.

To apply, you will need a digital electronic signature (e-signature). Usually, one of the two types is used:

  1. It is called FNMT; you can obtain it with a so-called "white" NIE. This means you only have an NIE and nothing else.

NIE stands for "Foreigner Identification Number." It is similar to a tax identification number (TIN) and is used to process documents requiring proof of identity. It is needed to register a company/sole proprietorship in Spain, purchase a vehicle in Spain, do real estate transactions, prepare tax declarations, and so on.

You can obtain an NIE by applying for it at the Foreigners Department of the Police.

It can also be obtained through Spanish consulates, but you need to check the schedule and whether this service is available in your country's consulate.

  1. Cl@ve is when you have an NIE and a Número de Soporte.

Número de Soporte (Support Number) is usually indicated on the document confirming your resident status. Third-country nationals receive a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) residence permit. It is the primary identification document.

I had a student residence and a TIE card with a Número de Soporte. Therefore, I obtained Cl@ve. You can order it here.

On the positive side, when I submitted my documents, there was no requirement for sworn translations. I translated everything using Google and Deepl. However, for those reading the article now, it is essential to understand that the translation requirements for specific documents have become stricter. Verify It with the guide here.

You will also need a certificate of no criminal record from your home country, which must be submitted with a sworn translation. If you transition from a student visa to a Digital Nomad Residence Permit, you no longer need the certificate, only a declaration stating that you have no criminal record.

Note: The document must be translated into Spanish by a sworn translator. This can be done remotely before entering Spain. A sworn translator from this List of Translators must do the translation.

What should I do first when you arrive in Spain?

Since we entered by land, the first thing we needed to do within the first three days was to obtain a "declaracion de entrada" (entry declaration). We simply had to go to the police station. In Barcelona, we went to the largest one, requested the declaration, filled it out, got it stamped, and took them with us.

As far as I know, for people arriving from outside the EU, a clear stamp on the passport is usually sufficient at the police station. To be safe, keep your boarding passes as evidence of entry into the country. Electronic boarding passes will also suffice.

What set of documents is required?

1) Scan all pages of your passport.

2) Payment form and proof of payment for the fee.

Fee payment with NRC number using Form 790 038 (Modelo 790 038, 73.26€). You need a digital signature to generate the form.

3) Residency application form.

4) Service agreement/contract specifying position and salary.

5) Certificate of the existence of the contractor/employer for at least 1 year (e.g., extract from the Delaware company registry).

6) Letter from the employer/contractor specifying position, salary, the start date of employment (must be at least 3 months), and indicating remote work from Spain.

7) Resume (e.g., from LinkedIn) with at least 3 years of experience.

8) Declaration of registration as a self-employed person and social security coverage.

You can use the service provider XOLO (referral link for a 50€ bonus upon registration) to help with this after approval.

9) Declaration of no criminal record (in your case, it may be a certificate of no criminal record with an apostille translated by a sworn translator).

Note: The document must be translated into Spanish by a sworn translator. This can be done remotely before entering Spain. Use a sworn translator from the list provided.

Requirements may change, so it is recommended to consult the free MigRun guide and cross-reference the list at  https://www.migrun.tech/spain.

What should I pay attention to?

If you want a 3-year residence permit, it is advisable to have an indefinite-term contract; otherwise, your residence permit may be limited to the contract's duration. Refer to the mentioned requirements for the contract.

Can they request additional documents?

They may request additional documents. In my case, they asked for the papers I had forgotten to include. It is best not to make such omissions. Currently, they are conducting more thorough checks. I have also read in chat forums that they may now request invoices and bank statements to prove the actual salary being received.

What should you do with the assembled document package?

You need to visit the website and submit the documents. Go to this page

Upload the documents using your digital signature or the digital signature of a lawyer or trusted friend. Using a lawyer, you will also sign a document protecting personal data. Lawyers are insured, and unintentional harm can be compensated.

What happens next? Will you receive any notification by email?

After submission, you will receive a "justificante," proof that your documents have been accepted. This document proves your legal stay, even if your Schengen visa expires.

Within 30 days, you will receive a notification via email informing you of an update in your account (or the account of the person who submitted it on your behalf). You need to log in to your account to check the details. This update could be a request for additional documents or a favorable decision. Based on chats, there are currently many approvals. If it's a rejection, it's likely due to something atypical, such as failure to prove lawful presence or remote work.

If one spouse obtains a digital nomad residence permit, is it easier for the other to apply for the same type of permit? Or is it better to use it through family reunification, and can this be done while obtaining the first residence permit?

Family reunification is much easier, and you can apply for all family members together. My spouse was approved within five days after my approval. Plus, for those using through family reunification, there are no work restrictions in Spain (digital nomads have conditions — no more than 20% of income can be derived from Spain).

Regarding taxes

The tax rate ranges from 24% to 35%, depending on individual circumstances. There is a fixed rate of 24% plus social security contributions (€80 per month for the first year, then €300-500 depending on income). Alternatively, a progressive tax rate ranges from 19% to 45%, but various deductions can be applied to approximate the fixed rate. It's recommended to consult tax specialists for more accurate details.

Have any mistakes been made that others should be warned about?

Be more attentive. I had to submit the payment form on behalf of my spouse because I initially made an incorrect payment (it should be the same amount, €73.26 per person), so I went back, made the correct payment, and submitted it. I also forgot to submit my own declarations and payment form.

If you're concerned about making mistakes, you can apply with a lawyer or expert through MigRun.

Living in Spain: pros and cons

I haven't encountered any difficulties; everything has been relatively easy. At first, it may seem intimidating, but when bank employees, police officers, and staff at various institutions treat you with a smile, you realize that you are worried unnecessarily.

The stereotype about slowness proved to be false. I obtained my residence permit within a few weeks, and I need to figure out where else they issue it so quickly, not only for me but also for my spouse. They also issue them to entire families. I ordered internet installation in the evening, which was installed the next day at noon. Deliveries arrive within 5-15 minutes for anything you need. Although with Amazon, you may have to wait a few days. You can find all the brands, clothing, and electronics you need in Barcelona. Everything is available here.

The stereotype about Spaniards drinking wine was not confirmed. In Barcelona, everyone drinks Estrella beer everywhere. Beer is around the terraces and streets, but I have yet to see wine.

The stereotype about the love for football was confirmed; people here genuinely love and passionately support it.

Another thing, it's not a negative, but you should be mentally prepared to learn a new language.

Everything else is minor. It has been almost a year since I moved to Barcelona, and I have not encountered any significant downsides. Let's wait until the initial excitement subsides and the euphoria wears off.

What about long-stay residence?

The EU plans to introduce a new law that will allow applying for permanent residency after three years. However, we're not particularly counting on it. After three years, we will extend our residence permit for another two years and then apply for permanent residency. As for citizenship, I don't know if we need it, but generally, you can apply for citizenship after ten years of legal residence.

Are you planning to move to Spain?

You can do a lot independently, but contact us if you need expert help:

  • subscribe to detailed guides 
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  • sign up for a chat room with an immigration lawyer and assistant who knows the specifics of immigration from your country.

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Andrey Posnov
digital nomad in Spain
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