Getting a Spanish visa in Houston and other circus acts

If you’re going to move to Spain as an auxiliar (or as a study abroad student), there’s a couple hoops to jump through first and a few of those may be flaming. One of the biggest hurdles to get over is the visa (a stamp/sticker that is put in your passport showing that you can stay in the country for 90-180 days depending on which one you get.)

What no one told me before I set off to get my visa was the EXPENSE involved with trying to get it. Sure, we all know that moving anywhere, especially abroad, is going to be expensive but I’m a list maker and like to know the deets. So I decided to sit down and write out all the green I had to spend in order to get that precious passport sticker.

You need approximately this much money.

You need approximately this much money.

Criminal Background check with Apostille of the Hague

For the state background check, I went to the local police station here in town to pick up the proper form since I didn’t trust myself to print off the right one online. The form was free and so was the finger printing that I had done at the county courthouse. I had to mail it off to the Alabama Department of Criminal Justice. I received the results in about a week and a half and thankfully, it came back clear. I’m really glad to know that I wasn’t arrested without my awareness of it.


The apostille of the hague can only be issued on a legal document after it has received a notary of the public. Since the background check already had a notary of the pubic stamp when it came back to the mail, it was good to go. This is often required by countries which are part of the Hague convention.


Medical certificate on letterhead stationary

A doctor’s visit will be necessary since you kind of need to prove that you don’t have like 7 highly contagious diseases. Who can blame Spain? (Nowadays, aren’t we all trying to avoid the spread of the zombie apocalypse??) I went to my family practice doctor  since I’ve been a patient there for about 4 years. Basically, the letter will say “This medial certificate attests that Mr./Ms………..does not suffer from any illness that would pose a threat to the public health according to the International Health Regulations of 2005.” The cost of this will vary obviously!

$157 (before my health insurance paid)

Visa application form

You’ll be required to have two copies and I wrote out both of mine long hand to be safe. For the student visa, I used the National Visa application. I looked through the website for about a million hours and found several different loopholes and got super confused. Ultimately, I ended up e-mailing the consulate and asking for the proper application for an extended stay student visa.  I printed them at home on my personal printer so I guess my cost was only ink?


A folder full of important docs and books for planning!

A folder full of important docs and books for planning!

Passport photos (2)

Hop on down to your local Walgreens/CVS and strike a pose.



This is kind of a gimme…I mean…you should KNOW that you’ll have to obtain a passport to leave the country. In case you don’t already have one, hop on that NOW. In fact, go back to yesterday if you can and send in your application. You’ll want to do this as early as possible as there’s no telling how long it will take to get it sent back to you. Mine took approximately 3 weeks to process but I have hear of people having to wait 2-3 months, it all depends on the influx of applications.

You can get one here.


Placement letters addressed to the Consulate

I can’t speak for study abroad, only for the auxiliar program. My placement program, CIEE, sent me a letter in the mail stating my acceptance in the program, the anticipated duration of my time in Spain, and the service I will be providing in the classroom as a native English speaker. In addition to the letter from CIEE, I also received an e-mail PDF from the Comunidad de Madrid stating my placement, (name of my school and its location) my monthly stipend, hours worked weekly, etc. The cost on this one is ambiguous since you can apply to the auxiliar program simply through the government’s web-site and I don’t know how much that fee would be. This is their application site.


The receipt which will fill your heart with joy after handing over the whole application in Houston.

The receipt which will fill your heart with joy after handing over the whole application in Houston.

Proof of health insurance

Once again, this was included in the letter mentioned above from CIEE. as we have travel/health insurance provided through iNext. If you are going through your university, then they will most likely include health insurance as part of your program. If not, then it will be up to you to obtain health insurance for travel. However, health insurance is also provided to the auxiliars de conversacion as we are employed in Spain and are therefore entitled to receive the same healthcare as citizens.


Proof of financial means

As I already mentioned, BOTH of my letters from CIEE and Comunidad de Madrid listed the € 1,000 stipend that I would receive monthly so this was doubly taken care of for the sake of the application.


Handling Charge

OH MUH GARSH. I’ve already spent enough money, must you take more of it, Spain?? The answer will always, indubitably, be yes. Technically, US citizens are not charged for the visa itself but there is a handling charge accepted by the consulate. It’s the same amount charged to Spanish students coming to the U.S. for study abroad so I suppose all is fair in love and international education. This MUST be a money order as nothing else will be accepted. It needs to written out to “Consulate General of Spain”.


Driver’s license or student I.D.

A passport just ain’t good enough, we gotta make extra sure that you are indeed who you say you are! Bring the original AND a copy.


I don't think they would have accepted this one though.

I don’t think they would have accepted this one though.

Return Envelope

Woo-hoo! You don’t have to fly back to Houston to pick up your visa! The visa will be mailed to you, along with all your original documents, when it is ready but you MUST give the consulate the correct envelope. The U.S. Postal Service Express Mail Envelope will run you $19.95 and you need to get the cardboard one, not the soft one. Write down your tracking number as you will want to check every day after you submit your application, salivating in anticipation of the change to “in route” on the screen of your computer/smart phone. Or maybe that was just me.


Now that you know everything you need, you are all set and ready to go! By all means, do not take my word for written gold as there is always the possibility that the rules have changed. This is just what I had to do to get my visa. Remember, no appointment is necessary and walk-ins are accepted 9am-1pm Monday-Friday. Applications will only be accepted from 3 months to 1 month before departure but, by all means, try and go closer to the 3 month mark should any complications arise!

I've got a golden ticket!

I’ve got a golden ticket!



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