Spain is part of the Schengen area, a block of European countries which allow visitors to travel amongst them with a single visa. This means that most short term leisure visits of up to 90 days can be covered by a Schengen visa. But if you’re considering a longer stay, and are looking at living and working in Spain, you might need an alternative. If you want to combine work and holiday in sunny Spain, and are lucky enough to be in the eligible age range, you could consider getting a working holiday visa to cover your stay.
A working holiday visa lets you apply for work in Spain, and earn money to fund some of your travel. This helpful guide will cover all you need to know about getting a working holiday visa for Spain. We’ll also highlight a handy way to keep the costs of managing your money down while you’re there - the borderless account from TransferWise. Pay less for currency conversion and international payments - and have more to spend on yourself.
You can apply for a range of different visa types to cover your visit to Spain. If you’re headed to Spain as a tourist, and don’t expect to do any paid work while you’re there, the chances are that you’ll want a Schengen visa. This visa type is handy because it allows for travel anywhere in the Schengen area, so you can travel broadly within Europe with a single visa application.
However, the Schengen visa is not issued to people who want to find a job in Spain. Instead, you may require a work permit, or a specialist visa covering the type of employment you’re going to do.
At the Spanish Embassy in Canberra, or the Consulate General Offices in Melbourne and Sydney, you can apply for visas including the following common options¹:
- Schengen visa
- Student visa
- Work and holiday visa
- Resident with self employed working, or with property purchase
- Au pair visa
- Language assistant program
- Temporary work visa
- Accreditation visa
- Family visa for EU citizens
In this guide we will focus on the working holiday visa, which is also called a Work and Holiday Visa, and the Youth Mobility Programme. If you think another type of visa is better suited to your needs, you can find all you need online. Check the website of the Spanish Embassy or Consulate closest to your home, as applications will usually be processed only by the office covering the region you live in.
A working holiday is not the same as a work permit or other type of working visa.
Working holiday visas are usually issued only to people who fit within a strict age range - usually 18 - 30. These visas are intended for those who want to take an extended trip, which may combine work and holiday - but where the primary aim is to explore and learn about the country.
In the original agreement which created working holiday visas for Australian citizens looking to go to Spain, the Spanish government said the purpose of the visa was to “strengthen mutual knowledge and understanding through an increase of opportunities for young citizens”.
Working holiday visas have quite different eligibility requirements compared to regular work permits, and the number of visas issued may be limited on an annual basis. It’s worth checking both the eligibility requirements, and the availability of this visa type before you plan your trip.
A working holiday visa is a great fit if you’re planning an extended trip abroad, but think you may need to earn some money as you go, to cover your day to day costs.
Working holiday visas are typically issued only to younger people, and the expectation is that you’ll only work or study for a small portion of your stay. In the case of Spain, you’re unlikely to be able to work for the same employer for more than 6 months of the 12 month visa. You could use the rest of your time to travel, or you could choose to study or do a training course for up to 4 months of your stay. If that suits your plans, then a working holiday visa could be a perfect choice for you².
Before you apply for your working holiday visa, it’s a good idea to call your local Embassy or Consulate, to confirm the eligibility requirements, and check if there are visas available. Because this visa type may be subject to an annual cap, you could find that, even if you meet the eligibility requirements, you can’t get a working holiday visa because the allocation for the year has already been filled.
The basic requirements are as follows²:
- You must hold Australian citizenship
- You must be aged 18 - 30 inclusive at the time of lodging your application
- You’ll need to show you can afford a return ticket, your day to day living, and the visa fee
- You must have completed at least 2 years of higher education, and be able to speak functional Spanish
- You may also need a health certificate, proof of character, and a letter of support for your trip. More on the documents needed, below.
You’ll need to apply in person at the Embassy or Consulate nearest to you. You can usually apply up to 90 days in advance of your trip, and should allow at least a month for the visa to be processed. It’s worth checking the likely waiting times when you call the office to check on the availability of this visa type.
When you attend the Embassy or Consulate you will have to take the following documents along²,³:
- Your valid Australian passport, and recent passport photos
- Duplicate copies of the completed application form
- Proof of funding for the trip - this is currently set at $5,000 plus the cost of a return air ticket, but may change over time
- Comprehensive medical insurance paperwork, and a letter from your doctor confirming you are healthy
- Proof of at least 2 years of higher education
- A clean police check
- Evidence of your functional ability in the Spanish language
- A letter of support for your trip, from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection
- Application documents and fee, for your NIE - the registration needed as a foreigner living in Spain
The full details of the types of evidence and documents required are available online. Check before you attend the Embassy to ensure you have everything you need.
When you apply for your working holiday visa, you’ll need to pay the following fees³:
- Visa application fee - currently $85.20
- Consular fee for your NIE application - currently $13.40
It’s a good idea to check in advance how you can pay these fees. In some cases you might find that cash payments are mandatory.
Before you plan your trip in any detail, it’s worth asking the Embassy or Consulate you intend to apply to, how long the processing time will be. At present, the Embassy advises that applicants can submit their applications up to 90 days prior to their planned departure date, and can expect processing to take up to a month. However, this may vary depending on where you apply, and how high demand is at the particular time.
Planning a working holiday in Spain? Manage your money easily, and save on bank fees, with TransferWise
If you’re thinking of taking an extended trip to Europe, you don’t want to pay more than you have to in bank fees and currency conversion costs. You can spend less on fees, and more on yourself, by getting a multi-currency borderless account from TransferWise.
With a borderless account you’ll have local bank details for Australia and the eurozone, so you can receive payments for free in both dollars and euros. You can also activate local bank details for other major currencies including US and New Zealand dollars, and British pounds - which makes this new account type perfect for anyone who likes to travel or who receives an income in different currencies. You’ll be able to hold over 40 currencies in the same place, and switch between them using the mid-market exchange rate, for just a low upfront fee.
Your borderless account can be a great way to manage your money across currencies, and send payments to accounts held overseas. There are no exchange rate markups or hidden costs to worry about, and you can get your account up and running online, in no time. See if you can save time and money with TransferWise, today.
All correct as of 6 May 2019
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