Getting a Volunteer Visa in Spain: Your Step-By-Step Guide

Here at Remitly, we love Spain! It’s always a popular destination, whether that’s for vacations, a permanent move to a sunny country, or for volunteering. If you’re thinking about doing some volunteer work abroad, Spain is a great choice. But Spanish paperwork can be a little complicated, so here’s our guide to the Spanish Volunteer Visa.

 

What is the Spanish Volunteer Visa?

The Spanish Volunteer Visa—officially called the Study Visa—lets you stay in the country for more than the usual 90-day maximum if you’re volunteering in a program that “pursues the general interest,” as the Spanish authorities put it.

You need a volunteer visa if you’re not an EU citizen.

Remember: If you’re a European Union citizen, you don’t have to worry—your right to live, work and volunteer in Spain is automatic.

What are the visa requirements?

For volunteering, you don’t need a work permit. But you need a written agreement with the organization you’re going to volunteer for. It must contain a description of the program that shows how long it will last and the type of volunteering you’ll be doing.

It must also say how you qualify to do that type of volunteering work and how it will be supervised, and confirm that the organization has insurance for what they do.

Got that? Great. You also need to show that you qualify under Spain’s IPREM rules. That means you have to prove you have the financial means to support yourself and any family members who are going.

If you can prove that your accommodation is being paid for the entire time you’ll be in Spain, you might not need this.

What documents do I need?

The application process requires various documents:

  • First, you need the visa application form, which you can get here, all filled in and signed.
  • A valid passport or other travel document that Spain will recognize. It must be valid for at least the whole time you plan to volunteer in Spain and have two blank pages.
  • Bank statements or something else that proves your income is sufficient under the IPREM rules.
  • Proof that you have health insurance.
  • If your spouse is going with you, you’ll need a marriage certificate.

And if you’re planning to stay for over six months, you’ll also need:

  • A medical certificate that shows you have no serious illnesses.
  • Proof of your criminal record in your country of residence for the last five years.

Remember that in Spain, if you provide documents from other countries, you must have them translated into Spanish and certified by the Spanish Consulate in that country. Be sure to check for specific visa requirements for your country of origin.

What’s the application process?

Once you’ve gathered all the required documents, you must present them at the Spanish Embassy in person. The visa fee is €60—about $65—and the visa process can take up to a month. If your application is granted, you have up to two months to collect the visa.

Note that fees may vary depending on your country of origin—you’ll need to check when you apply.

What is the NIE number in Spain?

If you’re going to volunteer for over six months, request a NIE at the police station or Oficina de Extranjería–the department that deals with foreign residents—in the region of Spain you’re going to be staying.

The NIE is your unique national identity number. It’s an ID document that allows you to carry out activities as a foreigner in Spain.

You’ll need your valid passport and some passport-sized photos for the document, and you’ll also have to fill out various forms. There’s a fee for this, too. You must apply for your NIE within your first month of entering Spain.

What sort of things could I do as a volunteer in Spain?

Spain offers lots of possibilities for volunteer work. Many people arrange their volunteering through the European Solidarity Corps. There’s lots of useful advice here.

As one of Europe’s most popular destinations for beach vacations, ocean conservation and beach clean-ups are popular choices. But you could also try animal welfare—many animal charities in Spain are run by expats, where speaking English would be an enormous advantage.

Another option is soccer coaching for young people. Or you could try teaching English or other languages to underprivileged groups, or art therapy for people with disabilities. However you want to help, you’ll probably be able to find something that you’re passionate about.

Learn more: Your 2024 Guide to How To Get a Digital Nomad Visa In Spain

What are the benefits of volunteering in Spain?

When they think about moving to Spain, everybody thinks of the great cities of Madrid and Barcelona, or the sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol. But there’s so much more to the country than that.

  • History and culture. Spain has a long and rich history, and a culture that values a healthy life/work balance. There are some great traditions and beautiful but lesser-known places to discover, wherever you are in the country.
  • Great weather. Spain is one of the sunniest countries in Europe, with 320 days of sun per year. So when you’re not busy volunteering, it’s a great place to get outside and enjoy the climate.
  • Amazing food. You know we love our food at Remitly! From fantastic seafood around the coasts, to wonderful beef and seafood in Galicia or paella in Valencia, Spain is famous for great food. There’s fantastic veggie and vegan cuisine too, particularly in the larger cities.
  • Travel anywhere. Madrid and Barcelona are international hubs for global travel, so visiting pretty much anywhere in Europe is only a short flight. But you can fly to almost anywhere in the world, so if your home country is a long way away, no problem.

Why not try Spain if you’re thinking about volunteering? Remitly has some handy info that will help you get settled in. You never know, it’s such a great place to live and work that you may end up wanting to stay long term.

FAQs

What is the Spanish Study Visa?

It’s often called a Volunteer Visa, but the official name is the Study Visa. It’s a visa that allows you to stay in the country for up to a year, volunteering in activities that the Spanish government defines as “pursuing the general interest.”

How do I apply for a Volunteer Visa for Spain?

Fill out the application form, gather all the documents you need, and apply at the Spanish Embassy where you live. Check out our guide above.

What if I love volunteering so much that I want to make it permanent—how do I get a work visa in Spain?

That’s great! Check out Remitly’s guide to getting a work visa.

Do I need a visa to visit Spain?

You don’t need a tourist visa just to visit for under 90 days if you’re a citizen of a European Union or Schengen country. For some non-EU citizens you need one—ask at the Spanish Consular office in your home country.