Spain student visa apply

How to Apply for a Spanish Student Visa from Canada

So, you want to study in Spain? Or you’ve decided to avoid the 9-5 “real” world for another year and become a language assistant? Maybe deep down inside, all you want is to enjoy a midday siesta and not be judged for it. Whatever the reason may be, you’ve chosen the perfect location.

But before you start sipping on 80-cent boxed wine (don’t ever do this in front of Spaniards) and ordering enough tapas to feed a small village, you have to actually get to Spain. That’s where this troublesome but oh-so-necessary thing called a visa comes in.

In case you haven’t yet heard, Spanish bureaucracy is about as pleasant as repeatedly stabbing yourself with a fork. Administration workers tend to treat you as a nuisance – that is, if they acknowledge your existence at all. (No joke. When I applied for my residency card, the lady just stared blankly at me until I handed her my papers.) If you can avoid it, don’t bother calling the consulate for any issues you may run into. From my experience and that of others I’ve spoken with, the employees are just plain rude.

Having said that, my most recent experience applying for a visa was relatively painless. Even following all the instructions on the consulate website wasn’t enough to make it a perfectly smooth process, though. That’s why I’m compiling this (hopefully) foolproof guide for you. Follow these steps, learn from my mistakes, and you should be good to go.

What you’ll need to apply (from the Embassy of Spain in Ottawa’s site):

The original and a photocopy of:

  • A passport valid until the end of your stay, but ideally until 6 months after (some countries won’t let you in if it expires sooner)
  • Documentation proving your residency status if you are not a Canadian citizen
  • Confirmation of school registration – if studying, the acceptance letter from your school; if working as an auxiliar de conversación, your carta de nombramiento
  • Overseas medical insurance coverage (Auxiliares – this is included in your carta)
  • Proof of accommodation: confirmation that you are staying in a residency or with a host family, or simply a printout of a hotel booking indicating that you will find permanent accommodation when you arrive
  • Proof of financial reliability: bank statements, scholarships, etc. that add up to at least $1000 CAD per month of your stay. If you do not have the required funds, you must provide a notarized letter from your parents stating that they will cover the cost, along with their bank statement from the last two months. Note: Auxiliares, you should not need to provide proof of financial reliability as it is included in our carta; however, the consulate emailed me requesting a copy of a bank statement. Depending on the employee who deals with your case, he or she simply may not know what’s required… even though it’s part of their job.
  • Medical certificate: if the duration of your stay is over 6 months, have your doctor sign and stamp a letter worded as follows:

    “This medical certificate states that Mr./Mrs. [YOUR NAME] does not suffer from any diseases that may have serious consequences on public health in accordance with the provisions contained in the 2005 International Health Regulations.”

  • Police check: If the duration of your stay is over 6 months, you must provide a police check from the authorities of all the countries in which you have resided in the last 5 years. The Canadian police check must be done by the RCMP, not a local police station. It must include your fingerprints.
  • Flight reservation or travel itinerary: A bit of a catch-22. They ask for a flight reservation but tell you not to book a flight until you have your visa. I did so anyway because I like to live life dangerously, but you can simply look up potential flights and provide a sample itinerary.
  • A completed and signed visa application form with one recent, full-face Canadian passport-sized photograph attached in the top-right corner.
  • Visa fee: $125 cash, money order, or cheque payable to the “Embassy of Spain”

Other requirements:

  • A self-addressed envelope
  • Patience
  • Time. The earliest you can apply is three months in advance, and I would highly suggest applying as early as possible.  

Now that you know what you need in order to complete your application, it’s just a matter of getting all the documents together. Most of them are pretty straightforward, but the police check and application form can be tricky, so I’ll highlight them below.

How to obtain a police check

The easiest way to get your record check done is by going to a Police Information Check Station or RCMP station in your town. The RCMP website states that your local police station should be able to take your fingerprints and scan them to the RCMP, but mine was not. You can always call ahead to see if the station will in fact do fingerprinting for visa purposes.

Once she takes your fingerprints, the person attending you will ask you for some personal information as well as the purpose of the record check. She’ll then submit the information to the RCMP and give you a slip of paper with a number to contact in case your record check is taking longer than usual to arrive. If all is well, it should arrive by mail in about a week. (You can check processing times here.)

How to fill out the visa application form

Filling out the visa form was probably the trickiest part of the whole process the first time I applied. I’m not sure how I ended up with the Spanish version of the application form as the form provided on the embassy website is in English, but I suggest using the English version for simplicity’s sake.

Here’s how you should be filling the form out, by box #:

student visa apply#1-9: Personal information. Pretty straightforward.

#10-11: N/A

#12-18: Passport & contact info.

#19: Student (even if you are a language assistant, you can just write “student” as it’s essentially a student visa you’re applying for)

spain student visa apply

#20: Studies

#21: Whatever date your flight lands in Spain, or that of the flight you’ve included in your possible itinerary

#22: Always select more than two. You never know how many times you might leave the country before your visa expires.

#23: You probably won’t have a postal address in Spain yet. Just write the address of the hotel/hostel you’ll be staying at for the start of your trip with a note beside it indicating that you will find permanent accommodation when you arrive.

#24-27: N/A

spain student visa apply

#28: Your university’s (student) or school’s (language assistant) info. Ignore the part halfway down about minors.

spain student visa apply

Date and sign the application form on the last page and clip one of your photos onto the corner of the first page.

That’s it! You’re all done with the application process. High five.

Sending in your documents

Before you send in your documents, double-check that you have them all, plus a photocopy of each. Again, those documents were:

  • Passport 
  • Documentation proving residency status (non-Canadian citizens)
  • Acceptance letter/carta de nombramiento
  • Overseas medical insurance (not required for language assistants)
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Proof of financial reliability
  • Medical certificate (for stays over 6 months)
  • Police check (for stays over 6 months)
  • Flight reservation/travel itinerary
  • Visa application form with photos
  • Visa fee (cash, cheque, or money order)

Ready to go? Great. Now, toss those papers along with your passport into an express envelope and send it to one of the following addresses:

Applicants from Ontario (Ottawa not included), British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon:

Consulate General of Spain

2 Bloor Street East

Suite 1201

Toronto, ON M4W 1A8

Applicants from Québec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island:

Consulate General of Spain

1200 Avenue McGill College

Suite 2025

Montréal, QC H3B 4G7

**Applicants from Ottawa and Gatineau:

You must go in person to apply for your visa at the following address:

Embassy of Spain

74 Stanley Avenue

Ottawa, ON K1M 1P4

IMPORTANT: If you do not live in the city to which you will be sending your application (i.e. Toronto, Montréal, or Ottawa) you must include a self-addressed envelope with correct postage with your application so that the consulate can send your passport/visa back to you. I learned this the hard way when, two weeks after sending in my documents, I received an email stating that my visa was approved and waiting for me to come pick it up… on the other side of the country. I ended up having to send an envelope in an envelope like some sort of Russian nesting doll. You’d think they’d be willing to spend $4 from the $125 visa fee I paid to send it back. No such luck. Don’t forget the envelope, people.

So now that you’ve sent off your bundle of extremely important papers, what’s left to do? The most difficult thing of all, my friend: wait. You shouldn’t have to wait long – ideally two weeks, up to four. Unless there’s a Canada Post strike (this almost happened) or the consulate loses your documents. (This happened to a friend. They found them eventually.)

Try not to worry too much. Barring a total disaster, your visa should arrive just fine.

Oh, and one last tip: don’t freak out when you see it expires three months after the date of your arrival. If you’re staying in Spain longer than six months, the visa will only be valid for 90 days because you’re expected to obtain a temporary residency card (TIE) upon arrival. This card, not your visa, will allow you to stay in Spain legally for the duration of your trip. If you’ll be in Spain for less than six months, don’t worry about the TIE. Your visa will be valid for the duration of your trip.

I’d love to tell you that the visa process will be your first and last taste of Spanish bureaucracy, but chances are it’s just the beginning.

Keep an eye out for future how-to posts (how to apply for a TIE, open a bank account, find an apartment) to help make your transition to Spain much smoother.

From someone who’s been there before (twice!) the best advice I have is to be patient and accept the cultural differences. Cheap wine awaits you on the other side.

17 Comments

  1. Reply

    Lina

    May 18, 2017

    Thanks ! found this so very helpful, I was “flipando” as it seemed complicated and all over the place.. I’m an Aussie on a working holiday visa here in Canada and next move is to Spain where I’ll do an MBA :),

    Cheers

    Lina B

  2. Reply

    Nick

    May 30, 2017

    This is so helpful! For a police check, where should it be done?

    • Reply

      Ivana

      June 4, 2017

      Hi Nick,

      So sorry for the late reply! I got my police check done at a police station in Edmonton. I was told I could go to any police station, but that was incorrect. For a national police check, I needed to go to a specific station. I believe I could have gone to an RCMP office, too. I would give your local police a call and they should point you in the right direction.

      Again, sorry for getting back to you so late! Good luck with the application process :)

  3. Reply

    infame201

    June 8, 2017

    This is so helpful, omg. Especially the part with info on how to fill out the visa application form. You saved my life!!!!!!

  4. Reply

    Alejandro

    June 28, 2017

    Thank you very much for doing this. This is a lot of help. I have a question: I already sumitted my criminal record check at the police station in Calgary. They didn’t ask me for my fingerprints. After reading your post, I see that this is definitely required. Can I get my fingerprints taken in another place and then summit those with my police check?

    • Reply

      Ivana

      July 4, 2017

      Hi Alejandro,

      Sorry for the late reply – I’ve been travelling!

      In terms of getting the fingerprints, I know there are accredited agencies that can do it for you (see: http://www.rcmp.gc.ca/en/who-can-conduct-criminal-record-check#ac) however, it looks like you need to get a criminal record check done by the RCMP. I tried going to my local police station first and they couldn’t provide the comprehensive police check I needed. I would go to the RCMP or call your local police station and ask where you can get a national police check with fingerprinting done.

  5. Reply

    Faria

    July 3, 2017

    Hello, I just wanted to ask u… on the auxiliares de conversación page for the visa application instructions it says we have to book an appointment and go into the consulate in person and hand in our documents for the visa… can i just mail it to them? Or do I have to go in?

  6. Reply

    FARIA

    July 3, 2017

    I live in Toronto btw. ^ and it says that people living in Toronto must apply in person.

    • Reply

      Ivana

      July 4, 2017

      Hi Faria!

      So the Spanish consulate website for Canada is super confusing and hard to navigate…. I don’t know about Toronto, but I applied through that office (though I don’t live in Ontario) and I was able to mail mine in. They made me send a self addressed envelope with my application so they could send my passport back to me. I think as long as you do that, there should be no problem with sending it via mail.

  7. Reply

    Faria

    July 12, 2017

    Hello,
    I got my doctors note today and the doctor didn’t work the letter exactly the same as what you gave up and on the auxiliaries
    Website. Will they still accept this or does it have to be those exact words? Please help!!

    • Reply

      Ivana

      July 27, 2017

      Hi Faria,

      Sorry, I’ve been travelling and haven’t had a chance to catch up with comments! You’ve probably already sent your documents in by now but in case you haven’t, the doctor’s note does not need to be in those exact words, I don’t think. It’s just a sample. What you do have to include is some reference to the WHO International Health Regulations of 2005.

  8. Reply

    Faria

    July 12, 2017

    Medical certificate** ^

  9. Reply

    Marie-Eve

    August 22, 2017

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience, this is extremely helpful as I’m currently going through that process. One question : For #23, is that what you did, apply with only a temporary address? That’s what I would like to do (I would refer to the hostel I’ll be staying at) but I saw elsewhere that you absolutely needed a permanent address, so I just wanted to confirm that this will work for sure if I provide a hotel booking mentioning that I’ll find accomodation when I get there.
    Thank you!

    • Reply

      Ivana

      August 22, 2017

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Marie-Eve! #23 is a tricky one because you’re supposed to have an address but why would you settle on an apartment before you move?? I don’t think you should have any issues if you write your hotel’s address in that box and make a note stating that you’ll find permanent housing when you arrive. Just attach a copy of your reservation :)

  10. Reply

    Iris

    October 5, 2017

    Thank you for writing this!

  11. Reply

    Jake

    November 9, 2017

    Hello,
    Thank you a lot for this. Just had a quick question, I’m in Montreal and on the spanish consulate website it says you have to come in for an appointment. The only problem is they don’t have any space for another month, which is too long for me to wait. Do you know if I can still mail it in? This seems a lot easier.

    Thank you!

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