The right way to make contact with the Consulate (or Embassy)

Now that you know what Spanish institution covers your area, should you make contact with the Consulate or Embassy? Hell no (not yet).

Read their website

Read, read a lot of their webpage first. You will be looking for something like servicios consulares or visados. There you can find information on what are the requirements to get a visa to move to Spain and what are their types of visas and specific requirements for each visa.

The Spanish consulates and embassies tend to have a brief explanation that tells almost everything you need in simple language and then a link to an extremely convoluted EU law. To illustrate the topic, here is an example of a visa page, from the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco.

Contact with the Consulate
Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels

Notice that, as a foreigner, the only documents you can get from a Spanish Consulate (or Embassy) are either a visa to Spain or a tax payer number (NIE). You should check:

  • 1) if you need a visa
  • 2) in case you need, what kind of visa do you qualify for. The Spanish Consulate websites have a list of visa types that Spain provides and what is requested for each – more on it on improve your chances of success at getting a visa. Provided you do qualify for one of the visa types, you can continue to check in the site what are the required documents and the procedures that must be followed for that specific visa.

Most of the times, you will need to book an appointment and go to the consulate on the day and time scheduled with your full documentation in order. On that note, check that your personal documentation is up to date and not expired; if your passport is soon to expire, it is probably better to make a new one before requesting a visa.

If after reading the instructions you have any doubt left, you can establish contact with the Consulate that covers your area. Make contact with the Consulate through e-mail. Avoid going there in person, as there is no such service as “answering questions” and they probably just see people that are booked for one of their services.

Go there only if you already sent an e-mail and, after a week, didn’t get a response – because then you can say that when they inform you that the Consulate just answers questions through e-mail, increasing your chances of talking to someone.

How to make contact with the consulate

As consulates tend to be overdemanded and understaffed, you have a much bigger chance of receiving an useful response if you make your question clear and specific. E-mails that tell one’s life story and end by asking how to get a visa will likely be ignored (It’s surprising how many e-mails are like this. I received many in my years working on a consulate, but being so vague, the only possible answer was pointing out the page that explained the visas. Frustrating to both sides). Be specific on your question and show that you have done your homework by reading through their explanation, visa types and rules.

What information should you write in your e-mail?

Basically, you should give information that matches with the kind of visa you are trying to get and with the institution you are trying to get it from. So good things to tel would be:

– your name (so that they can address you properly);
– your nationality (because different nationalities may have different visa requirements);
– the city/state where you live (so that the Consulate knows you belong to the area they serve);
– reason why you are trying to move to Spain (because different reasons may correspond to different visas);
– what visa you believe you qualify for according to their site (to show you did read their site).

Things that you shouldn’t write:

– generic questions that show you didn’t read their page;
– that you have a relative that was from Spain (this can be relevant to get Spanish citizenship; not for a Visa);
– how much you love Spain (not a criteria for visa, unfortunately).

Examples of bad e-mails to the Consulate:

“I’m from (country name) and I want to move to Spain. What type of Visa should I apply for?” or

“My grandfather moved from Spain in 1932 to (name of country) and met my grandmother there. They had 4 kids. My oldest two uncles moved back to Spain in the mid 1960s – or maybe 1970s – but their kids were born one in Spain and the other in (name of other country). Can I apply for a student Visa?”

will probably be ignored or answered with a generic automatic response referring you to their page with visa requirements. The first one for being too generic, and the second one for not providing any information that matters to the question.

Example of good e-mail to the Consulate:

“I am from (name of country) and I live in (name of city within the institution’s jurisdiction) and I plan to move to Spain within the next x years. I believe that I qualify for visa type y, as described in (name of the page of this same institution that describes visa type y), but I am in doubt if (name of document) would qualify as (name of document requested in their page). Could you clarify this point?”

This last one has a much better chance of getting you a proper answer. You show that you both found the right institution and that you read the information they have already provided in their website. You have done the first part of your work by identifying in what visa type you fit. You are being specific and providing the right amount of pertinent detail to your question. Good job! I bet you’ll get an answer as soon as they finish deleting the other e-mails.

Next: Visa for EU family members (or my big, big mistake)

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