The Spanish Golden Visa programme.
Spain launched its Golden Visa programme in 2013. It gives you residency rights in the country if you make an investment of at least €500,000 in one or more real estate transactions. You can renew the visa every two years. After five years, you can get permanent residency, and, after ten years, citizenship. At no point do you actually have to live in Spain.
The Golden Visa used to be of most interest to non-EU citizens. But since the Brexit referendum, many more UK citizens are now taking advantage of it, because they are now classed as Non-European citizens.
What is the Golden Visa Scheme?
Introduced in September 2013, the law gives foreigners who invest large sums in Spanish property, public debt, and projects of general interest the right to reside in Spain.
For property investors, the minimum investment before taxes and charges is €500,000. It must be remembered that the additional costs of purchasing a property will add around 10% to the basic investment.
While the law does not give people the right to work in Spain, there is one beneficial added extra, insofar as it gives non-EU citizens access to the entire Schengen area. You can renew the visa every two years. After five years, you can get permanent residency, and, after ten years, citizenship.
Note. The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
How to get a Spanish golden visa.
First, you must purchase a Spanish property for €500,000 or more. Key points to note are:
1) The €500,000 must be money you bring into the country. Thus, if you finance part of your purchase with a Spanish mortgage, you still have to pay the first €500,000 either in cash, or with a mortgage granted by a non-Spanish bank.
2) Refurbishment costs do not count towards your golden visa.
3) You can divide the €500,000 across multiple properties.
Obtaining a Spanish golden visa is a two-step process.
First, you must go to the Spanish Consulate in your home country to obtain the visa. This is a stamp in your passport that allows you to travel to Spain, with multiple entries and exits, for one year. Within this year you must go to Spain and apply for your residency permit.
To get the visa, Tenerife Property Shop S.L. will have ensured that you have your purchase agreement(s) and your property’s title deed(s) for you to show, to prove that you have made the property investment.
You will also need to show standard immigration documents such as your passport, and proof you do not have a criminal record.
If your spouse is applying for residency with you, your marriage certificate must also be submitted. If your children are applying, their birth certificates must be submitted.
Under Spanish law, spouses and dependent children under the age of eighteen years are guaranteed residency permits. For all other family members, you must present paperwork proving they are your legal dependents.
Next, you must travel to Spain and apply for your residence permit. This needs to be done in person so they can take your fingerprints.
Your initial residence permit is valid for two years. You do not have to reside in Spain during this time, but you do need to return to renew your residence permit in person.
After you have been a legal resident of Spain for five years, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency. Once you have ten years of Spanish residency, you are eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship.
If you really want to spend very long periods in Spain, in excess of six months each year, then you will be looking at taking up Spanish residency. This is more than simply declaring that you live in Spain. To become resident, you will need to apply for a residency permit.
In doing this, you will also need to become a tax resident in Spain, which means filing annual tax returns with Spain’s Hacienda, even if all your income comes from the UK or elsewhere. These are some of the most cited reasons for people choosing not to take up Spanish residency, but they will now need to be weighed against the loss of European rights under Brexit.
You cannot be resident of two countries at once, so if you become a Spanish resident you have to give up your British residency which has an impact on things like tax and access to the NHS.
Under what circumstances would your residents permit not be renewed?
Be aware that if you sell your property or transfer it into someone else’s name, the immigration authorities will not renew your residence permit.
If you have a criminal record your residence permit will not be renewed.
Finally, if you are not up to date on your Spanish tax payments, you will need to get up to date before your permit is renewed.
Hoping to slip under the radar?
Many British people have got used to coming and going with minimal paperwork or checks, and without having to keep track of how many days were spent where, but taking into account the 90-day Rule now in force, this would now be a problem. (For more information regarding the 90-day Rule – Click here)
For non-EU nationals like Americans and Australians, Spain has earned itself a reputation as being not too fussy about the exact exit date of people who are not working or claiming benefits in Spain as long as it’s fairly close. It is also true that there is likely to be a ‘bedding in period’ for the new rules.
However, passport checks are expected to become stricter from the 1st January 2021, not least because British nationals will no longer be able to use the EU/EEA/CH passport queue.
Beware… If you are caught over-staying your allocated 90 days you can end up with an ‘over-stay’ flag on your passport which can make it difficult to enter any other country, not just Spain, and is likely to make any future attempts at getting visas or residency a lot more difficult. It could even result in you being barred from entering Spain in the future.
UK Government guidance also states that you might also have to show a return ticket and prove you have enough money for your stay when travelling between the EU and UK.
The Spanish Golden Visa program is the most desirable in Europe.
A number of other countries offer Golden Visas. Prior to the 2008 downturn, they were mainly in the Caribbean. After the economic slide, European countries with good weather (and weak national balance sheets) began offering Golden Visas. They are attractive because most of them include the right to work and travel within the Schengen area.
There are a few ways to get Golden Visas: through a property purchase (the focus of this article), through investment in a country’s government bonds, through investment in a country’s artistic heritage, parking a large amount of money in a bank account in a country, and/or just general investment in the country.
For all but the super-rich, investing in property is the best way to get a Golden Visa. The following European countries offer Golden Visa property purchase schemes: Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and Monaco.
However, Spain’s Golden Visa program is the best, because it has the strongest property market and the best sovereign credit rating of all the above countries. There are no residency requirements, and it is not on the OECD blacklist. Malta, Cyprus and Monaco have the intense disadvantage of being on this list.
Frequently asked questions about Spain’s golden visa program.
Click the question to view the relevant answer.