The Golden Visa!

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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Residency.

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.

If you hold a Golden Visa, you may come and go as you please from Spain; you are not subject to the 90 days in 180 days rule that applies to all other UK nationals. The time you spend in Spain would not count towards the 90 in every rolling six-month period, so within the same six-month period you need not worry about the rule regarding spending 90 days in Spain and 90 days in the Schengen Area. Without a Golden Visa, you could not achieve this.

You can travel without a visa for 90 days out of every 180 days within the Schengen area, but you will still need a visa to enter EU countries outside the Schengen area.

If you have purchased a property in Spain, you must prove you have acquired ownership of the property through a certificate issued by the Land Registry, within the three months prior to the application.

Please note that there are two steps to this process. First you obtain the visa, which is a stamp in your passport issued by a Spanish Consulate. It allows you to travel to Spain, with multiple entries and exits, for one year. Within this year you should travel to Spain and apply for your residency permit. You must apply for this in Spain.

Residency permits are initially valid for two years. After this period, you can renew it. This renewal is valid for five years. You can continue renewing it every five years as long as you own properties in Spain. You do not have to reside in Spain in order to be allowed to renew your residency permit.

In order to start the Golden Visa/Residency Permit process you must first purchase properties in excess of €500,000. You will need the purchase agreement(s) and the deed(s) to prove that you have made the investment(s).

Yes. You can use more than one property to qualify for Spain’s Golden Visa as long as the amount invested is equal to or greater than €500,000.

Yes, Golden Visa holders have an option that will allow them to buy two apartments as long as the combined purchase prices are not less than €500,000. You could have one as your main base to live in when in Tenerife, and the other to rent to bring in some income on your investment.

If you have a Golden Visa and therefore Spanish residency, you will then be able to get a Spanish mortgage to purchase further property. So, after you get your visa, you could take out a mortgage to purchase another property, and as a Spanish resident, you can get a higher percentage of the property value and be able to rent the property to receive a higher rental yield than the interest rate being charged for the mortgage.

Yes you can. As long as your investment was not made before the 28th September 2013, then you can use it for obtaining a Golden Visa.

No, because the minimum amount of investment in property that is required to qualify for this visa is €500,000. However, you can still qualify by buying another property for €150,000 or more to make a total of €500,000 or more. It does not matter if you bought your existing property six years ago, you could still use that towards the minimum amount required to obtain
the special residency visa permit now. It could be that you purchased two or more properties between September 2013 and January 2021 for an amount of say €400,000. In this case, you can still use all those properties towards the minimum total investment required, and simply top up your portfolio with a further property of €100,000 or more to qualify.

No. Capital appreciation of a property is not considered for this purpose and only the actual purchase price is taken into account. To qualify, you would need to invest in another property costing €50,000 or more.

Unfortunately, the answer is no. It is the actual purchase prices shown in title deeds that are taken into account and must be €500,000 or more. Improvements or extensions to a property are not taken into account.

Regretfully, No, you do not. It is normal for couples to purchase a property in their joint names, but the law requires that the €500,000 is only in the name of one investor, so to qualify, one of the two people shown in the title deeds would only have €275,000 that counts towards the required €500,000. So, it would be necessary to purchase an additional property for €225,000 to qualify for the visa.

If the property is registered as owning 50% each, then this would individually be below the minimum threshold of €500,000. However, if the ownership of the property was shown in the title deeds to be €500,000 for one person and €250,000 for the other, then you would qualify.

Once you apply for your residence permit, it can take up to 50 days. Roughly, 25 days to complete the application process and 25 days to receive your ID card.

Yes, but it must be from a foreign bank. The logic is that will bring €500,000 or more of foreign investment into Spain. If you borrow money from a Spanish bank, you are not bringing money into the country. So, you should purchase with existing funds or have your financing lined up before you purchase. Ideally, this will be with a non-Spanish bank that you have done business with for years.

Spain’s Golden Visa extends to immediate family members. Spouses and dependent children under the age of eighteen years, are guaranteed residency permits. For any other family members, you must present paperwork proving they are your legal dependents.

No, it does not. Existing permits and procedures are still valid. This law is specifically tailored to attract affluent non-EU investors and helps cut red tape.

Yes, it does not matter how little time you plan to spend in Spain, you must have health insurance cover valid in Spain.

One of the cornerstones of the Spanish legal system is that laws do not have retroactive effects. This achieves legal stability with respect to acquired rights. Therefore, retroactive change is only applied in very exceptional cases.

If you spend less than 183 days a year in Spain, you can avoid fiscal Residence, meaning you do not have to pay income tax in Spain, or declare your worldwide assets. The option to avoid fiscal Residence is one of the big attractions of this new law. However, you still have to pay certain taxes related to owning property in Spain, such as rental income tax and municipal taxes.

A very important benefit is that the Spanish Golden Visa Scheme is retroactive for British purchasers to take advantage of.

As stated previously, the scheme started for non-EU nations on the 28th September 2013, so any British owners who purchased their properties since then, may qualify for a Golden Visa. Here are some further Q & A’s relating to this.

Yes, you can reside and work in Spain during the validity of the permit.

Yes, in fact in Spain the scholarship of children under 16 is mandatory.

There are two scenarios under Spain’s Golden Visa program where you would be denied renewal. First, if you sell your property or transfer it into someone else’s name. However, you can sell the property and renew your Residence Permit if you re-invest €500,000 in another Spanish property. Second, if you have a criminal record. If you have a criminal record you will not receive an initial residency permit.

Yes, you can, so long as the company is not based in a tax haven All you have to do is prove that you, directly or indirectly, hold the majority of the voting rights and have the power to appoint or dismiss the majority of the board of directors. This needs to be demonstrated through official documents such as your company’s articles of incorporation. These documents should be notarised and translated into Spanish.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for proper qualified legal advice regarding this subject.

This article has been written from official notifications and information given by lawyers and various other sources that we obtained information from, but our own lawyers advise us that there is some confusion and changeable interpretation of the rules by the relevant authorities in Spain, and it is sometimes not as straightforward as it seems.

The procedures are complicated and expensive and each case is different. For example, according to the experience of specialist lawyers in Mainland Spain, one of their clients was told by the relevant authorities that it was necessary to invest €500,000 per person for a married couple (in total €1,000,000) as opposed to one of them investing €500,000 with the ability to extend that visa to include the spouse.

Therefore, it is very important to understand that this article is written to give a general indication of the Spanish Golden Visa Scheme and must not be taken as legal advice or statement of definite facts, as the relevant authorities have the last word according to their current criteria which is changeable now and at any time in the future also due to the exceptional Covid-19 situation.

Anybody wishing to take advantage of the Golden Visa Scheme should obtain proper legal advice from a Lawyer who specialises in this subject. We can give reference to a lawyer for people to contact if so required.

Tel: 0034 922 714 700
From UK: 0845 862 1634

info@tenerifepropertyshop.com