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PROPERTY

How to make the most of Spain’s Golden Visa residency scheme

Spain has a Golden Visa scheme for which allows Non-Europeans to be granted a residency permit with an investment of €500K in the country.

How to make the most of Spain's Golden Visa residency scheme
It's not hard to find properties worth €500K in the glitzy southern town of Marbella. Photo: Claudiu Danaila/Unsplash

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 mininum investment before taxes and changes is €500,000 ($551,000). Once the extra costs are factored in, however, the real cost is closer to €600,000.

While the law doesn’t give people the right to work in Spain, there is one big perk: it gives non-EU citizens access to the entire Schengen area.

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Photo: Lucas Fox

How to get a Spanish golden visa

First, you must purchase a Spanish property for €500k or more. Key points to note are:

  • The €500k 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 €500k either in cash, or with a mortgage granted by a non-Spanish bank.

  • Refurbishment costs do not count towards your golden visa. 

  • When you purchase property in Spain, you need to budget an additional 15 percent to cover taxes, legal fees and notary fees. None of these closing costs count towards your golden visa.

  • You can divide the €500k across multiple properties. However, experts do not recommend this if you want to optimize your golden visa property purchase

You bought a property – now what?

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, you need to show your purchase agreement and your property’s deed 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 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. Once you apply for your residence permit, it takes about 50 days. Roughly 25 days to complete the application process and 25 days to receive your ID card.

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.

Are there any scenarios under which the immigration authorities will deny renewing your residence permit?

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. 

These tips have been provided by Moving2Madrid, a buyer’s agent that focuses exclusively on the Madrid market.   “We help international buyers locate, negotiate and close the deal on apartments in Madrid. We work with renters, buyers and investors. We focus exclusively on an international clientele and speak multiple languages,” explained Mary Clare Bland.

If you want to learn more about how to get a Spanish golden visa for you and your family, here are some frequently asked questions about Spain’s golden visa program

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For members

VISAS

Worker, retiree or investor: What type of Spanish visa do I need?

If you’re from a non-EU country you will need a visa in order to stay in Spain for longer than 90 days, but knowing which type of permit is best for you can be tricky. Here's how to find the right one for you based on your circumstances.

Worker, retiree or investor: What type of Spanish visa do I need?

If you are a citizen of a non-EU country then you may benefit from the 90-day rule, allowing you to visit Spain for 90 days out of every 180 without needing a visa. Countries including the UK, USA, Canada and Australia all benefit from this rule.

Citizens of certain countries require a visa even for a short trip – find the full list here.

However, the tricky part comes when you want to move to Spain and spend longer than just those three months. What are your visa options, whether you want to move to Spain to retire, to work or even to set up your own business? 

Retirees:

The best option for retirees is to apply for the non-lucrative visa (NLV). This allows you to live in Spain for one year, but as the name suggests you are not allowed to work.

In order to apply an applicant must show they have €27,792 at their disposal for one year (€34,740 if it’s a couple), as well as comprehensive health insurance.

If you want to stay in Spain beyond this year, you can either renew it for a further two years (again proving you have the financial means) or change your visa for a work permit or a self-employed permit through the residence modification process.

The NLV is also the best option for those who want to live abroad temporarily. Those who want to stay in Spain for more than three months, but are not planning on living here permanently. It’s ideal for those on a sabbatical for example who have savings or investments and who do not need to work in Spain while here, but want to stay here for a year. It’s also the best option for those who have the financial means to do so.

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

retiree in Spain

The NLV is the right visa for most non-EU retirees who want to live in Spain. Photo: pasja1000 / Pixabay

Workers:

If you plan on moving to Spain for work or in order to look for a job, then you will need a work permit. Unfortunately getting a work permit can be tricky because in most cases as a non-EU national, the position you apply for must be on Spain’s shortage occupation list.

Your employer will also have to prove that there were no other suitable candidates within the EU to be able to fulfill the vacancy. This means that only highly skilled workers or those that work in industries that need workers are likely to be successful. These mostly include jobs in the maritime or fishing industries or sports coaches.

If you are wanting to become self-employed, then the entrepreneur visa could be a good option, allowing you to live in Spain for one year in order to open up a business. Be aware however your business must be considered as anything of innovative character with special economic interest for Spain.

You will have to prove you have the necessary qualifications to set up your business and will also have to submit your business plan to the authorities for it to be approved. The entrepreneur visa can be extended for a further two years after your initial one has been granted.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Spain’s visa for entrepreneurs

Investors:

If money is no object and you want to invest in a Spanish property then, you’ll want to apply for Spain’s golden visa. To be eligible, you must invest €500,000 before taxes in a property here. It won’t allow you to work, but it will allow you access to the entire Schengen area. This will also allow your spouse and any dependent children to move to Spain with you.

Another option for investors is the entrepreneur visa as described above, if you want to use your investment to set up a business in Spain.

Joining family members:

If you happen to have a family member who is an EU citizen and lives in Spain or a non-EU relative that has residency in Spain, then you have another option. This is called the family reunification visa. However, in order to be eligible, you need to be a spouse or a dependent child and your relative must have the means to financially support you. 

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Students:

Enrolling on a course and applying for a student visa is one way for non-EU citizens of any age can live in Spain beyond the regular length of a tourist stay. 

You will have to apply for a short-term or long-term student visa, depending on the length of their course. A student advantages can several advantages such as being able to work part-time or bringing over family members. 

READ MORE: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s student visa?

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