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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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MOVING TO SPAIN

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

One of the most common questions people moving to Spain ask is where they can rent temporary accommodation while looking for somewhere more permanent. This can be particularly tricky, but we've found some of the best places to look.

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

So you’ve sorted out your visas, you’ve done all your packing and have either sold or moved out of your home, but when you arrive in Spain you’re not exactly sure where you’re going to stay.  

Of course, it’s not the best idea to sign a contract ahead of time for a more permanent place before you’ve actually seen it in person. Photos don’t always accurately represent what the house or apartment looks like in reality and you won’t really be able to get a feel for the neighbourhood without being there. 

On top of this, rental scams are rife in some places in Spain, particularly in the bigger more popular cities like Barcelona. Often people will place an ad (which usually looks too good to be true) and get you to wire over a deposit to secure it in advance, but here’s the catch – the place doesn’t usually exist.

This is why it’s important to never hand over money to secure a place to live in Spain before you’ve actually seen it in person and you can get the keys as soon as you sign the contract.

But, finding a place to live in a new country can be difficult and it can take time, so while you look for somewhere, you’re going to need temporary accommodation for a couple of months. This can be tricky too because often temporary accommodation is geared towards tourists and you’ll be paying tourist prices too.

While Idealista and Fotocasa are two of the most popular sites to look for accommodation in Spain, when you only want somewhere for a couple of months, there’s no point looking there, as most places will have yearly contracts.

Keep in mind with short-term rentals for a couple of months, you’re going to be paying higher than the average monthly rent, however, for this, the apartments are usually fully furnished, including kitchen utensils, wi-fi already connected and offer you the flexibility of shorter contracts.

Short-term rental agencies

Specialised short-term rental agencies are the best way to go, which will allow you to sign contacts for less than the typical one year. These types of agencies are usually found in Spain’s big cities that are popular with foreigners, such as Madrid and Barcelona.

Trying searching in Spanish too by typing alquiler de temporada or alquiler temporal plus the name of the city or town you’re looking in. This way you may be able to find places that offer better value. 

Barcelona

In Barcelona, check out aTemporal an agency that started up precisely to fix the problem of trying to find accommodation in-between tourist accommodation and long-term rentals. They rent out apartments for anywhere from 32 days to 11 months.

ShBarcelona is another agency that specialises in these types of rentals and have properties all over the city.

READ ALSO – Moving to Barcelona: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

Madrid

In Madrid, try DFLAT, which was created by two professionals from the Instituto de Empresa University after discovering the difficulties professionals and foreigners found when looking for an apartment in Madrid. Sh also has a good branch in Madrid.  

Valencia

In Valencia, Dasha Living Space has both short and long-term fully furnished flats available and  Valenvi Flats also offers rentals for between three and six months.

READ ALSO – Moving to Valencia: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

Airbnb

While the nightly rate of Airbnb apartments is typically too expensive to rent for a couple of months, you may be able to find some deals. Often when you input dates for a month into Airbnb, you’ll find that several places have a monthly discount offered. Also, some owners will do a deal for a couple of months. If it’s winter for example and they know they’re not going to get many tourists anyway, they may be willing to negotiate.

Vrbo

Like Airbnb, the properties on Vrbo are rented out directly by the owners. While the site is also mainly focused on tourists, some owners may negotiate outside of the tourist season.

Housesitting

If you’re willing to try something a little bit different, then housesitting could be the way to go. This is where you live in somebody’s house for free, in exchange for looking after their pets and their property.

Often people only need someone for a few days, but sometimes you’ll see house sits available for a month or longer. This is perhaps a better option for those who are flexible on where they might want to live and are trying out a few different places. It’s also better for those wanting to live in smaller towns or villages rather than the bigger cities, as there are fewer postings for these popular locations. Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House are good options. 

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