For those with sufficient disposable income, the Spanish Golden Visa programme is a great option for gaining legal residency in Spain. There are several investment routes to choose from for individuals and families looking to live in Spain.
Whether you want to live or work in Spain right away or at some point in the future, a Golden Visa is an excellent long-term investment. You could be on the road to becoming a permanent resident or even Spanish citizenship before you know it.
That said, the Spanish Golden Visa application process won’t be smooth sailing if you go into it unprepared. Take a look through this helpful list of dos and don’ts from the experts at Manzanares Lawyers to make sure you do everything right.
✔️ Do check your eligibility
As with any Spanish residency visa application, you should make sure you’re actually eligible before spending time and money on the Golden Visa application process. These are the main criteria for Spanish Golden Visa eligibility:
- ⦿ Non-EU citizen (now includes the UK)
- ⦿ Non-EEA or Swiss citizen
- ⦿ Over 18 years old
- ⦿ No criminal record
- ⦿ No refused previous visa applications
- ⦿ Sufficient funds to support yourself/your family
- ⦿ Proof of a qualifying investment in Spain
- ⦿ Satisfactory medical insurance
If you’re a financially independent adult from outside the EU/EEA with no criminal history and the ability to meet the minimum investment requirements, then you shouldn’t have any issues.
It’s possible to include eligible family members in your application, too – namely your spouse and children under 18 years old. Other immediate relatives may be eligible if you can prove they’re financially dependent on you, such as adult children in full-time education or elderly parents.
✔️ Do choose the right investment option
The first step in the process is completing a qualifying investment. Before you can apply at a Spanish embassy, then visit Spain to provide your biometric data and exchange your short-stay visa for a residence permit, you must have either finalised your investment or be committed to doing so.
There are several options available to secure a Spanish visa by investment, which include investing:
- ⦿ 500,000€ in Spanish real estate (residential or commercial)
- ⦿ 2,000,000€ in Spanish government debt (certified by the Bank of Spain)
- ⦿ 1,000,000€ in Spanish company shares (or a bank deposit/Treasury Bonds)
- ⦿ 1,000,000€ into the Spanish economy (a significant socio-economic contribution via business development, job creation, or technological innovation)
Unless you plan on starting your own business in Spain, the easiest route for most investors is to buy property in Spain. Generally, you can purchase as many properties and different property types as you like, but the total investment before transaction costs and taxes must be at least 500,000€.
You should also bear in mind that the minimum investment must come from your own money only. While you can make joint investments if you choose, every person applying/investing must meet the minimum amount individually.
Investments made using bank loans and business funding will not be eligible, unless the loan only covers the excess. For example, you could invest 500,000€ into a 750,000€ property and get a mortgage to cover the other 250,000€.
✔️ Do prepare your documents in advance
To ensure that your application is accepted, you should get all the required documentation in order in advance. This includes having everything professionally translated into Spanish and getting legal certificates notarised with apostille stamps.
If you miss anything out, or make an error, this could slow down the process dramatically or even result in your application being rejected outright. In addition to the filled-out and signed application form itself, you’ll need to provide the following:
- ⦿ Receipt proving payment of the visa application fee
- ⦿ Valid passport for your current country of residence, plus 2x passport-size photos
- ⦿ Police records showing a clear criminal history
- ⦿ Bank statements proving you have sufficient income to support yourself
- ⦿ Medical insurance certificate from a provider offering coverage in Spain
- ⦿ All of the above for any family members also applying, plus marriage and birth certificates
Of course, you must also provide evidence of your qualifying investment. These documents could be:
- ⦿ Spanish Land Registry certificate or contract for a real estate purchase
- ⦿ Bank of Spain certificate for government bonds or bank deposits
- ⦿ Spanish Registrar statement for unlisted company stocks or shares
- ⦿ Incorporated company management records for venture capital
All documents must be issued by the relevant Spanish institutions. They must verify the type and quantity of your investments, as well as demonstrate the origin of your investment funds.
✔️ Do make the most of the benefits
When you’re making such a significant financial contribution to the Spanish economy, you should also get as much as possible in return. Explore all the avenues that will be open to you with a Spanish Golden Visa, including residence permits for yourself and dependant family members.
You’ll all be allowed to live, work, and study in Spain. Families can benefit from public services like state healthcare and schooling for children under 16. There isn’t a minimum stay requirement to maintain the visa, so your spouse and children could live there full-time while you live/work in another country. You’re only required to visit once a year and renew the permits every 2 years.
If you do decide to live in Spain, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence after 5 years, then Spanish citizenship after 10 years. You could live there part-time while maintaining your property in Spain until you can retire there – it’s a popular choice for retirees from across the globe.
Speaking of international travel, don’t forget that a Spanish Golden Visa also gives you the same rights as a Schengen Visa. This means you and your family can travel freely throughout the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days out of every 180-day period. This includes 26 countries in the Schengen Area.
❌ Don’t apply at the last minute
While the earliest you can submit your application is 90 days ahead of your planned trip to Spain, it doesn’t mean that you have to wait until this period to make your investment. There isn’t a time limit on qualifying investments, as you can use any valid investment since 28th September 2013.
However, that doesn’t mean you should put off applying for too long, either. You should bear in mind that gathering your documents and arranging translation and apostillation can take some time, and once you submit your application, completing the process can take another 2 to 3 months.
When you’ve applied, you’ll be waiting up to 20 days for the authorities to make a decision. If they accept your application and issue a short stay visa, you must collect it from the embassy. You’ll then have up to 90 days to use this visa to travel to Spain and get a TIE card (Foreigner’s Identity Card).
This will then give you up to 1 year to upgrade to a residence permit, which then requires renewal every 2 years. You don’t have to stay in the country the whole time, but you do have to visit a Spanish immigration office in person to collect the first permits and for each subsequent renewal.
Again, it’s best not to wait until the last minute – if there are processing delays past the expiry date, you or your family could end up without legal permission to stay in Spain. The same could happen if you don’t maintain your initial investment – for example, if you sell off your Spanish real estate.
❌ Don’t confuse residency for citizenship
If you want to become a fully-fledged Spanish citizen, it’s possible to take the Golden Visa route. However, this is just the first step in a longer process – you won’t immediately be able to get a Spanish passport. The first visa you’ll receive is essentially a Schengen Visa, which allows you to spend up to 90 days in Spain. You’ll apply for an actual temporary residency visa during this time.
This first residency visa will last 12 months, before requiring renewal every 24 months. After two renewals, you could apply for permanent residency. If you haven’t stayed in Spain long enough to qualify, and simply renew the temporary permit, this won’t be the same as permanent residence.
You can only become a permanent Spanish citizen if you’ve spent at least 6 months a year living in Spain for the previous 5 consecutive years. Similarly, if you stay in Spain for at least half of each year for 10 consecutive years, you can finally apply for Spanish citizenship and get your Spanish passport.
Of course, you must meet other requirements, too. This includes having at least basic knowledge of the Spanish language and the country’s history and culture, as well as having no unpaid debts or criminal convictions. If your application is accepted, you’ll also become an EU citizen, with benefits like free travel throughout the EU. You also won’t have to maintain your initial investment anymore.
❌ Don’t forget about health insurance
While being granted Spanish residency might give you access to the country’s public healthcare services, you must still have Spanish medical insurance in order to apply in the first place. Even if you don’t intend to live in Spain, it’s still a requirement to have ongoing Spanish health insurance.
When setting up the appropriate Spanish healthcare coverage, check whether your country has any kind of mutual agreement with Spain. If not, you’ll have to find a private medical insurance provider. If any family members apply through your Golden Visa, they must have their own coverage as well.
It’s also likely that you’ll need an official medical certificate from a provider in your own country, confirming that you don’t have any medical conditions that could be a risk to public health in Spain.
❌ Don’t ignore tax implications
Unfortunately, spending money within another country means it’s likely that you’ll be liable for taxes in that country. So, if you buy property in Spain to get a Spanish Golden Visa, you’ll probably also have to pay VAT, transfer tax, and stamp duty on it – plus an annual tax to the local municipality.
Other than this, your tax liability depends on how long you stay in Spain and whether or not you work in the country. For example, non-residents only have to pay Spanish income tax on earnings within Spain – such as rental income from your property while you’re not living in it – while Spanish residents who live there for more than 183 days a year will be taxed on any global income as well.
This means that if you and/or your dependants live in Spain most of the time, you must declare any global assets and pay taxes as a resident. Capital gains tax will also apply if you gain income from selling assets (though you can’t sell your investment property if you want to keep the Golden Visa).
Get help with your Spanish Golden Visa
If you’re concerned about any aspect mentioned in this blog, don’t worry. You can always come to our team of Spanish immigration lawyers for professional guidance.
Whether you need assistance with paperwork, advice on the process, or more information on alternative options for Spanish residency, we can help you to make the best choices.
We’ll be happy to discuss your Spanish Golden Visa eligibility and documentation, and we always offer competitive rates for our outstanding services.