The golden visa has garnered a lot of talk these past few years, and it’s no surprise why. The application process is simple, you get to live and work in Spain for the long-run, and you can even bring your family with you!
Oh, and not to mention, you only need to visit Spain at least once a year… All you have to do is invest in the country. That’s why it is also known as the investor’s residency. What more could we ask for?
In this article, we’re giving you all the information you need about getting the Golden Visa in Spain. Not only will we break down your options, the benefits, costs, and the procedure, but we will also update you on recent changes and tax implications. Let’s get to it!
What is the golden visa in Spain?
The Spanish Golden Visa program (also known as the investor’s residency) is a special type of residence permit created especially for all citizens from outside the European Union who would like to make a significant investment in Spain, in order to move to and obtain residency in the country.
The initial residence permit allows you to live and work in Spain for 3 years, and can be later renewed for 5 years as long as you keep your original investment!
Without any doubt, it is one of the most popular residencies for foreigners worldwide wishing to start their new life in Spain. So much so that as of 2021, there were 7,425 active golden visa holders in Spain!
As happens with the rest of the European countries that offer a golden visa program, this significant investment is usually in real estate, but there can be other options. Spain has 3 alternative options, which we will see later on.
With an investor’s visa, one can travel freely within the European Union. That being said, even if you apply for the Golden Visa in Spain, you will definitely be able to explore the rest of Europe.
In the following infographic, you will see the benefits of this permit. But keep reading! We will explore them in greater detail later in this article.
First of all, it’s important to mention the specific law that regulates the investor residence permit.
Why? Because in this case, we aren’t talking about the general Spanish Immigration law, but about the 14/2003 Entrepreneur’s Law instead.
And this has crucial implications.
Because the difference between these two laws will affect how you go about the application process and, eventually future renewals. For example, unlike any permit under the General Immigration Regime, you can apply for your investor’s visa directly from Spain.
But there are many other advantages. And that is thanks to the institution that will handle your application (which is not the Spanish immigration office).
Which institution is responsible for reviewing your application?
As mentioned previously, the Spanish Golden Visa falls under the Entrepreneur’s Law. This law includes several residency authorizations created back in 2013 to attract talent and investment to the country.
With the intention of attracting talent and foreign investment to the national territory, the Spanish government began to offer each of these applicants a much simpler (and therefore desirable) legal process. Thus, in order to guarantee this ease and speed in the applications, a new institution was created, capable of managing each file much faster.
Hence, instead of the local immigration office processing each application, your investment visa file would be processed by the UGE (Large Business Unit). The department is physically in Madrid, but applications can be sent online.
How easy is it to get the Spain Golden Visa?
Getting the golden visa in Spain is simple and straightforward.
Most Spanish residency permits for non-Europeans have complicated procedures. There’s a lot of paperwork and requirements, and bureaucracy can be slow. That’s why, with its speed and comfort, the Spanish golden visa has gained popularity and continues to do so.
Aside from Spain, several European Countries also offer this easy option. Depending on what you would like to invest in, how much you’re willing to invest, and the terms and conditions, you will find pros and cons. Though considering the Spanish real estate market and everything Spain has to offer, the Spanish investor permit will probably be your best choice.
To make the decision easier for you, we’ve already created a comparison of EU Golden Visas. We’ve also attached this table below:
What does a foreigner need to invest in Spain?
To invest in Spain, a foreigner will, first and foremost, need a Non-Resident NIE (foreign identity number). A NIE is necessary for all foreigners to carry out any legal process or economic transaction in the country. Thus, if you are going to invest or buy a property, you must request for this identification number.
You can request for this number from your country of origin. All you must do is justify your purpose or intention, which in this case would be to invest or buy property.
Remember that the NIE is just a number to identify you. It is different from the TIE (Foreign Identity Card), which is the actual residency card that allows you to live and work in the country as an expat.
Who qualifies for a Spanish Golden Visa?
To qualify for a Spanish golden visa, the first thing you consider is that you can’t be a citizen of the European Union. But what are the other conditions you must fit into?
The applicant must:
- Be of legal age (18+ years old in Spain)
- Not have criminal records, both in Spain and in any other country that they have resided in over the last 5 years
- Have full-coverage healthcare in Spain. This can be obtained through public insurance or private one. Travel insurance or insurance from the country of origin won’t be valid here
- Demonstrate the possession of sufficient economic means for the maintenance of both the principal investor and his family (if he also applied for their residency permits)
- Realize the investment (either € 500,000, € 1M, or € 2M depending on the route chosen), and provide the corresponding document that proves it
Do you have any doubts so far? Ask our lawyers anything!
Investor Permit Spain Benefits
The Spanish investor’s permit is quite like a golden ticket to the country. For the small amount of effort you put in, you reap many rewards.
Here, we have summarised the main benefits of the investor visa in Spain:
- It does not only allow you to live in Spain, but also to work. With this, we can identify the golden residency as a means to a work permit, so that you can set up your own company or work for one
- It’s the only residence permit that grants you initial authorization to live and work in the country for 3 years (the other ones only offer 1)
- The golden visa only demands that the applicant travels to the country once per year. This means you will avoid becoming a tax resident (hence saving taxes)
- It allows complete freedom of movement within the Schengen area; that is, most of the countries in the European Union
- You can easily bring your family to Spain with you. You, as the investor, can request the residency of your partner or children through a joint application. This makes it the perfect option for families who want to start living in Spain. Just remember, for children, it is essential that they are under 21, that they are studying, or they depend economically on you
- To apply for the golden visa, it is not necessary for the applicant to do it physically in Spain. You can simply designate a representative to collect the relevant documentation for you
How much does it cost to get a Golden Visa in Spain? What are the rules?
As you have seen, to obtain the golden visa in Spain you can make different types of investments, each with different minimums. Depending on what you decide to invest in, the investment requirement will be €500,000, €1 million, or €2 million.
Thus, something that many investors appreciate is that your investment options are not limited only to real estate.
Which are those investment options available?
To apply for the golden visa in Spain, you can choose one of the following paths:
- Purchase a property (real estate) worth more than € 500,000. But, what happens if the property has been purchased by several individuals/investors? That is what commonly happens when a couple jointly buy a property. In that case, we must bear in mind that the investment will be computed at the individual level unless the marriage is registered through a community property regime. On the other hand, if your personal contribution to the property does not reach € 500,000, we will not be able to apply for the visa
- Buy shares from a Spanish company, or have a bank deposit in a Spanish entity for a value greater than 1 million euros. That will also give you access to this residence permit
- Invest in Spanish public debt worth 2 or more million euros
- Invest in a business project that will be developed in Spanish territory. The main requirements for this are that the project must: generate employment, implying a boost to the scientific/technological advance of the country, or translate into a minimum socioeconomic impact
However, your investment will not be the only cost you will have to face. As with almost everything we do in society, taxes are always present. And buying a property is no exception.
Taxes when buying a property to get your investor permit
You may be tempted to consider that the only cost you will be facing when applying for your golden visa is the mere cost of the property you are purchasing.
But you may be wrong. Buying a property may have additional (and important) costs involved you MUST consider, especially when it comes to taxes.
Defining the exact amount of tax you will be liable to pay will depend on whether you are a tax resident or not. But basically, you will need to pay:
- VAT (value-added tax)
- Stamp duty
- Property transfer tax in case the building is second-hand
Can I buy several properties valued under 500.000€?
100%. In fact, that is what many people do. The main issue to consider is that the total investment, including all the assets you purchase, sums a total of 500.000€ (minimum).
So, for example, you can purchase a property valued at 450.000€ and complement it with a parking slot or another establishment that costs 50.000€. You would still be eligible to get the investor visa in that situation.
Do I need to invest 500.000€ in cash or can I use financing?
No. You cannot use financing, such as getting a mortgage, in order to purchase the property. You need, at least, to invest 500.000€ from your pocket. Without financing.
Nevertheless, for the exceeding part, you can use financing.
Let’s say, for example, that the property you intend to buy costs 1.000.000€. Then, you will need to invest 500.000€ now to get the golden visa. But, for the remaining 500.000€, you can get a mortgage.
Can I apply for the golden visa if I bought the property any year before I apply for residency?
Yes, you can apply for the golden visa even if you bought the property some time ago. There would be no problem. The only requirement is that the property must have been bought after 2014, the year in which the law regulating the golden visa came into force.
If, for example, you bought a property in 2021 but want to apply for an investor visa two years later; you can get the residence without trouble. But if you had bought it in 2013, then it would not be possible.
Investor’s Visa Requirements
Before applying for the investor’s permit, it is necessary to make sure you already have the documents to prove the investments.
You cannot apply for the permit, then make the purchase.
It must all be ready at the point of application, and you must already be validated as an investor.
How would this be done?
Which documents should you submit?
One of the fundamental requirements to obtain residency through investment is to demonstrate, through the corresponding documents, that the investment has been made.
The question now is, what documents specifically justify that investment?
Let’s answer that question according to which of the 4 paths we have chosen to follow:
- Through investment in real estate: Provide proof of the purchase of property through the certificate of domains and charges from the Property Registry. This indicates the owner of the property, the percentage of ownership she has, and the selling price. Through this certificate, the UGE will assess whether the investment reaches the minimum to obtain this visa and whether or not you have requested a mortgage to pay
- Through investment in Spanish shares: Provide a statement of the investment from the Investment Register of the Ministry of Economy in the case of shareholdings; and a certificate of the financial intermediary registered in the Securities Market National Commission for the purchase of shares.
- Through investment in Spanish public debt: Provide the certificate from the Bank of Spain or from the financial institution that has managed the investment. It must clearly identify how the applicant is the one responsible of that purchase
- Through investment in bank deposits: Provide the certificate issued by the financial institution that has contracted the deal. It is important that the paper indicates that the applicant is the sole depositor
Yes, your title as an investor can be authorized if you are outside of Spain and have already acquired the property. You just need to have all the necessary corresponding documents.
Additionally, if you have invested in real estate, you must be free of charges, which means that you aren’t using any mortgages for the required investment amount.
Since you are outside of Spain, these documents must be submitted to the Spanish consulate of your country.
If you are in Spain, regardless of having a tourist visa or a residence permit, you must apply for authorization directly at the UGE.
Spain Golden Visa Procedure
As mentioned in the previous section, we must keep in mind that this visa is an investor’s permit. Thus, before applying for the visa, the very first step would always be to make the investment.
Once you have actually purchased the property or made your investment, you must authorize that investment.
The investment documents can be submitted from your country of origin or directly from Spain. You will receive a resolution regarding becoming an authorized investor in around 20 days. The resolution may be favorable or may be denied. If it is favorable, you must begin your application for the Investor’s Residence Permit within a month’s time.
How can I apply for the Investor’s Residence Permit?
For this application, you have two options.
The first option would be to apply for the Golden Visa from your country of origin:
- Apply to the Spanish consulate or embassy in your country. You can find a list of embassies and consulates here
- If your application is approved, you would be granted a 1-year visa (but 6 months in the case of the acquisition of property through an earnest money contract) to live and work in Spain
- With this initial visa, you can travel to Spain
- In Spain, you must apply for a residency permit after the said first year (you will be able to convert your 1-year visa to a residence authorization), and have your fingerprints taken at a police office. This foreign identity card called the TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero), will grant you a 3-year residence permit in the country
The second option would be to apply directly from Spain:
- First, you enter Spain as a tourist (depending on your country of origin, you will have to first request a tourist visa)
- Apply through the UGE, which is the Large Business and Strategic Groups Unit. This can be processed online.
- If your application is approved, you must apply for your TIE or residency card. After taking your fingerprints at a police station, you will be granted a 3-year residence permit in the country.
As mentioned earlier, the renewal after the initial 3-year residency card would give you an additional 5 years. And after 5 total and consecutive years lived in Spain, you will qualify and be able to apply for permanent residency.
How long can I stay in Spain on a golden visa?
If you entered Spain with a golden visa after applying at the Spanish consulate, you will have a 1-year visa.
If you applied directly from Spain, you will be the holder of a 3-year residency card, you can renew this permit for 5 additional years.
In order to carry out this renewal, however, it is important to show that the investment asset is still under your ownership. You must also have visited Spain at least once during the year.
So, as you can see, renewing and keeping your residency is quite easy.
Eventually, if it appeals to you, you can apply for Spanish citizenship through investment. After 10 years of legally residing in Spain and owning the said asset, you will be eligible for citizenship.
If you wish to learn more (as there are important exceptions that can allow you to obtain it in less than those 10 years), you can read about obtaining Spanish nationality here.
Golden visa in Spain after Brexit
After Brexit, all UK citizens in need of an easy path to obtaining residency in Spain are assessing which is the best option for them.
And, in that sense, the golden visa is becoming one of the preferred options along with the non-lucrative visa.
And the reason is simple.
All those Brits who moved to Spain before did so under the EU regime, and that implied a really straightforward and easy immigration procedure. Not only can the EU registration certificate be obtained in less than 48 hours, but its requirements are also very simple.
Hence the current need to find an alternative that offers similar conditions.
And the investor residence permit seems to be the best path for those UK foreigners. This permit allows them to work, and can be applied directly from Spain, and usually the main requirement it has (the real estate investment) will be satisfied anyway, as purchasing a property is a quite common activity among them.
Hence, if you are from the UK, make sure to start considering this permit as your main option.
Golden Visa Tax Implications in Spain
This question is a really important one. Because, want it or not, after you get your residency in Spain you will need to start paying taxes.
But the question is, which ones and how much?
The answer is not straightforward and depends on your particular situation, we will answer using the most common case.
Because this permit does not require you to stay in Spain for over 6 months in order to renew it, it is usual for golden visa holders to visit the country just once or twice throughout the year. Hence those foreigners become non-residents for fiscal purposes (which really conditions the taxes they will end up paying).
The important issue now is whether they rent out the property or not during the amount of time they are not in Spain:
- If they do, then they must pay non-resident income tax for the income generated on that house (rental income). As they are non-EU citizens, the tax rate applicable is 24%, and it must be declared quarterly.
- If they don’t rent it out and no one lives there, then they must pay (this time annually) that same 24% but multiplied by the cadastral value of the property, and then again multiplied by 2% or by 1.1% depending on whether the cadastral value has been revised during the past 10 years or not.
Finally, if the total value of their properties in Spain (all added up) is higher than €700.000 (even though this limit may differ according to your region), then they will also need to pay wealth tax, which ranges from 0.2% and 2.5%.
Golden Visa Portugal vs Spain
With Portugal being a neighboring country of Spain, it was common to consider both options for the golden visa. Portugal definitely offers a slightly cheaper alternative, and a faster process for citizenship.
However, by the end of 2023, the law to remove the Golden Visa scheme in Portugal will be in full force, finally retiring this permit.
In February 2023, their government announced that this change is being implemented to improve the housing problem for locals in the country. Therefore, Spain will still remain your preferred option, a country with similar (if not better) climate conditions and higher living standards.
Obtaining the Investor Permit in Spain Now
Spain awaits you!
The golden residency may be the best path to start living in Spain together with your family.
At Balcells Group, we are here to make this process enjoyable and straightforward. Our immigration and real estate lawyers will help you out step-by-step throughout the whole process (including property purchase), managing your complete application so that you enjoy a successful resolution and avoid costly rejections.
And, as always, if something is still unclear, or you need a golden visa lawyer, do not hesitate to contact to us. We are always happy to help you out.
Book a consultation with one of our lawyers and solve all your doubts: