One of the advantages of the EU is the free movement of goods and people between the different countries. This means that you do not currently need a Visa to travel between these countries if you are a resident of the EU. If you are a resident of one of the Schengen countries, then you can travel between those countries without even needing a passport.
Obviously, the ease of which you can visit a country is a major factor in where you buy property. If you cannot travel there easily, it will likely put you off buying. Similarly, if you have to apply for a Visa each time you visit that will also put you off.
The Spanish Government is trying to stimulate its property market by introducing the so called “Golden Visa” program. This is where people who previously needed a visa to enter Spain can obtain residency in Spain through investments.
The Golden Visa program is not to be confused with the similarly named Gold Visa Cards!
In this guide, we aim to explain some of the key points you need to know when applying for a Spanish visa. We have also put together a list of useful Spanish legal terms and their English translations, to help make navigating legal issues in Spain a little easier.
While this guide is intended to give a basic overview of Spanish visas, we can’t cover every issue in detail and this should not be taken as legal advice. Our speciality is helping clients to buy property abroad, including in Spain, and we will be happy to advise you in person, over the phone or by email.
For specific advice on buying Spanish property tailored to your needs, please get in touch with our friendly, expert Spanish property lawyers based in the UK.
Spanish Golden Visa requirements
In order to qualify for the Golden Visa, you must invest at least a minimum amount in one of three different areas. The amount required for investment depends on which area you invest in and are:
- €500,000 in property
- €2 million in Spanish Government Bonds
- €1 million in shares in Spanish companies.
Unsurprisingly, it is not just a pure investment that will allow you to obtain the Golden Visa. There are also various personal requirements that you have to satisfy.
- You must be over 18
- You must not be resident in Spain illegally already
- You must not have a criminal record in the last 5 years
- You must not be on the list of undesirable people
- You must have private healthcare to cover your stay
- You must not have been rejected for residence from certain other countries or from Spain
- Not have any of the illnesses according to a 2005 regulation
Length of investment
Clearly, the aim of the government is to stimulate the economy by encouraging foreigners to bring money into the country and invest in it, particularly in property and government stock. In return for certain investments, it may be possible to obtain a Visa to stay in Spain.
However, the aim remains that the government want the investment in Spain and therefore the rules are written so that whilst you have your investment, and providing you comply with the requirements, you can obtain a Visa. This is not a case of simply putting money into the country, getting the Visa and then taking your money back out again.
Therefore, the minimum investment has to stay invested in order to maintain the visa. You cannot therefore invest, get the visa and then withdraw the investment. You can, however, move your investment around (for example, sell one property and buy another one) providing that the investment is continual.
Spanish Golden Visa scheme FAQs
How long does it take to get a Spanish residence visa through the Golden Visa scheme?
Obtaining a Residence Visa through the Golden Visa scheme is relatively quick.
The Police have a period of 7 days from the date of application in which to comment on your application and confirm whether they have any objections to you your application.
In general, the authorities have a period of 20 days from the date on which the application is submitted in which to process your application. If the authorities do not reject the application within that time, then the application is automatically granted.
In cases where the Golden Visa scheme is not used, then the process is much more lengthy as several steps have to take place. The process for this can take between 5 to 10 months depending on your circumstances.
What does the Golden Visa scheme entitle you to?
The Golden Visa scheme entitles those successful applicants to become residents of Spain. This means that they can go and live in Spain. You can also normally bring your family with you, depending on the circumstances.
It also means that they are entitled to travel within the Schengen area without the need for further Visas.
The Golden Visa scheme, however, does not entitle you to everything that a normal resident is entitled to.
It does not, for example, entitle you to use the Spanish healthcare system or to work for other people in Spain.
The non-Golden Visa process is different and what you are entitled to will depend on what type of Visa is applied for.
For more information, please take a look at our guide to your rights under the Golden Visa scheme.
How long does a Golden Visa scheme visa last for?
On the Golden Visa Scheme, the initial Visa is for a period of 2 years. It can be renewed every two years for a further 2 years after that (providing that you still comply with the requirements).
After 5 years it will be possible to apply for a permanent Visa. This permanent Visa entitles you to do more than the initial Visa in that you are entitled to work in the country and are entitled to use the healthcare system. You also no longer need to keep the investment that you initially made.
After 10 years it will be possible to apply for Spanish Nationality should you wish to. This will mean that you are entitled to all the things that you would be entitled to as if you were Spanish. Clearly not everybody will want to go for this final step and may wish to keep their own Nationality but stay with the Spanish residency visa.
The Visa is reliant on the requirements for the Visa still being in place during the time that the Visa is valid. That is to say that, for example, if you invest in Spanish property to obtain a visa you must keep over €500,000 invested in property during the duration of the visa. You cannot simply invest in Spain to get the Visa and then withdraw your investment once the Visa has been obtained.
Can you extend a residence visa obtained through Spain’s Golden Visa scheme?
The initial Visa lasts for a year but can be extended for a further period of years up to a maximum of 5 years.
At the end of the 5 years it is possible to apply for a permanent residence visa.
In order to extend your Residence Visa you must comply with various requirements:
- You must have a current Investors Residence Visa or one that has expired no more than 90 days earlier
- You must have visited Spain for at least a month during the previous year
- Your investment must continue to be invested in Spain
- You must still satisfy the visa requirements that allowed you to obtain a residence visa in the first place
What does investing in Spanish property mean for the purposes of the Golden Visa scheme?
The requirement to invest a minimum of €500,000 in property is actually quite wide.
There is no need to buy one property for €500,000 and you can actually buy several properties. The important thing is that the total adds up to an investment of more than €500,0000.
The properties can also be of different types – i.e. it doesn’t have to be residential. It is possible to invest in residential property, commercial property or even land. As part of a portfolio it is also possible to have a mixture of different types of land.
The investment amount must be free of charges or mortgages (i.e. at least €500,000 must be free of charges but you are able to mortgage any amount above that figure.
Obviously, how you raise the money in your home country is up to you.
Is the Golden Visa guaranteed once I apply?
Probably the most common question we get asked. No, when you apply for a Visa it is not guaranteed that this will be approved - even if you think that you qualify.
Clearly, if you don’t comply with the requirements you are not going to be approved. However, if you do comply with the requirements and have somebody good to help you through the process, it is unlikely that there will be any problems with your application.
It is, however, vital that your adviser is fully aware of all circumstances so that they can guide you through the process and avoid any potential problems by answering the questions correctly and providing the right information.
Do previous property investments count for the Golden Visa scheme?
Any prior investment you wish to include as part of your application to obtain a Residence Visa must have been within a certain timeframe before your application is received.
Investments in shares or Government Bonds must have been made no more than 60 days before your visa application is received.
Investments in Spanish property must have been made no more than 90 days before your visa application is received.
What documents do you need to apply through the Golden Visa scheme?
In order to apply for a residency visa, it is necessary to supply certain documents in addition to your application form.
The documents that are required to be produced are the following:
- A valid passport which has at least a year until expiry
- A document confirming that there are sufficient funds to cover living during the time
- Document confirming that you are covered for medical insurance
- Document issued by the relevant authorities which confirms the schooling of children (if applicable)
All documents will need to be translated into Spanish and legalised.
When will you be considered tax resident in Spain?
Whether you will be considered tax resident in Spain depends on various factors, including:
- How much time you spend in Spain each year
- Whether you have your main home in Spain
- If your immediate family (spouse and dependent children) are based in Spain
- If your main economic interest is in Spain
For more information, please take a look at our guide to Spanish tax residence.
What ongoing costs are there for living and owning property in Spain?
After you buy a property in Spain there are ongoing financial costs that you will need to meet, including:
- Council Tax (Impuesto Sobre Bienes Inmuebles)
- Community Charges (Cuota Comunidad de Propietarios)
- Income Tax
For more information, please see our guide to the ongoing costs of owning Spanish property.
Why use Judicare when buying property in Spain?
We have an experienced Spanish legal team comprising Spanish lawyers and English lawyers who have studied Spanish law.
We are UK-regulated solicitors
We are a UK based firm of Solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and who specialise in international legal issues.
We understand both UK and Spanish law
Because we understand both sets of laws we understand the difficulties that come when two sets of laws meet. This is particularly important when it comes to issues involving ownership, taxation and inheritance.
We are members of AIPP
The Association of International Property Professionals was set up to improve standards of professionalism in a largely unregulated overseas property market.
Our Spanish team has many years of experience dealing with a whole range of legal issues with Spain.
We speak your language
You need a lawyer who can speak your own language. More importantly you need somebody who can explain and discuss often complicated issues in terms that you understand.
We are independent. We are not allowed to act for the buyer and the seller at the same time. We are not linked with any Development Companies, Builders or Estate Agents.
Need help buying property in Spain?
Our UK-based foreign property law team are highly experienced in helping clients to buy and sell property in Spain, as well as handling a whole range of related issues, such as advice on Wills and inheritance.
With a thorough understanding of both UK and Spanish law, we can provide clear, reliable legal guidance in plain English, giving you the confidence to deal effectively with property in Spain.