The so-called Spain Golden Visa is a residence visa for non-European Union citizens who make an investment of at least €500,000. The Golden Visa’s purpose is to encourage foreign direct investment from ex-pats who want to buy homes or other properties in return for having an easier route for obtaining residence permits. It’s a common Visa program across Europe with similar programs in Greece, Portugal, Italy and the U.K.
The Spanish government introduced the Golden Visa residency-by-investment visa program in 2013.
It’s for non-EU citizens who:
- want to invest at least €500,000 in real estate
- or upwards of €1 million in other assets
It allows people to apply with their immediate family members. One of the benefits of this visa is that it can progress towards permanent residency and Spanish citizenship.
Table of contents
- What are the requirements
- What documentation do I need?
- Who is this visa for?
- What are the advantages of a Golden Visa?
- What taxes are there for a Golden Visa?
- How long is a Golden Visa valid for?
- Which investments qualify for a Golden Visa?
- Can I invest in something other than Real Estate?
What are the requirements for a Spain Golden Visa?
You must meet the following requirements to apply for a Golden Visa in 2022.
- The applicant should be a resident of a non-European Union country as this visa is only for investors who reside outside of Europe
- You need to insure yourself with private medical insurance in Spain. If your family joins you, they must also have insurance
- The applicant must be at least 18 years old
- They cannot have a criminal record
- The applicant must be able to show sufficient financial means to support themselves and their family
- You must invest in one of the following asset classes:
- Make an investment in Spanish public debt worth more than €2 million.
- Invest €1 million in a Spanish bank account, Spanish company shares or investment funds.
- Invest €500,000 in Spanish real estate.
- Invest in an entrepreneurial project of general interest.
What documentation do I need for a Spain Golden Visa?
One of the fundamental requirements to obtain a residence visa via an investment is to demonstrate that you have made an investment. To do that, the applicant must show the following documentation for each of the asset classes.
The applicant must provide a certificate of domains and the charges from the Land Registry as well as the deed of sale for any assets that you buy.
Investing in Spanish shares:
A declaration from the Investment Registry of the Ministry of Economy and a certificate from a registered financial intermediary.
Spanish Government Bonds:
A certificate from Banco de Espana, which is the country’s central bank, or the financial institution which manages the investment and who are its holders and/or owners.
Bank Deposit Investment:
The applicant must provide a certificate issued by the financial institution that states you are responsible for that deposit.
Once the immigration authorities confirm the investment, the applicant must provide the following documentation for the Golden Visa application.
- A completed application form
- Two passport photos
- A valid passport with at least two blank pages
- Proof of sufficient financial means to support the applicant and their family
- A criminal record background check
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of visa payment
After submitting the paperwork to the appropriate authority, one can expect a decision in 20 days.
Once we receive this favorable resolution, we can either apply from Spain which leads to a two-year permit or from the Consulate, which produces a one-year visa.
Next, you need to apply for a “Tarjeta de Identidad del Extranjero”, or TIE and get your fingerprints recorded at a local police station. You have one month to do this.
Who is this visa for?
The Spanish government created the golden visa primarily for people who are not from the European Union (EU) to obtain their residency by investing in Spain.
The Golden Visa offers the holder and their family members residency in Spain and visa-free access as a tourist to all of the countries within Europe’s Schengen Zone.
The authorities typically award the Golden Visa to someone who purchases real estate in Spain, but it can also issue the visa if you invest money into a company operating there.
What are the advantages of a Spain Golden Visa?
The Spanish Golden Visa offers many benefits:
- You and your family members can receive Residence Permits, which allow you to live in Spain. This includes your spouse, unmarried minors and any dependent adult children, and dependent elderly grandparents.
- You are able to travel visa-free for up to 90 days within a 180 day period throughout Schengen Zone countries.
- You don’t need to reside permanently in Spain to renew the Golden Visa, which means that you can avoid becoming a Spanish Tax Resident. This makes the Golden Visa more attractive than the Non-Lucrative Visa.
- If you do reside in Spain, after five continuous years of living there, it becomes an option for permanent residence. Residents are not penalized if they leave the country.
- After ten continuous years in Spain, the ex-pat can apply for Spanish citizenship by naturalization.
- You also get access to their health and education systems when residing here.
With a Golden Visa, the applicant can get the residence permit through a fast track process that involves both immediate approval for a two-year visa and renewals every five years.
Also, if the Golden Visa holder has a child in Spain, that child will be entitled to a Spanish passport after one year of legal residence without needing to qualify for any other requirements.
What taxes are there for a Spain Golden Visa?
When you buy real estate in Spain, you will find yourself subject to taxation. The type of tax and how much it costs depend on the amount of time spent living there each year.
If you spend more than 183 days living in Spain, the country will tax your worldwide assets and income. If you don’t reside for a long period of time, you only have to pay taxes relating to property purchase or local assets.
The Spanish Tax Authorities will tax your worldwide income if you become a Spanish Tax Resident.
The progressive tax rate for your employment income, freelance income, and rental property income can reach 50% in some regions, such as Catalonia.
The term “progressive” refers to the fact that the higher your perceived income, the higher the tax rate. Savings income is taxed progressively from 19% to 26%. This includes:
- Capital Gains
The Spanish government taxes Non-Tax Residents only on income earned in Spain at a flat rate. This rate is 19% for EU tax residents and 24% for non-EU tax residents.
This would include, among other things:
- employment income from full-time or part-time work performed in Spain
- rental income from Spanish properties
- interest from Spanish bank accounts
- dividends from shares in Spanish companies
- capital gains from Spanish assets
If you are a non-EU tax resident, no expenses are deductible.
Property taxes and fees usually include the following:
- Transfer tax of 6% to 10% for an existing property
- or a VAT, or IVA, of 10% when buying new properties
How long is a Golden Visa valid for?
The golden visa allows the investor to legally live in Spanish territory for two years. After this time, they can apply for another renewal and continue living on Spanish territory for an additional five years. The person applying must show that they still own their investment (property, shares or public debt) when initially receiving their first golden visa.
After spending five years in the country without any absence that’s greater than six months, the applicant can apply for permanent residency in Spain. After ten years of residing in Spain continuously, the applicant can apply for Spanish citizenship.
The most common way to lose the Golden Visa is if the holder sells or liquidates their Spanish investment.
Which investments qualify for a Golden Visa?
The most common route for acquiring a Spain Golden Visa is through purchasing real estate. The total value of the investment must be at least €500,000 and it can be in any property, such as land, apartment, home or finca.
You can mortgage the property but you must invest €500,000 above and beyond any fees or taxes.
One spouse from a married couple can apply to come to Spain as the main applicant for the Golden Visa if they invest €500,000 or more in Spanish real estate. The accompanying spouse can join them but won’t be the main applicant and their status is tied to the property investor.
This means that both partners can legally live and work in Spain, but only one of them is the primary applicant. However, if both couples can contribute €500,000, they can both apply for the Spain Golden Visa as principal applicants.
Golden Visa applicants can also build their home as part of their €500,000 investment. They can purchase a plot of land and construct their property and qualify for the visa. However, they cannot expand an already existing property and undertake significant repairs and renovations. It must be a new build property or “Obra Nueva” as it is called in Spain.
Can I invest in something other than Real Estate?
Investors aren’t restricted to just real estate and some prefer the following pathways toward a Golden Visa.
Investing in Spanish Companies and Investment Funds:
Investors can invest €1 million in Spanish companies, whether they are listed on the stock market or not. However, there is different criteria and documentation required to qualify the investment depending on whether the company is publicly traded or not.
For listed companies, the applicant needs to obtain a certificate from a financial institution that’s registered with the Bank of Spain or the National Securities Market Commission. This investment can also be made into a closed-end or venture capital fund.
Investing in Public Debt:
An applicant can qualify if they purchase €2 million in Spanish public debt. This investment also needs to be assessed by the Spanish authorities and must be at least a five-year bond.
Spain Bank Deposits:
An investor can deposit €1 million in a Spanish bank account. The investment needs to be accredited by a certificate from the financial institution where the applicant has a bank account.
Invest in an entrepreneurial Project:
A Spain Golden Visa applicant can start their business without any minimum investment requirement. However, they must meet a series criteria that show the new business is of general interest and beneficial to Spain.