Everything You Need to Know about the Spanish Golden Visa
In 2013, the Spanish government passed a law aiming to stimulate foreign investment in the country by offering residence benefits after certain legal and financial requirements are met. This law mandates a program, called the Spanish Residency Permit Program—or simply the “Golden Visa Program”—to give foreign property investors in Spain a convenient way to obtain an eventual permanent Spanish residence permit, as well as access to other countries in the European Union (EU).
Does the Golden Visa grant you Citizenship?
Spain’s Golden Visa is a residency visa, not a Citizenship. That said if you wish Spain to be your home country you are allowed permanent residency after living in Spain for 5 years and then Spanish citizenship can be gained after being a permanent resident in Spain for more than 10 years. So yes, you would be able to apply for citizenship via a Golden Visa residency if that is what you would eventually like. At the moment many of the investors taking advantage of the Golden Visa residency are part-time residents in Spain.
Note: You do not need to be living in Spain to apply or reapply for a Spanish residency visa. If, however, you wish to later apply for permanent residency or citizenship you will need to have resided in the country for a minimum of 183 days in the year, each year.
What is Spain’s Golden Visa?
Granted under the law to foreign investors—particularly those coming from a non-EU country—who meet the requirements, and invest at least € 500,000 in Spanish real estate. The Golden Visa is also known as a Spanish Residency Visa, and it offers a quick step-by-step process in which foreigners can acquire residency in Spain by investment (discover the advantages of Real Estate investment with Villas de Lujo). This program is mainly directed at non-EU investors, as the Golden Visa also provides entry and free travel rights within the EU, and subsequently, the Schengen Zone (the area comprising of 26 European states that have abolished all border control at their mutual borders, and maintains a single jurisdiction for international travel, as well as a common visa policy).
The Golden Visa Law in Spain
Other countries in the Schengen Zone or the EU also offer “golden visas” which offer non-EU investors an easier and quicker way to obtain residency in their countries. Each country, however, has its law regarding the residency visa, and for Spain, this was mandated as the Investor’s Residency Law—popularly dubbed as the “Golden Visa” Law.
Approved and enacted on the 27th of September 2013, the Investor’s Residency Law, or Entrepreneur’s Law, introduced and outlined the guidelines for first-time residence visas and permits for non-EU investors. Inspired by similar laws in fellow European Union member countries, the Investor’s Residency Law of Spain laid out conditions to be met by non-EU investors to qualify for Spanish residency, and consequently enjoy the benefits that come with it. The law allows for non-EU investors to qualify for the highly sought-after Golden Visa, which enables one to reside and operate in Spain for several years, leading to permanent residency, should the conditions be met.
The Investor’s Residency Law was created on support for entrepreneurs—particularly non-EU foreign investors—and internationalization. Its mandate was further pushed by the government’s desire to bolster the Spanish real estate sector, which has seen a significant decline during the economic crisis of 2008-2014. The passing of the law has since then contributed to the gradual but steady increase in Spain’s real estate sales and development.
Benefits of a Golden Visa
Obtaining a Golden Visa or Spanish Residency Visa offers various benefits, not only in Spain but also in the surrounding countries that compose the EU and the Schengen Zone. In general, the Golden Visa’s main benefit is its ability to drastically reduce government bureaucracy and ‘red tape’, especially when it comes to residing, working, investing, or owning property in Spain. Other important benefits include:
- Entry to Spain and the other 26 countries of the Schengen Zone in the EU without need for another visa application
- Once-a-year visit to Spain to maintain the residence permit, with no necessary extended periods of stay
- Residency permit (Golden Visa) can easily be renewed every two years
- Right to work as an entrepreneur or employee after being granted the 2-years permit
- Fair business competition due to equal tax rights as Spanish residents
- Spouse, and children under 18 can easily apply for residency as well
- Children under 18 may live and study in Spain
General Application Requirements
- The general requirements to be met by a foreign investor who wishes to apply for a Golden Visa are:
- Must be a non-EU national (citizen of a country that does not belong to the European Union)
- Must be of legal age (18 years old or older)
- Must not hold a criminal record in Spain, or where the applicant has resided within the last 5 years
- Must not have entered and/or resided in Spain illegally
- Have access to medical insurance, whether private or public
- Have sufficient means (and proof to show off these means) to support both himself and his family (if any) while in Spain
- Must pay the application fee
Residency Visa and Residency Permit
The Investor’s Residency Law, or the Golden Visa Law, includes in its mandate two types of permits which qualified foreign non-EU investors can apply for. While both would require the applicant to meet the general requirements stated above, each one has a specific set of requirements of their own, which are stipulated in articles 63 (Investor Residency Visas) and 66 (Investor Residency Permits) of the Investor’s Residency Law of Spain.
The law distinguishes the two types of permits as follows:
- Residency Visas (Article 63): On complying with the general and specific requirements, one qualifies for a Residency Visa which entitles its holder to reside in Spain for up to one (1) year
- Residency Permit (Article 66): However, if the investor or visa holder wishes to reside in the country longer, he must qualify for a Residency Permit. This permit entitles its holder to reside in Spain for up to two (2) years, and is renewable indefinitely, providing that the requirements are still met. The Residency Permit will be granted following twenty days after applying for it. Investors who proceed to apply for Residency Permits can eventually obtain permanent residency permits, and later, Spanish citizenship.
Investment Requirements for Spanish Golden Visa and the Mortgage Rules
One may attain a Residency Visa by investing in any of the following asset classes, as stated in Article 63.2:
- Mortgage Rules: Acquisition of real estate located within Spanish territory of at least €500,000 in value, per applicant. While any amount above €500,000 can be applied for with a mortgage, the minimum property value required by the law should be unencumbered, or cannot be purchased through a mortgage, as this is also used to determine if the applicant possesses sufficient economic means.
- Investment of at least €2,000,000 in Spanish treasury bonds
- Investment of at least €1,000,000 in shares of publicly trading or non-trading Spanish companies
- Deposit of at least €1,000,000 in Spanish bank accounts
- A ‘major’ business investment which fulfils at least one of the following conditions:
- Meaningful job creation which is a direct result of the investment
- Significant socio-economic impact in the geographical location where the activities invested in will be carried out
- Technological or scientific impact as a result of the investment
Additional Requirements for Spanish Residency Permit
A foreign non-EU investor wishing to buy property in Spain to get residency and who intends on eventually acquiring permanent residency or Spanish citizenship can apply for the Residence Permit by complying with the following:
- Must have complied or qualified for any of the investment requirements laid out in Article 63 (for the Residency Visa). Legal support must be provided to uphold that any of the required investments made have been held or maintained during the mandatory minimum legal period as stated by law.
- A valid Residency Visa, or one that is not overdue by more than 90 days from its expiry date
- Must have travelled to Spain at least once during the validity of the Residency Visa (evidence must be presented to back this)
- Must comply—and is up to date—with all Social Security and Tax-related obligations
Important Documents Needed for Spanish Golden Visa
The following documents have to be provided when applying for a Golden Visa or Residency Visa:
- National Golden Visa application form, filled out in English, Spanish, or French, and duly signed. The Golden Visa application form for children under 18 years of age must be signed by both parents.
- Three (3) recent passport-size (3.5 x 4.5 cm) photographs with a white background, frontal view
- Original passport valid for the whole duration that the visa is requested
- Photocopies of passport: Picture page and renewal (in case of renewed passports), and previous visas (visa used in the Schengen Zone, USA, UK, or Canada)
- Certificate of Accreditation confirming the acquisition of the investment property: The certificate should be updated with the necessary information in regards to the possession of the property, as well as the Registry of Property charges. It must have been issued within 90 days before the submission of the Residency Visa application. If at the moment of the visa application, the property is still being processed by the Registry of Property, then a certificate from the Registry stating that the property acquisition is valid can suffice.
- Police Certificate issued by the authorities of the applicant’s country of origin or countries in which the applicant was staying for the last five (5) years. The certificate must show that the applicant has not been sentenced for offences included in the Spanish Penal Code. Police Certificate must also be translated into Spanish by a juror translator and legalized (both the original document and the translated one) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country that issued the certificate. The document must have a maximum validity of three months from its issue date.
- Medical Certificate specifically stating that the applicant “does not suffer any of the illness which can cause grave public health repercussions per the International Sanitary Regulation of 2005”. The certificate must be translated into Spanish by a juror translator and legalized (both the original document and the translated one) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country that issued the certificate. The statement in quotes should be mentioned in the certificate and translated into Spanish as well. The document must have a maximum validity of three months from its issue date.
- Medical insurance valid in Spain, covering for at least one year, with coverage including medical expenses and repatriation associated with an accident or any unexpected sickness (minimum coverage is €30,000).
- Proof of sufficient economic means to support the expenses (accommodation and maintenance) of the applicant and family (if any) in the duration of the stay in Spain, without the applicant engaging in any commercial or professional activity while in the country.
- Valid documents include bank statements from the previous year, proof of investments, annuities, or any other source of income totalling a monthly minimum amount of €2,130 for the applicant alone, by the Public Indicator of Multiple Effects Incomes
The Golden Visa Processing Time
The processing time is fast-tracked and is on average around 2 to 3 weeks. This is much shorter than the average 3 month processing time for a standard visa.
Spain golden visa official website (Visado Oro España)
There is no single official website page, rather the information is spread amongst the various Spanish consulate’s pages.
These official pages are the best sources of information we have found so far:
Residence Visa for Buyers of Real Estate in Spain (Los Angeles, USA Consulate)
Law on Visas for Entrepreneurs (Cape Town, South Africa Consulate)
Residency Permit Renewal
After obtaining a Residency Visa, which allows the holder to reside in Spain for a maximum of one (1) year, the investor can either wait until the visa’s validity to reach its expiry or have an early application for a Residency Permit (for as long as the requirements are met). The Residency Permit, then, can be renewed after every two (2) years, for an indefinite number of times, provided that the investment made is still in place during the whole period.
Where to Apply for the Golden Visa
You may apply for a Spanish Golden Visa at the Spanish Consulate in your country of origin or residence. The application can be done personally in your country’s Consulate of Spain, or by giving the Special Power of Attorney (SPA) to your chosen lawyer in Spain. Your lawyer can then have the visa processed with the Strategic Groups Unit in Spain (Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos).
Spanish Golden Visa Citizenship
Because of the Investor’s Residency Law, foreign non-EU investors are given the opportunity to buy property in Spain for citizenship. This means that investors now have an easier and faster way to acquire permanent residency in Spain, and eventually even become a Spanish citizen.
After obtaining a Residency Permit, which allows the investor to stay in Spain for up to two (2) years, he can then renew this every two years, for as long as the investment made is still in place. The investor may also be able to engage in various means or ways for economic livelihood—either as an entrepreneur or an employee.
If the investor spends at least six (6) months in Spain every year for the first five (5) years, then he can apply for permanent residency in the country. This means that he no longer needs to renew his Residency Permit every two years, and there is no minimum amount of time that needs to be spent visiting Spain every year. The investment property made to fulfil the requirements for the Golden Visa can also already be sold during this time. After ten (10) years, the investor can apply to become a fully-fledged Spanish citizen.
Interesting Information. Countries with Highest Applications
Most applications for the Golden Visa have been received from the following countries: China, Russia, Brazil, Ukraine, Argentina, Venezuela, South Africa, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.