Would you like to acquire a ‘golden visa’ to Spain that is a legal residence permit in the country, in effect? You can do so by making an investment into real estate in the country, buying some stocks and bonds, or starting a company in Spain. In the text below, we discuss the advantages of becoming a legal resident in the European country, the process of acquiring the permit, and the documents that need to be submitted.
- How you can acquire a golden visa to Spain
- Financial routes leading to legal residence in Spain
- Acquiring a golden visa to Spain: the necessary conditions
- A ten-stage process for applying to a Spanish golden visa
- Documents required when applying for a Spanish golden visa
- From legal residence to full citizenship of Spain
- The advantages of the Spanish golden visa
- Expert support in obtaining a golden visa to Spain
Spain occupies the best part of the Iberian Peninsula. It is located a few hours away by plane from major European countries and you only have to cross the narrow Straits of Gibraltar to find yourself in Africa. Located on a peninsula, Spain has a long coastline that is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The country is a member of all important international organizations: it became a UN member in 1955, it joined NATO in 1982, and the EU in 1986.
Foreign nationals are entitled to apply for legal residence in Spain in exchange for investments. This immigration program is often referred to as the ‘golden visa’ program. Golden visa holders are allowed to stay on the territory of Spain as long as they wish and besides, they do not have to obtain any additional permits to legally visit any of the Schengen zone countries. Of course, there are other important benefits too.
Moreover, the immigration program gives its participants an opportunity to find employment in Spain or start their own businesses there. Spanish golden visa holders gain access to the national educational and medical systems and they can become full citizens of the EU after some time. No wonder the ‘golden visa’ program administered by the Spanish authorities is extremely popular in the world.
How you can acquire a golden visa to Spain
The Law from 2013 provides for legal grounds for acquiring a Spanish golden visa. The Law was passed to stimulate the inflow of direct foreign investments to the country.
The golden visa serves as a legal residence permit that allows the holder to stay in Spain as long as he/ she wishes. Initially, the visa is valid for two years and afterwards it can be extended for five more years. The visa can be extended infinitely every five-year period if certain conditions are satisfied.
Family applications for Spanish residence are welcome. The main applicant can include his/ her dependent family members in the application for Spanish residency:
- Underage children (below 18) and older children on the condition that the latter are financially dependent on the main applicant and they do not have families of their own;
- Dependent parents.
Financial routes leading to legal residence in Spain
Applicants to the Spanish golden visa program can choose from the following investment options:
|Investment object||Amount, euros|
|Stocks/ company ownership shares||1,000,000|
|Bank deposits and products of financial organizations||1,000,000|
|Mortgage-free purchase of real estate||500,000|
|Business projects of social and economic significance and those contributing to scientific research||—|
Combined investments into several objects are acceptable. If you purchase a property in Spain, you can let it on a lease under certain conditions.
The investments can be made via a corporate entity: the property or the stocks can be owned by a company if it is under the main applicant’s control. It is important to note that if a foreign company forms a corporate entity in Spain, the company shall not be registered in a tax haven as defined by the Spanish legal documents. To be eligible for a Spanish golden visa the applicant must confirm full control of the foreign company that is used as the property/ stock owner.
Foreign nationals can apply for Spanish golden visas only after they have met the financial requirements, that is, after they have made the investments.
You have to retain the property in your possession if you are to retain the golden visa. You can buy and sell other property provided that its worth does not fall below the set limit. After holding the golden visa for five years, you are entitled to apply for a permanent residence permit if certain conditions are satisfied. When you obtain the permit, you can sell the property back without any legal consequences.
If you choose to purchase residential accommodations in Spain whose worth equals or exceeds 500,000 euros (pretax), you have to submit the documents that confirm the investment. If the property costs more than the said amount, a mortgage can cover the excess.
You can hire a trusted agent who will register the property in Spain in your name.
Acquiring a golden visa to Spain: the necessary conditions
The requirement to make an investment is not the only requirement to be met. In addition, all applicant shall satisfy the following conditions:
- They have to have clean criminal records;
- The main applicant for Spanish residence has to be over 18 years of age;
- The applicant has to have legal grounds to be present in Spain;
- If the applicant has applied for entry to any other Schengen country before, he/ she should have no entry denial/ restrictions;
- The applicants have to have medical insurance policies with sufficient coverage;
- The applicants have to confirm that they have enough money to live in Spain (a bank statement will serve as a confirmation document).
As far as the latter requirement is concerned, the sufficiency of the funds is defined based on the minimum subsistence level in effect in Spain. The main applicant shall have 200% of the IPREM (Indicador Publico de Efectos Multiples, general income indicator) per month. In 2020, the double IPREM was 1,075 euros. The main applicant’s dependent family members shall have 100% of the IPREM per month.
A ten-stage process for applying to a Spanish golden visa
The process of acquiring a Spanish golden visa normally extends over two months. It includes the following stages:
- Making an investment of at least 500,000 euros (pretax);
- Applying for the services of an authorized agent (an attorney);
- Obtaining the necessary confirmation documents, application document translation and legalization (20 days);
- Submitting the documents to the Spanish consulate;
- Processing of the documents by the consulate officers (10 business days);
- Issuing of the visa by the consulate;
- Visiting Spain;
- Submitting the documents to the immigration authorities;
- Processing of the documents by the immigration officers (20 business days);
- Issuance of the residence card (45 days).
Documents required when applying for a Spanish golden visa
The local legislation puts the following requirements to the application documents to be submitted:
- Two copies of the official form that the applicant for the golden visa has to fill out. The language of the form is Spanish.
- Two color photographs (3.5 mm х 4.5 mm), showing the applicant’s face (en face) with the head uncovered against a white background.
- Before filing the application, you have to pay the consular fee. The standard fee is 60 euros.
- If the applicant is not filing the application him- or herself, a notarized power of attorney is required.
- International passport valid for at least 15 more months and photocopies of its pages.
- If the applicant has a domestic passport, it also has to be supplied with photocopies of its pages.
- A state or private medical insurance policy from an insurance company accredited in Spain. The policy has to be valid for over 1 year.
- A recently issued police clearance (for adult applicants only). It has to be translated into Spanish by a sworn translator and the translation needs to be certified at the Spanish consulate. The document has to be less than three months old. The police clearance can be acquired from the police authorities of your home country or the country where you have lived over the last five years. The document needs to be apostilled and a photocopy of it supplied.
- Documents confirming the sufficiency of the funds that the applicant has. The amount of money has to be sufficient to sustain the applicant’s family in Spain for one year.
If family members are included in the application for the golden visa, the Spanish immigration authorities may request some of the documents listed above for dependent family members as well. Such requests can be made at any stage of the application processing even after the visa has already been granted.
Spanish residence by investment into real estate: additional documents required
- An extract from the Register of property owners that contains the information about the property and its value. The extract can contain descriptions of several pieces of property. If the extract from the Register does not contain the information about the price at which the property has been purchased, the purchase/ sale agreement has to be submitted.
- If the applicant has not become the full owner of the property at the moment when the application for Spanish residence is filed but only initiated the process of its purchase, an extract from the Register can be obtained certifying that the property is in the process of changing hands. Documents certifying the payment of the corresponding taxes need to be supplied too.
- It is also possible to apply for Spanish residence if you have only made a preliminary purchase/ sale agreement with the property owner. You have to supply the agreement and a document certifying that you have an irrevocable deposit with a bank in the sufficient amount. In this case, you can count only on acquiring a six-month golden visa to Spain.
Should any changes in the property ownership status appear during the period of holding the golden visa, the foreign national shall inform the Spanish immigration authorities (in particular, the Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estrategicos) about the changes within 30 days. The Government officers are authorized to monitor the compliance of the foreigner with the immigration legislation.
Spanish residence by investment into stocks and bonds or by making a bank deposit: additional documents required
If you have chosen this path to Spanish residence, you will have to submit the documents that confirm the fact of investment. The documents have to be less than 12 month old at the moment of submission. The following additional documents are required:
- If you have made an investment in company ownership shares, you have to submit a copy of the application for investment that you will have submitted to the Register of Foreign Investments, a department of the Ministry of Economy and Competition (Registro de Inversiones Exteriores del Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad);
- You will also have to supply the document issued by the company that you have invested in certifying the purchase of company shares. The document also has to be registered with the National Bank or the National Securities Commission;
- If you are buying Government bonds, a document from the National Bank (or another financial institution) is required. It has to confirm the purchase as well as the fact that the bond ownership period equals or exceeds 5 years;
- If you are making a bank deposit, a bank statement is required that certifies the deposit and describes the deposit conditions.
Spanish residence by investment into a business project: additional documents required
This option is available to those foreign investors who already know what kind of business company they would like to start in Spain as well as those who would like to spend a year in the country and investigate the business opportunities there before registering a company.
In both cases, the foreign entrepreneur will have to satisfy the Spanish authorities that the business project that he or she is going to pursue is of significance for the economy of the country or of an innovative character. The Spanish trade mission in the country where you are filing an application for a golden visa has to confirm this fact by issuing a corresponding document.
In any case, the business project that you intend to carry out in Spain must be in conformity with the local legislation.
From legal residence to full citizenship of Spain
The road to European citizenship via a Spanish golden visa is rather long. The first step is acquiring a golden visa (or a temporary residence permit) for two years. The second step is acquiring a five-year temporary residence permit after the initial two-year period expires. After that, you will become entitled to apply for a five-year permanent residence permit. And only after you have lived in Spain for five years on this permit, can you apply for full citizenship of Spain.
Please note that you do not have to apply for Spanish citizenship as you can extend your permanent residence permit every five years.
Below please find the key conditions for continuing your legal stay in Spain after you have brought an investment to the country:
- Retain the investments: You cannot sell your real property (stock and bonds, the company, etc.) that you bought when initially applying for Spanish residence. If you do so, you will cease to qualify for residence in the country.
- Abide by the law: The golden visa holder must remain as clean as a whistle.
- Stay wealthy: You have to be able to confirm having enough money to live in Spain at any time (if you are living in Spain indeed).
Some additional requirements are also in place. If you want to qualify for a permanent residence permit, you have to live in Spain on a temporary residence permit for five years for the best part of the period. You can be absent from the country for ten months only on aggregate.
Besides, before you can become a full citizen of Spain and thus the European Union, you have to take a test in the Spanish language. The requirements are not too tough but you have to demonstrate the ability to discuss simple topics in Spanish.
You should also bear in mind that Spain does not allow dual citizenship even though there can be some exceptions from this rule.
The advantages of the Spanish golden visa
- Investment potential: According to the CBRE, Spain is among top six countries for the attractiveness of investment into its real estate. The IMF experts put Spain among the leaders for the GDP growth in Europe. They believe that the tendency is going to continue. The country offers a business infrastructure that is close to ideal. In other words, a golden visa to Spain is an ideal instrument of investment into a growing national economy.
- Prospects of the residential property market: Like every other Southern European country, Spain was severely affected by the global financial crisis of 2007/2008. At the worst point in time, the real property prices lowered by 50%. The good news is that prices have started growing again and the ascending trend makes the Spanish residential property an attractive asset to invest in.
- Lifestyle: Spain is a wonderful country to live in: over 280 sunny days per year, soft winters, hot Mediterranean summers, rich cultural heritage, high-quality education, top quality medical services – all sorts of benefits can be found there.
- Speed of residence acquisition: Our experience shows that acquiring a Spanish golden visa does not take too much time. This also applies to family applications: in a couple of months, you will have residence permits for all members of your family.
- Relocation opportunities: When you hold a Spanish golden visa, you are free to spend as much time in the country as you wish. Moreover, you are entitled to visit any of the Schengen zone countries without any additional documents.
- No physical presence requirements: Unless you plan to acquire citizenship of Spain in the future, there are no requirements as to the personal presence on the Spanish territory. Contrary to some other countries that run golden visa programs, the Spanish authorities do not require that you spend any time in the country if you want to keep the residence permit.
- Employment and business opportunities: A golden visa to Spain allows the holder to find a job in the country or start a business company there.
- Tax non-residence: If you do not want to become a tax resident of Spain but simply want to enjoy the free travel opportunities that the Spanish golden visa brings, what you have to do is spend less than half a year in Spain within any calendar year. The immigration authorities in the country will have no problems with that at all.
- Permanent residence and citizenship of the EU: After living in Spain for five years, you will qualify for a permanent residence permit. After five more years, you can become a full citizen of Spain. Thus, the Spanish golden visa can pave the way to European citizenship.
Of course, you have to take into account some disadvantages of becoming a legal resident in Spain. For instance, if you buy real property in the country in order to qualify for a residence permit, the Spanish tax authorities may start looking for you property in other countries for taxation purposes.
On the other hand, foreign nationals residing in Spain find that the exceptional living standards in the country overweigh the tax consequences. Besides, if you prepare for relocation in advance and set up a trust that will own your property in other countries, for example, you are going to pay no additional taxes at all.
Expert support in obtaining a golden visa to Spain
Offshore Pro Group collaborates with the most efficient immigration agents in Spain. Their expertise will let you acquire a Spanish golden visa in a fast way and minimize your participation in the bureaucratic procedures. Please apply for online consultation with us on any questions related to obtaining a legal residence permit in Spain. You are welcome to use the email address that you can find at the top of the page or contact us via our live chat or a messenger. We always respond quickly!
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Who is eligible for a golden visa to Spain?
Citizens of countries outside the European Union are eligible to apply for Spanish residence in exchange for investment. The golden visa program was launched in 2013 with the purpose of attracting foreign direct investments as well as qualified specialists to Spain.
How can I obtain a permanent residence permit in Spain?
If you legally reside in Spain for five consecutive years while spending the best part of each year in the country, you will qualify for a permanent residence permit. If you keep living in Spain, the permit can be extended infinitely.
What amount of investment will make me qualified for a Spanish golden visa?
The Spanish Government offers several investment options to foreign nationals wishing to become legal residents of Spain. The required investment amounts vary between 500,000 euros and 2,000,000 euros. If you purchase real property in Spain, the required investment amount will be the lowest one.