The Spanish golden visa program offers a real estate investment route to gaining residency in Spain. The program in Spain has been in operation since September, 2013. The golden visa program in Spain is flexible in terms of the family options it offers however it is restrictive when it comes to the route to citizenship. Government fees are low and the process is quick. It is ideal for residency but less so for those requiring a second passport.
An investment of €500,000 is required in real estate in Spain. The property, either residential or commercial, can be rented for income. Any number of properties can combine to make up the €500,000 minimum investment. Joint buyers can combine investments into one property. The property can be mortgaged for any investment exceeding the minimum.
The applicant needs to have committed to the investment prior to applying for the visa. An application can be made once a contract for sale has been signed and prior to completion of the sale at the notary. However the funds must be ready for investment in a bank account in Spain. The application for the residency visa then takes just 10 – 15 days. It is issued for two years, if applied for in Spain, and can then be renewed for a further five years provided the investment is maintained.
Once a property has been selected through ourselves at La Vida, the lawyers who we recommend can take care of the application process, conveyancing and legal work for the property. A typical application involves initial discussion with ourselves followed by a 3 or 4 day visit to Spain to view properties, meet with lawyers and open a bank account. The golden visa application after this point can be made within Spain or at a consulate outside of Spain.
In addition to the real estate investment applicants will need a clear criminal record, medical insurance and sufficient economic means to cover any stay in Spain. Also applicants must not have previously been refused visas or entry into the Schengen zone. Applicants satisfying such criteria are granted the golden visa in Spain.
Lawyer fees will apply for the processing of the golden visa for the applicant and family. Such fees will vary depending on family make up and situation. We recommend providing around €8,000 for a family application. In addition a government processing fee applies of 70 Euros per applicant.
Buying real estate in Spain attracts certain taxes, stamp duty and fees. We recommend investors budget for around 11-12% in total, the main element being VAT (IVA). In addition there are conveyancing fees, typically around 1.0% of the property purchase price.
Qualifying family members include spouse and all children under 18. Children 18 and over and parents can qualify if dependent.
Investors will only be taxed on their worldwide income if they are resident in Spain for over 183 days in any year. For those non-resident individuals tax is charged at 24.75% on income derived in the country, such as rental income. This can be reduced with expenses. Capital gains tax (CGT) applies to any profit on the sale of a property. CGT starts at 24% rising to 27% for gains over €50,000. There are allowances and deductions that can be made. Annual property taxes are payable to the local authority, typically €200 – €400 per year for an apartment.
Living & Working
Applicants deciding to live full time in Spain will require medical insurance. However families will have access to all public services including state medical care and schooling. State schooling follows the Spanish curriculum but there are many English international schools also.
The Spanish residence permit gained through the golden visa allows freedom of travel throughout the EU Schengen zone.
Spanish Citizenship & Passport
Permanent Residency can be gained after five years in Spain provided the applicant has lived in the country for more than six months each year. Citizenship in Spain can be applied for after 10 years. However applicants will need to have been resident throughout that period in order to gain citizenship and a Spanish passport. Once applicants have either permanent residency or citizenship then they are free to dispose of their investment as further golden visa renewals are not necessary.
Applicants gain the right to live in Spain with the golden visa although there is no requirement to do this. There is no minimum stay requirement. With the residency card all family members will have freedom to travel to and throughout the EU Schengen visa zone with ease and without further visa applications. Gaining a passport in Spain is a long process and requires the applicant to live in the country. However, eventual passport holders gain European residency, meaning the ability to live, work, study and travel freely anywhere within the European Union.
The application process is fast and the government fees are low. The process is very straightforward. However the key to the Spanish golden visa programme is that it is a very restrictive route to gaining citizenship and a second passport. In Spain, applicants must live in the country to gain citizenship. Contrast with neighboring Portugal where this is not necessary.