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Spain Golden Visa – The Ultimate Spanish Residency Guide

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Breaking News: Spain to Terminate Golden Visa Program in 2024

The Spanish government has officially announced the discontinuation of its popular citizenship by investment scheme, commonly referred to as the ‘Golden Visa’, effective this year.

The decision marks a pivotal shift from prior speculations suggesting the minimum investment threshold might be doubled from €500,000 to €1,000,000, particularly in real estate investments.

Citing major concerns over national security and the escalating housing prices in urban centres, such as Madrid and Valencia, the Spanish authorities have decided to axe the program.

These regions have seen a sharp rise in property costs, attributed largely to the influx of investments through the golden visa, rendering housing unaffordable for the average Spaniard.

Opponents of the decision argue that the real issue stems from a chronic undersupply of housing combined with surging demand rather than the influence of foreign capital.

Nonetheless, pressure from the European Union, which has flagged the golden visa as a potential security liability, has played a crucial role in tipping the scale towards the program’s cancellation.

At Nomad Capitalist, we view this development as a cautionary tale. For those looking to secure their assets and establish residency through such schemes, it’s crucial to understand the area is complex and subject to ongoing change.

With changes to Portugal’s Golden Visa program in early 2024, and now Spain’s announcement, we urge anyone examining their CBI options to reach out and get in touch.

Spain Golden Visa

Get Spanish residence via one of its various investment options and enjoy visa-free travel to the rest of the European Union (EU).

Are you interested in EU residence by investment? Then you need to hurry. Europe’s golden visa programs are rapidly changing. Ireland has closed its program, Portugal overhauled its Golden Visa, removing the property investment option, Greece’s program has become more expensive and Malta is under pressure from the EU to shut it down.

Meanwhile, there is considerable internal and external political pressure on the Spanish Government to suspend or curtail its golden visa program, with Spain’s popular real estate option under threat. 

So, if you’re looking for the most direct route to obtain an EU passport, don’t waste time. It’s now or never – contact our expert team today to discuss your options.

 

Invest a minimum of  €500,000

Get residence in the European Union in two to three months

No physical residence requirement

Spain is an exciting, vibrant country with golden beaches, stunning cities, beautiful countryside, delightful wine and tapas on every corner, and a high quality of life. It is very much the definition of a happening place.

Spain Flag

But ever since the global recession of 2008, Spain’s poor economic decisions have come home to roost in the form of high unemployment and property price crashes in some parts of the country.

Many EU citizens have taken advantage of this and bought up the inexpensive real estate on Spain’s coastline in the south, as well as in charming internal cities like Granada. 

As part of its economic recovery efforts, the government launched the Spanish Residence by Investment (RBI) program in 2013. Also known as a Golden Visa, the program has made it relatively easy to obtain residency, and the country welcomes investors and entrepreneurs with open arms.

Would you like to spend €500,000 to purchase Spanish real estate and obtain a European residence? Or would you rather park €2 million in government bonds? 

Whichever investment option you choose, it will take around three months  before you can call yourself a Spanish resident and travel visa-free throughout the Schengen area. That sounds appealing, but the journey towards becoming a Spanish citizen is not one you want to embark on alone, especially since Spain is also famous for its bureaucracy. 

So let this in-depth analysis and the Nomad Capitalist team help you and ensure the process is smooth and simple. 

What is Residency by Investment?

If you’re new to the residence by investment (RBI) world, then read our second residence guide to learn the basics, who such programs are for and how to get involved. 

In a nutshell, many countries offer CBI programs that reward investors with residence permits in return for their contributions to the country’s economy. Spain is one of many countries that welcome foreign investment in return for citizenship. 

These programs have a predetermined investment type and amount that will qualify you for the right to legally live and work in Spain, unlike its short-term tourist or student visas.

How? Well, your options range from capital investment in some financial asset (bonds, stocks or bank deposits), investment in real estate, or setting up a company.

Once you complete the required investment, you will need to maintain it for as long as you wish to hold your resident status. 

Usually, your spouse and children can also become residents of the country. These programs allow your entire family the benefit of living in a country that offers a higher standard of living and a Plan B if things were to go wrong in your home country. 

Why Choose Spanish Residency? 

So, how can you decide if the Spanish residence by investment program is what you’re looking for? 

Obviously, Spain needs little introduction – its culture, traditions, language and customs have long been appreciated globally. 

Digital nomads and retirees have been coming to live in Spain for decades, but what if you’re a high-net-worth individual looking to invest?

Spain is the world’s 15th biggest economy and is a long-standing member of the EU, Schengen, Eurozone and NATO. It’s an economically stable country that by-and-large, is politically stable, despite regional variations, cultures and languages, and the odd difference of opinion.  

Spain is also the 12th largest recipient of foreign direct investment, which further proves that investors have long turned to the country for opportunities. Three-quarters of Spain’s economy is service-based, thanks largely to its highly educated workforce and reasonable costs. 

Spain boasts nearly 50 million consumers and attracts around 80 million tourists who contribute generously to the country’s economy each year.

If you want to set up a business, you could use Spain as a base serving third-country markets, with excellent links to Europe, North Africa, and Latin America.

Some of Europe’s golden visa programs are closing, options are narrowing, and costs are rising, so if you’re looking to obtain EU residency, the time to act is now. Become a client to discuss your residency, citizenship, and investment options today – because chances are you’ll have fewer tomorrow. 

Spain Golden Visa Program

The government launched the Spanish residency program, known as the Spain Golden Visa program, back in 2013 after a long and arduous journey of digging itself out of the hole left by the economic crisis of 2009. 

And even though it now finds itself in a much better economic situation, Spain still offers residency to foreign investors to keep the momentum going. 

Spain is mostly interested in creating jobs and attracting investment, as it still suffers from a relatively high unemployment rate in the low double digits. 

Spain has managed to get one-third of its Golden Visa applicants to invest in something other than real estate, including business formation, which is a feat not replicated by other Golden Visa programs. 

However, the country will gladly take your capital sums and real estate investments.

The process of applying for and obtaining Spanish residency is straightforward and takes about three months to complete. The investor then gets the right to roam freely in the entire Schengen area – including 22 EU member states. Until the residence card is issued, however, you must renew your tourist visa or student visa if you are physically in the country.

Spain used to require that you spend 183 days in the country to retain your visa, which automatically made you a tax resident. However, it has since changed that policy to only require one short visit per year, which certainly boosted the program and its popularity.

Also, Spain changed its Visa program to allow families to join the main applicant, which gave it another boost.

Alternatives to Spanish Residency  

While the Spanish residency by investment program is going to be the perfect option for some, it certainly won’t fit everyone’s lifestyle, budget, or financial goals.

For that reason, you should always keep in mind that there are plenty of other Golden Visa programs that you can take advantage of. Here are a select few:

  • Greece: Currently, Greece’s Golden Visa scheme requires a minimum investment of €250,000 or €500,000 in real estate, depending on the region where the property is located. However, in February 2024, the government announced plans to increase the minimum amount of investment required for foreign property buyers to be eligible for a Golden Visa to €800,000 in those in-demand areas. Learn more about Greece’s Golden Visa program.
  • Latvia: This Eastern European country isn’t on many people’s radar, which is why you can find some great deals on properties. Invest €250,000 (+ 5% State fees) to become a resident of Latvia and make the entire European Schengen area your travel playground. Learn more about Latvia’s Golden Visa program.
  • Portugal: Europe’s most popular golden visa program is also its most endangered. Its closure was announced shortly after Ireland closed its program in February 2022. Since then, Portugal has announced a revamped version of its Golden Visa, removing the highly sought-after real estate investment option.  

So, if you are interested in obtaining an EU golden visa, we urge you to begin preparing now and get started with our action plan service

How to Become a Spanish Resident By Investment

Real Estate Investment

Invest in any number of properties for a total investment of €500,000 or more.

Start a Business

Start a business in Spain that will create local jobs in the scientific and tech industries.

Invest in Financial Assets

Invest €1–2 million in financial assets such as stocks, bonds, investment funds, etc.

How to Obtain Spanish Residency

If Spain’s on your radar, it’s essential to understand what qualifies as a ‘significant investment’ that enables you to apply for Spanish residency.

Essentially, there are three investment options for foreigners looking to obtain residence in Spain. Whichever of the three you choose, you will need to hold it for a minimum period of three years. 

You can either invest as an individual or a company, something that’s unique in the immigration investment world. As long as your company isn’t located in a tax haven and you have a controlling stake in it, you can invest as a legal entity. 

Option 1: Real Estate Investment

Have you always dreamed of enjoying the Mediterranean climate, perhaps from the luxury of your own seaside villa? 

Then investing in real estate as a way to obtain your Spanish residency could be the perfect option for you. Many investors love to give their family access to a residential home in Spain, as well as access to Europe. 

If you want to go down this route, the minimum required amount is €500,000, which makes it the cheapest available option. 

You need to purchase real estate no more than 90 days before submitting your visa application. You cannot request Spanish residency retrospectively.  

So, what qualifies as an acceptable investment? Luckily, Spain is quite flexible. You can buy land, plots, buildings, houses, commercial properties, parking lots, and so on – as long as the value is €500,000 or more. 

You can also mix and match residential and commercial property as long as the combined value meets the required minimum. 

Various residency visa applicants can pool their resources to buy one property. For instance, you and a friend of yours can pool your funds to purchase a villa worth €1 million. 

Another interesting thing is that the amount exceeding the minimum investment of €500,000 can be mortgaged out. So, as long as you have half a million of your own funds, you can get a mortgage for the balance and still become a resident of Spain. 

You can rent the property(ies) as you wish, though don’t forget you’ll be liable to pay rental income tax: 

  • For EEA non-residents in Spain – a flat rate of 19% is applied to your rental income 
  • If you are not an EEA citizen, you’re liable for tax at a flat rate of 24% on your rental income.

Other taxes associated with real estate include VAT on the purchase of new properties, a transfer tax (ITP) on resale properties, capital gains tax (19-24%) on the sale of a property, and property taxes.

Option 2: Start A Business

The option to start a business in Spain is somewhat unique because it has no minimum investment amount. 

If you have a brilliant business idea that you think could work in Spain, you could be granted Spanish residency without needing to make a set monetary investment upfront. 

However, it has to meet at least one of these conditions by: 

  • Creating jobs for local people
  • Having a regional socio-economic impact 
  • Significantly contributing to scientific or technological innovation 

If you are permitted to start a company in Spain and conduct business there, the cost to set up a Spanish company and obtain residency isn’t outrageous; expect to pay €5,000 to €10,000 or so for full service, depending on various factors.

Spain isn’t known as a tax haven. In fact, it’s a high-tax country, but there are a few incentives to encourage people to start companies here. 

New Spanish companies enjoy a tax rate of only 15% for the first two years in business, which is one of the main driving forces behind Barcelona’s vibrant start-up scene. Beyond that, the corporate tax rate is 25%, with various caveats, depending on the type of company that is taxed and its type of business.

In general, even with this start-up tax incentive, companies are still subject to audits and other tax requirements that you won’t find in more business-friendly jurisdictions.

The real tax hit is on your salary as a company director – the personal income tax rate for salaries above €60,000 in Spain is 37%. 

Option 3: Invest in Financial Assets

Perhaps the most straightforward option is to invest in a financial asset, but it does come with a higher price tag. That said, the Spanish government offers plenty of choice:

  • Invest €2,000,000 in government bonds
  • Purchase €1,000,000 worth of stocks or shares in Spanish companies
  • Commit €1,000,000 in investment funds or venture capital funds in Spain
  • Make a €1,000,000 deposit in a Spanish bank account.

You will need to make the capital investment no earlier than 60 days before your application is due to be submitted.

 

A Step-by-Step Spanish Residency Application Guide

To take advantage of all that Spain has to offer and not waste any of your time or money, check if you’re eligible to apply first. You must:

  • Not be an EU citizen

  • Be older than 18 years of age

  • Have a clean criminal record

  • Have private health insurance

  • Prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself (and your family)

  • Not have been refused a Schengen visa in the past

  • Not be on the list of ‘undesirable people’.

Once you determine that you have the right to apply, these are the steps that you should take:

1. Make The Investment

First, decide on which investment type makes the most financial sense. 

If you wish to invest in real estate, you can do so by visiting Spain or by giving a lawyer the power of attorney to do it for you. 

For capital investments, you will simply have to transfer the required funds to the right place. 

Toledo Spain Golden Visa

2. Apply for Spanish Residency

If you’re outside Spain at the time of lodging your application, you will need to find your nearest Spanish Consulate or Spanish embassy and apply there. You can also apply from Spain if you are there on a tourist visa.

There is a fair amount of paperwork, which must all be notarised and translated, so you should hire a professional to help you navigate it unless you want to be chained to a desk for a while. From medical insurance and medical certificate papers, a clean criminal record, a number of contracts and more. The Nomad Capitalist team can help. 

There’s a government application fee of around €80 per application. 

You can expect to hear back from the Spanish Consulate or Spanish embassy about your visa approval within 20 business days. However, you may have to wait longer due to the backlog of applications.

Note that if you invested through a legal entity, the processing time may be longer – in the 3–6 month range.

Mallorca Spain Golden Visa

3. Obtain Your Spanish Residency

Once you’ve been approved by the Consulate, you will be issued a one-year visa. Within the year, you will need to travel to Spain and apply for your Spanish residency in person.

This involves attending a biometric session at a police station to take your fingerprints and complete more paperwork. Within a month, you will be able to collect your Spanish residency card, which will be valid for two years.

4. Get A NIE Number and Open A Bank Account

You are advised to have a tax identification number (NIE) and a local bank account to help conduct your affairs in the country.

In fact, you won’t be able to buy real estate without the NIE, so you must fill out a quick application to obtain it. 

Whereas the bank account is optional, it will help speed up legal issues and financial transactions and such. 

5. Renew Your Spanish Residence

To retain your Spanish residence, you will need to visit the country at least once a year and renew the permit every two years. This will not be a problem if you remain in good financial standing and physical health and retain your investment in the country.

6. Get The Permanent Residency in Spain

Permanent residence in Spain is only an option for investors who have physically resided in Spain for the five preceding years. 

So, if you obtain your Spanish residency by investment and decide to live and pay taxes in Spain, you could eventually become a permanent resident. 

You won’t need to go through the residence renewal process once you get your permanent Spanish residency, and you will also have the option of disbanding your investments. 

Andalucia Spain residence by investment

Finally, being a permanent resident is also a prerequisite for applying for Spanish citizenship further down the line.

7. Applying to Become a Spanish Citizen

Becoming a Spanish citizen is the best way to access visa-free travel. The Spanish passport is ranked 38th in the world, giving its holders visa-free access to 194 countries. 

 It also gives you the right to live and work in any of the European Union countries. 

There are not many better passports that you can obtain by investment. However, it will take ten years of living in the country to be able to apply and once you apply, it can take up to four years to get approved. Unfortunately, Spain is a country well-known for its bureaucracy.

There is a fast-track citizenship option that will grant you a Spanish passport in just two years. However, this option is only available to non-EU citizens who are also citizens of former Spanish colonies. 

Once you’ve decided this is right for you, it’s time to start the application process. To apply to get Spanish nationality, you must:

  • Have permanent residence in Spain for five years before the application

  • Be fluent in Spanish 

  • Be knowledgeable about the life, culture, and traditions of Spain

  • Be of good character and have no criminal record

  • Be tax compliant. 

If you are not from one of the former Spanish colonies, you must also be willing to renounce all other citizenships to become a naturalised Spaniard because the country does not recognise dual citizenship

 

Enjoy Spanish Residency like these Nomad Capitalists

“Thanks to Nomad Capitalist, my family is now enjoying full access to the entire Schengen area. It’s our safe haven and has been worth every dollar I’ve invested.”

Sebastian Van Onselen

“The country has opened up many business opportunities for me. If it wasn’t for the visa-free travel within the Schengen area, it would’ve been much harder to achieve. I appreciate how the Nomad Capitalist team approached my residence in Spain holistically and optimised my tax rate too.”

Denis Dmitrievich

“Spain just offers that lifestyle that I’ve always admired. Even though I don’t live there, my residence allows me to enjoy my coastal villa during the harsh East Coast winters.”

Craig Walsh

The Pros of Spanish Residency

The Spain Golden Visa program has multiple benefits for investors. 

Some of the most significant benefits are: 

Europe becomes your playground: You can enjoy visa-free travel to all 27 Schengen countries. While you won’t be able to legally reside or work there, permission to travel to these countries is a big advantage. 

Fast processing. The Spain Golden Visa program processes your application in 20 business days, making it one of the fastest. From start to finish, it will take you as little as three months to make the investment and get residence. 

Residency in Spain for your entire family: All of your dependant children and relatives can be added to the same application and obtain Spanish residency. 

No residence requirement: You don’t need to live in Spain to obtain or retain your residency card. Simply visit the country once a year and submit the paperwork needed to renew your golden visa residence permit in Spain and that’s it.  

Easy renewals: The initial Spanish residence permits are issued for a year. You will have to go through two renewals, which are easy and can be done from outside of the country. 

Straightforward process: There are no language or history tests and no interviews.

Invest as a company: Spain is one of the very few residence-by-investment programs that will let you use your business entity to make your investment. However, your company must not be located in a tax haven and you must have a controlling stake in it. 

The Spanish passport is powerful: You might not want to obtain a Spanish passport, but if you do, it’s the 38th most powerful passport in the world for travel. This could open up countless doors to you and your family. 

A high-quality lifestyle: Spain is known worldwide for its culture, food, climate and relaxed lifestyle, and it’s affordable too. 

Special tax regime: Under the Beckham Law, which applies to income generated in Spain for six years, residents can pay a flat rate of 24% on earnings up to €600,000 and potentially lower capital gains and wealth tax.

The Cons of Spanish Residency

Spain taxes your global income. If you spend six months or more per year in Spain, you will become a tax resident of the country. The bad news is that Spain taxes your worldwide income unless the income comes from a country with an agreement to avoid international double taxation.

No dual citizenship. If you decide to go for Spanish citizenship, you will be disappointed to find out that it doesn’t recognise dual citizenship. So, in ten years’ time, you’ll need to renounce your first citizenship or others if you want to become a holder of a Spanish passport. 

A ten-year wait for citizenship. If becoming an EU citizen is your goal, you will have to stay put in Spain for ten years before you become eligible to apply. Compare that to five years in the neighbouring Golden Visa country of Portugal, and it’s hard to see why Spain would play it so hard to get.

Spain Golden Visa: FAQs

How much does Spain's Golden Visa cost?

It depends on the type of investment you choose. You will need to invest at least €500,000 in Spanish real estate, but the minimum sum is €1 million to buy company shares and €2 million if you invest in Spanish Treasury bonds. 

Who can apply for Spain's Golden Visa?

You must be an adult, non-EEA citizen with good health and a clean criminal record and be able to prove you have sufficient funds to sustain yourself.

How long does the Spain Golden Visa last for?

The residence permit lasts for one year. After that, you must apply to renew it every two years. There is no limit on how many times you can renew your visa as long as you maintain your investment and remain in good personal and financial standing.  

Can I get a permanent residence permit in Spain?

After five years of temporary residence, you can apply to become a permanent resident. There is also the possibility of obtaining Spanish citizenship within a 10-year timeframe.

Can I work in Spain as a resident by investment?

Yes, a Golden Visa residence in Spain gives you the right to live and work in the country. 

Will I pay taxes in Spain if I become a resident?

If you don’t physically reside in Spain, you won’t be required to pay taxes in the country. However, if you spend 183 days or more in Spain per year and become a tax resident, your worldwide income will be taxed. Of course, there are tax treaties to avoid double taxation.

Does Spain allow dual citizenship?

In most cases, no. Unless you are from a former Spanish colony, you will be required to give up any other citizenship to become a Spanish citizen.

Is Spanish Residency for You?

World-class beaches and mouth-watering food are just a few things that set Spain apart.  It offers some of the highest standards of living and a solid investment environment for non-EEA nationals. 

If you want to make Spain your second home and purchase a property, you can do that. But you can also invest in stocks, bonds or even set up a company.

And the process is quick.

If you are considering obtaining permanent residence or citizenship in Spain, it is important to be aware of the tax implications. However, by taking a holistic approach to managing your wealth, these implications can be dealt with effectively.

Where do you live? What are your goals? Where is your citizenship? These are just some of the questions to answer before you decide to apply for Spanish residency by investment.

We can help you navigate through all this quickly and efficiently and go where you’re treated best.

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