Golden Visa in Spain, a great opportunity for foreign investors

Interview with Jordi Sabrià - Sabrià & Gabarró Abogados

The Golden Visa is a programme that provides residency alternatives for international investors.

As we know you are curious about the legal advantages of investing in a property in Barcelona as a foreigner, today we have the opportunity to talk to an expert on the Golden Visa in Spain:the lawyer Jordi Sabrià, founding partner of the law firm Sabrià & Gabarró..


Jordi Sabriá, Lawyer

Jordi Sabrià holds a degree in Law from the University of Deusto (Bilbao) and a degree in English Philology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. A practising lawyer since 1994, his areas of expertise include real estate law, national and international company law, estate planning and intellectual property.

What is the Golden Visa?

The Spain Investment Visa also officially known as the Spanish Residence Visa Programme or Golden Visa, was established in 2013 (Law 14/2013 of 27 September) by the Spanish government to encourage foreign investors from outside the European Union to invest in the country. Under the programme, investors can choose between three options:

  • Real estate investment. With a minimum investment of €500,000 (excluding taxes) in Spanish real estate. Investors can choose a residential or commercial property or a combination of both, or even several properties, as long as the total amount is at least €500,000. Any amount above the minimum property investment can be mortgaged.
  • Capital transfer. This option requires an investment of a minimum of €1 million in Spanish Treasury bonds, Spanish companies or bank deposits in a Spanish financial institution.
  • Business development in Spain. The aim of this option is to directly boost the Spanish economy. Through this option, employment is created in Spain by setting up a Spanish company. The investment is expected to have a positive socio-economic impact and the Spanish company is expected to contribute to scientific and technological innovations. The minimum investment for this route is one million euros.
Golden Visa en España, una gran oportunidad para inversores extranjeros

Who can apply for the Golden Visa?

Not every citizen of the world can apply for the Golden Visa. Persons who can apply must be non-European, non-Swiss or non-EEA citizens,and who make an investment in real estate of at least EUR 500,000 net (excluding taxes), together with their dependent family members.

Can all family members be included in the Golden Visa or are there restrictions?

Family members who can be included are the spouse/partner and all children under 18 years of age. When an unmarried partner applies for a golden visa, it will be necessary to provide the partnership agreement, which can be formalised in Spain or abroad.

Children over the age of 18 and parents can be included if they are dependent on the applicant, in which case it is necessary to provide all the required evidence such as: economic dependency, university enrolment, certificate of residence at the same address, absence of income, property or assets.

Does the Golden Visa have an expiration date?

The expiration dates depend on the place where the application for the visa was made.

  • If the application was made at the Spanish Embassy, it will be valid for one year. During this year, the holder must enter Spain and exchange the visa for a residence permit in Spain, which will be valid for two years.
  • If the application is made in Spain, by presenting the documents at the UGE (Unidad de Grandes Empresas), the residence permit is granted for a period of two years.

At the end of these two years, the residence permit may be extended for five years. The renewal must be submitted within sixty days before the expiry date or ninety days after the expiry date.

Once I obtained the golden visa, is it obligatory to stay in Spain?

It is not necessary to live in Spain to obtain and renew the residence permit. It is important to note that when a person stays in Spain for more than 183 days a year, if their main economic activity is located in Spain or if their family members live in Spain, they will be considered a tax resident in Spain. In this case, investors will be taxed here on their worldwide income and assets.

How long does the Golden Visa process take?

There is a gradual process to obtain a permanent residence permit in the European Union, which can take about two months.

The applicant must :

  1. Submit the application to the Unidad de Grandes Empresas (UGE).
  2. Remember that the UGE currently issues decisions very quickly (7 to 10 days).
  3. Process your fingerprints at the police station.
  4. Collect your residence card.

What are the advantages of the Golden Visa?

  1. The holder of a Golden Visa in Spain is free to travel within the Schengen area.
  2. The Golden Visa in Spain allows the inclusion of family members in the programme, namely the partner or spouse and children under the age of 18.
  3. There is no minimum stay requirement to maintain the Golden Visa card, it is only necessary to enter the country once a year to maintain the permit.
  4. If temporary residence in Spain is maintained for five years, the holder of the Golden Visa becomes eligible to apply for permanent residence.
  5. Golden visa applicants obtain the right to reside and work in Spain, although it is not a requirement to do so. No minimum stay is established.

Is there freedom of movement within the EU Schengen area with the Golden Visa?

Yes, Spanish Golden Visa holders do not need a visa to enter the European Schengen Area. They can travel and enjoy free movement within the Schengen Area.

What are the costs involved in applying for the Golden Visa?

If the Golden Visa is applied for with a property investment of at least EUR 500,000, the applicant must also bear the following costs:

  • Transfer tax (at a tax rate of 10 % or 11 % from EUR 1 000 001) or VAT (at a tax rate of 10 % in the case of residential property or 21 % in the case of commercial property).
  • Stamp duty of 1,5 %. Notary and land registry fees are also to be paid by you.

Once I have the Golden Visa in Spain, can I apply for Spanish nationality?

Permanent residence can be obtained after five years in Spain, provided that the applicant has lived in the country for more than six months each year. The pathway to nationality requires that the investor or his/her included family members reside at least 6 months per year in Spain for ten consecutive years.

Once investors have permanent residency or nationality, they do not need to maintain their investment, as there is no need to renew the golden visa.

As mentioned above, there is no minimum stay requirement in Spain to retain the residence permit. However, if the investor wishes to apply for nationality, he or she will need to live in Spain for at least six months a year for ten consecutive years. In that case, he or she may apply for a Spanish passport.

Some nationalities, including those from former Spanish colonies, may benefit from a reduction in the length of residence required to apply.

Abolition of the Golden Visa in Spain 2024

The Government of Spain will promote the elimination of residence visas for real estate investment to guarantee, according to them, the access of citizens to decent and affordable housing.

From the Ministry of Housing and Urban Agenda, they remind that they are working on four lines of action to solve the housing problem in Spain, and the elimination of the Golden Visa is the first step.

More than 14,500 Golden Visa related to real estate investments

Since the law was passed in 2013, the Spanish state has granted some 14,576 Golden Visas related to real estate investments. Specifically, 94 out of every 100 visas are linked to this type of real estate investment.

Most of these visas have gone to citizens from China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others. The provinces that concentrate 90% of this type of investment are: Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Alicante, Balearic Islands and Valencia.

Will there still be a residence and work visa for Hispanic American and U.S. investors?

The answer is yes. The Golden Visa will not disappear as such, but it will be granted for the acquisition of a property of 500,000 euros or more. The American and Hispanic-American investors, will be able to continue acceding to this permission by means of the investment of:

  • 1 million euros in a Spanish bank deposit.
  • 1 million euros in shares or stock in Spanish capital companies with a real business activity
  • 1 million euros in financial products issued by Spanish companies
  • 2 million euros in Spanish public debt securities.
  • Undertaking a business project in Spain of general interest

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