IF you’re a non-European Union citizen who has bought property in Spain since September 2013 or are considering investing in real estate here, here’s a practical guide to getting your Golden Visa.
In a previous article, we looked at the various ways British citizens could become eligible for a Golden Visa in Spain, post-Brexit. Following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on January 1, 2021, the same rules now apply to Brits as to people from all other non-EU countries.
Once again, we asked Blanca Loring, the founder and principal lawyer at Loring International, a Marbella law firm that specialises in immigration and nationality matters, to talk us through the options for non-nationals of European Union member states who invest in real estate in Spain to secure a Golden Visa.
The Golden Visa grants holders and their families the right to reside in Spain, if they wish, for more than 90 days within any 180-day period and to travel visa-free through the 26 countries in the Schengen Area.
However, Blanca notes, Golden Visa beneficiaries should take into account that if they do spend more than 183 days a year in Spain, they will be deemed fiscal residents of the country and become liable to pay taxes to the Spanish Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria or Hacienda in Spanish).
To qualify, Blanca says, investments in Spanish real estate must fulfil the following criteria:
- Only properties purchased after September 28, 2013 are applicable
- The minimum amount invested in one or more properties must be in excess of 500,000€ and this cannot include any mortgage financing
- Funds must come from an individual’s personal assets or from a company controlled by a sole individual
- And, Blanca adds, interested parties have to provide the following to the Spanish authorities:
- Public title deeds for one or more properties that prove the amount invested exceeds 500,000
- Criminal record certificate from every country of residence during the previous five-year period
- Proof of at least 30,000€ deposited in a bank account in your own country or, preferably, in Spain
- Private health insurance that offers comprehensive coverage without co-payments
You can apply for a Spanish Golden Visa in your own country of residence, Blanca says, at many of Spain’s diplomatic representations around the world. In the UK, this can be done at any of the three consulates in London, Edinburgh or Manchester. Once you’ve submitted the documents above and received confirmation, an application usually takes 10 working days to process after which you need to go to the consulate in person to get the visa stamped in your passport.
But this option has its disadvantages, Blanca says, particularly for British citizens. Firstly, if you don’t receive a reply from the Spanish authorities, this means your application has been denied. Secondly, the visa is only valid for 12 months. And, thirdly, while the fees are usually 60€ per application for nationals of most countries, the cost of applying in the UK is £1,623 (1,868 Euros at time of writing) because the Spanish government applies the principle of reciprocity to fees charged by the British to carry out the same procedure for Spanish citizens applying for a UK visa.
APPLYING FOR A GOLDEN VISA WHILE VISITING SPAIN AS A TOURIST
Although COVID-19 has made traveling more complicated in recent months, Blanca says that, if you’re willing to come to Spain on a tourist visa once travel restrictions end, you can also apply for your Golden Visa in the country, although this requires three separate visits: one to submit your application, the second to get your fingerprints taken in a police station either in the local area where you are staying or in Madrid, and the third to collect your residence card in person 45 working days later.
As a result, most people rely on the services of a specialist lawyer or administrative advisor (gestor in Spanish) to electronically present their documentation to the Unit for Large Companies and Strategic Groups (Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos or UGE-CE in Spanish), secure the appointment with the Spanish national police, and to act as an agent on your behalf for any other procedures that may be required in your absence. For example, Blanca says, you may need to provide proof of entry and exit on a tourist visa, by means of a notarised copy of your passport.
Although it may sound more involved, the process does have a number of advantages, Blanca notes. Although processing takes longer, no reply within 20 working days means your application has been successful. The fees add up to around 80€ for nationals from any nation, including British citizens. And the visa is valid for two years from the time residency is granted.
SO, SHOULD YOU DO IT YOURSELF OR SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE?
While the process is relatively straightforward for individuals who have invested the minimum amount required in a one property, Blanca says, it can be more complicated when applications include married couples with separate assets, dependent adult family members (such as children over the age of 18 and parents), purchases involving multiple properties or owners, and when mortgages and companies have been used to make investments.
If you do decide to use the services of a professional, Blanca would be delighted to explain the requirements, documentation and process in more detail, as well as the legal fees and expenses for applications.
More information: www.terrameridiana.com
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