BRITS often covet the idea of moving to Spain, thanks to its seemingly endless summers and the laid-back mañana approach to life.
But thanks to Brexit, Spain’s bureaucracy process has gone from laid-back to positively comatose as thousands of Brits scramble to sort out residency documents while battling tangles of red tape.
Since leaving the EU Brits will need to apply for a visa in the same way other third-country citizens do to live in Spain – and residency is your only option if you want to spend more than half a year in Spain, or longer than 90 days at a stretch.
If you don’t mind stints of 90 days or less and are happy with a total of 180 days a year, residency might be a step too far but plenty Brits are craving more time in the sun – and weighing up their options.
Spain is one of the EU states that offer visas in exchange for investment, so Brits willing to splash the cash could bag themselves a Golden Visa. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is it?
Spain’s Golden Visa scheme offers residency for those investing €500,000 (£410,000) or more in property.
Non-EU nationals who spend at least €500,000 in cash on a property can then get a residency permit, and path to citizenship.
You can also apply retrospectively if you can show you have spent €500,000 in cash on Spanish since September 28, 2013, when the scheme launched.
How do I get it?
For property investors, the minimum investment before taxes and changes is €500,000. Once the extra costs are factored in, however, the real cost is closer to €600,000. It also must be money that you bring into the country, so you can’t rely on a Spanish mortgage to make up the shortfall. You still have to pay the first €500,000 either in cash or get a mortgage with a non-Spanish bank.
It’s also worth noting that refurbishment costs do not count towards the scheme, neither do taxes, legal fees or notary fees.
What benefits does it provide?
Following Brexit, there’s a 90-day limit for Brits on stays in any 180-day period — unless you invest at least €500,000 (unmortgaged) in property and apply for a Spanish golden visa.
While the law won’t give you the right to work in Spain, a Golden Visa will provide you with the freedom to travel within the Schengen zone and allow you to live in Spain for up to 180 consecutive days a year, without affecting your fiscal status in the UK.
What if I don’t meet the Golden Visa criteria?
There’s also the lesser-known non-lucrative visa. To qualify, you need a Spanish address and sufficient funds (€26,000 a year for the main applicant and €6,500 for subsequent family members).
Can I buy a property in Spain without applying for residency?
Yes. For many Brits looking for holiday-home in Spain, a 90-day stay is plenty.
How can I apply for residency?
Both the Golden Visa and long-term residency can be applied for in the same way. You must be at your appointment in person as fingerprints are taken. Once you apply for your residence permit, it takes about 90 days but currently delays are expected due to COVID-19.
After you have been a legal resident of Spain for five years, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency. Once you have ten years of Spanish residency, you are eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship.