In September 2013, the Spanish government passed a law to encourage foreigners to invest for residency purposes, the Law 14/2013, of September 27th, to support entrepreneurs and internationalisation. This law introduced what is now known as the “Golden Visa”.
The so-called Golden Visas are privileged visas/residence and work permits that allow for people who comply with special requirements to opt for a faster and easier application process. They are thought for investors, highly qualified professionals or entrepreneurs who wish to relocate, invest or bring business to Spain.
The different types of Golden Visas
The Golden Visa allows a non-EU citizen to apply for a residence and work permit, if they:
invest 500.000 € in real estate in Spain,
invest 2 million € in Spanish public debt,
invest 1 million € in Spanish companies, stocks, investment funds, investment funds of close-end type or venture capital funds set up in Spain, or
deposit 1 million € in a Spanish bank account,
Main advantages of the Golden Visa
The main advantages of this kind of permit are that the holder does not have to spend a certain amount of time in Spain to maintain it and the application processes are a lot faster. In case of a visa, the Consulate has to decide within 10 working days and in case of a residence permit, the administration has 20 working days to issue a resolution. Furthermore, every Golden Visa comes with a work permit for the whole Spanish territory.
Application either in your home country or while already in Spain
You will be issued a 1-year investor visa, if you are outside of Spain when the application is submitted. If you are currently in Spain when submitting the application, you can apply directly for the 2-year residence permit. Visa applications must be made at the Spanish Consulate in the country of origin or residence. Residence permit applications are presented at the Large Business and Strategic Groups Unit (Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos (UGE-CE)) online.
General documents required
You have to present your passport, health insurance documents issued by a company operating in Spain showing full coverage without co-payments, a police clearance certificate for every country you have lived in during the previous 5 years and proof of sufficient economic means to maintain yourself and any accompanying family members in Spain.
Documents regarding the investment
Furthermore, you have to present documents accrediting the realisation of the investment. These documents depend on the kind of investment you wish to apply through. If you have invested in Spanish public debt, you have to present the certificate from the financial institution or the Bank of Spain. If you have invested in unlisted shares and equity, you present the statement of investment filed with the Investments Register of the Directorate-General for International Trade and Investments (DGCOMINVER). In case you went with listed shares, the corresponding document from a financial broker registered with the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) or the Bank of Spain is required. If you decided to invest in investment funds, you have to show the respective certificate issued by the fund manager. For investments in bank deposits, you present the certificate from the financial institution.
The most popular Golden Visa is the real estate investment option. If you have invested at least 500.000 € in a property in Spain and the registration with the land register has already been done, you present the certificate of property registration and real estate purchase deeds. If the purchase has not yet been formalised, you can show the public deed of purchase. Note that in the latter case, you would only be issued a visa for 6 months and can then present the registration in order to apply for the renewal.
Investments realised through a company
If the investment is made by a legal person, you can apply for the visa or residence permit if you comply with a few conditions. The company cannot be seated in a jurisdiction that is considered a tax haven and the person applying for the Golden Visa has to hold a majority share. You also have to submit a favourable report about the legal person from the Directorate-General for International Trade and Investments (DGCOMINVER).
Duration of the Golden Visa
As mentioned above, in case the real estate investment has not been registered with the land registry yet, the permit issued will be of 6 months. In general, if you apply for the visa in your country of residence, it is issued for 1 year. The residence permit has a duration of 2 years and can then be renewed for periods of 5 years. Said renewal does not require effective residence in Spain.
Family members of the main applicant
Family members can accompany the investor and apply jointly and simultaneously or successively for their visa or residence permit. Family members eligible for the application are the spouse or unmarried partner, children who are minors or those of legal age that are still financially dependent on the main applicant and have not yet started their own family. Parents who are dependent on the main applicant can also apply, however, the dependency will have to be thoroughly proven. All accompanying family members whose age allows them to work in Spain will also receive a work permit for the whole Spanish territory.
Streamlined processing of the applications
The application process in case of the Golden Visa is privileged and a lot faster than that for general regime residence permits. While those have to be applied for at the consulate or embassy in the applicant’s country of origin and the administration can take up to 3 months to come to a decision, Golden Visa applications can also be presented while the applicant Is already legally in Spain, for example as a tourist. Furthermore, visa decisions (by the consulate or embassy) are made and notified within 10 working days while residence permit decisions (by Large Business and Strategic Groups Unit) have to be reached and notified within 20 working days. If you apply for the residence permit while already being in Spain, the presentation of the application extends your visa until you receive notification of the decision.
Mr Smith is thinking about moving from the US to Europe with his wife and two teenage kids. He wants them to have access to a great school and university system while enjoying the culture and travel options Europe has to offer with his wife. He is a businessman and also appreciates the option to extend his business with a subsidiary in an EU member country in order to get access to the EU market and all its advantages. They look at different options and decide that Spain has the best all-around life quality to offer, being well connected, giving options like Madrid and Barcelona, amazing food, landscapes and having wonderful weather in most of its regions that they can enjoy at one of the many white sanded beaches.
Mr Smith and his wife decide to travel to Spain to look for the ideal place for them and their family. They decide on Barcelona, since it is close to beaches as well as mountains and has a lot to offer regarding cultural events and is perfectly connected with an airport on the outskirts.
Once they have decided on where they wish to go, they got in touch with us in order to find out the best option for them. They told us that they were planning on selling their house in the US in order to purchase a new home in Barcelona. They want a lot of space and to be close to the sea, so they wish to buy a place outside of the city and will invest at least 500.000 €. Since they can invest the money without financing, we recommend that they apply for the so-called Golden Visa. Once they purchase the property, they will comply with all the requirements.
So, after their first 20 days in Spain, we put them in touch with a real estate agent in Sitges, just south of Barcelona on the coast. They find a nice house near the beach and come to an agreement with the sellers. After purchasing the house, they wait for their registration as owners with the land registry. In the meantime, we assist them with finding an adequate private health insurance for the family and with the application for their police clearance certificates in the US as well as the legalisation and translation of the documents that require it. We also help them gathering all the other required documents.
60 days into their stay in Spain, they are ready to apply for the Golden Visa. Since they are already here and still having time on their tourist stay, we decide to apply directly for their 2-year residence permits and present their applications online. 20 working days later, the administration grants their residence permits.
As a last step, we make appointments for the Smiths to register at the Town Hall in Sitges and make appointments for them at the police station where we accompany them to apply for their foreigner identity cards.
The Smiths are ready to enjoy their new life in Spain, the kids going to one of the great international schools in Barcelona while their parents are starting a new business project which they discuss drinking wine on their terrasse with a wonderful view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Pina Espinoza Carrizosa
Counsel - Rechtsanwältin - Abogada