Golden Visa and residence permit for investors
Driven by the goal of attracting investments in Spain, the Government introduced a new legal framework that facilitates the movement and residence of foreign investors in Spain from 2013. Law 14/2013 (later amended by Law 25/2015) facilitates the entry of investors and establishes an agile and specific visa and residence permits system for those foreigners who have chosen Spain as their preferred place of investment.
What advantages do investors have in obtaining visas and residence permits in Spain? The two instruments introduced by law to facilitate the lives of investors in Spain are the Golden Visa Spain (residence visa for investors) and the residence permit for investors.
What is a Golden Visa?
The Golden Visa Spain is a special residence visa for investors that allows a person to reside for one year in the whole national territory and entails the effects of a work permit. The Golden Visa Spain also allows the holder to bring to Spain to their relatives, spouse or registered partner, minor children and children of legal age who are dependent.
Investment necessary to obtain the Golden Visa Spain
Who can apply for the Golden Visa Spain? Any person who has made a significant investment in our country and meets a number of requirements that will be discussed in the following section. Significant investment means one that meets one of the following three criteria:
- The acquisition of real estate in Spain with an investment of € 500,000 or more —free of charges.
- An initial capital investment of a value equal to or greater than:
- One million euros in bank deposits at Spanish financial institutions.
- One million euros in investment funds.
- One million euros in shares or stakes of Spanish companies with real business activity.
- Two million euros in Spanish public debt securities.
- A business project to be developed in Spain and accredited as being of general interest. For the latter, compliance with at least one of the following conditions is required.
- Creation of jobs.
- Making an investment with a relevant socio-economic impact in the geographical area in which the activity is to be carried out.
- A relevant contribution to scientific and/or technological innovation.
Other requirements to qualify for the Golden Visa Spain
Apart from being an investor, the applicants of the Golden Visa Spain must fulfill the following requirements:
- Have no criminal record in the last 5 years, either in Spain or in any other country where he/she has previously resided.
- Have never received a refusal to enter any of the Schengen countries or in any country with which Spain has immigration agreements.
- Not having entered or remained illegally in Spanish territory.
- Having contracted public or private medical insurance covering your stay in Spain.
- Although a holder of a Golden Visa has the right to work in Spain, he/she must have sufficient financial means to live without a job (and to maintain his family, in case they apply as well). Sufficient funds mean an annual bank deposit of € 26,400 for the investor and € 6,600 for each member of his family.
- Do not suffer any of the contagious diseases listed in the International Health Regulations 2005.
What am I entitled to if I hold a Golden Visa Spain?
Not only to reside in the national territory, but also:
- To reside in the Spanish national territory for a year.
- Work in that territory.
- Circulate freely for all the member countries of the Schengen Agreement for a maximum period of 90 days, without the need to request additional visas.
- Bringing my family to Spain, with the same Golden Visa coverage. The Golden Visa Spain is extended to the spouse or registered partner of another type, to the minor children and to the dependent parents of the holder and of his partner, as well as to the adult children who are dependent (who cannot earn a living for themselves). On the other hand, children or parents who are not objectively dependent will have to apply for the visa by their own means. The only requirement for relatives is to prove a lack of criminal records, illegal entry into Shengen territory and visa denials.
Things that I do not have to not worry about if I am a Golden Visa holder
- I have no obligation to spend time in Spain.
- I have no obligation to be a tax resident in Spain.
Some people are concerned about whether Golden Visa Spain carries certain obligations of residence or tax: does the Golden Visa require me to reside in Spain for some period of time or to travel to Spain for any burocratic procedure? Do I have to pay my taxes in Spain if I am the holder of a Golden Visa? We can give you good news: the answer to these questions is negative in both cases. Indeed:
- The holder of the Golden Visa Spain has no obligation to reside in Spanish territory. There is no minimum stay requirement and, in fact, according to the amendment of the law introduced in 2015, there is no longer even the obligation to travel to Spain at least once during the validity of the visa, so as to obtain its renewal or a residence permit.
- The Golden Visa carries no obligation to be a tax resident in Spain. If the tax regime of your country of origin or anyone in which you reside fiscally is more favorable, you can maintain it without any problem. Consequently, you do not have to worry about your net patrimony or your income. Logically, your investments in Spain will have to be taxed in our country.
Indeed, we must distinguish between a residence visa (or a residence permit) and fiscal residency. A person is considered to be a tax resident in Spain, and therefore to be taxed in our country, if any of these two conditions is verified:
- Spending more than 183 days in Spain during the calendar year (sporadic absences are not taken into account).
- Having the main core of their activities or economic interests, directly or indirectly, in Spain. The legal system understands that the core of economic interests lies in our country when the spouse (not legally separated) and minor children who depend on the tax payer have their habitual residence in Spain.
Things that the Golden Visa does not entitle to in Spain
- However, a Golden Visa Spain does not entitle me to the following:
- Permanent residence: in order to obtain, it is necessary to complete a separate procedure.
- Assistance in the Spanish health system: The Golden Visa does not entitle you to this. Health care is the responsibility of compulsory health insurance. The health emergencies in Spain are addressed free of charge, even for irregular immigrants.
- Adding taxes to the price of the purchase of a house so as to attain the minimum amount required to apply for a Golden Visa. If you buy a property, the taxes do not count for the minimum of 500,000 € that gives a right to get a Golden Visa.
- Apply retroactively my investments previous to the law: the law that regulates the Golden Visa entered into force on September 28th 2013, so investments made before that date do not count when applying for the visa. Its terms are not applied retroactively.
Documents to be submitted so as to obtain the Golden Visa Spain
What documents do I have to submit if I want to apply for the Golden Visa Spain? These are the following:
1. Application form for the residence visa in an official model, duplicate and duly filled by the applicant.
2. A valid identity card (photocopy of all the passport sheets, which must have at least one year of validity, accompanied by a corresponding official translation into Spanish).
3. Original and copy of compulsory medical insurance policy, public or private.
4. Certificate of lack of criminal records in the last five years. The certificate (s) must be obtained from the competent bodies in each of the countries where the applicant has resided during the last five years and an official translation will be required.
5. Bank statement showing the possession of sufficient funds for the maintenance of the applicant (and his family, if they are applying as well) in Spain.
6. Marriage certificate, registration of couple and / or birth of the children, if the extension of the visa is requested simultaneously to these relatives. In the case of dependent children and parents, official certificate accrediting the dependency. These documents must be accompanied by a corresponding sworn translation.
7. Documents that prove the investments made. Specifically:
- If it is a house, copy of the deeds.
- Unlisted shares and equity: declaration of investment presented in the Investment Registry of the Ministry of Economy.
- Quoted shares: document of a financial intermediary registered with the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) or the Bank of Spain.
- Investment funds, closed-end investment funds or venture capital funds in Spain: certificate of the fund’s management company, incorporated in Spain, duly registered with the National Securities Market Commission.
- Spanish public debt: certificate issued by the financial institution or Bank of Spain indicating that the applicant has been the sole owner of the securities for a period of not less than five years.
- Bank deposits: certificate of the entities that demonstrate that the applicant is the sole owner of them.
- Business project in Spain: favorable report made by the Economic and Commercial Office of the geographical demarcation where the visa will be requested. The report must prove that the project has implications of general interest. To obtain the report it is necessary to present a business plan of the project that includes the following aspects: personal profile of the investor, number of jobs planned to be created, characteristics and qualification of each of them, geographical area where the project will be carried out, amount of the investment and origin of it.
Important: The documents to apply for a Golden Visa Spain are to be presented in the corresponding Spanish consulate in the country of origin of the applicant. You can submit them by yourself or through a duly authorized representative. All documents submitted must be translated into Spanish by an offical licensed translator. Any foreign public document must be previously legalized or, if applicable, apostilled.
Procedure for obtaining the Golden Visa Spain
Documents must be submitted to the Spanish consulate in the applicant’s country of origin, either in person or by a duly authorized representative in writing. The procedure for obtaining the Golden Visa Spain is relatively fast. The authorities have a period of 20 days to process the application from the date of submission. If they do not reject the application within that period, the Golden Visa is granted automatically.
Important Note: Our real estate legal services advise our clients in this process or they carry out all the procedures directly, if requested.
Residence permits for investors
A residence permit for investors can be requested if the foreigner is in possession of a resident visa for investors (Golden Visa) in force or within the period of ninety calendar days after its expiration (he/she must carry out a minimum of one entry in the Spanish territory pior to the application). If the foreign investor is legally in Spain with a tourist visa and does not hold the residence visa for investors, he would also be allowed to apply for a residence permit for investors. In the case of applicants who are legally in Spanish territory, applications for residence permits for investors are presented in the Unit of Large Enterprises and Strategic Groups (Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos) in Madrid —whether in person or through a representative—, thus avoiding the consular procedures.
- What is the deadline for obtaining a residence permit for investors in Spain? As with the Golden Visa, applications for residency must be resolved in 20 business days. If the authorities do not respond within this period, the authorization will be granted automatically, due to administrative silence.
- What is the period of residence that I am entitled to as a holder of a residence permit for investors? Initially, the residence permit for investors in Spain has a validity of 2 years, renewable for successive periods of 5 years, if the investment conditions are maintained.
- What are the rights that I get through a residence permit for investors in Spain? Basically the same as the visa, i.e. reside and work in Spanish territory, only the term is longer.
- Do I have to pay my taxes in Spain if I have a residence permit? As in the case of Golden Visa, the answer to this question is not necessarily. We have to distinguish between residence visas, residence permits and residence tax. A person is considered to be a tax resident in Spain if he/she meets any of these two conditions:
- Spending more than 183 days in Spain during the calendar year (sporadic absences are not taken into account).
- Having the main core of their activities or economic interests, directly or indirectly, in Spain. The legal system understands that the core of economic interests lies in our country when the spouse (not legally separated) and minor children who depend on the taxpayer have their habitual residence in Spain.
As we can see, the law does not mention if the person should or should not have a residence permit. Resident or non-resident status must be considered separately from the obligation or not to pay taxes in Spain.
What documents do I need to submit if I want to apply for a residence permit for investors?
The same as I need to get a residence visa, only in this case the application form will be the one corresponding to the residence permit. All documents submitted must be translated into Spanish by an official licensed translator. Any foreign public document must be previously legalized or, if applicable, apostilled.
Obtaining the Spanish citizenship
One of the ways of obtaining the Spanish citizenship is through residence. To obtain it, the applicant must have passed ten years of legal residence, on a row and immediately prior to the request.