The Golden Visa Spain is a popular investment residency option in Europe.
For a minimum of €500,000 invested in Spanish real estate, you and your family can access a whole host of benefits – with the opportunity to secure a valuable second citizenship that allows freedom to live, work, study, do business, and retire anywhere in Europe.
Let’s dive right in and explore the details of the Golden Visa Spain program – including how it measures up as a pathway to EU citizenship.
What is the Golden Visa Spain Program?
The Golden Visa Spain is a residency by investment program launched in 2013 to help rejuvenate the Spanish economy after the financial crisis.
As of 2021, the Spanish government had approved over 13,000 Golden Visas, according to data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Spanish law has an interesting benefit for investor residency applicants, stating that all applications must be approved or rejected within a 20-day period.
If that doesn’t happen, for example due to the pandemic, then the application would be considered approved by default (known as ‘tacit assent’).
This could be an important advantage for investors who want a quick result – especially in light of current backlogs with Spain’s main rival, the Portugal Golden Visa.
Golden Visa Spain In Brief
|Minimum investment threshold
|€500,000 (real estate)
|Timeline to permanent residency in Spain
|Timeline to be eligible for Spanish citizenship
|Minimum stay requirements to maintain residency
|Minimum stay requirements for citizenship
|183 days per year
|Language requirements for permanent residency
|Language requirements for citizenship
|Dual citizenship allowed?
Benefits of the Golden Visa Spain
Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of the Golden Visa in Spain – especially in terms of your pathway to EU citizenship.
Benefits of the Spain Golden Visa Program
- MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY – No need to relocate to Spain to maintain your residency rights
- FAST APPROVAL TIMELINE: Spanish law dictates that applications must be decided within 20 days, else approved by default
- TRAVEL EUROPE FREELY – Go anywhere in the Schengen zone without additional visas or permits
- EDUCATION & HEALTHCARE – Access both of these with the same rights as Spanish citizens
- VARIETY OF INVESTMENT OPTIONS – choose from real estate, investment funds, or investing in Spanish companies
- FAMILY MEMBERS INCLUDED – Your whole family can enjoy access to the unique benefits of Spain and the wider EU (including your spouse or long-term partner, any children under 21, plus your parents and parents-in-law!)
Disadvantages of the Spain Golden Visa Program
- HIGH MINIMUM INVESTMENT THRESHOLD – €500,000 is the minimum needed to get the Spanish Golden Visa
- NO DUAL CITIZENSHIP – Spain doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, so you’ll have to give up your original passport to get a Spanish one
- 10-YEAR TIMELINE TO CITIZENSHIP – The Spain Golden Visa is NOT a fast track to EU citizenship
- LIVING IN SPAIN REQUIRED FOR CITIZENSHIP – The Spain Golden Visa lets you maintain your residency rights in Spain without living there. BUT, if you want eventual citizenship, you’ll have to move to Spain.
- MUST PAY TAXES IN SPAIN – Along with moving to Spain, paying taxes every year is another requirement for citizenship
- LANGUAGE TEST REQUIRED – You’ll need to pass a test at A2 level in Spanish
- CITIZENSHIP TEST REQUIRED – You’ll also be tested on your knowledge of Spanish history, society and culture
The Golden Visa in Spain is an excellent choice for those who want the reassurance of having their Golden Visa application approved quickly.
However, reaching permanent residency status takes a long time (5 years). Spanish citizenship takes even longer (at least 10 years).
Having two passports is better than one. You’ll always have a Plan B in the event of crisis. But Spain doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, so acquiring a Spanish passport would mean taking a gamble on Spain’s ongoing stability at home and good standing abroad.
Who can apply?
To be eligible for the Spain Golden Visa, you must meet the following basic requirements:
- Be aged 18 or over
- Be a third country national (i.e., not a citizen of an EU/EEA country, or Switzerland)
- Have a clean criminal record
- Invest a minimum of €500,000 in Spain
- Have full medical insurance covering yourself and any dependents
- Pass a due diligence check, in line with international anti-money laundering regulations
Spain Golden Visa: All Investment Routes in 2023
Real estate isn’t the only Golden Visa investment option available in Spain.
You can choose from several other options, including investing in existing Spanish companies.
Here’s a full summary of all available investment routes for the Golden Visa Spain.
|Shares in a Spanish company
|Deposit in a Spanish bank
|Investment in Spanish public debt
|Investment in new business & job creation
|No fixed minimum
Documents needed to apply
- Golden Visa application form (download a copy here)
- Two passport photos
- Passports for main applicant and any dependents
- Proof of country of residence
- Health insurance policy from a company that operates in Spain.
- Criminal record certificate (no older than 90 days at the time of application)
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself and your family during residence in Spain.
- Documents to prove the investment has been made, such as a property deed or a statement of investment (if investing in company shares)
Renewing your Spain Golden Visa
Your initial Golden Visa will be valid for one year. After that, you’ll need to apply for a Spanish residence permit, which will be valid for two years. You only need to renew your Spain Golden Visa once every two years.
The key factor for successful renewal is to prove you’ve maintained your investment at the minimum threshold.
You also need to submit:
- Application form for renewal
- Certified copy of passport (and those of all dependents)
- Copy of your current residence card
- Proof of medical insurance valid in Spain
Golden Visa Spain Costs
Here’s an overview of typical costs for getting the Spain Golden Visa using the real estate route. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list. Other costs may occur along the way.
Overall, it’s typically recommended to budget at least 12% on top of your €500,000 investment. This includes the following:
- Property taxes and other transaction costs, including stamp duty, notary costs, lawyer fees, and registry fees. Properties in new developments will be charged VAT of 10%. For a resale property, you should budget around €60,000 to cover associated costs.
- Lawyer for Golden Visa application. Typically around € 3,500 plus VAT of 21% – so around € 4,250.
Source: Molino Property
Get the Golden Visa Spain after Brexit
In the wake of Brexit, lots of British nationals are looking for ways to regain their EU rights. The Spain Golden Visa is one option for them to do this.
British nationals are one of the largest groups of immigrants in Spain, so you’ll have no problem meeting fellow Brits and becoming involved in a community.
However, if EU citizenship is your ultimate goal, Spain probably isn’t the best choice. Spain has a LONG 10-year timeline to be eligible for citizenship, plus it doesn’t recognize dual nationality.
That means not only would you wait a long time to get your EU rights back, but you’d eventually have to give up your British passport as well.
Golden Visa Spain vs Portugal – Full Comparison
Spain and Portugal are rivals in many ways – and the same goes for their respective Golden Visa programs.
The Portugal Golden Visa is another popular option for those seeking a foothold in Europe. But how does it measure up to the Spanish option?
As you can see from below, the Portugal Golden Visa is a better overall choice for EU citizenship. Compared to Spain, it has a shorter timeline and much lower annual stay requirement.
On the other hand, the Golden Visa Spain is a good choice for those who just want the option of residency in Europe, and would prefer the security of having their Golden Visa application approved in just a few weeks.
|Portugal Golden Visa
|Spain Golden Visa
|Timeline to be eligible for citizenship
|Minimum annual stay for citizenship
|Tax residency required for citizenship?
|Special tax program available?
|Yes, NHR, non-habitual residency (10 years)
|Minimum investment threshold
|€280,000 (rehabilitation real estate in a low-density area)
|€500,000 for real estate anywhere in Spain
|Typical timeline for issuing residence permit
|Around 9 months
|Around 1 month
|Language requirements for citizenship
Get EU Citizenship with your Golden Visa Spain
You can use the Spain Golden Visa as a pathway to Spanish citizenship and an EU passport.
This requires living in Spain for at least 183 days every year, for at least 10 years before applying for citizenship.
You would also need to become tax resident in Spain and pay tax on your worldwide income.
Spanish citizenship also has a language requirement of A2 level Spanish, along with a civics exam covering Spanish history, society and culture.
FAQs: Spain Golden Visa
How long can I stay in Spain on a Golden Visa?
Your Golden Visa will initially be valid for one year. Then you can apply to convert it into a residency permit, which will be valid for two years. You can then renew it for two years each time. After five years, you can apply for permanent residency (subject to meeting all the criteria).
How much does Golden Visa cost in Spain?
The Golden Visa in Spain costs a minimum of €500,000 for real estate investment.
Can I live in Spain after Brexit?
Yes, it’s still possible for British nationals to live in Spain after Brexit. But they will need to apply for a Spanish residency visa and meet all eligibility requirements (such as having health insurance and a clean criminal record). The Spain Golden Visa or the Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) are both viable options for Brits who want to live in Spain after Brexit.
Can Brits retire to Spain after Brexit?
Yes, Brits can retire to Spain after Brexit, but they will need to meet eligibility requirements for residency. This could mean applying for the Spain Golden Visa, or using another route such as the Spain non-lucrative visa (for example, using income from a UK pension).
How long does it take to get a Golden Visa in Spain?
It currently takes between 2 to 3 months for the Golden Visa Spain to be issued.
What are the advantages of a Golden Visa in Spain?
The Golden Visa Spain gives investors the following advantages:
FLEXIBILITY – No need to relocate to Spain to maintain residency rights,
FAST APPROVAL TIMELINE: Spanish law dictates that applications must be decided within 20 days, else approved by default,
TRAVEL EUROPE FREELY – Go anywhere in the Schengen zone without additional visas or permits,
EDUCATION & HEALTHCARE – Access both of these with the same rights as Spanish citizens,
VARIETY OF INVESTMENT OPTIONS – choose from real estate, investment funds, or investing in Spanish companies, FAMILY MEMBERS INCLUDED – Your whole family can enjoy access to the unique benefits of Spain and the wider EU (including your spouse or long-term partner, any children under 21, plus your parents and parents-in-law!)
Can I get residency in Spain if I buy a house?
Yes. If you invest in Spanish real estate worth at least €500,000, then you may be eligible to apply for the Golden Visa Spain. This would allow you to take up residency in Spain.
Can I use a mortgage to get the Spain Golden Visa?
No. The investment must be made in full at the beginning of the process. But you could use a mortgage to top up your investment beyond the required minimum threshold (€500,000).
Before you go…
In this article we’ve explored the Golden Visa Spain program.
The Golden Visa in Spain allows investors to secure a European residency permit with a fast approval timeline.
However, the minimum threshold is €500,000 for an investment in Spanish real estate. It’s possible to find more far affordable real estate options with the Portugal Golden Visa scheme (although these come with certain restrictions).
Lastly, Spain isn’t an especially good fit for investors with an ultimate goal of EU citizenship and a second passport. Not only is the timeline to citizenship 10 years, but (in most cases) Spain won’t allow you to keep your original passport.
For other investment residency options around the world, check out our full guide to Golden Visa Countries in 2023