Skip to main content

1. Eligibility Requirements

If you’re a U.S citizen considering the Spain Golden Visa Programme, it’s important that you have a solid understanding of the eligibility requirements. This program is open to non-EU nationals who are of legal age (18 years or older). You must have no criminal record and be in good health to meet the legal requirements.

Additionally, you should have the financial means to make the required investment and support yourself during your stay in Spain. There are no restrictions based on your nationality, making this program accessible to any eligible American looking to invest and reside in Spain.

2. Investment Options

The visa offers several investment avenues, each tailored to different interests and capabilities:

  • Real Estate Investment: The most common option is purchasing real estate valued at €500,000 or more. This can be a single property or multiple properties totaling this amount, and the investment must not be financed through a mortgage.
  • Government Debt: You can invest €2,000,000 in Spanish government bonds. This option is suitable if you prefer a more stable, low-risk investment.
  • Business Investment: Investing in a Spanish business involves either creating jobs, making a significant socio-economic impact, or contributing to scientific or technological innovation. The specifics of what qualifies can vary, so detailed guidance from a legal advisor is recommended.
  • Bank Deposit: Another option is making a bank deposit of €1,000,000 into a Spanish bank.

Each of these investment routes has specific criteria and implications, especially concerning your financial planning and potential return on investment. It’s important to consider not only the financial outlay but also the long-term benefits and commitments each option entails.

3. Family Inclusion

The visa allows for the inclusion of certain family members under the primary applicant’s visa.

Eligible family members typically include:

  • Spouse: Your spouse can be included in your application, allowing them to also benefit from the residency rights granted by the Golden Visa.
  • Children: Dependent children under the age of 18 are usually eligible for inclusion. This can extend to children over 18 if they are financially dependent or have special needs.
  • Parents: In some cases, dependent parents of either the main applicant or their spouse may also be included under the visa.

It’s important to note that family members included in the visa application must meet certain criteria and provide supporting documentation, such as proof of relationship and dependency.

Including family members under your Golden Visa can provide them with the same residency rights and opportunities as the main applicant.

4. Application Process

The application process involves several steps, from making the initial investment to obtaining approval for your residency permit.

Here’s a detailed walkthrough of the application process:

  • Investment Decision: Begin by selecting the investment option that best suits your financial situation and goals. Whether it’s real estate, government debt, business investment, or a bank deposit, ensure you meet the minimum investment requirement (see Point 2 above).
  • Due Diligence: Conduct thorough due diligence on the investment opportunity to ensure its legality, financial viability, and alignment with your long-term objectives. Seek advice from legal and financial professionals if needed (ie: speak to us)
  • Investment Execution: Proceed with executing the chosen investment, whether it’s purchasing real estate, acquiring government bonds, investing in a business, or making a bank deposit. Ensure all transactions comply with Spanish legal requirements.
  • Gather Documentation: Collect all necessary documentation required for the Golden Visa application, including proof of investment, proof of funds, personal identification documents, and any additional supporting documents.
  • Visa Application Submission: Submit your Golden Visa application along with the required documentation to the competent Spanish authorities. This is typically done at the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country or directly in Spain, depending on your circumstances.
  • Biometric Data Submission: Attend any required appointments to provide biometric data, such as fingerprints and photographs, as part of the visa application process.
  • Waiting Period: Allow for processing time for your application to be reviewed and assessed by the authorities. The duration can vary, but it typically takes several weeks to a few months.
  • Residency Permit Issuance: Upon approval of your Golden Visa application, you will be issued a residency permit allowing you and your family members to reside in Spain legally. This permit is initially valid for one year and can be renewed periodically.
  • Travel to Spain: Once you have received your residency permit, you can travel to Spain to activate your Golden Visa. Ensure you comply with any entry requirements and register your address with the local authorities upon arrival.
  • Renewal and Permanent Residency: After the initial period, you can renew your residency permit, leading to permanent residency status after five years. This paves the way for potential citizenship eligibility in the future.

5. Residency Requirements

Maintaining your visa requires fulfilling certain residency requirements to ensure ongoing compliance with the program’s regulations. While the Golden Visa allows for flexibility in residency, there are still some essential obligations to consider:

  • Minimum Stay: While there is no strict minimum stay requirement under the Golden Visa Programme, spending a significant amount of time in Spain is advisable to demonstrate your genuine intention to reside in the country. This can also help strengthen your ties to Spain and integrate into the local community.
  • Tax Residency: You may need to establish tax residency in Spain if you spend a considerable amount of time in the country. This involves registering for tax purposes and fulfilling your tax obligations according to Spanish tax laws.
  • Renewal of Residency Permit: Your initial residency permit is typically valid for one year and must be renewed periodically to maintain your legal residency status in Spain. Ensure you submit the necessary documentation and meet any requirements for renewal in a timely manner.
  • Proof of Ties to Spain: To demonstrate your genuine intention to reside in Spain, it’s essential to establish significant ties to the country, such as maintaining a residence, bank accounts, and social connections. These ties can also help support your renewal applications in the future.
  • Compliance with Legal Obligations: Adhere to all Spanish laws and regulations during your stay in the country, including those related to employment, healthcare, and social security. Failure to comply with legal requirements could jeopardize your residency status.

By fulfilling these residency requirements and maintaining a genuine connection to Spain, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of your Golden Visa and pave the way for permanent residency and potential citizenship in the future.

6. Tax Implications

As you might expect, understanding the tax considerations and benefits within the framework of the Golden Visa is essential for maximizing the advantages of residency in Spain. Let’s unpack this further:

  • Non-Tax Resident Status: As a Golden Visa holder, you may qualify for non-tax resident status in Spain for the first six years. This means you are only taxed on income earned in Spain, offering potential tax savings for individuals with significant global income.
  • Flat Income Tax Rate: Non-tax residents are subject to a flat income tax rate of 24% on income earned in Spain, regardless of the source. This simplifies the tax calculation process and provides clarity for Golden Visa holders.
  • Wealth Tax Exemption: Non-tax residents are exempt from Spain’s wealth tax, which applies to assets held in Spain. This exemption can result in significant tax savings for individuals with substantial assets.
  • Tax Treaty Benefits: The U.S. and Spain have a tax treaty in place to prevent double taxation and provide relief for U.S. citizens living in Spain. Understanding the provisions of this treaty can help optimize your tax situation and ensure compliance with both U.S. and Spanish tax laws.
  • Global Income Reporting: While you may be taxed only on income earned in Spain as a non-tax resident, you are still required to report your global income to the Spanish tax authorities. Compliance with reporting requirements is essential to avoid penalties and maintain your residency status.
  • Potential Tax Planning Opportunities: Golden Visa holders can explore various tax planning strategies to minimize their overall tax burden while maximizing the benefits of residency in Spain. Consulting with a tax advisor who specializes in international tax matters can help identify opportunities and ensure compliance with all relevant tax laws.

7. Health Insurance Requirements

Health insurance is another vital aspect of obtaining and maintaining your residency under the Spain Golden Visa Programme.

Here’s what you need to know about the health insurance requirements and its validity in Spain:

  • Private Health Insurance: Golden Visa applicants are required to obtain private health insurance coverage for themselves and their accompanying family members. This insurance must provide comprehensive coverage for medical expenses, including hospitalization, emergency care, and medical treatments.
  • Validity in Spain: The private health insurance policy must be valid in Spain and provide coverage for the entire duration of your stay in the country. It’s essential to ensure that your insurance plan meets the minimum coverage requirements specified by the Spanish authorities.
  • Minimum Coverage Requirements: The minimum coverage requirements for health insurance under the Golden Visa Programme may vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific insurance provider. It’s advisable to check with your insurance company to ensure your policy meets the necessary criteria.
  • Access to Healthcare Services: With private health insurance coverage, you and your family members will have access to a wide range of healthcare services in Spain, including private clinics, hospitals, and medical specialists. Private insurance typically offers faster access to medical care compared to the public healthcare system.
  • Emergency Care: In case of medical emergencies, private health insurance ensures prompt and efficient treatment without the need to rely solely on the public healthcare system. This can be particularly beneficial for expatriates who may not be familiar with the local healthcare infrastructure.
  • Renewal and Documentation: Ensure that your health insurance policy remains valid and up-to-date throughout your residency in Spain. Keep documentation of your insurance coverage readily available, as you may be required to provide proof of insurance when renewing your residency permit.

8. Renewal and Permanent Residency

Maintaining your legal status in the country and continuing to enjoy the benefits means you need to stay on top of the residency renewal process.

Here’s an overview and timelines, together with how it leads to permanent residency:

  • Renewal Process: The renewal process for the Golden Visa typically begins several months before the expiration of your initial residency permit. You must submit an application for renewal along with any required documentation to the competent Spanish authorities.
  • Timelines: The renewal timeline can vary depending on the specific circumstances and processing times. It’s advisable to start the renewal process well in advance to ensure timely approval and avoid any disruptions to your residency status.
  • Documentation: When renewing your Golden Visa, you may be required to provide updated documentation, such as proof of continued investment or financial resources, proof of residency in Spain, and any other relevant documents specified by the authorities.
  • Permanent Residency: After five years of continuous residency under the Golden Visa Programme, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency in Spain. Permanent residency grants you the right to reside in Spain indefinitely and enjoy the same rights as Spanish citizens, including access to healthcare and social services.
  • Path to Citizenship: While permanent residency is a significant milestone, it’s important to note that it does not automatically lead to citizenship. However, permanent residents may become eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship through naturalization after ten years of legal residency in the country.
  • Compliance with Requirements: To qualify for renewal and eventual permanent residency, you must continue to comply with all the requirements of the Golden Visa Programme, including maintaining your investment, meeting residency obligations, and adhering to Spanish laws and regulations.
  • Legal Assistance: Seeking guidance from legal professionals specializing in immigration and residency matters can help navigate the renewal process smoothly and ensure compliance with all requirements. They can provide valuable assistance in preparing and submitting your renewal application.

9. Path to Citizenship

And finally, while the Spain Golden Visa scheme offers a pathway to residency, obtaining Spanish citizenship does require additional steps and considerations.

Here’s an outline of the pathway to becoming a Spanish citizen:

  • Initial Residency: The first step is to obtain residency under the Golden Visa Programme by making the required investment and obtaining approval from the Spanish authorities. This initial residency permit is typically valid for one year and can be renewed periodically.
  • Continuous Residency: To be eligible for citizenship, you must maintain continuous residency in Spain for a specified period. While permanent residency is typically required, the specific time frame for eligibility can vary.
  • Residency Requirements: During your residency in Spain, you must demonstrate integration into Spanish society, including proficiency in the Spanish language, knowledge of Spanish culture and history, and adherence to Spanish laws and customs.
  • Naturalization Application: After meeting the residency requirements, you can apply for Spanish citizenship through naturalization. This involves submitting an application to the competent Spanish authorities and providing documentation to support your eligibility.
  • Time Frame: The time frame for naturalization eligibility can vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific requirements of the Spanish government. In general, you may become eligible for citizenship after ten years of legal residency in Spain, although there are exceptions for certain categories of applicants.
  • Additional Requirements: In addition to residency and integration requirements, you may need to meet other criteria for citizenship, such as demonstrating financial stability, good character, and a commitment to Spanish society.
  • Dual Citizenship: Spain allows for dual citizenship, meaning you can retain your original citizenship while also becoming a Spanish citizen. This can provide additional flexibility and benefits for individuals with ties to multiple countries.
  • Legal Assistance: Navigating the pathway to Spanish citizenship can be complex, so seeking guidance from legal professionals specializing in immigration and citizenship matters is advisable. We can provide expert advice and assistance throughout the naturalization process.

A Final Word

Hopefully this has given you a good foundation around the considerations when applying for the Spain Golden Visa.

It offers U.S. citizens a valuable opportunity to invest in Spain and obtain residency in a vibrant European destination.

By understanding the eligibility requirements, investment options, and application process, you can navigate the visa application process with confidence.

Including family members under your visa, maintaining residency requirements, and addressing tax and healthcare considerations are essential aspects of maximizing the benefits of the programme.

Moreover, renewing your residency permit and eventually pursuing permanent residency and citizenship provide long-term stability and opportunities for integration into Spanish society.

With proper planning and legal guidance, the Spain Golden Visa Programme can pave the way for a fulfilling and prosperous future in Spain. If you’re ready to explore your options and embark on this exciting journey, we’re here to provide expert advice and support every step of the way. Contact us today to start your Golden Visa application process and unlock the doors to a new chapter in Spain.

David Poole is a South African entrepreneur and businessman, and founder of Consult Immigration.