When it comes to buying a house, many people are as scared by the prospect of the legal and financial paperwork as they are about the logistical implications of the move itself. If you add into the mix that you are a foreigner who wants to buy a property in Spain it can seem extremely daunting, but it is worth investigating the different ways that you make this happen.
For example, there is a relatively new law, named ike Charlie Bucket and his golden ticket for Willy Wonka´s Chocolate Factory, there is indeed a golden ticket – or golden visa - that is available to foreigners from outside the EU who invest in Spanish real estate. So, to put it simply, under this law you can actually kill two birds with one stone and obtain a residence permit when you buy property in Spain.
This golden visa or residence permit means that the non-EU citizens can live and work in Spain, and also travel freely between the other countries in the Schengen area like EU citizens. There is also the option to include/obtain additional permits for your spouse and/or children, so that the whole family can start a new life together living, working, and studying in Spain.
Sounds amazing right? So, why isn’t everyone doing this? And how do you qualify for the golden visa/residence permit?
The list of conditions to qualify include typical aspects for other types of visas or residency applications, such as:
- Being over 18 years of age
- Having health insurance cover
- Having sufficient financial resources to support your stay in Spain
- Having a clean criminal record
The final qualification is probably the main steppingstone, as you must be able to invest at least 500,000€ of your own money in Spanish property (it cannot be based on mortgages for properties). The investment can be for either residential property, commercial property or a piece of land and you can also choose to rent it out if you wish. You can buy one single property in Spain or on a number of smaller properties with a value totalling 500,000€ or more. You can also make the investments over a period of time, for example buying different properties over a number of years, until you reach the final goal of 500,000€ when you will qualify to make the residence permit application.
The initial residence permit is valid for a year, which can then be extended to 2 years and ultimately renewed for additional periods of 5 years, as long as the investment continues. If you decide to sell the initial property in the future it isn’t a problem however, in order to retain the residence permit you must continue to invest the funds in other Spanish real estate. If you don’t reinvest the money in Spain the residence permit will be terminated.
It is also worth mentioning that there are additional costs to buying a property in Spain which need to be added to the 500,000€ investment. For example, estate agent, lawyer and notary fees, and any stamp duty, IVA (the Spanish equivalent of VAT) or registry fees. You can find more details about this aspect by looking online or speaking to property agents, developers and advisers in Spain who have a useful blogs and newsletters giving information, advice and tips to those looking to buy a property in Spain.
Steps to obtaining the “golden visa” or property residence permit
1. Firstly, you need to acquire the property and be in possession of the deeds and all paperwork related to the purchase.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can do a lot of online research into the property market in advance and when you find suitable properties you can visit Spain on a tourist visa to check out your shortlist of places and start negotiations to formalise the deal on your chosen place. You can even arrange to buy a property in Spain via power of attorney using a lawyer/notary if you are not in a position to visit in person.
2. Secondly, you need to be aware of the timing for submitting your application for the residence permit as the property must be bought at least 90 days in advance of the application process, and the permit can then be applied for up to 90 days before the date you wish to enter Spain on this permit.
I therefore want to point out that although you can also obviously come to visit Spain on a 90-day tourist visa in order to look around and find suitable property and negotiate the deal in person, you must remember that you cannot exceed the 90-day limit, or you will be in breach of the tourist visa. If you are a non-EU citizen you are only able to visit Spain (and other Schengen countries) for a total of 90 days as a tourist, and then you have to leave for a period of 90 days before you can return on another tourist visa. Therefore, you really need to consider the timings of your visits to Spain to complete the property purchase and also apply for the residence permit.
3. Thirdly, it is important to check that you have all the relevant documentation available in advance of starting the residence permit application process, as any omissions will mean that the application is rejected and will require you to restart the whole process again.
As a starting point you should visit the official Spanish government website and check the details for the consulate of your home country/city – you can access the consulate directory or list page here.
Click on the link for your nearest consulate and then you will go to a page with more detailed information about the requirements for making visa applications – for example, this is the more detailed page for the London Consulate and the specific information is about half way down the page in the section titled National Visas.
4. You will need to show the originals in the application appointment and provide a photocopy of all documentation for office retention. It is important to note that documents for this visa also need to be translated into Spanish by a Sworn Translator.
You can find details of the documents required and also the links for approved translator services on the specific consulate page as detailed above. There should also be a PDF of useful information which you can also download – here is the London page, which is in both Spanish (pages 1-4) and English (pages 5-8).
In general, the documents that you need to provide include:
- Completed application form.
- Proof of property purchase – ownership documentation certified by the Property Register.
- Passport (with minimum of 6 months validity).
- 2 passport photographs.
- Medical/health insurance certificate.
- 5-year Criminal record history - issued by authorities in country of origin.
- Proof of having financial means, for the minimum period following the application submission (a monthly amount applies to the applicant and additional monthly amounts apply to family members if included in the application).
- Proof of payment of visa fee.
As a final recommendation, I would strongly recommend that you seek out professional advice from a lawyer and/or Spanish notary to assist you throughout this whole process, from buying a property in Spain to making the application for the residence permit. You will be pleased to hear that there are numerous bilingual lawyers and notaries who specialise in this process, who are able to communicate with you in English, thus reducing the language barrier and worries about things being lost in translation.
It is much better to have someone who has experience of the official procedures to ensure that it all goes smoothly and that you don’t face any extra hidden costs or complications along the way. After all, investing 500,000€ of your own money is significant and you want to be able to take advantage of the help and knowledge they can share. Utilising their services to buy a property in Spain and apply for the residence permit will help make sure that each step of the way goes through without a hitch – and you can sleep soundly, knowing that your new life in Spain is a dream that will become reality!