Spain Golden Visa Foreign Investor Program Review
With the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, it might be just be the right time for the sleeping giant that is Spain to step up and take its rightful place alongside Germany, France and Italy as one of the great powerhouse nations of Europe. It could also be the perfect opportunity for wealthy and ambitious foreign investors to take advantage of Spain’s Golden Visa Investor Program.
When people think of Spain they tend to picture it as a perfect holiday/tourist destination, blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, stunning landscapes and two of the most vibrant cities in Europe in Madrid and Barcelona. Others think of Spain as one of the great sporting nations of the past couple of decades, with a seemingly never-ending stream of great tennis players, golfers, racing drivers and winning football and basketball teams.
However, since 2008 and the global crash which hit Spain harder than most countries, what it hasn’t been seen as is an economic powerhouse, which Spain looked like becoming in 2006 when it was the eighth largest economy in the world. However after several years of recession, Spain finally seems to have turned the corner, its economy is on the rise, tourism is at an all-time high and people are spending money again. It could also be the perfect time for foreign investors to take advantage of Spain’s Golden Visa Resident Program.
Spain In A Nutshell:
Spain – officially the Kingdom of Spain – is a sovereign state located in southwestern Europe. It is the largest country on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, which it shares with Portugal, Andorra and the British territory of Gibraltar. Spain is made up of seventeen autonomous communities and two autonomous cities. Aside from its mainland, the Balearic Islands off the Spanish coast, the Canary Islands off the North African coast and Ceuta, a city on the north coast of Africa are also part of Spain.
Spain is a country of great geographical diversity, ranging from the dry, sub-Saharan climate of Andalucia in the south, to the much cooler, rainier province of Galicia in the northwest whose climate is likened to that of Ireland or Wales. Spain shares the longest unbroken border in the European Union (1,214 km) with Iberian neighbor Portugal. Aside from its aforementioned Iberian neighbors Gibraltar and Andorra, Spain also shares a 656.3 km border with France, and its coastline encompasses both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic oceans.
While Spain is a democracy and has a parliamentary government and a prime minister, it is also a constitutional monarchy ruled over by King Felipe IV. Its capital city is Madrid, but its second city Barcelona is also an important business hub and one of the most popular touristic cities in Europe. Spain is a member of a multitude of international organizations including the European Union (EU), the Eurozone, the Council of Europe (CoE), the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In 2006, Spain had the eighth largest economy in the world, much of which was based on a vibrant and thriving construction industry. The global economic crash of 2008 hit Spain harder than most other countries in Europe as its construction industry virtually ground to a halt, resulting in 20% of the workforce becoming unemployed. Spain dropped to the world’s 14th largest economy, and took a while to recover. However by 2013-14 it had turned the corner, and at the start of 2017 is nominally ranked as the world’s 10th largest economy, and enjoying an economic GDP rate of 3.2, its best since 2007.
In terms of landmass, Spain is the largest country in Western Europe, is rich in natural resources and has a population of 46.5 million so unsurprisingly it has a diverse economy powered by a multitude of sectors. 70% of Spain’s economy is generated by its services industry, followed by construction, agriculture, farming and fishing.
Tourism is also a vital part of the Spanish economy and contributes around 11% to Spain’s annual GDP. As the third most visited country in the world, Spain attracts 75.3 million tourists each year and ranks number one out of 141 countries listed on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum.
Spain is classified as a high income economy and among the countries of very high human development. According to The Economist, Spain has the world’s 10th highest quality of life.
- Official Languages: Spanish
- Capital City: Madrid
- Largest City: Madrid (Pop; 6.5 million)
- Surface Area: 505,990 km2
- Religion: Roman Catholic
- Population: 46.42 million
- Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
- Legal system: Based on Roman law
- Currency: Euro
- GDP per capita: $36,143
- Climate: Due to its large size, Spain has differing climate zones: a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, while inland experiences a more continental-influenced climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters
Spain Golden Visa Residency Program
The Spanish Golden Visa program was first introduced in September 2013 and gives foreign investors and their families the opportunity to become Spanish residents, and to live and work in Spain with the same rights and access to amenities such as education and health care as Spanish citizens.
Applicant Requirements of Spain Golden Visa Residency Program
The list of requirements for applicants of the Spain Golden Visa Residency Program are simple and straightforward:
- An applicant must be a non-EU national
- And applicant must be at least 18-years-old
- An applicant must have authorized proof of no criminal record
- An applicant must have authorized proof of medical insurance whether private or public
- An applicant must have sufficient legal funds to support themselves and their family whilst residents of Spain
Spain Golden Visa Investment Options
To be eligible for Spain’s Golden Visa, applicant must be prepared to invest in Spain via one of the following options:
- Via a real estate purchase within Spanish territory of a minimum €500,000
- By depositing a minimum €1,000,000 in a Spanish bank account for 5 years
- By investing a minimum €1,000,000 in shares of publicly trading (or non-trading) Spanish companies for 5 years
- By investing a minimum €2,000,000 in Spanish Treasury bonds for 5 years
Benefits of Spain Golden Visa Residency Program
The benefits of gaining Spanish residency via its Golden Visa program and then continuing on to permanent residency and full Spanish citizenship are multiple. Below are just a few:
- Spain Golden Visa can be acquired with €500,000 real estate purchase
- Golden Visa gives its holder the right to live and work in Spain for five years
- The investor’s spouse, children under the age of 18 and parents over the age of 65 can be included in the application
- An investor who resides in Spain for less than 183 days per year has no tax to pay
- After five years the investor is eligible for permanent residency in Spain
- After one year of permanent residency, an investor can apply for Spanish citizenship and passport
- Spain are an EU member state, and a Spanish citizen has the right to live and work without restriction in any other EU country
- The Spanish passport is the third most powerful in the world with visa-free access to 175 countries. Only the passports of Germany and Sweden are stronger. Areas and countries where a Spanish passport holder can enter without the need of a visa include North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Southern Africa, the UK and Ireland, Western Europe in its entirety, parts of Eastern Europe, areas of Asia, all of Southeast Asia and Australasia
Pros and Cons of Living in Spain
Few countries on earth come close to offering the total package that is life in Spain. If one wants beautiful beaches to rival anything in France, Italy, California, the province of Andalucia has them in droves. If one wants bustling big-city life, Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are a match for the best that London, Berlin, Paris, Rome and Milan have to offer. If it’s beautiful countryside, fabulous landscapes, mountainous peaks that are covered with an abundance of snow in the winter, inland Spain offers all that and more.
The standard of living in Spain is high, but the cost of living is cheap, and even property is still more competitively priced in Spain than virtually any of the country in Western Europe. The standard of Spanish education – both public and private – is excellent, and the quality of healthcare in Spain, both at a public and private level is the envy of Europe. Unsurprisingly, citizens of Spain have the longest life expectancy in Europe.
There are very few downsides to living in Spain. Spanish people, though warm and friendly, are somewhat like English and Americans in that they are not natural linguists and stick mainly to their own native tongue, although in the more tourist areas there are plenty of locals who are bilingual and even trilingual. The heat in the peak of summer in Andalucia and inland Spain can be truly brutal.
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If an investor is prepared to wait it out for what could be a minimum seven years, or in the worst-case scenario, the best part of a decade they gain Spanish citizenship and the third strongest passport in the world. When one considers that can be achieved for an initial investment of a €500,000 real estate purchase that may well have doubled in value during that time, it’s a pretty good deal overall.
The Spanish Golden Visa program has gone somewhat under the radar in comparison with the more high-profile programs of Portugal, Malta and even Hungary. However judging by the large amounts of wealthy Chinese and Russians who have purchased property and opened businesses in Spain, the program is doing very well, and looks set to continue into the future.
If a foreign investor has the patience to see out the minimum seven years needed to benefit from this program, it is one of the very best second citizenship options currently available.