Spanish Residency Post-Brexit: The Golden Visa for UK Citizens
The period immediately following the UK’s departure from the European Union has thrown up much confusion for British expats living in EU member states. Likewise, those who had been hoping to make the move but not managed it before Brexit have been left with uncertainty on whether or not the option is still on the table.
This article will look at some of the options for UK citizens without existing Spanish residency but a desire to take the leap to live and/or work in Spain. Although there are multiple routes, such as the Highly Skilled Professional Visa, we will focus specifically on the ‘golden visa’ as a route for those wishing to relocate in 2021 and beyond.
What is the current situation for Spanish residents with British citizenship?
Since the beginning of 2021, there have been multiple instances where UK citizens with existing Spanish residency have been denied entry to Spain for not having the post-Brexit style residence permit, known as a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero).
These rejections have occurred at both sides of travel: when leaving the UK, and when arriving at the Spanish border. A lack of clarity in the initial guidelines led to the mistaken conclusions, despite expats being able to prove that their residency in Spain began before December 31, 2020, as well as having and presenting a NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero).
The NIE is the type of residence permit awarded to EU citizens and since July 2020 is no longer granted to Brits, being replaced by the TIE.
If I am a British citizen with Spanish residency, do I need a TIE?
The Spanish Government has since reconfirmed that under Article 18.4 of the Withdrawal Agreement, a pre-Brexit NIE remains valid as a proof of residence status for British citizens living in Spain. Regardless of this, many British expats are choosing to apply for a TIE to avoid any issues in the future when it comes to travel or when carrying out official processes in Spain.
What about British citizens who don’t yet have Spanish residency?
As we know, when the UK ceased to be part of the European Union, the freedom of movement privileges that apply to Member States was no longer applicable to British citizens. Therefore, any Brit without existing residency is considered in the same way as any citizen of a third country. This means that they are only entitled to stay for a maximum of 90 days in Spain for tourism or business travel purposes.
Despite this, it is still possible for UK citizens to live and work in Spain and to obtain the necessary residence permit. Although the process is now more stringent and complex than before, immigration to Spain can be achieved via different paths and the type of visa that you are eligible for will depend on your circumstances.
One of the quickest routes to Spanish residency for the British now is the golden visa, also known as the Investor visa.
What is the golden visa?
This visa is essentially residency by investment and was created under the 14/2013 Entrepreneur’s Law, which aims to attract investment and talent to Spain. It entitles foreigners that make a significant capital investment to be able to live and work in Spain for an initial two year-period, with the potential to renew the visa permanently, as long as the original criteria are still met.
There are three ways to obtain a golden visa:
- Investment in property in Spain with an investment greater than 500,000 euros per applicant. This means that each person requiring the visa will be required to invest 500,000 euros individually to be eligible for the visa. It should be noted that you must have at least 500,000 euros of your own money, as opposed to financing. It is also possible to purchase more than one property, or real estate assets, of a value less than 500,000 euros as long as the minimum investment is met. There will also be taxes to pay on the purchase of the property, including stamp duty, and property transfer tax known as ITP (unless the real estate is brand new then you will pay VAT). Furthermore, this visa can be applied for in retrospect as long as any real estate purchases occurred after 2013 when the law governing the golden visa came into force.
- Investment in financial assets of an initial investment with a value above two million euros in Spanish public debt securities or one million euros either in shares of a Spanish company, as deposits in Spanish financial institutions, or in investment or venture capital funds.
- Investment in a business project that will be developed in Spain, is accredited to be of general interest, and either creates jobs, makes a socio-economic investment where the activity is based or contributes to scientific or technological innovation. How does this type of visa work? The golden visa is available to any citizen of a non-EU country and the application can be made either from inside or outside Spain. For your application to be approved, you must be able to show either certification to prove ownership of real estate, a statement of investment from the necessary body, or a certificate from a financial institution (depending on the route by which you are making the application).
It is not necessary to become a tax resident in Spain to obtain this type of residence permit. In fact, you only have to visit the country a minimum of once per year. Additionally, you are permitted to bring a spouse and children under 21 years of age with you to reside in Spain. To bring older children, they must be in education and economically dependent on you.
How long is the application process?
Once documents are submitted to the authorities, a decision will be received within 10 business days if submission is via a Spanish consulate or 20 business days if it is made from within Spain. Visas that come under the Entrepreneur Law are submitted to the Unit of Large Companies and Strategic Collectives (Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos Estratégicos), rather than the immigration department of the government. In case of approval, the applicant then has one month to submit the visa application and apply for a TIE for all persons that will be living in Spain under the visa.
Is the golden visa right for you?
This discussion of the ins and outs of the golden visa shows that it is now one of the best paths for UK citizens that wish to live and/or work in Spain but missed the boat to do this pre-Brexit.
The Immigration Team at Strong Abogados is fluent in English and available to assist with your application for the golden visa and all of the steps along the way. If this isn’t the right route for you, they are also able to offer support regarding the type of Spanish residency/work permit that best suits your needs.
Strong Abogados are also here to help if you are a British expat in possession of a NIE and require assistance to make the switch to a TIE. Contact us below with your requirements and to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.