Why the end of the Spanish Golden Visa is NOT a blow for expats and most Britons hoping to move there

Why the end of the Spanish Golden Visa is NOT a blow for expats and most Britons hoping to move there

Why the end of the Spanish Golden Visa is NOT a blow for expats and most Britons hoping to move there

This week Spain announced it is getting rid of its golden visa scheme. 

This scheme introduced a decade ago to tempt non-EU nationals to buy property worth €500,000 in return for Spanish residency, has now been scrapped with the left-wing government blaming it for price speculation and pricing locals out of home ownership. 

But leaving aside whether this is true – and the government is referring particularly to the cities of Madid, Malaga and Barcelona where 70% of the golden visas have been granted - what does it mean for British people hoping to move to Spain?  

The bottom line is very little for most.  Even those that do have €500,000 to spend on an unmortgaged home (and show sufficient financial resources to live on) may well still have time to buy a home before the change gets passed through the Spanish legal system. Timings have not been confirmed yet.  

How many people have a golden visa?

More importantly, most British buyers in Spain have not applied for a golden visa. Since 2013 only 165 have done so, a fraction of the 10,000 that buy a home in the country each year, and a minuscule portion of the 4,120,381 property sales in Spain last year.  

Some more numbers to cut through some of the rather over-dramatic headlines on this story.  

Only 0.25% of real estate transactions in Spain since 2016 (10,186 of 4,120,381) were used for golden visas: or 1.93% of those from 527,905 international buyers, according to the Housing Ministry.  

Of those expats that do have them, it is unlikely they will be rescinded – whilst some will have already converted to permanent residency after five years of holding one.  

What are the alternatives?

But Britons moving to Spain – and typically spending much less than €500,000 on a home – typically choose either the Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) to relocate there (if they don’t want to work and if they don’t mind becoming tax resident in Spain and subject to Spanish wealth tax), or they choose the Digital Nomad Visa if they wish to remote-work in Spain.  

The NLV is especially popular with retirees or those who wish to take a year out and set up a business in Spain (they can convert the NLV to a self-employment visa more easily when they are already based in Spain).  

The Digital Nomad Visa can bring tax benefits too. Holders can apply - within six months – for the Special Expats’ Tax Regime (SETR), or Beckham Law – which means a flat 24 per cent rate tax of income tax up to €600,000.   

Read more

Those thinking of moving to Spain should take advice on taxation (the Balearic regional government has followed Madrid and Andalusia and raised its wealth tax threshold recently), and relocation experts on the minimum financial resources needed for these visas (for the NLV it is around €36,000 for a married couple per year; for the DNV it is €43,659 per year for a digital worker plus partner). There are also private healthcare costs to consider, depending on age, and set-up costs.  


Liz Rowlinson