Spanish Residency by Investments

Getting a residence permit by investment, commonly known as a golden visa, is rapidly gaining popularity these days, and Spain offers some of the most convenient terms in the EU. In this article, we will first explain the basic principles of such permits and describe different types of investments to make for this purpose. We will then explain in detail the process of obtaining a golden visa in Spain, as well as the benefits thereof.

Spanish Investor Visas

Very simply put, a golden visa program offers a legal status in the country, with a possibility to apply for citizenship at a later stage, in exchange for a specified minimum investment in the national economy. The preliminary requirements are minimal too. The applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 and financially self-sufficient.

  • Have a good police record and medical insurance.

If you meet these conditions and make the necessary investments (see the relevant sections below), you can apply for a residence permit, and it will be extended to your family members too, specifically your:

  • Spouse and underage children.

  • Children over 18 if they are single and depend on you financially.

  • Parents and parents-in-law if they depend on you financially .

Benefits of Spanish Investor Visas

  1. Spain is a developed country with a relatively high quality and standard of living by various human indices and macroeconomic variables.

  2. The ratio of average income in Spain to the cost of living there compares favourably with other countries in Europe and around the world.

  3. According to Henley & Partners, a Spanish passport ranks third in the world, allowing its bearer to travel visa-free or with a visa on arrival to 190 countries across the continents.

  4. A Spanish residence permit will allow you to travel and live in Europe freely, and your family members will be able to accompany you and even stay there in your absence.

  5. Real estate investment in Spain will give you an opportunity to benefit from the advanced educational, medical, financial and banking services all over the European Union.

  6. You will not have to spend more than one day per year in Spain in order to obtain and retain your residence status.

  7. Once you receive your permit and spend a specified number of years in the country, you and your family will be eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship. 

Types of Investments

Purchasing a private property is the most common form of investments for the purpose of acquiring a residence status, but there are alternative options too, as shown in the table below: 


Real estate

Government bonds

Stock and shares

Capital transfer

Minimum amount





Spain vs. Portugal

Let us briefly compare the basic terms in Spain and Portugal, since the latter offers one of the best golden visa programs in Europe too. 




Property investment



Alternative investment

€1 million


Application processing

4 months

Up to 6 months

TR/PR renewal

2/5 years

2/5 years

Number of years to citizenship



Income tax



As you can see, the terms are very similar, except that in Portugal:

  • Investment opportunities are more limited,

  • Real estate investments are considerably lower,

  • The path to citizenship is much shorter,

  • Income tax is almost twice as high. 

Corresponding Taxes

The table below shows the most significant taxes you will have to pay as a Spanish resident: 

Income Tax


Annual Property Tax


None for the first €50K;

24–27% for everything above that


Note: your foreign income will be exempt from taxation if you reside in Spain less than 183 days each year.

Foreigner Identity Number

Technically known as the NIE, this will be one of your most important identity numbers in Spain, and you will do well to apply for it as soon as you arrive in the country or even prior to that. According to numerous expat reviews, the actual process of applying for and receiving the NIE is often difficult and confusing.

NIE vs. NIF vs. ID

Part of the problem stems from the fact that expats themselves confuse the NIE with the NIF and ID numbers. Let us take a brief look at the three.

  1. The ID is an identification number issued to nationals and naturalised citizens, and it works pretty much the same as the IDs in other countries.

  2. The NIF is a tax identification number used exclusively for taxation purposes, and it says nothing about one's residence status in the country. You only need to apply for it if you become eligible for income or other forms of taxation.

  3. The NIE is a number linked to a foreigner's residence permit, and it will serve as his or her main identification number until, if it happens, he or she becomes a Spanish citizen, in which case it will be replaced with the ID. 


Legally, the Foreign Identification Number is a must for three categories of aliens, namely:

  1. Employed, self-employed, remote and freelance workers in Spain.

  2. Foreigners who have obtained their permanent resident status on some other grounds, e.g. by investment.

  3. Family members of the main applicant accompanying him or her in Spain.

The NIE is issued as a standard certificate the size of an A4 page and contains the following information about its bearer:

  • Name and surname,

  • Nationality,

  • Date and place of birth,

  • Gender,

  • Residential address.

In addition, it shows the actual identification number and date of registration, as well as the National Police stamp and the signature of the police officer who issued the document. You will need your NIE on numerous occasions when you live in Spain, such as:

  • Opening a bank account,

  • Applying for a loan,

  • Purchasing or selling a vehicle or private property,

  • Getting a driver's licence,

  • Registering a commercial enterprise,

  • Signing a contract of employment,

  • Submitting a tax declaration,

  • Applying for social security,

  • Buying a SIM-card,

  • Enrolling in an educational institution. 

Required Documents

You can apply for the NIE directly in the relevant government offices, at a Spanish Consulate overseas or via a legal agent. Whichever way you decide to do it, you will need the following documents:

  • Your passport or ID.

  • Two passport-size photographs.

  • Your contact details, such as a phone number and e-mail address.

  • Confirmation of a residential address, which may be permanent or even just a hotel.

  • In case you apply via an agent, confirmation of the latter's power of attorney.

  • The originals of the EX-15 and 790-012 application forms completed in Spanish.

  • Receipts for the application fees (12 euros for the EX-15 and 10 euros for the 790-012).

All foreign documents must be translated into Spanish (if necessary) and certified by a notary. And keep in mind that the certificate will have to be renewed every three months, which can be done at the nearest police station in Spain or a consulate if you are outside the country. 

Opening a Bank Account in Spain

Another thing you probably need to do as soon as you arrive in Spain is to open an account in a local bank. Technically, you do not have to do it for any purposes, including the application for a residence permit. Besides, in all cases when you may need an account, you are free to use a foreign one.

Still, living without a bank account is almost impossible in the modern world, so it is better to open one as soon as you can. And managing your finances via a local bank will be considerably cheaper in terms of transaction fees.

In Spanish banks, you will have two options, namely resident or non-resident accounts. If you already have a permanent residence permit and reside in the country permanently, you can choose any of the two. Otherwise, you will have to apply for the former. And when you receive your residence status, you can always switch to the other one, which will only take a few minutes.

Note: to apply for a resident account, you need to spend at least 183 days per year in the country.

Required Documents

To open a resident account, you will need:

  • Your passport or ID,

  • Proof of income (active or passive, foreign or local),

  • Confirmation of a residential address in Spain (any utility bill will do, provided it is not older than three months),

  • Your Foreigner Identity Number (see the previous section on what it is and how to get it).

Note: lots of banks will agree to open an account for you even if you do not have the NIE yet, although having one by this time will make the process much easier and quicker.

To open a non-resident account, you will also need to submit a copy of your non-resident certificate. You can apply for it at the nearest police station and receive it in about ten days free of charge. Alternatively, you can ask the bank to apply for it on your behalf, which will save you unnecessary visits to the police. Besides, this service will only cost you about 15 euros, which is not very much in any case. 

Registration Procedures

The easiest and safest way is to do it all in person, and it will speed up the process a lot if you speak Spanish or come with an interpreter, especially at the police station. Applying for a non-resident certificate will only take about an hour; and when you visit the bank in ten days, opening an account will most likely take even less time.

Otherwise, you can complete the entire procedure online, which may be the best option if you live outside Spain and do not visit the country often. However, obtaining the certificate directly from the police will be out of the question in this case, of course.

As a general rule, online registration with Spanish banks is a perfectly safe and hassle-free procedure. The only potential problem is the quality of English on the official webpages of many banks, which can make a big difference in financial matters. And if anything needs to be clarified, phone conversations never work as well as personal visits. 

Registration and Transaction Fees

As we have mentioned above, you will have to pay 15 euros if you want the bank to arrange a non-resident certificate for you. Apart from that, the registration fees differ a lot across the banks, and some of them will even offer you an account for free.

In most cases, however, you can expect to pay:

  • Around 12–15 euros for a debit card,

  • Double that amount for a credit card,

  • About 10–15 euros per year for the maintenance of a current account.

There will be no withdrawal transaction fees if you use your bank's ATMs; otherwise, expect to pay about two euros for any ATM transaction. 

Best Banks

The table below shows the most popular Spanish banks in the local expat community: 

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria

Banco de Sabadell

Banco Popular Español


ING Mobile Bank

La Caixa Bank

N26 Online Bank


Mortgage Loans for Permanent Residence Purposes

In general, Spanish banks offer mortgage loans to foreigners on relatively favourable terms by European standards. In the case of residence by investment in real estate, though, the minimum amount of €500K has to be paid in cash, according to the Spanish immigration law.

However, if the property in question costs more than that, the excess amount may legally be borrowed from a bank. The most significant factors affecting the bank's decision will be your credit history, current income and legal status in the country.

As a rule, residents have better chances than non-residents, and they are usually offered better terms too. For example, if you are a resident, they can lend you as much as 80% of the property's total value, as opposed to the maximum of 70% offered otherwise. In any case, the loan amount cannot be less than €50K.

The average interest rate is currently about 2.5%, and the loans are issued for up to 30 years. The monthly installments are calculated not to exceed 35% of the borrower's monthly income. Moreover, the borrower must be at least 18 years old, and his or her age by the end of the loan term must not exceed 65. 

Required Documents

To apply for a mortgage loan, you will need:

  • Your passport or ID,

  • Your Foreigner Identity Number (see the relevant section above on what it is and how to get it),

  • Proof of a stable income,

  • Your credit history and records of your current debts and assets,

  • Confirmation that property tax is being paid on time,

  • Preliminary sales agreement with the previous owner.

In case you are self-employed, you will also need to confirm your income for up to three years prior to the date and submit a copy of your self-assessment tax return for the specified period. 

Costs and Fees

On top of the 2.5 % interest, there will be some additional fixed and variable expenses to bear, the most important of which include the following: 

Mortgage issuance fee

Annual real estate insurance

Property valuation by the lender

0.5%–2% (1% on average)

0.2% of the property's total value

Up to €1K

In most cases, transaction costs and fees come to about 15% of the property's total purchase value. And if all the documents are in order, your application will most likely be approved in about six to eight weeks. 

Documents for Visa Application

There will be different documentation requirements, depending on the type of investment. Nonetheless, you will need to submit the following documents in any case:

  1. Your passport, which must be valid for at least 15 months past the application date, with photocopies of all pages.

  2. Two recent passport-size colour photos (3.5 by 4.5 mm).

  3. Two copies of the visa application form completed in Spanish.

  4. Medical insurance, which must be valid for at least one year past the application date.

  5. Any confirmation of your residential address in Spain.

  6. Proof of sufficient income to support yourself and, if applicable, your family accompanying you for a year ahead (the income can be passive or active, local or foreign).

  7. In the case of family members living with you in Spain, marriage and birth certificates that confirm your family ties.

  8. Police clearance from the EU and your country of origin, issued within three months before the application date.

  9. Receipt for the application fee of 60 euros.

  10. In case you apply via a legal agent, confirmation of the latter's power of attorney.

Note: all documents in a foreign language must be translated into Spanish, certified by a notary in Spain or a Spanish Consulate, and apostilled.

Real Estate Investment: Additional Documents

  1. A property valuation certificate issued by the Land Register.

  2. The property purchase agreement to confirm its price.

  3. Proof that the relevant taxes have been paid. 

Other Types of Investments: Additional Documents

Depending on whether you invest in government bonds or a national commercial enterprise, as well as in the case of capital transfer, you will also need to submit one or more of the following documents, all of which must be issued within one year prior to the application date:

  1. A copy of your investment application (to submit to the Register of Foreign Investments).

  2. The contract of purchase of shares and/or bonds (certified by the National Bank of Spain or the Commission of National Security) to prove that you have been the owner of the assets in question for at least five years prior to the application date.

  3. All the bank statements that confirm the relevant capital transfer transactions.

Application Process

The procedure is quite straightforward and logically follows the presentation of the material in this article:

  1. Select the type of investment that suits you best.

  2. Complete all the necessary financial and legal transactions.

  3. Apply for the NIE, NIF and other identity numbers that you might need.

  4. Open a Spanish bank account.

  5. Collect the required documentation and submit an application for a golden visa:

    1. In the relevant government office,

    2. At any Spanish Consulate,

    3. Via a reliable legal agent online,

    4. Through your lawyer.

  6. Fly to Spain to receive your residence card and enjoy your new status in the EU.

Note: the application processing time is about 2–3 weeks in most cases, and the average total expenses come to about €8K per applicant, plus another €2–3K for the applicant's family of a medium size.

Renewal Procedure

Generally, the process of renewing your temporary or permanent residence permits is very quick and hassle-free. All you do is come to the relevant government office and fill out a renewal application form, but you can also let your legal agent do it on your behalf. The risk of being rejected is practically nil, provided you meet the following conditions:

  1. Your criminal record stays impeccable.

  2. The property purchased for the residence purposes remains in your possession.

  3. You are never absent from the country for longer than six months a year. 

Citizenship for Investments

One frequently asked question is, can one buy Spanish citizenship? Technically, there is no such category as citizenship by investment. But you can proceed towards it in several steps, and when you apply for a Spanish golden visa, it may be the beginning of your way to getting citizenship in this country. But the process will be quite long, and it breaks down as follows:

  1. You will first apply for a Spanish investor visa and receive a temporary residence permit in about two to four months.

  2. This permit will be issued for two years, after which you can apply for a permanent residence permit, which is given for five years.

  3. From then on, you can either continue to reside in Spain with your permanent residence permit, renewing it every five years, or apply for citizenship once you have lived there for ten consecutive years, staying in the country for at least 183 days per year.

Note: Since the list of countries with which Spain does not accept dual citizenship is quite long, there is a high risk that you may have to give up yours in the process of applying for a Spanish passport.


Spain offers relatively uncomplicated terms for obtaining an EU residence status, and making investments in its real estate or other sectors of the Spanish economy is one of the most convenient ways to get there, provided you have sufficient funds for the purpose.

We hope our article will make it easy for you to go about it. Should you have any additional questions, though, you can always browse the official government sites, visit the nearest Spanish Consulate or discuss the matter with your legal agent.

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