Residency/Citizenship for Spain

(Please see 'Portugal' page for Portugal's Residency and Golden Visa Programs)

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If your intent is to have residency of Spain, and maybe Citizenship in the future, then please consider two of the prime routes for achieving this:

  • Residence Visa (for those that want to reside in Spain and have sufficient funds to support themselves)
  • Golden Visa (for those that invest a minimum of 500,000 Euros in Property and want Spanish Residency, and maybe Citizenship in the future)

(Please note that a normal ‘tourist’ Travel (Short Stay) Visa to Spain or Schengen states, typically called a Schengen Visa (for a visit period of up to 90 days, within an180 day period) is not being discussed here.)


1. Apply for a (standard) Residence Visa

This needs to happen at the Spanish Embassy / Consulate in South Africa (in Pretoria, Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban). This typically takes one month from submission for a response. The first Visa duration period, if granted, is for 1 year, which can be subsequently be renewed for 2 years. and then for a further 2 years. The next renewal would be for 5 years. Permanent Residency can be considered after a minimum of 5 years of residency (1 year+2 years+2 years). After 10 years legal residency in Spain you can also apply for Spanish citizenship.  This Visa expects that you reside in Spain for 183+ days a year. It can be renewed on an ongoing basis subject to meeting the criteria for sustaining yourself in Spain.

For your Residence Visa, you will be asked to show proof that you have sufficient funds/income to support yourself and your family. This means that you have to show proof of either receiving a fixed and ongoing monthly income (like a Retirement pension) (a salary is not considered a permanent income), OR that you have maintained a high credit balance in your bank account over the preceding year. In either case, the accounts need to be in your name.

Medical support is also a critical consideration. You will need to have private medical insurance and the costs for this depend of your age and other factors, but typically varies between 50 and 150€/month as a minimum, but can be higher depending on level of cover preferred.  

The overall (living) sufficient funds for a 12 months Visa for 1 person are deemed to be approximately 2152 € per month for 12 months. For each subsequent family member, it is approximately 538 € per month for 12 months. For example, for a family with 3 persons, you would have to prove that you have € 38,736 for the one year period. For a 2 years Visa period, you have to prove you have double this amount.  When you apply for 5 years (after the initial 1+2+2 years), it’s not needed to prove availability of any funds, because the only condition to obtaining a 5 years residency is to have lived in Spain for the previous 5 years legally.

Note the above Visa does not give the person a Work Permit. There are several other Visa versions, including those that include a Work Permit (see further down)

At the same time, apply for a Spanish NIE (Numero de Identificacion Extranjeros) – an Identity Number. This is required all people living in Spain that are not Spanish Citizens or Permanent Residents. It will be needed for everything from opening a Bank Account, registering a Property, employment, a driver’s license, etc. An NIE can be applied for via a Consulate in South Africa or at a Police Station in Spain.


2. Apply for a Golden Visa

In 2013, Spain introduced the Golden Visa Program. In summary, this effectively gives a person who invests a minimum of EUR 500,000 in property, residency for his/her family.

(Whilst the Property Investment option is by far the most commonly used method of obtaining a Golden Visa, there are also other options, including putting EUR 1,000,000 into a recognised Spanish Bank Account OR Investing in EUR 2,000,000 of Spanish Bonds.)

Highlights include:
•    Investments may be made over more than one property (adding up to a minimum of € 500,000). Can also be made in the name of a non-Spanish company, providing you are the majority owner.
•    Taxes, Transfer Duty, Legal fees, etc – which typically add up to +/- 11%-12% on top of the property price - are not counted in the € 500,000 amount.
•    Approved Residency will be given to the owner, spouse and children up the age of 18 (if also applied for), as well as Ascendants in certain circumstances. The Visa also does not have a required minimum stay in Spain period. IE You can come and go as you please, but a minimum of one visit is required for each visa period.

•    Visa covers a 5 years period, initially 1 year, then renewed every 2 years. It is possible to carry on renewing the Visa after 5 years if you do not want to opt to go for Permanent Residency, as long as you maintain the requirements for the Visa. Alternatively, Permanent Residency can be applied for and granted after a minimum of 5 years of residency-- and this requires a greater level of residency (183 days minimum per annum in Spain) than the original Visa.

•    Spanish Citizenship can be applied for after 5 years of Permanent Residency, and also has a level of residency in Spain requirement as per Permanent Residency.

•    The Visa program also allows for travel within the Schengen countries.

  • The Visa program allows for the right to Work, without having to apply for a separate work permit

The application normally takes up to 30 days, from date of submission, with all documents lodged.


Typical process for the Golden Visa would be as follows:

A suitable lawyer that specialises in Residency Programs will take care of your application and its process oversight. Once the property has been purchased then the Golden Visa Application can be submitted. Initially, a 1 year visa to live in Spain can be granted and that is then renewable. You may also want to assign Power of Attorney to the Solicitor to assist with various activities in the process. Additionally, you may also require Short Stay Visa(s) up until the Golden Visa process is established. Note that the Legal service is a fee based service, and there is a variance in fees charged by different organisations, which also varies depending on number of applicants, initial and renewal processes, etc, etc.

The Area Specialist Property Agencies listed on the Spanish Property South Africa website have all worked with Solicitors/Lawyers for many years, and in many cases have worked with Solicitors who are Residency Programs Specialists, and may supply input on experiences and recommendations.


* Other Visas that can be applied for

From the Spanish Embassy links below, one can find details on the various Visas that can be applied for and their associated Application forms. The forms are in Spanish, but if you email the Embassy or Consulate, you can ask for the English version.

The Residence Visa referred to in Section 1 above is Form EX01 - Application for temporary non-profit residency authorisation.

One can see other Visas that can be applied for on the website -- eg like EX07 (for Residence and Self Employment) and Others -- that are for both Residence and Work.

Typically, if one is looking for a Self-Employment Visa, one needs to submit a business case showing how one will create work, what jobs it will create, what investment you will make, what proof you have about monies available to invest etc. 

On the other hand, if you have been offered a job by a company in Spain, that company should apply for a work visa for you--and in the process will have to typically show that skills required for the role aren't available in Spain to fulfil that position, or that there are specific exceptional circumstances that warrant hiring an external (to Spain) person.

It is recommended that if you wish to pursue any of these options that you contact the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your area, ask for the Visa Section, inform them of what you are wanting to you, and ask them what process you should follow.


Please call (or mail) Richard for any queries that you might have on these Residency Programs and how we can assist, and also who can help manage the relevant processes if you do not wish to do this yourself.


* Reference points:

1. Spanish Embassy and Consulates in South Africa - Contact Information:   

2. Spanish Consulates in South Africa - Visa Services :  here

3. Information for non-Spanish Nationals (on Spanish Consulate Website):  (for Cape Town)   (for Pretoria)


4. Spain Immigration Portal: Information on procedures for different Visa Requirements and different Nationalities:

5. Spain Immigration Portal - Visa Application Forms: