Spain: Residency/Citizenship

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

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This page discusses Spain's main Residency Options, including the Visa programs supporting them.

(Note: If you are looking for a Tourist/Schengen Visa to cover travel to Spain for a period of up to 90 days in a 180 day period, then this is not discussed here. You should contact BLS Spain for such Visas.)
Three Main Topics below:
1. General Residency and Visa Options
2. Golden Visa
3. References Points
1. General Residency and Visa Options
The programs below are discussed assuming that the person applying (for a Residency Visa) is a Non European Union (non EU) citizen. If you are a EU Citizen, under EU Law you have the right to live in any EU country, subject to you registering yourself in that country for domicile.
Spain has a comprehensive range of Visa programs, most of which give the approved Visa holder (initially) 'Temporary Residency' in Spain. These Visas normally require the Applicant to spend at least 183 days per annum in Spain. In most cases, if this Temporary Residency is renewed and maintained over a minimum consecutive period of 5 years, it will give the Holder the option of applying for Permanent Residency. After a further period of 5 years, Citizenship can optionally be applied for.
In South Africa, the Spanish Embassy's and Consulate's Consular Services is an Application point for these Visas. The Spanish Embassy's Consular Services in Pretoria is the contact point for 'inland' Provinces residents (Gauteng, Limpopo, North West, Free State, Mpumalanga) and the Spanish Consulate in Cape Town is the contact point for 'coastal' Provinces residents (Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, KZN).
Some of the key Base Requirements and Comments on these Visa's include:
* In most cases, an Individual's Spouse/Partner and Dependent Children can be considered alongside the main Applicant in a family Application situation
* Formal and completed Application(s) are required, along with required documentation.
* Proof of Financial Means. Applicants have to show formal proof that they have the funds and/or income to cover a level of costs for the initial visa duration period. The amount can vary by Visa type, but is based on one or more multiples of Spain's IPREM indicator (2023 IPREM monthly value is 600 Euro), consideration of how many family members, and different rates for Main Applicant compared to additional family members. 
* Health Insurance with an approved Health Insurer covering scope comparable to Spain's National Health service. 
* A Criminal Record Check. In South Africa, this is called a Police Clearance Certificate.
* Various other specified requirements
NIE (Foreigner Idenity Number)
A prerequisite to obtaining a Residency Visa is to have acquired an NIE. This is a simple process and can normally be obtained within approximately 3 weeks of NIE Application Submission to Spain's Consular Services. The details of this are on the same Consular webpage as the Visa details -- see below. An NIE registers yourself in Spain, and is required for all types of formalities -- such as Opening a Bank Account, Buying a Property, Getting a Drivers License, for accessing Social Services (assuming you are permitted to do so), conducting various Financial Activities, etc, etc. 
Visa Options (some of the main types)
Non-Working Residence Visa
Often referred to as a Non Lucrative Visa, this is a Residential Visa for individuals that will not be working in Spain. Commonly used by Retirees or 'close to Retirement' indviduals, or indeed by those with the 'Means' to live, without needing to be employed in Spain.
Family Reunification Visa
Family members (Spouse, Partner, children under 18 yrs old, dependent children, ascendent adults that are dependents over 65 years old) who wish to join a legally resident (in Spain) person originally from a non-EU country. Formal/Original documents of relationship are required as part of the Application.
Digital Nomad Visa (NEW in 2023)
For people who would like to be based/living in Spain but working remotely for employers that are not based in Spain or working for oneself -- and using tele and digital means for conducting one's business. Applicants must have a University or Business School degree or have at least 3 years experience in his/her current field of activity.  (Application through BLS Spain)
Self Employed Work Visa
For people wishing to work in Spain on a self-employment basis. Applicant should show skills and experience base, plus a high level plan for proposed self-employment business and associated investment. 
Employee Visa
For people with a formal Job offered in Spain. Need to show Job Contract and Employer's Work Permit for the Applicant.
Study Visa
For people planning to be engaged in Educational/Studying activities that are longer than 90 days. It can be used for a wide range of Study courses and activities (see the Visa details on the Consular Service website - below) and requires Proof of Acceptance for the Studying program/activity, as well as several other requirements already eluded to above as Visa - Key Basic Requirements
Other Visas -- various other niche or specialist Visas (see the Consulate's websites)

Details of Visas, NIE and Application Processess are on the Consulates' websites (see '3. Reference Points'  below)


2. Investor Visa (commonly referred to as 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 Spanish Owned companies' shares OR Investing EUR 2,000,000 in 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%-13% 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) (adult children that have not established their own family and who have a financial dependency on the Investor can also be applied for) , as well as Ascendants in deemed to be in the Investor's care. 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. 
The Visa program allows for the right to Work, without having to apply for a separate work permit

•    Visas covers a 3 year period initially and then have 5 year period renewals. It is possible to carry on renewing the Visa 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 after a minimum of 5 years of residency and living in Spain in excess of 183 days per annum. Once granted Permanent Residency, you can (if you choose to) sell you property investment that you made for the Golden Visa.

•    Spanish Citizenship can be applied for after 5 years of Permanent Residency, and that you have lived in Spain for a minimum of 183 days per annum during this time.

Typical process for the Golden Visa would be as follows:

You appoint a suitable lawyer that specialises in Residency Programs and who will take care of your application and its process management and oversight. Once the property has been purchased then the Golden Visa Application can be submitted. Initially, a 3 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. 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.


Please call (or mail) Richard (0825704274) 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.

Please note that full details on all the programs, and any changes and latest status, should always be based on the relevant Spanish Authorities' information, processes and decisions


3. Reference points:

A. Spanish Embassy and Consulates in South Africa - Location & Contact Information:      (Pretoria)     (Cape Town)


B. Spanish Consular Services in South Africa: Visa Services : Details of Visas - Types, Application Process and Requirements    (Pretoria)     (Cape Town)