top of page
Search

Spain to scrap its GOLDEN VISA scheme


Better weather, a lower cost of living and remaining within easy reach of family in the UK are the top reasons that British people choose Spain as a place to retire, according to Raquel Perez, who has spent 28 years helping Britons relocate to her country.


Around 412,000 British people were resident in Spain as of December 2022, according to immigration observatory data. And, says Perez, interest in swapping the UK for a Spanish Costa, city, island or countryside escape is on the up.


Perez is a lawyer and the director of the Perez Legal Group, which is based in Spain.


“We generate potential clients and we are recommended by 27 companies based in the UK to help these clients to relocate to Spain,” she says.


The number of people who have sought help from the Perez Legal Group, which offers legal, tax and accounting services, to move from the UK to Spain is up by around 20 per cent in the last few years.


“We had a huge wave of enquiries after the pandemic, and there was an increase in the run-up to the end of the Brexit transition period,” says Perez.


In 2023, the group helped 476 British people to move to Spain, and all those clients obtained legal residence permits.


Perez has noted another uptick in interest from UK customers since it was announced that Spain will scrap its Golden Visa scheme.


In April, the Spanish Government began the process of cancelling the scheme, which provided a fast track to residency for foreign investors. It was launched in 2013 and offers non-EU citizens a permit to live and work in Spain for three years if they invest at least €500,000 (£429,610) in Spanish property, invest €2m (£1.7m) or more in state bonds or invest in emerging Spanish businesses.


Isabel Rodríguez, prime minister of the Spanish government Department of Properties, said that between 2013 and 2023, 14,576 golden visas were approved and granted to applicants.

Research by Transparency International found that of 6,200 golden visas awarded in 2023, just 177 went to people from the UK.


Most of Perez’s clients apply for a non-lucrative residence visa. Around 70 per cent of the UK nationals that she helps to move to Spain are retirees.


The non-lucrative residence visa allows you to live, although not work, in Spain and apply for a one-year residency permit. You can then extend this permit for up to four more years.


The visa is granted for 90 days, and within one month, applicants need to go to a Spanish police station and organise a fingerprint appointment – something which Perez facilitates for her clients. Then, after 45 days, they are provided with a residency card (the first lasts for one year).


To apply for this visa, the required documents include: a completed and signed national visa application form and non-working residence visa application form; a photograph; a valid and in date passport (minimum validity of one year; passports issued more than 10 years ago will not be accepted); proof of financial means; health insurance; a criminal record check certificate; a medical certificate; proof of residence and payment of fees (see the official information in full).


In the application for this visa, applicants must show they have income, savings, or a combination of the two that meets a certain threshold. This is set at €36,000 (£30,918) for a married couple. For a single person, it is €27,000. The income cannot be from employment but could be, for example, made from property investments in the UK.


Perez adds: “You don’t need to secure a Spanish property before obtaining the visa.


“But just after obtaining it, you need to register in the town hall by buying or renting a property for at least six months.”


There are several other visas that Britons can apply for that will allow them to live and work in the country. They include the digital nomad visa, the residence and employment work visa and the entrepreneur visa, among others.


Perez says the three most challenging steps of moving to Spain are the visa process, generating the savings (or proof of income) required for a visa and understanding taxation in Spain.

“Once you become resident in Spain and spend more than six months here, you cannot choose, you become a tax resident in Spain,” she adds.


However, some clients avoid this by limiting their stay in Spain to six months across each calendar year.


Perez says that, if you do pay tax in Spain, you should seek professional services.


“Tax returns, unless you speak perfect Spanish, should be filed by an accountant.


“There are a few forms you need to file per year and it depends on income and expenses.”

Britons living in Spain also need to decide how they will approach healthcare.


All residents of Spain need to register to access national healthcare. Once registered, basic services are free, but patients must pay for some things.


As detailed on gov.uk, there are different ways in which a UK national living in Spain can access the Spanish national health system. They include: through entitlement to healthcare if they’re employed or self-employed and make social security contributions in Spain; registering a UK-issued S1 form with the social security office; through entitlement to healthcare as a permanent resident if they’ve lived in Spain for five years; paying directly into the public health insurance scheme (Convenio Especial).


The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) can only be used for temporary stays.


Many of Perez’s retired clients use an S1 form as a UK state pension, which is among the exportable benefits that qualify its applicants.


High angle view of a beach in bright sunlight under a blue sky with tiny white clouds in springtime, Villajoyosa, Valencia, Alicante, Spain, Europe.


However, Perez points out that under UK rules, UK nationals who move abroad permanently may lose their entitlement to free NHS healthcare (gov.uk offers further information on this).


As Perez mentions, the affordability of living in Spain compared to the UK is part of its appeal to Britons. Indeed, a Cost of Living Overseas Index for 2024, compiled by Property Guides, found that a “basket of goods” that cost £1,996 in the UK was £1,295 in Spain. This represented a saving of £701. Everyday costs, as well as rents and property prices, will, of course, vary across Spain.


Aside from the visa, tax, health and property hurdles, your ability to integrate into a new community – perhaps one in which you face a language barrier – is another key consideration before relocating to Spain.


Perez says her clients from the UK usually want to move into an area with a strong contingent of other UK nationals or integrate into Spanish life.


“The little England areas are usually along the coastlines,” she says.


Other Britons will look to buy property, perhaps inland, and to get to know the Spanish people there.


They may wish to consider which areas of Spain are contending with a shortage of affordable places to live and opt for a lesser-known part of the country instead.


Perez may have noticed a recent sharp rise in interest from UK clients, but Britons seeking a new life in Spain is nothing new, she says.


“One of the reasons [British] people love Spain is because Spanish people are very welcoming”.



12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page