Residence in Spain post Brexit – The golden, non-lucrative and digital nomad visas

Spanish visas

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Spanish visas – When the UK left the EU, UK nationals lost automatic freedom of movement in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. As a ‘third country’ visitor post-Brexit, you can now only spend up to 90 days in the Schengen zone in any rolling 180-day period without a visa.  

This should not prevent you from moving to Spain though. You will need to apply for a residence visa, usually in advance, and while the process is more bureaucratic and complex, it’s worth it to be able to live in Spain.

If you do not intend to work and can support yourself, you could apply for Spain’s non-lucrative visa. Or, if you can also make a substantial investment in Spain, the ‘Golden Visa’ provides more flexibility. Work visas are harder to obtain, but if you can work remotely the new Digital Nomad Visa may be the answer.

Spain’s Non-Lucrative Visa and Residency Permit

If you move to Spain to enjoy your retirement years, you can apply for the ‘non-lucrative visa’. You will need to:

  • Demonstrate you have “sufficient” financial resources to support yourself and any dependents without relying on the state.
  • Have suitable medical health insurance from an insurer in Spain.
  • Provide a recent UK criminal record check and no police record in Spain.
  • Apply at the relevant embassy or consulate in the UK with the relevant documentation in advance of moving.
  • Renew the visa after one year at the Spanish immigration office, and after that every two years. You will need to provide similar proof/documentation each renewal.

After five years you can apply for Spanish permanent residency permit, if eligible.

This non-lucrative visa commits you to spending a certain amount of time in the country (generally 183+ days in a year).  You will be expected to register as a tax resident in Spain and meet your tax obligations, as required.

Download our free Spain Non-Lucrative Visa Guide

Spain’s ‘Golden Visa’

Spain currently offers a more flexible residence option for third-country nationals who can make a substantial capital investment in the country. Known informally as the ‘Golden Visa’, it provides the freedom to come and go as you wish in Spain, including access to public services like state healthcare, without having to become fully resident.

There are two options:

  1. Spanish Golden Visa, which you apply for at the Spanish Consulate in the UK
  2. Spanish Golden Residency Permit, obtained through the Large Business and Strategic Groups Unit in Spain.

Both options require you to make significant qualifying investment in Spain.  The most common way to qualify for this programme is by buying Spanish property worth at least €500,000. Other pathways include buying shares in a company or making a deposit in a Spanish bank of €1 million+ or investing in a new business that offers employment opportunities or other significant local benefits.

You will also need to:

  • Demonstrate you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself and your family in Spain.
  • Have proof of Spanish health insurance and current good health
  • Provide clean police records
  • Not have any bans on entry into Spain or have been found to be there illegally.
  • Renew after one or two years depending on the type. It is then valid for five years, after which you can renew or apply for permanent residency if you have lived in Spain for at least six months a year.

Download our free Spain Golden Visa Guide

Spain’s new Digital Nomad Visa

You may be able to move to Spain a few years earlier than expected now, and not have to wait right until retirement.  The new Start Up Law and its Digital Nomad Visa has opened the door for UK and other non-EU nationals to live and work in Spain if they are able to work remotely.   And besides the considerable benefit of enjoying living in Spain, the regime can offer considerable tax advantages, including for those winding up a UK business.

To qualify for a Digital Nomad Visa, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You work remotely (online) for a company located outside the EU/EEA, or perform a maximum of 20% of your professional activity for a Spanish based company.
  • You have been working for the company for at least three months before application and your work contract is for at least one year.
  • You can demonstrate three years of work-related experience or have graduated from a reputable university or business/training school.
  • Supply a clean criminal record covering the last five years.
  • Have private medical insurance for Spain.
  • Supply a bank certificate proving you have at least €25,000 on deposit, plus €9,441 for each family member who joins you.
  • It is also possible to obtain a visa as an entrepreneur in Spain. Your activity must be considered as entrepreneurial by ENISA (a Spanish state-owned company providing financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises).

If you are approved for the Digital Nomad Visa your spouse and dependent children can live in Spain with you.

Once you are in possession of a Digital Nomad Visa, you can apply to be covered by the so-called ‘Beckham Law Regime’. This tax regime has been modified as part of the Start Up Law to make it even more attractive:

You will be considered as non-tax resident for the year of relocation and the following five tax years.

While your employment income will be taxed in Spain, wherever it is paid/received, the income tax rate for income up to €600,000 is favourable:  just 24%. After that it’s 47%.  When it comes to pension income, only funds accumulated as a Spanish resident are taxed.

Since are you considered non-resident for tax purposes, you will not be liable for wealth or solidarity tax on worldwide assets.  Spanish assets will be liable, but the allowances are very high.

You can apply to be taxed under this regime if you have not been resident in Spain for the previous five years (it used to be ten) and are moving to Spain under an employment contract or with a Digital Nomad Visa.

This new visa for remote workers obviously appeals to digital nomads who fancy living in Spain for a few years.  But it is particularly attractive to UK professionals and businesspeople who plan to retire in the next few years.  If you are on a high UK salary and your company allows you to work remotely, you may be able to move to Spain under the Digital Nomad Visa and pay less income tax under the Beckham regime, including on disposing of UK company shares.

Read the full version of our Digital Nomad Visa article

Blevins Franks specialises in providing cross-border integrated advice covering residence, taxation, pensions, estate planning and investments.  All our recommendations are based on your specific circumstances and objectives.

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Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; individuals should seek personalised advice.