A Rough Guide for Visas for International Buyers

Immigration rules can be complex with even more complex procedures but the below should give you a guide – as ever, there are local requirements in each country of the EU, but we will help advise clients on a case-by-case basis.

As an example of this, whilst Golden Visas cost €500,000 in Spain, its €300,000 in Cyprus, and in Portugal there are bands from €280,000 to €500,000 depending on the area in which area you want to invest…. whist in France, there is no such programme!

In general terms, the EU (and Schengen countries) allows for the free movement of people without border controls – you have the right to work and travel but you are still limited to a stay of 90 days in every 6 months, a total of 180 days a year. After these 90 days, you will need to apply for a visa or gain an employment contract to secure residency.

Please also bear in mind that after 183 days in a year, you need to register and are liable for tax in that country – consequently, there are things you need to investigate.

Let's use Spain as an example of the visa programmes that are available outside of having a permanent job – these are detailed below


  1. Golden Visa Programme

The Spanish “Golden Visa” Law was introduced in 2013, allowing non-EU citizens and members of their families the opportunity to obtain a Temporary Residence Permit. The Temporary Resident Permits will also be granted to spouses and any dependent children (under 18 years of age) but doesn’t give the resident benefits such as free healthcare and education or other social benefits. You must have health insurance and be able to show sufficient financial resources to support yourselves as you won’t be able to fall back on state benefits. Key features are as follows

  • Time to citizenship - 10 years (and must reside in Spain)
  • Visa free travel to 29 Schengen countries
  • Investment - Real Estate
  • Investment cost - €500,000
  • Family dependents - spouse and children below 18. Adult children above 18, and parents of main applicant qualify as long as they can prove financial dependency

The process is fairly straight forward.

  • Applications must be processed within 20 days – so it’s a quick procedure
  • Only one visit per year is needed to maintain the permit
  • The GV can be renewed every 2 years
  • You have the right to work as an employee or entrepreneur once you have the 2-year permit
  • No interview, management experience or language test is needed


  • You can achieve Spanish citizenship
  • Step 1 - obtain your GV valid for a maximum of 1 year
  • Step 2 – apply for a 2-year residency, renewable every 2 years – as long as your investment remain in place
  • Step 3 – if you have spent at least 6 months in Spain every year for 5 years, then you can apply for a 5-year permanent residency
  • If you have complied with the above conditions for 10 years then you can apply for Spanish citizenship
  • Limited taxation – if you have stayed in Spain for less than 6 months, then you are only liable for tax on the initial real estate purchase and any benefit from Spanish assets

We use local legal experts and lawyers who can assist and complete the process. Fees on application.


2. Non-Lucrative Visa Programme

If you are planning to move to Spain and not work in the country (at least for the first year), or to retire in the country, this should be your best option. Its granted to non-EU citizens who have the economic means to stay in the country without working. This also applies to an applicant’s relatives, so you can also bring your family with you. Key features are as follows.

  • The permit allows you to stay in Spain for one year after entering the Spanish territory - an initial residence authorization.
  • You will then be able to renew it every 2 years (which is also the length of the renewal), until you get permanent residency after 5 years in the country
  • It does not allow you to carry out any type of economic or professional activity in Spain- you cannot work for any company operating in the country.
  • However, unlike the Golden Visa, you do not need to invest in the country, making it an easy visa to acquire and process.
  • The only thing you have to worry about is having the means to support yourself (and your family). If you can prove that you have sufficient funds and that your stay in the country will not cost the government anything, you will be able to get residency.

The NLV is ideal for those who wish to retire to Spain, and for those who can and wish to spend a year in the country before recommencing work as you can apply for a work permit after this time

What are the main benefits?

  • You can bring your family with you – as long as you can show that you have the means to support them
  • You can get the residency and nationality. Following the initial 1-year permit, you have 2 renewals of 2 years – after which point you can then apply for a 5 year residency which can then lead to citizenship.
    • Please note that for clients from Latin Americans and the Philippines, only 1 x 2 year renewal is required
  • Whilst working is not permitted in the first year (or without a permit), you can invest and use this income source
  • You can study and do paid internships as this is considered educational
  • You can travel with freedom across the Schengen zone


What do you need to qualify for the NLV ?

  • Spain uses a measure called IPREM – this is the indicator of how much you need to support yourself for a year in Spain – currently established @ €6948.24 per year
  • You will need 400% of this - €27,792.96. Please note that this is a minimum reference point and some areas such as the USA or Russia will require more
  • How do you prove this? Spanish immigration law states that you can use any kind of proof, but many different Spanish consulates request a bank certificate of liquid money. Credit cards or property values can also be used here, as long as you also submit with them a document that certifies their validity from your bank.
    • Bear in mind that it will depend on the consulate, but the government will usually look at bank statements from the last six months.
  • You can include your spouse and additional applicants to your application BUT your financial statements must allow for 100% of the IPREM for each i.e. €6948.24  

Applications must commence from outside Spain, but our legal team can help you with the process and the specific documentation required. Fees are available on application

If you would like more information about visas, please complete the contact form below:


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