Spain Golden Visa Program: What You Need to Know

Beach in Spain golden visa program

If you want to move to a country with a rich culture, an affordable cost of living, and beautiful vistas, you may want to look into Spain’s golden visa. For those with capital to invest, the Spanish golden visa offers the aforementioned benefits and many more.

Of course, before deciding whether or not you want to apply for a visa, it’s important to do your research. We know how tough it can be to find reliable yet digestible information on visa programs such as Spain’s — so we’ve created this guide where we’ll go over the visa requirements, application process, tax implications, and more.

What is the Spain golden visa?

Launched in 2013, Spain’s golden visa program (officially called the investor visa) is geared toward foreigners who make a substantial investment in the country. 

It’s a win-win for the Spanish government and visa-holders alike. Economically solvent immigrants stimulate the Spanish economy with investments, spending, and tax dollars — and in exchange, receive a long-term visa that confers with it many privileges.

However, this explanation behind Golden Visa programs may be true in theory only. Here’s the latest update regarding this visa in Spain:

The country is phasing out its “golden visa” program. This will happen due to concerns it’s no longer necessary and is contributing to housing affordability issues instead of revitalizing the property sector after the financial crisis.

The Spanish government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez believes housing should be a right, not a commodity fueled by speculation. They’re concerned the program was inflating property prices, particularly in major cities like Barcelona and Madrid. Because of this, it’s become harder for locals to find affordable housing.

While some argue the program’s impact on overall property prices is minimal, it did attract a significant number of investors, primarily from China and Russia. This, along with broader security concerns raised by the EU in the wake of the Ukraine war, likely played a role in the decision.

With this move, Spain joins a growing list of European countries like Portugal and Ireland who have recently ended or revised their golden visa programs.

Below, we’ll keep the information on obtaining the Spanish “visa dorada” until we have official end dates and further guidance for current visa holders.

The benefits of being a Spanish golden visa holder

Some of the top benefits of Spain’s golden visa include the:

  • Ability to legally live, work, & study in Spain
  • Ability to bring along immediate family members (spouse/partner, dependent parents, dependent children) who may also legally live, work, & study in Spain
  • Large expat community
  • Friendly, welcoming locals
  • Direct pathway to Spanish permanent residence after 5 years & Spanish citizenship after 10 years
  • Freedom of movement within the European Union (EU), Schengen Area, & European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Access to high-quality, affordable Spanish healthcare
  • Lower cost of living — by some estimates, consumer prices in Spain (including rent) are  38% lower than in the US
  • Mild winters & warm summers (throughout most of the country)
  • Beautiful, diverse geographical areas, from beaches to big cities, tropical islands, mountains, forests, & more
  • Rich culture, from tapas to flamenco, Moorish architecture, world-class museums, & more
  • Access to public Spanish educational institutions
  • Low residency requirements — you only have to visit Spain once a year to maintain or renew the permit


If you want to eventually apply for permanent residence, you’ll have to spend an average of 10 months out of the year in Spain.

Requirements for the Spain golden visa

Eligibility criteria & duration

To be eligible for Spain’s golden visa, you must:

  • Be a non-EU citizen
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Make a qualifying investment (more on that in a bit)
  • Have sufficient funds to maintain yourself for the duration of the visa
    • For 2024, the minimum income requirements are €2,400 (~$2,596) per month plus €600 (~$649) per month for each family member you bring with you, or the equivalent in savings
  • Hold a private health insurance policy

The initial visa lasts for one year, after which point you may renew it for a period of two years at a time indefinitely. As mentioned earlier, however, you can also apply for permanent residence after five years of legally living in the country.

Investment options & minimum investment thresholds

There are a variety of investments you can make to qualify for the golden visa, with the minimum qualifying investment threshold being €500,000 (~$540,793).

Several of the most common choices include an investment of a million euros in Spanish stock, substantial bank deposits in Spanish financial institutions, and purchases of property.

The full list of qualifying investment options includes:

  • €2 million (~$2,162,698) in Spanish public debt securities/government bonds
  • €1 million (~$1,081,390) in:
    • Stocks or shares in Spanish companies
    • Venture capital funding
    • A deposit in a Spanish financial institution
  • €500,000 (~$540,793) investment in real estate
  • A business project in Spain of “general interest” that creates jobs, positively impacts the area in which it’s located, or significantly contributes to scientific or technological innovation

Documentation required for the application process

As part of your application, you will need the following documents:

  • Valid passport & copy
  • Completed application form
  • Passport photo
  • Proof of qualifying investment (e.g., declaration of investment, certificate from the financial intermediary at a registered financial institution, favorable report from Economic & Commercial Office)
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • A clean criminal background check
  • Private health insurance policy
  • Fee of €190 (~$205)

Pro tip:

Keep in mind that documents in English will likely need to be translated into Spanish by a sworn translator and that any government documents (e.g. criminal background check) will need to be stamped with the Hague Apostille.

Application process: Step-by-step guide

The application process for Spain’s golden visa involves:

  • Obtaining a NIE (Spanish tax number) & opening a Spanish bank account
  • Making a qualifying investment
  • Gathering all of the required documents and having them translated/apostilled as needed
  • Submitting the application in person at your nearest Spanish consular office or through an authorized legal representative
    • Note: Many Spanish embassies/consulates require an appointment to submit a visa application, while others allow walk-ins. Some even allow you to submit applications by mail. Contact your local consular office to find out about their policies.
  • Receiving approval (typically, you’ll receive a response within 20 working days)
  • Collecting your visa

With your visa, you’ll be all set to go to Spain. Once there, however, you will need to apply for a temporary foreigner residence permit (tarjeta de identificación extranjero, or TIE) within 90 days of your arrival.

Tax implications for golden visa holders

Moving out of the US doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for US taxes. All Americans (even those who live abroad) who meet the minimum income reporting thresholds are subject to US income taxes and must file a federal tax return.

If you owe taxes in Spain as well, that could potentially lead to double taxation on the same income. Fortunately, you can usually avoid this with a well-crafted tax strategy — read on for more details.

Spanish taxes

Anyone who is a tax resident of Spain or earning Spanish-sourced income must file a Spanish tax return. The main form is called a Modelo 100 and can be filed online on the website of the Spanish tax authority, la Agencia Tributaria.

How you’re taxed in Spain depends on your tax residency status. Spain defines tax residents as anyone who:

  • Spends over 183 days per calendar year in Spain, OR
  • Has their principal financial interests located within the country, OR
  • Has a Spanish spouse or dependent children living in the country

Tax residents are taxed on their worldwide income and gains. Spain’s tax rates on general taxable income for the 2023 tax year (the taxes you pay in 2024) are as follows:

Income (EUR)Income (USD)Tax Rate
€0 – €12,450~$0 – $13,46619%
€12,450 – €20,200~$13,466 – $21,84124%
€20,200 – €35,200~$21,841 – $38,04130%
€35,200 – €60,000~$38,041 – $64,84237%
€60,000 – €300,000~$64,842 – $324,20945%

However, savings income — aka the income generated from dividends, interest, capital transactions, life or disability insurance payouts, and capital gains — are taxed differently.

The Spanish savings income tax rates for tax year 2023 are:

Income (EUR)Income (USD)Tax Rate
€0 – €6,000~$0 – $6,48619%
€6,000 – €50,000~$6,486 – $54,04921%
€50,000 – €200,000~$54,049 – $216,19523%
€200,000 – €300,000~$216,195 – $324,20927%

Pro tip:

New residents may qualify for a flat tax rate of 24% on Spanish-earned income under Beckham’s Law within the first five years of their arrival.

On the other hand, non-tax residents are only taxed on their Spanish-sourced income at rates of:

  • General income: 24%
  • Savings income: 19%
  • Royalties: 24%
  • Pensions: Progressive rates between 8% to 40%

US taxes

All US citizens and permanent residents earning above a certain amount must file a US federal tax return. While they are subject to taxes at the same rates as Americans who live within the US, they can often erase their US tax bill with the help of tax breaks.

The two primary tax breaks are the:

  • Foreign Tax Credit (FTC): A provision that allows you to subtract what you’ve paid in foreign income taxes from what you owe the US government in income taxes through tax credits on foreign-source income. As taxes in Spain are higher, this will often not only bring your tax bill down to zero, but also give you tax credits that can be applied toward future tax bills.
  • Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE): A provision that allows Americans who pass either the Physical Presence Test or Bona Fide Residence Test to exclude a certain amount of income from taxation. For the 2023 tax year, you can exclude up to $120,000.

Pro tip:

Those who qualify for the FEIE also automatically qualify for the Foreign Housing Exclusion (FHE), or Foreign Housing Deduction (FHD) if they’re self-employed. This lets them write off certain qualifying foreign housing expenses (e.g. rent, utilities, parking fees, etc.)

Also, you can claim some of the same tax breaks that you would if you were living in the US, such as the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

Along with additional tax breaks, living abroad comes with some changes to your reporting obligations. A couple of reports US expats commonly must file include the:

  • Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR): Required for Americans who have an aggregate of $10,000 or more across foreign financial accounts
  • Statement of Specified Foreign Assets (Form 8938): Required for Americans with more than $200,000 in foreign assets on the last day of the tax year, or more than $300,000 in foreign assets at any point in the tax year.
    • Note: Americans living within US territory may have to file this form as well, although their mandatory filing threshold is much lower: just $50,000.
Bright!Tax, best countries to move to from the US, Spain

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Spain golden visa - FAQ

  • Which is better, Portugal’s golden visa or Spain’s golden visa?

    Portugal used to offer a more favorable tax treatment called the non-habitual resident (NHR) taxation scheme, but it has since closed off to new applicants. Now, those who qualify for Beckham’s law in Spain could pay significantly less in taxes than they would in Portugal. However, Portugal offers a faster track to citizenship (5 years vs. 10 in Spain).

    Ultimately, it comes down to priorities and personal preference — those considering both countries may want to spend extended time in each one before deciding which to apply for.

  • Can I work remotely for an American company with the Spain golden visa?

    Yes. Spain’s golden visa allows you to legally work in the country with no restrictions on where your employer may be based.