As we all know, Brexit has come and gone and the United Kingdom has left the European Union. The transition period for Brits living in Spain has come to an end and so we’re getting a lot of questions about what this means for Brits wanting to buy property and live full time in Spain.
The good news is that there is nothing stopping Brits buying a property in Spain, and anyone who owns a property here in Spain and wants to spend their summers or winters here can still do the same. But a few things have changed, mainly to do with the rights British people have to stay here and the length of time they’re allowed to be here during a year.
To get clarification on the issues, we spoke to attorney Miguel Manzanares and asked him about the legal ramifications of the UK leaving Europe for Brits in Spain. Miguel explained that unfortunately a lot of the legislation that should have passed to give British citizens rights in Spain did not happen last year, so there is still a fair amount of uncertainty and things which need to be clarified. But as it stands at the moment, as non-European citizens, Brits can spend 90 days every six months in Spain without an issue.
However, he predicts that will change when legislation is passed, to apply the same rights as Swiss and Norwegian visitors to the country enjoy. Neither country is a member of the EU, yet they are free to travel to Spain and stay for an unlimited amount of time without restrictions.
At present, if you want to come here on holiday from the UK, absolutely fine. Nothing changes. For people who want to come here and use their holiday home for three or four weeks, or even a month, no problem. Nothing changes. It’s for people who want to move here permanently, that the changes are perhaps going to affect them most.
Because at the moment, according to the new rules, you’re not allowed to, without getting residency. But according to Miguel this may not be as difficult as many people fear.
One way to do this is to apply for a non-lucrative residency if you are coming over to retire and just enjoy the Spanish lifestyle without requiring anything from the state, for example. In this case, all you need to do is prove that you can support yourself in Spain, have a bank account with ideally 35,000 euros to 50,000 euros, ideally own your own property here, have a clean criminal record, take some health checks and have private health insurance.
This shows Spain that you will not require state aid and it is quite a straightforward process. If you want to set up a business here and apply for residency, you once again need to prove you can support yourself in the same way as above and also present a business plan.
However, it’s important to note that with these residency applications, you are committing to spend more that 183 days per year in Spain.
Another option is to take advantage of the Golden Visa system to secure residency. This was launched in September 2013 as a residency for investors and allows anyone who invests 500,000 euros or more into Spain via shares of Spanish companies, government bonds or property to qualify for permanent residence.
If a British citizen has bought a property or properties in Spain from September 2013 and has invested 500,000 euros or more of their own money into those properties, then they qualify retrospectively for permanent residence in Spain. The property must be registered, so it doesn’t apply to a deposit for an off-plan property for example, and it needs to be cash, rather than mortgaged. The Golden Visa plan doesn’t include investment in fees or taxes, only the price of the property. You can, of course, buy a property of 1 million euros, and you invest 500,000, euros and borrow 500,000 euros via a mortgage. The investment is considered those savings that you have put from your side into the properties in Spain.
We believe this will become a very popular option for property owners from the UK who are looking for a way of gaining residency in Spain. It will be particularly popular for people looking for total flexibility to travel and spend varying lengths of time in different countries, as with a Golden Visa you do not need to spend 183 days or more per year in Spain to maintain your residency. You are totally flexible to come and go as you please, as long as you’re in Spain for at least one day a year, you maintain this residency.
We will be watching this situation closely and hope for a more flexible and bespoke agreement between the UK and Spain, as exists for Swiss and Norwegian citizens. As you can see there are already a number of options, so British buyers dreaming of a life in the sun do not have to feel that this is no longer an option.
About the author:
Sean Woolley is the founder and director of leading real estate agency Cloud Nine Spain. Sean has lived and worked in Spain for 20 years.
For more insights into the Spanish property market, and tips on buying property in Spain, pick up a copy of Sean’s new book. “From the Ground Up – The Insider’s Guide to Buying Spanish Property.”
It is available on Amazon now and features a bonus chapter on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Spanish property market.