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Reader question: Can second-home owners get a residence permit in Spain?

two retirees jog on a beach in the morning
Does having a property in Spain make it easier in terms of getting residency? Photo: Arek Socha/Pixabay
Does owning a property in Spain automatically give you the right to Spanish residency? Or is the process at least made easier? The answer to these important questions foreign second home owners in Spain may have are here. 

In a nutshell, does Spanish property grant Spanish residency?

No, not automatically.

There are different factors to consider, such as nationality, the type of permit, or the value of the property, but owning a Spanish home in itself doesn’t immediately give a second home owner the right to Spanish residency.

EU or non-EU: Why nationality matters

EU/EEA and Switzerland

Spain’s Interior Ministry makes no mention of property ownership being a justifiable reason for EU nationals to gain residency in the country. 

But EU/EEA and Swiss nationals can apply for residency in Spain irrespective of whether they own a property in the country or not. 

Most enjoy the benefits of free movement and therefore don’t have to abide by the 90 out of 180 days rule within the Schengen Area. 

Technically after three months in Spain, EU second home owners are supposed to apply for Spanish residency, but this is not monitored in the same way as it is for non-EU nationals. 

They have the right to residence in Spain if they have a job or are self-employed here, they’re students, their partners are Spanish nationals or residents, or they have enough financial means/private medical cover to support themselves and their families in Spain. 

Other conditions are lenient, such as the fact that even if EU/EEA nationals lose their jobs in Spain, they can hold on to residency in most cases.

In any case, they are expected to go to their local Extranjería (migration) office before that first 90-day period in Spain has elapsed to register their details and provide proof of their status and address.

If they provide the necessary proof and documents, they will be “immediately” issued with a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión, (the green residency document that Britons also used to get) which indicates that not much scrutiny is involved.

In fact, in accordance with art. 15 of Spain’s Royal Decree 240/2007, “the residence, entry or permanence of a citizen of the European Union in Spain may only be denied when there are reasons of public safety, public order or public health”.

So although EU nationals should register as residents and do have to provide some documentation if they intend to stay, in many ways it seems to be just a formality by Spanish authorities to have a record of EU nationals living in their country. 

Non-EU

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals second home owners in Spain can also apply for residency, but the requirements are generally much stricter and painstaking.

If they want to apply for a residency permit through a job, they should keep in mind that Spanish employers have to first prove there were no suitable EU candidates available for the position.

If they want to apply for residency through a self-employment visa, they’ll have to present a detailed business plan which is assessed by a panel of experts, set up a business which creates jobs and more. 

If they want to apply by harnessing their financial means, the non-lucrative visa is the best option for them, although a non-EU couple would have to show they had an annual income of €33,894, more than three times EU/EEA/Swiss nationals have to show to gain residency – €10,167. 

Spain’s non-lucrative visa also doesn’t allow holders to work, and they’ll have to take out comprehensive private medical insurance with no co-payments.

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Can owning a property in Spain help non-EU nationals with residency?

Yes it can, but the value of the property, or the added sum of several Spanish properties, has to be above €500,000. 

If non-resident second home owners wished to apply for residency by harnessing their Spanish property/ies, they’d have to do so through Spain’s golden visa. 

houses in the asturias town of potes
Buying property in Spain worth €500,000+ is the one way second home owners can harness their Spanish home to get residency. Photo: The Asturian town of Potes in northern Spain (Enrique/Pixabay)

There are other options through this visa, such as investing €2 million in public debt, buying Spanish shares worth €1million or depositing €1 million in a Spanish bank, but logically the property option is the most popular.

The scheme applies retroactively in many cases, so if second home owners bought the property/ies after September 2013, they can apply in 2021 or later.

Likewise, if a non-EU property buyer purchases a second home in Spain years later and thus holds more than €500K worth in Spanish real estate, they would be able to apply for the visa.

For second home owners who are lucky enough to be able to apply, there are plenty of perks such as securing residency  for family members, being able to work in Spain and not having to live in the country without really risking losing residency (one visit a year). 

It’s also worth noting that if second home owners spend 183+ days in Spain, they are then consider tax residents. 

You should also remember that you still need to apply for a Spanish residency card – the TIE – after getting your visa, a relatively straightforward process as you’ve already met Spain’s requirements through the approved visa.

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