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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: How do I officially give up my Spanish residency?

If you're leaving Spain for good or for a long period of time, then you will need to make sure that you deregister before you leave, essentially giving up or renouncing your Spanish residency. Here's how to do it.

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Renouncing Spanish residency. Photo: Rudy and Peter Skitterians / Pixabay

There are several reasons you will want to make sure you renounce your Spanish residency when you leave, rather than just simply leaving.

The most common one is so that you can prove that you’re no longer resident in Spain for tax purposes. 

How do I go about renouncing my residency? 

In order to renounce your residency, you will need to go back to the National Police Station or Oficina de Extranjería where you first originally registered or received your residency documents. Remember that in some regions or cities, you will need to make a ‘cita previa‘ or prior appointment in order to visit, and sometimes this can take several months to get.

You will need to take your residency documents such as your green residency card featuring your NIE or your TIE along with your passport.

If you are an EU citizen and have a green residency document, you will need to complete the modelo EX-18 or EX-18 form and check the box that says ‘Baja por cese’. The form then gives you space to state the reason why you are leaving.

In the case of non-EU citizens, you only have to renounce your residency if you have permanent residency or you’re leaving before the date that your residency or visa will expire. In this case, you should take the above documents to the Oficina de Extranjería, where they will give you the necessary forms to complete.

They will ensure that you don’t have any outstanding taxes, fees or fines to pay before cancelling your residency. 

When you give up your residency, you will be issued with a stamped document detailing the date when you renounced your residency and the reason for it. This is proof that you are no longer resident in Spain, should you ever need to show it to anyone.

The authorities will keep and destroy your residency documents so that they are no longer in your possession and will no longer be valid. 

Remember, if you are a citizen of a non-EU country such as the UK or the US, you cannot simply undo this process if you change your mind. It will mean starting from scratch and applying for your visa all over again, if you’re eligible. 

READ ALSO – Q&A: Everything you need to know about Spanish residency for Brits post-Brexit

Are there any other places I have to de-register from?

Although you have officially renounced your residency after going to the National Police Station or Oficina de Extranjería, there are still a few other things you need to do.

The first is to go to your Ayuntamiento or Town Hall and inform them that you want to de-register from the padrón, this will ensure that you will no longer be listed as living at your address.

READ ALSO – Empadronamiento in Spain: What is it and how do I apply?

You must also remember to inform your bank of your plans to move. You can either decide to close your account or change your account from a resident one to a non-resident one, if you will still have financial obligations in the country. Showing them the certificate you received at the National Police Station or Oficina de Extranjería should suffice in being able to change your account. 

This step is important because if you simply just withdraw your money and leave, you may still incur charges if it’s not closed properly.

READ ALSO:

What are my tax obligations after leaving Spain?

If you renounce your Spanish residency and move to another country, it’s most likely that you will not be a tax resident in Spain anymore. However, you may still need to present one more tax return in the year after you leave as taxes are presented retrospectively. 

If you still own a property in Spain, you will need to complete a non-resident tax declaration form every year. You will also need to pay tax on earnings from any rent you receive. 

READ ALSO: How to deregister as self-employed in Spain

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For members

RESIDENCY PERMITS

Spain vs Portugal: Which Golden Visa is better for you?

Iberian neighbours Spain and Portugal both offer the highly sought-after 'golden visa' for non-EU nationals who want to move to Europe. But what are the differences between them and which one is best suited to you?

Spain vs Portugal: Which Golden Visa is better for you?

Getting a visa or residency in a European country can feel near impossible if you’re a third-party national.

The EU’s ‘golden visa’ – sometimes known as as an investor visa – gives non-EU citizens the right to live in Europe, enjoy borderless travel within the Schengen zone, and even begin the process to gaining European citizenship if they meet several criteria.

This special visa is of particular interest to Britons searching for a way to move to the EU in the aftermath of Brexit, and has also proven popular with Americans, Russians, Chinese and Indian citizens who can afford it.

READ MORE: What foreigners should be aware of before applying for Spain’s Golden Visa 

What is a ‘Golden Visa?’

The golden visa is an EU immigration programme that awards residence permits in foreign countries in return for investment. It varies between countries (not all EU nations offer it), but often it involves purchasing a property of a certain value, creating a company or job opportunities, or in some instances contributing to a national development fund or investing in stocks and shares.

Two of the most popular European countries for golden visas (and for tourists and retirees in general) are Spain and Portugal. 

Since the scheme was launched back in 2013, the number of third country nationals applying has risen every year. In 2019, Spain issued this visa to a record 8,000 non-EU nationals.

Both countries are famed for their temperate climate, beaches, culture and relaxed lifestyle, but which of the golden visas is better: Spain’s or Portugal’s?

See below for the minimum investment needed; the type of investments you can make; how long it takes to get citizenship; whether the golden visa gives you free travel around the Schengen area; how long the application takes; the rules on residency, and how long you must spend in the country; and whether family members are included.

The facts

  Spain Portugal
Minimum investment required €500,000 €250,000
Type of investment Property over €500,000; €1 million in a Spanish company; €1 million in a Spanish bank account; at least €2 million in Spanish public debt securities. Property over €500,000 or urban renovation of €350,000; business startup creating at least 10 jobs; capital transfer of €1.5 million; research and development investment of €500,000; €250,000 contribution in the arts. 
Citizenship timeline 10 years 5 years
Schengen Travel? Yes Yes
Application time 20 business days processing once documentation is received; 2/3 months in total. 3-6 months
Residency rules Must visit Spain once a year. 1 week for the first year; 14 days every 2 years after.
Family included? Partner, dependents and children (under 18). Partner, dependents, children, parents of the main applicant if over the age of 65 years old (under 18 or dependent and unmarried children who are under 26 and in full-time education).

Changes to Portuguese Golden Visa

New visa rules came into effect in Portugal from January 1st 2022. These have mainly increased some of the minimum investment thresholds (but not the arts investment, which at €250,000 remains the cheapest route to a golden visa for either Portugal or Spain) and have changed some of the geographic requirements for property investment.

Keen to stimulate investment in the less touristy parts of Portugal, buying a residential property in big urban centres such as Lisbon or Porto or in the popular coastal regions such as the Algarve are no longer sufficient to qualify for a golden visa.

As of 2022, property investments must be in Madeira, Azores, or Portuguese inland regions and rural or low-density areas. In such areas, a 20 percent discount on the investment is offered.

You can find the full geographical breakdown of investment areas here, although be warned the text is in Portuguese. 

In Spain you can buy several properties which add up to €500,000

One option for the visa is to buy a property for €500,000 or more, but you are not required to spend it all on one property. You will still be eligible for the visa if you buy multiple properties, as long as the total amount adds up to more than €500,000.

The extra costs

Besides parting ways with half a million Euros to get a visa, both Spain and Portugal require some hefty application fees for the scheme.

Fee Spain Portugal
Application €70 per applicant €80 per applicant
Approval €5,000 per applicant €5,857 per applicant
Renewals €3,000 per visa holder €3,195 per visa holder
     

Tax benefits

One advantage of the Portuguese Golden Visa scheme is its tax rules.

Portugal’s Golden Visa program offers the ultimate tax advantage. Golden Visa holders are eligible for Portugal’s NHR Tax Scheme, a system that grants tax-exemptions for up to ten years.

Exemptions include income obtained from pensions, capital, income from property and capital gains, intellectual property and industrial property. The property tax transfer system means that Golden Visa holders pay the same rates as local residents.

In Spain, all foreign residents are taxed on their ‘worldwide income’ if they are in Spain for more than 183 days a year. For non-residents, tax is charged at 24.75 percent on income earned in Spain.

Getting the golden visa, however, doesn’t mean you have to reside in Spain or spend a certain amount of time here in order to renew it. This means that you don’t have become a tax resident. The only requirement is to visit once a year to renew your permit.

READ MORE: Property in Spain: Is now a good time to buy a home? 

The golden visa is retroactive in Spain

This means that if you already bought a property in Spain worth over €500,000 after 2014, but didn’t apply for a golden visa at the time, it’s still possible to do it now.

The property can be sold once you have obtained permanent residency in Spain. Once you have lived in Spain for more than five years and have obtained permanent residency, you are able to sell the property without forfeiting your right to reside in Spain.

You cannot, however, use a mortgage loan or financing for your investments. This cannot be done through a mortgage company or a loan, and must be from your own pocket.

Conclusion

Portugal and Spain’s golden visa schemes offer fantastic opportunities to relocate to an EU member state.

Both offer you the chance to enjoy borderless travel in EU member states, but they both also require you to have a significant amount of money saved up in order to invest it in property, renovation, shares, capital transfers, or debit securities.

If you’re concerned about taxes, perhaps the benefits of the Portuguese visa might entice you. It is worth remembering, though, that the recent changes to the Portuguese system now mean there are geographical limits on property investments meaning you can’t buy in popular areas. 

If you’re overly concerned about location, the Spanish golden visa gives you more freedom to choose where you live.

The sums for property investment are broadly similar, sitting at €500,000 in both countries, although in Portugal there are discounts for taking on renovation projects and purchasing property in sparsely populated areas which could reduce the amount of your investment quite significantly.

In Spain, the property threshold, regardless of where it is or what type of property it is, is a flat €500,000.

Both golden visas have very little in terms of residency requirements, although in Portugal the time to gaining citizenship is just 5 years, half of Spain’s 10-year wait. With the golden visa, in Spain you can obtain permanent residency after five years.

If you’re still undecided, the article below may help you pick between Portugal and Spain.

READ MORE: Portugal vs Spain – Which country is better to move to?

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