Brexit: Why Britons are using golden visas in Spain amid property boom

Holidaymaker shows inside isolation accommodation in Spain

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Now that the UK has left the EU, Britons who want to live in Spain or travel to the country have been left with slightly more limited options. As was the case before Brexit, Britons can stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days during any 180-day period. For visits of more than three months though, a visa is required for non-resident UK nationals to remain in Spain. 

Before Brexit, many British second homeowners without Spanish residency were used to spending six months at a time at their homes in Spain as they enjoyed some winter sun.

But with the 90-day rule now being enforced more strictly by the Spanish authorities, such lengthy stays in Spain are no longer possible without residency.

There is however a residency option for British buyers of Spanish property – Spain’s golden visa scheme.

The golden visa allows individuals and their families to live and work legally in Spain as long as they invest €500,000 (£415,000) in Spanish real estate.

Golden visa holders also have the added benefit of being able to move freely within the Schengen Area.

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A British estate agent based in southern Spain said he is seeing more British buyers using the golden visas, which is contributing to a “property boom”.

Adam Neale runs property company Terra Meridiana in the town of Estepona on the Costa del Sol.

Discussing the impacts of Brexit, he said: “We’ve still got UK buyers. It hasn’t dented the love for Spain, the destination to have a holiday home or permanent home.

“They’re just using other means like golden visas. UK buyers wouldn’t dream of having a golden visa prior to Brexit.

“That was an exotic solution for non-Europeans but now it’s quite widespread the use of the golden visa.

“In terms of Brexit, we haven’t had a negative or positive effect.”

Mr Neale said he had witnessed a “property boom” in Spain as the country emerged from its Covid restrictions.

He said: “We’ve seen a really huge influx of UK clients since the restrictions have been lifted.

“It’s like the Iron Curtain, they lifted those restrictions and it’s like ‘boom’.

“There are a lot more people with a lot of money, and the properties are selling very fast.

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“So, for example, a €9.5million house came on the market two weeks ago, it’s gone.

“That would take two years before, not two weeks.”

Britons accounted for 9.89 percent of all property purchases by foreigners in Spain in the third quarter of last year, according to the Spanish association of registrars.

However, UK nationals have been replaced as the largest cohort of foreign buyers by the Germans.

Mr Neil said: “If you look at the stats, UK buyers are down, but they’ve been supplanted by new economies like Poland and Spain.

“France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, America, Ireland, all the usual suspects, Scandinavians obviously huge and increasing.”

He added: “The pandemic has just fuelled this property boom, which was surprising but it’s worldwide, I think.

“And I suppose we are one of those destinations where people think that they can holiday.

“Maybe they holidayed before in Florida or Turkey, and they think, ‘well, I’d rather have a home that I can get to if I need to, driving’.”

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