The Balearic Islands, a paradise for foreign property buyers Golden Visa

For wealthy British buyers, the Golden Visa offers a means of residence

Half a million euros is the minimum investment.

The College of Registrars revealed last week that foreign purchases of homes in the Balearic Islands in 2022 had reached a record level – 6,133 purchases. These were people from other European countries and further afield, some of whom had the so-called Golden Visa, the residence permit for non-European citizens that is processed in 20 days for an expense of half a million euros and more.

According to data from the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, 314 permits were granted last year for this type of investment in the Balearic Islands, just over 8% of a national total of 3,783. The Balearic Islands are part of a group of provinces where most of these “visas” are issued – the others are Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga and Alicante. Within the EU, Spain is one of the countries that grants the most of these permits.

The Golden Visa is a thorny issue for the Spanish government, which is reluctant to provide information about the program. It was introduced in 2013 by then Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro (of the Partido Popular) to stimulate foreign investment in Spain, but Brussels never looked favorably on it. For some time, the European Commission has been warning Spain and other member states of the risks, given that it can potentially facilitate money laundering.

The Commission indicated that the actual number of these permits is not known due to a “lack of transparency” on the part of governments. Portugal has announced that it will abolish this regime. The leader of the Más País party, Íñigo Errejón, demanded last week that the Spanish government do the same, because these permits “also encourage speculation in housing prices”.

In the Balearic Islands, most applications come from the United States (which has seen a notable increase in recent years), China, Australia, and the United Kingdom, which has topped the list since the
Brexit .

The lawyer Mar Román de Castell Abogados handles some seventy applications per year. She says that the Golden Visa is “a growing trend” in the Balearic Islands. Most of his clients spend more than the minimum – between
one and four million euros and more

Román explains that the process is laborious but nevertheless extremely smooth compared to immigration procedures for ordinary citizens. However, the filters to guarantee the legality of the origin of the money are minimal, almost non-existent. “There is no control over the source of the money used to buy the house and get the license.”

“They don’t do much monitoring,” acknowledges Carmen Lebrón of Raso & Abogados Asociados. Very advantageous conditions have been taken advantage of by British shoppers, who are seeking the freedoms previously offered by EU membership.

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