Half a million euros is the minimum investment. | Archive


The College of Registrars last week revealed that foreign buying of homes in the Balearics in 2022 reached a record level - 6,133 purchases. These were by individuals from other European countries and further afield, some of whom benefited from the so-called Golden Visa, the residence permit for non-EU citizens that is processed in 20 days for outlay of half a million euros and more.

According to data from Spain's ministry of inclusion, social security and migration, 314 permits were granted last year for this type of investment in the Balearics, just over eight per cent of a national total of 3,783. The Balearic Islands are in 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 scheme. It was introduced in 2013 by the then finance minister Cristóbal Montoro (of the Partido Popular) to stimulate foreign investment in Spain, but Brussels has never looked upon it favourably. For some time, the European Commission has been warning Spain and other member states about the risks, given that it can possibly facilitate money laundering.

The Commission has indicated that the true number of these permits is not known due to a "lack of transparency" on behalf of governments. It has been urging its abolition; Portugal has announced that it will do away with the scheme. The leader of the Más País party, Íñigo Errejón, last week demanded that the Spanish government does the same, as these permits also "encourage housing price speculation".

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In the Balearics Islands, most applications come from the US (which has experienced a noticeable increase in recent years), China, Australia and the UK, which heads the list since Brexit.

Lawyer Mar Román of Castell Abogados manages some seventy requests a year. She says that the Golden Visa is "a growing trend" in the Balearics. Most of her clients spend more than the minimum - anything from one to 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 origin of the money used to purchase the home and obtain the permit."

"They don't do much control," agrees Carmen Lebrón of Raso & Abogados Asociados. Some very advantageous conditions have been taken advantage of by British buyers in particular, as they seek the freedoms that membership of the EU previously offered them.