Spain announces plans to scrap 'golden visa' scheme in major blow to British expats

8 April 2024, 23:53 | Updated: 9 April 2024, 00:11

Thousands of British expats will be affected
Thousands of British expats will be affected. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The Spanish Prime Minister has announced plans to end the so-called 'golden visa' scheme in a major blow to thousands of British expats.

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Pedro Sánchez said on Monday that the scheme will be ended as the government seeks to prioritise affordable housing for Spaniards, rather than 'speculative business'.

The scheme currently allows non-EU citizens who invest around half a million euros in Spanish property to live and work there for three years.

"Today, 94 out of every 100 such visas are linked to real estate investment... in major cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Alicante, Valencia or Palma de Mallorca that are facing a highly stressed market and where it's almost impossible to find decent housing for those who already live, work and pay their taxes there," Mr Sánchez said today.

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez. Picture: Alamy

The scheme was introduced in Spain in a bid to bolster their economy in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Wealthy foreigners, many of whom were Brits, were encouraged to invest in Spanish real estate.

But it has been under increasing pressure from the European Union after Brexit, which marked the end of freedom of movement.

Read More: Spanish holiday crisis: Brits' summer trips in jeopardy as popular tourist resorts close pools due to drought

Read More: Dani Alves released from prison after paying bail amid rape conviction in Spain

Thousands of British expats will be affected with Spain remaining one of the most popular destinations for Brits heading abroad.

Around 303,000 Brits lived in Spain in 2020, second only to the 305,000 living in Ireland.

The Spanish cabinet will start the process to scrap the scheme tomorrow
The Spanish cabinet will start the process to scrap the scheme tomorrow. Picture: Getty

"It's like a bomb went off this morning. It's going to be a big issue for expats wanting to move and a lot of people are very unhappy about it," Mary Dunne, of estate agents Hamptons International, said, MailOnline reports.

"What's being done isn't hugely different from other European countries, but it's not a positive message."

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