Andorra, a small country tucked away in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, is a captivating destination for many expats. Known for its low tax regime, high standard of living, and natural beauty, Andorra continues to draw individuals from around the globe. However, applying for residency in Andorra involves a series of steps that need careful navigation. This guide aims to provide an in-depth understanding of this process and provide valuable resources to help along the way.
Understanding the Types of Residency
Andorra offers two main types of residency permits, namely Active and Passive, each designed to cater to specific needs and circumstances of the individual.
Active Residency is particularly suitable for individuals who wish to actively contribute to the Andorran economy, either through employment or by setting up a business. If you are an entrepreneur planning to start a company or a professional considering working in one of Andorra’s burgeoning industries, then active residency may be the right path for you. This type of residency requires you to be present in the country for a minimum of 183 days each year.
Active residents are allowed to earn income within the country and contribute to the Andorran social security system, CASS (Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat Social), which in turn grants access to the local healthcare system. Active residency also obligates you to learn Catalan, the official language of Andorra, as one of the goals of the active residency program is integration into Andorran society.
Passive Residency, also known as non-lucrative residency, is ideal for individuals who do not wish to work or conduct commercial activity in Andorra, but rather aim to make the principality their place of residence for lifestyle, tax, or other personal reasons. As a passive resident, you are only required to spend 90 days per year in the country.
Under this category, individuals cannot earn income within Andorra, but they are permitted to manage their international affairs or businesses. Passive residency is popular among retirees, remote workers, or high-net-worth individuals looking to benefit from Andorra’s favorable fiscal regime. Unlike active residents, passive residents are not required to learn Catalan, though doing so can enrich the experience of living in Andorra.
Whichever path you choose, it’s important to consider your personal circumstances, financial position, and future plans. Both options have distinct benefits and responsibilities that need to be weighed carefully before making a decision.
For a deeper understanding of residency types and their specific requirements, refer to the official Andorran Government website.
Meeting Economic Requirements
Andorra, while providing numerous benefits for residents, imposes specific economic conditions to ensure that potential residents can financially sustain their lifestyle in the country and contribute positively to its economy.
Active Residency: For those considering active residency, the government requires an investment of €50,000 and an additional €10,000 per dependent into a non-interest bearing account with the Institut Andorrà de Finances (INAF). This sum is a bond rather than a fee, meaning it is returned if and when you decide to relinquish your residency.
Moreover, active residents are also obligated to contribute to Andorra’s social security system (CASS). This contribution is about 22% of your gross salary if you’re employed, or 32% of the income base if you’re self-employed. The income base for the self-employed is subject to minimums and maximums and changes each year.
Passive Residency: Passive residents have a higher economic requirement due to the nature of the residency. The government mandates an investment of €400,000 in the Andorran economy. This investment can take several forms – real estate property, government bonds, shareholdings in an Andorran company, or deposits in an Andorran bank.
In addition to this investment, an applicant must deposit €50,000 with the INAF as a bond, with an additional €10,000 required for each dependent. Similar to active residency, these bonds are returned if you decide to terminate your residency status.
Both active and passive residents must also demonstrate that they have sufficient means to support themselves and any dependents during their stay in Andorra.
These financial commitments are designed to maintain the financial stability and prosperity of Andorra. They also ensure that potential residents have a significant commitment to the principality and the means to support their lifestyle.
Many financial institutions in Andorra can provide guidance throughout the investment process. Local banks like Andbank and MoraBanc offer personalized advice on banking, investments, and meeting economic requirements. It is also advisable to consult with a local law firm experienced in immigration matters, such as Augé Grup, to better understand these financial requirements and plan your investments appropriately.
Obtaining residency in Andorra involves meeting various prerequisites, which differ based on whether you are applying for active or passive residency. Understanding these requirements is crucial before starting the application process.
Active Residency Requirements: Active residency applicants must present a comprehensive business plan to the Andorran government if they wish to start a business. This plan must highlight the feasibility, viability, and economic benefit of the proposed business to Andorra. Alternatively, if you plan to be employed, a work contract with an Andorran company is required.
Active residents must also demonstrate proficiency in Catalan, the official language of Andorra. Language proficiency is assessed through a test administered by the Andorran government. This requirement ensures that active residents can fully participate in Andorran society, work effectively, and build a community.
Passive Residency Requirements: Passive residents, while not required to learn Catalan or work in Andorra, must prove they have enough economic resources to live in Andorra without engaging in any professional activity. This involves providing a certificate of investment of at least €400,000 in the Andorran economy, as previously discussed.
Additionally, passive residency applicants must also provide a written declaration stating that they will not engage in any business or trade activity in Andorra.
General Requirements: Apart from the specifics above, both active and passive residents must provide certain common documents. This includes a clean criminal record, proving that the applicant has not been involved in any illegal activities. They must also show proof of health insurance coverage to ensure healthcare access while in Andorra.
Another crucial document is a certificate of residency or similar document from the applicant’s home country. This document must state the applicant’s current residential address and affirm that the applicant has lived there for at least the last six months.
If an applicant is bringing dependents, they must provide documents verifying the family relationship, such as birth or marriage certificates.
Acquiring residency in Andorra entails going through a step-by-step application process. Understanding these steps will help streamline the journey from application to residency.
Document Preparation: The first stage in the application process involves gathering and preparing all required documents. These include a valid passport, a clean criminal record, proof of economic means, medical certificates, and proof of health insurance, among others. If you are applying for active residency, a detailed business plan or a work contract from an Andorran company is necessary. If you are applying for passive residency, proof of a €400,000 investment in Andorra is essential.
Medical certificates required include a general health certificate, an HIV test, and a tuberculosis test, obtained from a medical practitioner. It’s important to note that all documents should be legalized (i.e., confirmed as genuine by the issuing authority) and translated into Catalan, French, Spanish, or English.
Application Submission: Once all documents are prepared, they must be submitted in person to the Immigration Department of Andorra (Departament d’Immigració). The department does not accept mailed or electronic submissions.
Review and Interview: After the documents have been submitted, they will undergo a thorough review by the Andorran authorities. This review period can last several months. If the initial review is successful, applicants are called for an interview. The interview, conducted in Catalan, Spanish, French, or English, primarily aims to verify the information provided in the application and assess the applicant’s suitability for residency.
Residence Permit Issuance: If the interview goes well and all requirements are satisfactorily met, the applicant will be granted a residence permit. This permit is initially valid for one year.
Renewal: The permit must be renewed annually for the first three years. Each renewal requires proof that the residency requirements (like the minimum stay and economic means) continue to be met. After three years, the residence permit can be renewed every two years. After ten years of residency, it can be renewed every ten years.
It’s important to note that the application process for residency in Andorra can be complex and time-consuming, often taking six months to a year to complete.
Maintaining Physical Presence in Andorra
Unlike many other countries, Andorra requires residents to physically stay in the country for a minimum number of days per year. Active residents must be in Andorra for at least 183 days per year, while passive residents must spend at least 90 days in the country annually. It’s important to factor this into your plans, especially if you travel frequently for work or personal reasons.
The process of applying for residency in Andorra can seem daunting, but with the right resources, comprehensive research, and patience, it is achievable. The benefits of Andorran residency – including a high standard of living, tax advantages, and scenic surroundings – can make the effort worthwhile.