I am here to act for you, you are taking a serious step in life relocating yourself and possibly your family too to a foreign country. You need to get the right advice, just please be aware that most of the internet sites that you read through are not based in Andorra and are anonymous. My message is beware which website is genuinely based here and who can offer you full up to date and complete advice. this is a small country, my country, and I will not risk my integrity whatsoever. I look forward to meeting you soon.
I am totally confused by the Schengen visa requirements, does time in Andorra count as part of the 90 days in the Schengen area or not?
We get different answers from different officials at Immigration. For a detailed overview of Andorra and Schengen please read the webpage for Schengen here. Technically Andorra is not part of the Schengen area, so time spent in Andorra should not be counted as part of the 90 day visa. It has been suggested that you should stamp the passport when entering Andorra and stamp when leaving to prove this (This actually was an Andorran Immigration reply). In practice this may not work, not least because Andorran Immigration may not have the stamp handy, but that Spain on departure may also not accept a stamp in and out as proof of stay here since the border is mostly open. If this was acceptable a person could come to Andorra on his first day of landing in Spain, come to Andorra and "stamp out of the EU". He could then go back to Spain/EU with no stamp in and spend 89 days there before coming back to Andorra to "stamp out from Andorra" and spend another 90 days in Spain / EU, all in all the visa is then for 180 days in the Schengen. You can try it as Immigration suggested here but be aware of major setbacks!
I am a US Citizen. Can I still open a bank account with the FATCA regulations?
The short answer is yes, but you will need to sign a full disclosure agreement with the bank. If compliance departments however consider any risk or anything untoward does flag up on their credit checks they may well refuse the account. Different banks look at different things, I have not had a US citizen leave Andorra without an account!
If I buy some goods such as furniture in another country can I import them into Andorra?
Yes but you may be required to pay 4.5% import duty. Also you need to show it is for personal use and not a commercial sample for example, so it is best to have to hand a copy of your residency card and even your rental contract. If you are using a lorry to import, either arranged by the shop or yourself be very careful that the lorry is registered in the country of the origin of the goods, the shop cannot for example sub contract to a Polish Transport Company as that lorry will not be allowed to enter Andorra. If this happens you need an Andorran registered lorry to meet the other lorry at the border to transport the goods across.
How long does my residency take to be approved and how long is it for?
Once the documents have been accepted by Immigration the waiting time for the issue of the card can vary from 3 weeks to 6 weeks, a bit of a lottery. Renewals for new applicants are now every 2,2,3 and 10 years for passive residencies and every 1,2,2,2 and 10 years for Active residents under Category D.
When can I get Andorran Citizenship or a Passport?
By applying for passive or active residency you receive a green residency card. Other than proving residency perhaps at Immigration at Barcelona when returning to Andorra ( to gain exemption from Schengen visa requirements) this green card is not a travel document. If your intention is to gain a "second" passport by applying for residency here then you will be disappointed. In most cases the requirement is for 20 years unbroken residency before you can apply and that also involves renouncing your current citizenship as dual nationality is strictly prohibited in Andorra.
Will my Application for Residency be successful?
It is extremely rare for an application to fail being a paper exercise: If all papers are correct then your application will be approved. In summary an application may fail in the following circumstances:
Severe criminal convictions,
Serious contagious disease,
Please note that also with Category B applications the approval depends on the acceptance of a viable business plan. This is really the only subjective category.
Can I get Sky TV in Andorra ?
Yes, I can arrange that for you quite easily.
Are there restrictions on bringing pets into Andorra ?
Generally not, Andorra assumes that if you bring in a pet then it will have already conformed to the EU norm of chips, passports and inoculations. I have kept animals and travelled freely back and forth across the border. In order to bring your pet with you from outside the EU you will need to seek advice in your country about EU entry regulations. It is not too difficult, but according to clients, some have spent the best part of the day at Barcelona to get pets released. It can be bureaucratic but not overly troublesome.
Do I have to or can I contribute to and join the Andorran Social Security System ?
This is known locally as CASS. As a passive resident you are not entitled to join the system as you can in other countries. Only if you are an active resident with a work permit are you obliged to contribute. I have included an up to date article on this in the active residents website, http://www.andorrancompanies.com/
Are there expat groups in Andorra that organise meetings and activities?
There are many groups that organise activities here the most well-known being the International Club of Andorra (CIA) www.international-club-andorra.com and also there is a local hash that runs / walks every Saturday http://andorrahhh.tumblr.com/ (not updated since 2012 but it the hash is still going and in addition to many smaller walking groups). Other than these socialising is easy here, Andorra is a very small place and most people know most others!
I already own an apartment worth over €400,000, why do I have to pay the bond of €50,000 on top?
The Government bond is the contract between you and the Government for you to reside here with the rights and privileges. This must be paid regardless of the value of any existing property you may already own, or are intending to purchase.
Can I apply with a friend for passive residency and share an apartment, is this a cheaper option ?
No, unless you are a family member such as spouse, child, sister, or brother you are not allowed to share an address. Each passive resident must have a unique address so you will require two rentals (whether you choose to have one large apartment and a small cheap address and live together in practice is up to you but for the Immigration paperwork it is that separate addresses are required). You will also unless family members be required to each pay the € 50.000 bond and in category A the extra investment requirement.
Can I get an Andorran driving license?
Yes as a passive resident, but this has to be applied for within 12 months of your initial arrival here. It does matter from which country your original driving license was issued and in summary what you do is to hand in your current license in exchange for an Andorran one, and again depending on the country of issue they may give you back the original one but it will be marked and studded " anul.lat " or cancelled. If you as a resident are intending to buy an Andorran registered car then you will need an Andorran driving license. Please see my page on driving licenses for full information.
How long does it take to obtain residency in Andorra?
That depends on how quickly you can obtain the documents required from your home country, and how long it takes for you to choose a suitable property here. I have recently completed the whole process for a client in under two days, an exception no less, but I would suggest that once the correct paperwork has been obtained, the process can be completed in a week or so, it can be that quick.
I am confused about this bank certificate and the bond, are they the same document?
No, as explained funds are required to be paid to a bank account in Andorra (amount depends on how many persons in the family unit as explained on the applications page). Once the funds are deposited the bank will issue a certificate to Immigration which forms part of your application documents. Once the application is accepted the funds can then be transferred to INAF (The Finance Department of the Government) to pay the bond. The same certificate is required for renewal of residency but no further bond is required to be paid for subsequent renewals. As at February 2015 there have been significant changes demanded by Immigration in that the funds for the bank certificate ( whether 300%, 400%, etc of the minimum wage) must now be locked into the bank account. This is causing considerable pain for the banks and potentially for residents who have been accustomed to using these funds for the bond and not keeping them on account. I will update as the situation becomes clear)
Can I open a numbered bank account in Andorra as a non-resident ?
Yes, besides you will need to do so to deposit the money for the bond prior to application. All accounts opened by non-residents are numbered and not named. Once you are a resident you may if you wish change the numbered account to a named one. You may also open a company account as a non resident, subject to correct legalised company documents and due diligence by the bank. The bank has more faith for obvious reasons in company accounts belonging to passive residents or at least passive resident applicants. Non residents will also be charged € 155 per quarter to keep an account in Andorra.
If I have Andorran residency, do I still need a Schengen visa to enter Europe?
If you have residency and that includes passive residency you are exempt from requiring a Schengen visa to enter Europe via France and Spain only, the neighbouring countries with whom the Schengen visa accord has been signed. If you try to enter Europe (even on the way back to Andorra ) via Frankfurt for example you will most likely need a Schengen visa. Once you have landed in Europe you are allowed up to 90 days in other Schengen countries but exit from Europe via any other Schengen country other than France and Spain with an Andorran residency card has yet to be tested in my experience. I would like to hear from residents who have had or have not had problems with entry and exit to and from Europe.
I prefer organic food, are there any suppliers there and is organic food available ?
Yes, most supermarkets stock organic food, probably not as wide a choice than in the big hypermarkets of the neighbouring countries, nevertheless it is available in Andorra.
Can my mother or mother in law be regarded as the same family unit for residency?
It depends entirely on the circumstances of your mother or mother in law. Immigration require you to show that she is dependent on you for support. Therefore if she is married then the answer is no she cannot be within your family unit as Immigration regard her husband as the primary means of support. If she can prove she is a widower or divorced then you can most likely show that she is dependent on you to the satisfaction of Immigration. You will still be required to pay the bond of €10,000 if you can prove dependency under a passive residency application.
What happens when my renewal is due?
The renewal procedure is more straightforward but nevertheless local documentation is required such as proof of insurance, registration with the Comú, and most importantly a bank certificate similar as the one required during your initial application. This means that you will be required to have funds in the bank at the time the certificate is issued for renewal however to clarify absolutely there is no further requirement to pay a bond to the Government other than at the time of your initial application. The money required for the bank certificate can then after be used as you wish.
Are applicants for passive residency from all countries around the world treated as equal?
The law itself in Andorra affords "priority" to the neighbouring countries in view of their close co-operation and in view of the status of a Co-Principality. So applicants from France, Spain, and now Portugal are offered priority. Just how this works in practice is not clear. Next, member states of the EU are similarly offered a degree of priority, although Apostille stamps are required. If you are a national of other countries which are not of the former eastern European States, then you seem to be accorded the same terms as nationals of the EU, regardless of your geographical location.
The interpretation of exactly which countries are listed as former East European States remains firmly in the mind of an Immigration official and is not actually in statute. So if you are a member of these former East European States, and that includes Russia, and you are applying for residency, you will need considerably more documents, the list is long and often confusing, it takes time to obtain the documents, legalise them, translate them, and then return to collect the missing documents that were under the general heading of "etc." on the Immigration guide. Be warned the process is difficult, but not impossible it needs considerable patience.
Finally some countries simply do not issue police reports. In this case we would need to approach Immigration and search for an answer (if any). For those nationals of North Korea for example, they unfortunately succumb to current Government policy!!
Is there a lot to do in Andorra ?
There are numerous summer sports and winter sports, after all Andorra is a ski resort, and an up and coming mountain-biking resort. It actually hosted the mountain biking world cup for two years running in 2008 and 2009 (and now also for 2013). In addition there are a host of summer activities from hiking to white water rafting, rest assured you will never be bored here if you enjoy the great outdoors.
What is the cost of living in Andorra ?
On the whole, the cost of living is probably on a par with Spain for normal day to day requirements, except of course alcohol and tobacco which are still considerably cheaper. Brand names also enjoy perhaps a 10% discount to France and Spain. Annual community taxes here are incredibly cheap and by the cleanliness of the streets etc probably the best value for money anywhere in the world. Nothing really springs to mind as being excessively expensive, but you will pay a premium for imported delicacies.
How much is a high speed internet connection?
Fibre optic high speed internet is now available throughout Andorra starting from €15 per month to €69 per month which includes canal+ digital TV. Andorra Telecom now have a good website, the packages are here:-
I am in a same sex relationship and have registered as a Civil partnership, do immigration in Andorra regard this as being married?
Unfortunately not: Andorra does not recognise any other country's legalisation of same sex partnerships without exception. That does not mean you cannot live together here in Andorra as passive residents, it just means that each applicant will be treated as two individuals so each will be required to pay the bond of € 50,000, as opposed to the € 10,000 for each additional family members. However in Andorra you can apply to the Civil Registry for the partnership to be recognised in Andorra. Unfortunately I am told that that takes six months. After it is successfully completed, the authorities here will refund the "over-payment" of the bond.
What is the law on importing cars to Andorra?
All residents can import a car less than 3 years old and pay 4.5% import duty and taxes. However in the case of passive residents they recognise that you are in effect changing your country of domicile and allow a special concession to import a maximum of 2 cars within the first year from arriving in andorra (NOT from the date of residency approval) that are under 5 years old. IF you can prove that you owned and that the vehicle was registered in your name from the country in which you have declared your last residency for a minimum of 6 months prior to your arrival in Andorra then you can import the car tax free. If you cannot prove you have owned the car as stated then you will be required to pay the 4.5% import duty on the CURRENT value, and that is calculated by fixed percentage calculations per year.
The paperwork can be complicated, however I have imported many cars and can do this relatively easily and I can complete the process in a day and a half. There is also the requirement for a local inspection to show that the vehicle complies with local specifications. I am able to get a nod in advance from the person in charge if all the documents are sent ahead of the car. Please contact me if I can be of assistance here.
Do I need a Schengen visa for travel to Andorra?
The Government refused entry for 1,237 nationals from Eastern Europe in 2010, mostly those without the correct entry visas. They have stepped up checks at the border, the majority of which are done on public transport (subtle hint) . If you require a visa to enter the Schengen States then yes and legally to enter Andorra you will require a multiple entry visa. If you become a resident, passive resident or hold a work permit then you are exempt from these requirements. I have compiled a new page which explains the advantages of Andorran residency in as far as the Schengen Agreement is concerned. I have also agreed a way forward with Immigration where an applicant for passive residency may conditionally be allowed to enter Andorra (if caught!) on a single entry visa.
Can I use the money deposited in the bank in Andorra to pay for the bond?
The answer is actually yes you can with some banks, but not if you choose now to bank anywhere it would seem. Another bank recently told an applicant for passive residence that he could not use the deposit and that they required 70,000 Euros to be held in the bank on deposit for them to issue a bank certificate. I can personally refer you to the Manager of a leading Andorran Bank where you should have no problems with you doing whatever you choose with the money.
I am a national of a country that recently signed the exchange of information treaty with Andorra, does this mean I will be taxed in Andorra if I am a resident?
Absolutely not. Financial Disclosure Treaties have recently been signed between the following countries and Andorra:-
France, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, Argentina, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
It is reported that treaties are being "negotiated" also with Australia, the US and Britain. In reality referring to these agreements as "double taxation treaty" is not correct as there are as yet no double taxation treaties signed, although they are now being negotiated. The agreements involve only a partial lifting of banking secrecy, and most importantly that tax information can only be exchanged when there is solid evidence of the perpetration of a tax crime, and not in so-called "fishing expeditions" and not on a retrospective basis. This procedure involves a specific judicial request to Andorra laying out the proof of such tax crimes in the originating country. Andorra is under no obligation whatsoever to divulge any information about anyone or anything without such judicial request. How amenable Andorra will prove to be upon receipt of these judicial requests remain to be proven. The latest news is that exchanges of information via the judicial process will not start until 2012, and under no circumstances are the requests allowed to be retrospective.
Are there local community taxes ?
There is a local tax here called the "foc i lloc", probably equivalent to council tax in the UK, but that is where the similarity ends ! Our bins are emptied 362 days per year, there is no litter problem, flowers are proudly hanging from each lamp post in summer, and Christmas decorations hang in winter, the roads are snow ploughed before you get up in the morning and are kept open at all times, each village has a summer festival, and generally the Comù ( town council ) responds quickly to complaints and suggestions.
The annual foc i lloc bill for all this? ...................About €70 per property !
I have children, is it a problem to relocate the family?
No, not at all, in fact the education system here is wonderful for children who will grow up at least trilingual. There are great skiing activities in winter and outdoor activity camps in summer. The downside is that there is no discount on the bond for children. Under the government policy here as soon as a baby is born he or she is counted as ONE and the bond requirement of € 10,000 will be required to be paid (for each baby or child). Also for documentation purposes you will also be required at the time of the residency application to produce the birth certificate which MUST be Apostillised/Legalised. You will also need a letter from the child's pediatrician and the vaccination history to show that everything is up to date, minor additional documentation but well worth it for the education and lifestyle for your children.
Can I work in Andorra if I have passive residency?
Passive residency does not allow you to work in Andorra. However in practice it does not stop you from operating your business from home (although strictly legally you may be in breach of your passive residency status, but many people work from home), nor travelling in and out to work outside Andorra. Many passive residents have internet businesses or are consultants etc. It is only if you start to do business in Andorra, hire an office and staff, or work for an Andorran based company will you need to have a work permit. Income earned from overseas business is not accountable here in any way.
Will I have an Andorran passport?
The short answer is NO. You will receive a residency card which allows all the rights and privileges of residency without the travel document.
A foreigner generally will have had to reside here for 20 years before being eligible for an Andorran passport, and with a requirement to renounce his previous citizenship; there are exceptions to this rule for French, Spanish and Portuguese citizens.
I have an old conviction in my country of residence, can I still apply?
Yes probably, your police report will need to be translated into Catalan (best done quite quickly in Andorra) and then Immigration will discuss your case with the police. From personal experience I can say that the authorities here are quite tolerant of previous convictions, unless of course they are serious. Each case will be decided per se, so I cannot offer detailed guidelines on this area.
Is much English spoken here?
There are communities of expats from most countries in the world, and there are organised help groups to assist people in settling here. As far as the authorities are concerned you will find that most is in Catalan, Spanish or French, but again there is plenty of help available. I know people who have lived here for many years and speak not one word of either language, nothing to be proud of but that is a fact!