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Active Residency | What difference active and passive?

Recent changes  

As from July 2023 the government introduced an exemption for those applicants looking to apply for this category of active residency from paying the EUR 50,000 bond. This is the new digital entrepreneur law that seeks to encourage digital entrepreneurs to set up in Andorra.  After the Andorran company is formed and local trading license obtained  an application will then need to be made with a view to an approval resolution from the Ministry of the Economy .  More details follow below.

As from December 2022 the minimum shareholding in any company in Andorra has risen to 34% to qualify for residency. The bond has risen from 15,000 EUR to 50,000 EUR.

As from April 2022 the requirement for active residents to wait 12 months before their spouse may join them is cut to 3 months. This is significant as for example the spouse need not be a shareholder to overcome the old 12 month rule.

Immigration is now allowing a temporary address for active residency applications, in recognition of the difficult state of the rental market, Immigration is providing a little more flexibility in allowing a THREE month grace period to find a long term rental. They will now allow a hotel,  aparthotel or even an Air BnB ( Warning- the property will need to be registered with the Government (HUT) for the purposes of short term rentals, many are not) proof of booking/reservation in place of a fixed rental contract as previously obligatory. This grace period is for a maximum of 3 months only during or at the end of which Immigration must have received a Comú registration of a fixed term rental (normally 5 years). Failure to comply with this will result n the cancellation of the residency with a new application required. In effect this would mean getting new Apostillised certificates plus a rental contract since everything else including the bond will be in place.

So what this allows is more time to find a long term rental but without the risk of certificates expiring imminently as the application has already been made and residency secured subject to the above condition of finding a rental within the specified period. This also allows the applicant to base himself in Andorra while looking for property and getting a 3 month expiry extension to the police certificates.

 June 2023- Compte Propi renewals now are coming under more police scrutiny...

Immigration have informed us that every renewal - not just the first renewal as at present - for active residency Compte Propi (Category D) will now have police checks. This normally involves an unannounced visit to the registered property by the police who then ask quite simple questions on the local environment, such as local restaurants, supermarkets, and matters that somebody who lived there would quite clearly know. They also check with the neighbours to confirm movements or not as the case may be.

As it stands electricity consumption is not required to be provided as is the case with passive residents, however from newspaper articles it seems that these may well be being checked by the police. Furthermore they say as electricity can be controlled from anywhere in the world, they are actually now looking at water consumption which they say cannot be controlled from anywhere (well it can!!).

There have obviously been recent cases that have caught out people abusing the system,  no need to panic but more care is advised in this area. The most important part though is to ensure you have an actively trading company with accounting and tax returns. You are required to be here 183 days per year so if you are away when the police visit you have a legitimate reason but be prepared to prove the rest of it on your return!

Police resources also come into question,  as when they were checking just first time renewals, the time for approval in some cases stretched over 3 months.  With Brexit and UK passports, the Andorra residency card can be a lifeline for Schengen exemption.

My adopted system for company formation in Category D and B.

These categories require additional input with legal work, accountancy,  tax advice and other areas. My partners in those fields remain independent from my organisation and each specialise in their own area. With this set up,  I maintain a broad overview and will involve myself with any issues that may arise during the process.

With other companies offering similar services,  you will find that everything may be "in house" and some areas in the process may not lack specific personal and/or professional attention, especially when it comes to Immigration. The insistence of using lawyers in the process for applications for Andorra residency itself is not my recommended route.

In view of the above I am unable to accept the Immigration process in these categories where the client has chosen or intends to choose a 3rd party for company formation. I cannot in these circumstances monitor the progress and in some cases cannot even obtain documents during the process that may be required by Government and/or organisations.

Consequently I am not prepared to lower my professional standards and I will turn down such requests for "partial" assistance.

Category D ("Compte Propi")

Active residency by company formation ( and Professional Liberal) differs from Category B. Any person who holds more than 34% of an Andorran Company and who exercises the role of Director can apply under this category, and similarly for Liberal Professional where qualifications are reciprocal and approved and where subsequently a comerç (unlimited sole proprietorship) can be formed.
There is a deposit requirement of 50,000 euros per applicant for each 34% shareholder in the company formation route (Except with the approval for exemption from the Ministry of the economy for those companies operating in the digital sector and for a Professional Liberal). It must be stressed here that the bond is a personal bond not a company bond. It must be in your personal name, it does not form part of the company accounts, cannot therefore be used by the company and effectively is kept by the Government for the duration of our residency.
The further requirement is that you must stay for a minimum of 183 days per year, and develop the business or commerce in Andorra. This means there is an intentional distinction between this category and category B and we will need to discuss in more detail. This means that you will presumed to be fiscal in Andorra and be expected to file taxes.
For example under this category D you may be expected to possibly employ persons locally, and/or open a dedicated commercial premises, a shop or restaurant, import and sell goods locally. In other words Andorra will become your principle place of business and you will be expected to live and work here with a degree of permanence. This does not prevent you though from conducting international business, there is no restriction of any percentage inside or outside Andorra as there is with Category B.
Before the deposit requirement in 2018 the time spent here and business development was more of a grey area and this is the only category that the police did (or still do for those who paid no bond) and are continuing to monitor regardless of the new bond requirement.  The 183 days spent here are almost impossible to prove or disprove but they do turn to the accounts and the company documents to see if the business is being developed inside Andorra. Recent feedback reveals they enquire if you are known to neighbours, if you are in they will question you about local knowledge to see if you do actually spend time here. They have even reverted recently to electricity and water consumption, so you do need to do some homework.
Also to be aware of in this Category is that a spouse cannot apply until after 3 months has passed from the approval of the head of household, however if the spouse is made a 34% or more shareholder in the company route then they can apply together. The spouse though will be required to be working as a director of the company and also be required to contribute to CASS ( The social security system) and as a shareholder/director or Professional Liberal you will be required to pay CASS as an "autonom" and at autonom fixed rates.

The stages involved in applying for  Category D can be broken down into five stages and they are:

   1.  Opening a bank account. At this stage it is important to secure a personal account and also in principle a company account. The banks need to know before you start that a company account for your area of business will not be in one of their restricted areas of compliance. This extends to the geographical disposition of both the nature and movement of products, clients and other AML considerations. I can assist and advise on this important area.

   2. Forming the company or Approval for the Professional Liberal:  My associate lawyer and accountants will advise you through the process. Within this process of formation there is the company foreign investment approval stage and the Notary stage where the company is then approved and registered, and this may take 7- 10 weeks.  You will need to supply at this stage:

      • An Apostillised/Legalised police certificates from your country of origin, passport and last country of residency ( We can discuss whether all of these will be required)  and,
      • An Apostillised copy of your passport,

I will advise you on this. You will be required to appear in person before the Notary unless you have granted powers to the lawyer to act on your behalf. The Notary after the application for company formation is approved will take 10-14 days then to produce the registration documents. Approval for Professional Liberal depends on the requirements for each Institute and Department where approval is required.

    3. Applying to Immigration for an active permit, Category D for the shareholder(s): If all the documentation is correct (see below)  then a work permit can be issued in a matter of days. Note however that in many cases you may well need new police reports since Immigration requires an original and it must be in date, with a 3 month expiry this often means a fresh application for the certificates.

    4. Applying to CASS: This is the local social security system which applicants are obliged to join. As a company Shareholder/Director you will be required to contribute to CASS as an Autonom. This means that your contribution is not linked to salary but is fixed monthly. There is relief that can be applied for depending on levels of turnover, job creation and other factors. Please note that now they count the date of approval of residency for the CASS to begin automatically so a delay in application to CASS will result in back dated contributions.

    5. Obtaining the local trading license (Obertura de Comerç): Once the company is formed the Parish in which the company has its registered address will need to approve a trading name and make an inspection of the premises (and this can be a residential apartment subject to a few conditions such as the permission of the landlord and a designated area within the apartment of 20 square meters, inter alia) (This may take  up to 2 weeks). We can apply for residency while this step is under way by signing an undertaking to produce the required company license, you have 3 months to do so.

  6. Obtaining exemption from the Ministry of the Economy for exemption from paying the 50,000 Deposit/Bond. The lawyer as a final step if he considers the application to be worthy will compile the application to the Ministry of Economy. If it is rejected for lack of information there will be a five-day period in which to submit more detail. Approval or rejection will then be issued within 15 working days of the application

Once the company has been formed and registered by the Notary as in step 2 above then at this stage we can we can then apply to Immigration for residency.

For applicants under Category D - the applicant must provide:

From outside Andorra:

  • Apostillised/Legalised Police certificates from your country of birth, country of current passport and in some cases the country of your last residency before Andorra. Some personal circumstances can be complicated but I can guide you through all of the obtaining and verification of correct stamps both with my database of records and client s documented experiences and with those at Immigration. This will be one of the first areas we will need to discuss. Please note here that for company formation approval you need these police certificates and then again for Immigration. In many cases if there is a delay in the formation process you may NOT able to use the same certificate and you should be prepared to apply for a second set of certificates as and when the time for the residency application approaches. Please also note the new and current regulation that requires all police certificates to be clean and that they will not accept any certificate that is not regardless of the severity or the date of the conviction.

  • Apostillised/Legalised proof of civil status. This will be a marriage certificate, divorce certificate or a single declaration form as appropriate, again we can secure these documents often very easily. There are further restrictions on documents validity which we again will discuss. Civil Unions and partnerships now may also be recognised. You should note that Immigration does not recognise the status of "partner" nor fiancé (e).

From inside Andorra:

  • Produce the company formation documents

  • If applying for the exemption from payment of the EUR 50,000 bond/deposit In the digital category, the approval resolution from the Ministry of the economy

  • Produce a rental contract or title to a property that complies with Immigration requirements.

  • Provide all of the local documents which I can complete for you. You will also require a basic medical interview normally the day following the application.

  • Produce the bank transfer slip to AFA for payment of the Government deposit of 50,000 euro per shareholder (Unless the exemption approval has been granted as above). This transfer must be made in advance of the application and does involve its own complications if not done correctly.

  • (Later)  Provide to Immigration the company documents and the local license to operate from the Parish.

  • (Later) Provide to Immigration the proof from CASS that you have commenced contributions.

If you intend relocating with children, please see my section for  relocating to Andorra with a family where extra documents are required in support of children'a application.

The residency in Category D is granted initially for a period of 1 year, then for 2, 2, 2 and then every 10 years. At renewal you do not have to be present, although under this category I advise that you are here at least at the initial renewal due to police checks made. This is the only category that is monitored and continues to be so especially at the time of the first renewal. The documents required are obtained locally and the process is quite straightforward.

So what do I do next?

Once you have satisfied your self with what is required the next step is to turn to the page

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