Politicans are planning to raise taxes across Europe in their budgets, and many high net worth individuals are considering relocating in 2011 to a more tax friendly environment, and starting to decide which jurisdiction would be most favourable for them and their families.
One such country being actively considered by many is Andorra. With a population of around 80,000 it’s a small landlocked country with Spain and France as neighbours, and while not as well known as some havens offers residents no income tax and very favourable business ones too.
The process of becoming a resident includes applying for a police certificate of good conduct in the applicants home country, and if living outside of the country of birth from where the applicant is currently residing, and this sometimes can be the longest part of the process, in the UK for example it takes around 38 days from application. The advice is to apply for the certificate before visiting Andorra so this is underway.
There are other Andorra residency requirements too, and this is where some parts are becoming simplified. A doctor’s certificate is required to show that the applicant isn’t carrying any major diseases, and this involved a check up including x-rays at the local hospital in the capital la Vella, requiring presence in the country, but now if a person declares themselves to be fit and the residency office have no reason to doubt them, it’s no longer necessary, streamlining the whole process.
Another aspect of the process is showing that you have a physical address – but the good news is that compared to some tax havens in Europe and elsewhere the cost of buying an Andorra apartment or house is relatively low.
For example a three bedroom two bathroom apartment in Arinsal is available for 220,000 Euros, and a good three bedroom two bathroom one in popular La Massana is currently on the market for 350,000 Euros. La Massana has the advantage of having a good infrastructure with banks, restaurants, easy access to skiing and just ten minutes from the capital la Vella, and another ten minutes to the border for those wanting to go to to Spain.
Chalets too are available in different parts of the country, and can be away from everything or close to amenities. Current examples include a four bedroom two bathroom close to the border with Spain at 675,000 Euros, but they can go up in price to well over a million Euros depending upon what the potential buyer wants when living in the country.
What about for those with children? The good news is that there is a choice of both private and public schools. The international school is located in La Massana – another reason why those taking Andorra residency often choose it.
The public schools are free for the children of residents, and by the time most children leave school they are fluent in both Catalan and French, with many speaking good English as well. The only payment by parents is for their child’s text books, and the education is of a high standard.
So if residency is financially worthwhile, getting it is fairly straightforward and set to become easier in 2011, the education and health facilities are of a high standard, what else is Andorra well known for?
The answer is skiing. The ski season runs from early December to the week after Easter, and the country competes direct with French ski holidays. Tourism is an important part of the economy, and for those residents who don’t particularly like the snow many head to Spain or other parts of the world during the winter months. Summer time sees a lot of walkers enjoying walking in the Pyrenees.
Andorra has a good economy, and for those looking for a tax haven in 2011 it will be easier to gain residency there with less bureaucracy.