Moving to Spain after Brexit is harder than it was before the vote. There is no doubt about that. But there are more Brits in Spain than there were before, so it is not impossible. And, thousands of UK citizens still dream of moving to Spain to live, retire, study, or work. Happily, it is possible for most UK citizens – read on to find out how to get residency in Spain for UK citizens after Brexit.
There are two different categories for those looking to live in Spain defined in the withdrawal agreement.
- UK citizens who were legally resident in Spain before 31st December 2020.
- UK citizens who move to Spain after the end of Brexit’s transition period, 31st December 2020.
We’ll look at options and requirements for both groups in detail.
UK citizens living in other European Economic Area and European Union member state will need to follow a similar process. However, each EU and EEA member state has its own immigration laws, procedures, and options.
- Key dates for UK citizens who want to live in Spain.
- Restrictions on UK Citizens visiting Spain after Brexit
- Residency in Spain after Brexit
- How to move to Spain after Brexit
- When can I relocate to Spain after Brexit?
- What is a TIE and a NIE?
- Living in Spain after Brexit
- Residency in Spain after Brexit
- Changes when you arrive in Spain after Brexit
- Living in Spain is still possible after Brexit
- Making the move to Spain easier
Key dates for UK citizens who want to live in Spain.
- 31st January 2020 – The United Kingdom (UK) officially leaves the European Union (EU).
- 31st December 2020 – The Brexit transition period ends, and the UK leaves the EU single market, EEA, and customs union.
- 30th June 2021 – final date for UK citizens to formalize their residency after Brexit.
- 30th June 2021 – last date for UK citizens to swap their UK driver’s licence for a Spanish one.
Restrictions on UK Citizens visiting Spain after Brexit
All UK citizens need a valid visa or residence permit to visit Spain.
With a SCHENGEN visa, you can only visit for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period. You can use this for tourism, business travel, medical services, and other short term visits.
For all other stays, you’ll need a valid long-term Spain visa or residence permit.
Residency in Spain after Brexit
UK citizens who already have legal residence
For UK citizens who were legally resident before the end of the Brexit transition period, the guidance is straightforward. The withdrawal agreement protects your rights to remain.
This doesn’t mean that you were just living in Spain before Brexit. You must have registered as a legal resident. You should have a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión (green resident’s card) or a TIE. See the ‘What is a TIE and a NIE?’ section below for more details.
Any dependents, including children, must also be registered.
You have the right to live in Spain, even if you temporarily leave and return.
UK citizens who lived in Spain without establishing residency
If you moved before 31st December 2020, you have until 30th June 30th, 2021, to apply for legal residence. However, you must have been legally living in Spain. These people should urgently consult a Spanish immigration lawyer to decide on the best way forward.
How to move to Spain after Brexit
If you did not move before 31st December 2020, you need to apply for a visa or residence permit. Happily, Spain has an excellent range of immigration pathways that cover most people.
A popular visa for UK citizens is the non-lucrative visa. You’ll need to show that you can support yourself without working and that you have sufficient private Spanish healthcare cover. To qualify, you’ll need to show an income of around €25,816 from a pension, annuity, investment income, or another source. Please see our detailed article for requirements, the application process, and fees for the Spain non-lucrative visa.
If you want to work, you’ll need a work permit. There are ten different options which cover everything from self-employed, working for a Spanish company and more. Please see our guide to all your Spain work visa options.
Spain’s residency by investment program is also an excellent option for anyone who wants to purchase a property. If you buy a home for more than €500,000, you can apply for residency. There are several other investment options for the Spain Golden Visa; all allow you to live and work in Spain.
There many other options for UK citizens, from students and startup founders to entrepreneurs and retirees. Find your perfect Spain visa or residence permit in our complete guide.
When can I relocate to Spain after Brexit?
UK citizens looking to move from Great Britain and Northern Ireland can start their application process today.
As the transition period is now finished, the migration process is agreed. Spain’s immigration department is happy to process applications from UK citizens under the new rules.
What is a TIE and a NIE?
All EU citizens resident in Spain should have a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión. This is the familiar green resident card (see below).
For UK citizens, this document is still valid. However, the best advice is to swap this for a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). The TIE is a plastic biometric ID card that has your photograph, address, and NIE. Any non-EU residents should have a TIE, and it will probably be a requirement in the future.
Your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) is your Spanish tax number. This identifier will be the same on either your green paper card or your TIE.
Living in Spain after Brexit
Many things will stay exactly the same for UK citizens. However, these are some things you should take note of.
Driving in Spain after Brexit
If you are a resident, you need to swap your UK drivers licence for a Spanish one. You have a maximum of 6 months to start this process after arriving.
If you have lived in Spain for more than six months, your UK licence may no longer be valid. If you don’t swap in this time, you may have to do the Spanish driving test to get a Spanish licence.
During the first six months, most UK drivers licences will still be accepted without an international driving permit (IDP). The exceptions are paper licences and licences issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. These licence holders may require an IDP, which you can get from any UK post office.
Do I have to register my car in Spain?
You have six months after you arrive in Spain to register your car in Spain. After that time, your UK registration and insurance may no longer be valid.
Claiming your UK state pension in Spain
If you retire in Spain after Brexit, you can still claim your UK pension. You just need to inform the relevant UK authorities and pension service of your move.
And, if you qualify, you can also claim any Spanish state benefits and pension.
Healthcare in Spain after Brexit
Many British Expats living in Spain will continue to be eligible for public health care after Brexit. For those living in Spain or moving to Spain after Brexit, the withdrawal agreement includes public cover for these groups:
- Anyone on a UK state pension, S1 form, and some long-term UK disability benefits.
- Those on a Spanish pension or benefit program.
- Employed and self-employed workers who are paying social security contributions and who have a social security number.
- Spanish permanent residents (PR).
- Dependent children.
- Those under 26 years old on a Spain Student visa.
If you don’t belong to one of those groups, then you’ll need health cover. You can buy Expat health Insurance, Private Spanish medical insurance, and pay for public health insurance (convenio especial).
The UK GHIC (Global Health Insurance card) and UK EHIC (European Health Insurance Cards) are only valid for temporary visitors to EU member states.
If you are eligible for Spanish public healthcare, you can get a Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea (TSE) for cover when travelling in the EU.
What about UK citizens who own a property in Spain?
Owning a property will not give you automatic rights to live in Spain. If you are moving to Spain after Brexit, you’ll still need a visa or residence permit. For visits less than 90 days, a SCHENGEN visa is fine, for any longer you’ll need a long-term visa or residence permit.
Residency in Spain after Brexit
Spanish permanent residency after Brexit
If you have lived in Spain for more than five years, you may be eligible for Spain permanent residency. You’ll need to apply for this status which gives you the right to live and work in Spain.
Spanish citizenship after Brexit
After ten years of residency in Spain, you may be eligible for Spanish citizenship. This would give you full rights as an EU citizen. However, in many cases, you’ll need to give up your UK citizenship.
Tax residence in Spain
The rules around tax residency are unchanged. If you spend more than 183 days a year in Spain, you may be resident in Spain for taxation purposes. Tax residency and immigration residency are not necessarily the same for everyone.
For those UK citizens who are not tax residents in Spain, your income in Spain will be taxed at non-EU rates. This means the rate changes from 19% to 24%. And, there are some deductions that are no longer available. This rate change impacts the “Beckham law“.
For UK citizens moving to Spain after Brexit, some great news. Brexit will not impact the double taxation treaty between Spain and the UK, so you won’t be taxed twice on any income.
Changes when you arrive in Spain after Brexit
- You’ll need to use the “others” queue in immigration. You can no longer use the EU, EEA and Swiss lane when you enter Spain or any other EU country.
- EU immigration officials may stamp your UK passport.
- You may need to show your Green EU residents card or your TIE. You should carry these with you at all times.
Living in Spain is still possible after Brexit
For UK citizens, moving to Spain after Brexit can happen. For those who moved before Brexit, there are some changes and some definite recommendations. And, for those who haven’t made a move yet, there are many great immigration options available.
Brexit has changed many things. However, the lifestyle that comes with being a UK Expat in Spain is still as wonderful as ever.
Making the move to Spain easier
Now that you now have more of an idea of what is required to make your move to Spain a reality, let us tell you how to make your move easier.
We’ve lived in a sunny beach town just outside Barcelona since 2014, and we love our life here. We were able to live in Spain because we arrived with Alison’s British passport before Brexit.
We’ve lived in many countries, and we always use a law firm to help with our immigration paperwork. Even though we now understand the Spanish immigration processes and speak the language, we still use experts to help us. Booking appointments, understanding the forms, and doing the translations has been too painful for us to do ourselves.
However, our first law firm in Spain caused us more problems than they solved. It was a big spark in this website’s birth; we wanted to make sure that moving to Spain was much simpler for people like us and like you.
We know that a Where Can I Live partner will deliver excellent advice at a competitive price. We have a rigorous assessment process, we do ongoing customer satisfaction checks, and we offer a 100% money-back guarantee. You can check out their service here.