Living or moving to Spain

Living or moving to Spain Official Guidance

Official information British people moving to or living in Spain need to know, including guidance on Brexit, residency, passports and healthcare.

If you need assistance with your paperwork once in Spain here are some contacts for you



Living or Moving to Spain Official Guidance FULLY UPDATED March 2022

The information given below is quite generalized, you will find more local information on each subject in the LIVING IN SPAIN SECTION of our website.

This information is provided as a guide only. You should obtain definitive information from the Spanish authorities. Benidorm Seriously is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

If you were living in Spain before 1st January 2021

Some parts of this guide only apply if you were living in Spain since before 1st January 2021. These are indicated with sub-headings.

Visas and residency

You must tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

Check the entry requirements for Spain.

Before you move to Spain you must apply for the appropriate visa from the Spanish consulates in London or Edinburgh, or the Spanish consulate in Manchester (details available from the Foreign embassies in the UK list). You must apply for your residence document as soon as you arrive in Spain.

Read the Spanish government’s guidance on:

Visas and residency if you were living in Spain before 1st January 2021

If you have been living in Spain legally since before 1 January 2021, you and your family members have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. You must ensure you are correctly registered as a resident. Your children must also be registered with their own residency documents.

If you are registering for the first time, you will be issued with a biometric residence card called a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE). This card shows that you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you registered as a resident before 6 July 2020, you will have a green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper from Extranjeria or the police. This is still a valid residency document. You do not have to exchange this document for the new TIE. However, we and the Spanish government strongly recommend that you do.

The TIE biometric card is more durable. It will also simplify administrative processes and border crossings. Read the Spanish government’s guidance on how to apply for the new TIE.

Both the TIE and the green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper, exempt you from European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and visa requirements.

If you have difficulty using your green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper, read the Spanish government’s informative note on documentation for UK nationals. This explains which documents you can use to prove your residence and Withdrawal Agreement rights in Spain. You can refer to this informative note when accessing public services and dealing with businesses that provide services.

For more information:

Family members

Your close family members are able to join you and settle in Spain at any time in the future. Read more information on who this applies to in the Living in Europe guidance. They should apply online before moving to Spain (in Spanish) or through a third party in Spain, such as a lawyer. Alternatively, they can apply within 3 months of arrival to Spain.

Depending on their nationality, some non-EU family members may need a visa before travel. The Spanish authorities should issue Withdrawal Agreement family reunion visas free of charge.

Read the Spanish government’s guidance for ‘UK nationals and their family members residing in Spain’. This explains how you and your close family members can apply for the TIE and how to renew your TIE before it expires.

Appeal process

If your request to register under the Withdrawal Agreement is refused, read the refusal letter carefully. It will set out the decision, the reasons for it, and how to appeal. You have 1 month to appeal from the date of the refusal letter.

The appeal process usually has 2 steps:

  1. administrative appeal, where a different administrative authority reviews the decision
  2. court appeal

The outcome of an appeal is final. If you want to appeal, we strongly recommend you seek independent, specialised legal advice. The British Embassy cannot get involved in individual immigration applications and we cannot provide legal advice.

You can:

If you do not want to appeal, or do not meet the criteria to reside in Spain under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, you should consider other options:

Passports and travel

Coronavirus travel restrictions may affect may affect travel to and from Spain.

You can apply for or renew your British passport from Spain. The British Embassy does not issue passports.

Check the Spain travel advice for passport validity requirements.

Always carry your passport when travelling within the Schengen area. If you have citizenship of an EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) country, in addition to your British citizenship, you should enter and leave Spain using your EU or EFTA passport.

If you stay in Spain with a Spanish residence permit or long-stay visa, this time does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit for the Schengen area.

If you visit other Schengen area countries outside Spain, make sure you do not exceed the visa-free 90 days in any 180-day period. You are responsible for counting how long you stay under the Schengen visa waiver, and you must comply with its conditions.

Different rules apply to EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area. Check each country’s travel advice page for information on entry requirements.

If you were living in Spain before 1st January 2021

When you travel, carry your residence document (the green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper or the TIE) or frontier worker permit issued under the Withdrawal Agreement, in addition to your valid passport.

You must proactively show your residence document (the green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper or the TIE) if you are asked to show your passport at border control. If you have applied for, but not yet received, your residence document, show proof that your application is in progress.

If you cannot prove that you are a resident in Spain, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the EU. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in the country or countries where you live or work. If a passport is stamped, the stamp is considered null and void when you can show evidence of lawful residence.

If you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you can enter and exit Spain with a valid passport. You do not need any additional validity on the passport beyond the dates on which you are travelling.

Children travelling from Spain

Children (under 18 years old) resident in Spain, who travel out of Spain without a person who has parental responsibility, may need a certified authorisation by that person. This is required in addition to a valid travel document.

The regulation does not apply to foreign children resident in Spain who are subject to the law of their country of nationality, or to non-resident foreign children visiting Spain.

The Spanish immigration authorities are aware that there is no similar standard regulation in the UK, and therefore British consulates do not provide travel authorisation documents.

British children do not need written permission to travel unless they are subject to a court order which states that written permission is required from those holding parental responsibility. If the child is subject to such a court order, or to ensure that an unaccompanied child will be able to leave Spain without delay, you must obtain a certified authorisation from a public notary in Spain.

If you have parental responsibility for Spanish children in Spain, you can obtain a certified authorisation at a notary, national police station (in Spanish, or at the Guardia Civil (in Spanish).

Flight discounts for residents in Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla

Read the Spanish government’s guidance on who is eligible to access discounts on flights, and on how this has changed for UK nationals since 1 January 2021.


Read our guidance on healthcare in Spain and make sure you are correctly registered for your circumstances.

If you are resident in Spain, you must not use your UK-issued EHIC or GHIC for healthcare in Spain, unless you are a student or a detached (posted) worker.

Travel insurance is also not intended to cover healthcare costs if you live overseas.

Read the Spanish government’s guidance on access to healthcare.

You should also read our guidance on: finding an English-speaking doctor in Spaintravelling with medicines

Working in Spain

If you are planning to move to Spain and work, you must apply for the appropriate visa. Application processing times vary and you should only make travel arrangements once your visa has been issued.

Read the Spanish government’s guidance on:

Read the guidance on visas and applying for a visa at the:

To apply for a job, you may need to provide a:


If you plan to work in Spain, even if you work for a UK-based company, this may affect where you pay National Insurance-type contributions. Read the National insurance and social security contributions section for more information.

If you were living in Spain before 1 January 2021

You have the right to work without a visa, under the Withdrawal Agreement.You can use your TIE or green A4 certificate or credit-sized piece of paper as proof of your right to work.

If you live in Spain and were regularly commuting to work in another EU or EFTA country before 1 January 2021, read our guidance for frontier workers.

Professional and academic qualifications

You may need to get your professional qualification recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in Spain.

Read guidance on:

Recognition and legalisation of UK academic documents

If you need your UK academic qualification officially recognised in Spain, follow the Spanish Ministry of Education’s guidance (in Spanish).

Your degree certificate or other documents need to be certified by a UK notary public and then legalised by the FCDO Legalisation Office. This legalisation service is not provided by the British Embassy in Madrid, UK consulates in Spain, or the British Council in Spain.

Read guidance on getting your UK degree qualification certified and legalised in the UK.

If you were living in Spain before 1 January 2021

If the relevant regulator in Spain officially recognised your professional qualification before 1 January 2021, or you started the recognition process by this date, make sure you understand the terms of your decision. You should get advice from the relevant regulator.

Studying in Spain

If you plan to study in Spain, carry out an internship or take up a placement as a language assistant, you must meet all visa requirements before you travel.

Contact the relevant higher education provider in Spain to check what fees you may have to pay.

Read guidance on:

If you were living in Spain before 1st January 2021

The studying in the European Union guidance includes specific information for those who were already living in Spain before 1 January 2021.

Money, tax and banking

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Spain to ensure you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. Ask the relevant tax authority your questions about double taxation relief.

You should get professional advice on paying tax in Spain. Find an English-speaking lawyer in Spain or you can use a registered ‘gestor’.

Read guidance about:

National Insurance

Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Spain.

Declaring your assets

As a Spanish resident, you must declare your global income to the Spanish authorities, no matter which country it came from. If you are not a resident, you will only pay tax on income that came from Spain.

You may need to file an annual declaration of overseas assets called a Modelo 720. There are severe penalties if you do not file, or give incorrect or incomplete information.

National insurance and social security contributions

National Insurance-type contributions (NIC) are called ‘social security contributions’ (SSC) in Spain. Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Spain.

If you plan to move to Spain and work, even if you continue working for a UK-based company, you and your employer may need to pay social security contributions in Spain. These social security contributions would entitle you to certain benefits, such as healthcare, in Spain.

Read guidance on National insurance for workers from the UK working in the EEA or Switzerland.

Check your UK National Insurance record.


UK Benefits

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Spain.

If you are moving or retiring abroad, you must tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax.

Check which benefits you can claim while abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit cannot be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You can request proof from HMRC of the time you’ve worked in the UK and of your UK National Insurance record.

Spanish benefits

You may be entitled to Spanish benefits. To find out if you are entitled to Spanish benefits and how to claim, you can:


Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Spain.

If you are moving or retiring abroad, you must tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax.

Read our State Pension guidance if you have lived in Australia, Canada or New Zealand and you are claiming or waiting to claim your UK State Pension.

If you retire in Spain, you can claim:

Read the Money and Pension Service’s MoneyHelper guidance on pension and retirement changes for more information on cross-border pensions.

Life Certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you must respond as soon as possible - your payments may be suspended if you do not.

Money and banking

Whether UK banks can provide service to customers living in the EEA depends on local laws and regulation.

Read the Money and Pension Service’s MoneyHelper guidance on banking, insurance and financial services for more information on cross-border banking.

Accommodation and buying property

Read guidance on how to buy or let property in Spain.

Driving in Spain - Updated 16th March 2023

Read the guidance on:

You cannot renew or replace your UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man driving licence if you live in Spain.

If you have one of these licences, you can use it to drive for up to 6 months after becoming resident in Spain. To continue driving after this, you must apply for a Spanish driving licence.

The process for obtaining a Spanish licence depends on whether you have a UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence.

You cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of a Spanish licence.

From 16 March 2023 you can drive using your valid UK or Gibraltar licence for 6 months. This is a temporary measure that the UK and Spanish governments have agreed.

If you have a valid UK or Gibraltar driving licence

If you were living in Spain before 16th March 2023, you can use your valid U.K or Gibraltar driving licence to drive in Spain for 6 months from this date.

If you move to Spain after 16 thMarch 2023, your valid UK or Gibraltar licence will be recognised for 6 months from the date you obtained residence.

If you have a UK or Gibraltar licence, you can exchange your driving licence for a Spanish one without taking a practical or theory test. You should do this within 6 months from 16 March or within 6 months of the date you obtain your residence, whichever is later. After this your UK or Gibraltar driving licence will no longer be valid for driving in Spain. However, you will be able to exchange it for a Spanish one.

Read the Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT) information on how to exchange your UK and Gibraltar licence for a Spanish one.

You will need to present a ‘check code’ from the DVLA, along with other documentation, at your appointment. If you have problems obtaining a check code, contact the DVLA on +44 300 083 0013 to ask for a Certificate of Entitlement.

If your licence was issued in Northern Ireland, read Northern Ireland government guidance to obtain the check code. If you have problems obtaining a check code, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If your licence was issued in Gibraltar you do not need a check code.

Expired UK or Gibraltar licences

Spanish authorities will exchange your expired UK or Gibraltar licence for a Spanish one if it was valid when you entered Spain. You cannot drive on an expired UK licence.

If your licence was issued by Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man

You cannot currently exchange your Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence for a Spanish one. You must apply for a Spanish licence as a non-EU national. This includes taking both a theory and practical driving test.

Disabled drivers

If you have a UK Blue Badge and live in Spain, you must return it to the original UK issuing authority. You can apply for a new Spanish disabled parking card. The process is different in each region of Spain. Contact your local town hall or social services department for further information.

Read the EU guidance on the EU parking card for people with disabilities.

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Spain

Read our guidance on taking a vehicle out of the UK.

If you register as a resident or spend longer than 6 months of the year in Spain, you must register your vehicle with the Spanish authorities and you may need to pay some taxes. You may be exempt from some of these taxes. If so you will need certificates of exemption.

Read the Spanish Traffic Authority’s guidance on registering a foreign vehicle in Spain.

Driving outside Spain with a Spanish licence

You can use your Spanish licence when visiting the UK. Keep up-to-date with the UK Highway Code.

If you return to live in the UK, you can exchange your Spanish licence for a UK one without taking a test.

To drive in another country, in addition to your Spanish licence, you may need to apply for an International Driving Permit (in Spanish with English translation).

Read the EU guidance on:


Local elections

You can vote and stand in local elections in Spain once you have been resident for 3 years. To do so, you must:

  • be registered on the municipal register where you live (padrón municipal)
  • confirm your registration on the electoral roll (censo electoral), within the dates set by the electoral authorities before each election

You cannot register on the electoral roll at other times. You must re-register on the electoral roll before each local election.


To stand as a local election candidate, read Spanish organic law 5/1985 (in Spanish) or consult with your local Oficina del Censo Electoral.

Voting and standing in the local elections in May 2023

If you wish to participate in the next local elections, check you are correctly registered on the municipal register (padrón).

The Electoral Census Office (Oficina del Censo Electoral) will write to UK nationals who, according to the relevant databases, have the right to vote. They are due to send these letters at the end of November 2022.

If you receive a letter, follow the instructions to complete your registration either by post or online. If you do not receive a letter but believe you meet the requirements to vote, contact your town hall. They can inform you of the local process to follow to register on the electoral roll.

To vote in the local elections in May 2023, you must register on the electoral roll between 1 December 2022 and 15 January 2023.

Read the guidance from the Spanish electoral authorities on registering to vote in the local elections on 28 May 2023 (in Spanish).

Other elections

You cannot vote in general or regional elections in Spain or European Parliamentary elections.

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

Births, deaths and getting married

If your child is born in Spain, you will need to register the birth abroad.

If someone dies in Spain you can:

Find out how you can get married abroad.

Find out about notarial and documentary services for British nationals in Spain.


If you’re moving to Spain with your pet, read the guidance and ensure you comply with the regulations:

To visit other countries with your pet, check the rules for the country you’re travelling to. Contact your vet to get the travel documents your pet needs.

Read guidance on:


You can dial the European emergency number on 112 in Spain for the police, ambulance or fire brigade, or dial:

  • 091 for police

  • 061 for health emergencies

  • 080 for firefighters

  • 092 for local police

You can dial the EU 116 000 hotline to report a missing child in the EU country where you live or in another EU country. It also provides guidance and support to the families of missing children.

If you’re the victim of crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis abroad, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Returning to the UK

Check the COVID-19 travel guidance for entering the UK.

Tell the UK and Spanish authorities if you are returning to the UK permanently. To help prove you are now living in the UK, you should deregister with your:

  • local town hall (padrón)
  • the Spanish National Police (Residencia)
  • your local health centre

If you get healthcare in Spain through the S1 form, you must contact the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 (0)191 218 1999 or Seguridad Social to make sure your S1 is cancelled at the right time.

To move your pension or benefits payments to the UKtell the International Pension Centre and the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social.

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax, access to services and bringing family members.

If you return to the UK permanently and meet the ordinarily resident test, you’ll be able to access NHS care without charge.


Brexit does not affect UK and Irish nationals’ rights in the Common Travel Area. View the Common Travel Area guidance.


Please note this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Spanish authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) nor Benidorm Seriously is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

  • Moving to Spain The NLV Visa
    There are various rumours being spread, that many are sadly believing and worse, repeating. The non lucrative visa (NLV)Moving to Spain The NLV Visa
    There are various rumours being spread, that many are sadly believing and worse, repeating. The non lucrative visa (NLV) is NOT a way for Brits to now get round the 90/180 days restriction, it has certain requirements with which you must comply.

    To summarise, in the first instance, it requires the holder of the NLV to not be in any paid work. It also requires the holder to reside in Spain for more than 183 days per year so you become a tax resident and must therefore pay income tax here on your worldwide income.

    It is valid initially for 3 months during which time you must come to Spain and within 30 days of your arrival apply for your residencia (TIE).

    The NLV has to be renewed after 12 months and is issued after those 12 months in blocks of 2 years up to 5 years when you can apply for permanent residency.

    During the first 5 years of this visa you are only permitted an absence from Spain of 10 months in total.

    Obviously there are other requirements - medical insurance or S1, medical certificate proving clean bill of health, ACRO proving clean criminal record, proof in bank of €28,800 pa.

    If applying for spouse/dependent children at the same time then another €7,200pa is needed pp. It involves presentation at a Spanish Consulate in London, Manchester or Edinburgh of these documents previously apostille stamped and translated by a sworn translator together with photos, passport and the application form and payment of the visa (€512).
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