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. All information is provided by the gov.uk.
Last updated 29 August 2019
This page tells you what to do ahead of the UK leaving the EU. It will be updated if anything changes, including if a deal is agreed.
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.
Stay up to date on Brexit
- sign up for email alerts to this guidance
Brexit: what you should do
- register as a resident in Spain
- register for healthcare as a resident in Spain
- exchange your UK driving licence for a Spanish one
- check your passport is valid for travel
Visas and residency
You must register as a Spanish resident if you want to stay in Spain for more than 3 months.
You will get a green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper from Extranjeria or the police.
Residency after Brexit
If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, any UK national arriving in Spain before the end of the implementation period will be able to register as resident in Spain under the current rules, and will have their right to residence in Spain protected for as long as they remain living here.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, any UK national residing in Spain before the date the UK leaves will be considered legally resident for a period of 21 months, irrespective of whether they currently hold a residency document.
In some parts of Spain, UK nationals are currently unable to register as a resident as appointments are not available. If you don’t yet have a residence certificate, the residency advice on the Moncloa website is to make sure you have proof you were living here before Brexit (such as padrón registration or a rental contract), and to keep checking the online appointment system for new appointments.
After Brexit, in any scenario, you will need to change your registration document for a new card. For more information:
UK nationals arriving in Spain after Brexit will have to meet the requirements of the general immigration regime.
If you are planning to move to Spain, check the entry requirements.
Passports and travel
Minors travelling from Spain
The Spanish Secretary of State for Security has published a regulation (Instrucción Núm. 10/2019) which states that from 1 September 2019, foreign children (under the age of 18 years old) resident in Spain may need a certified authorisation by the person with parental responsibility if the child is travelling out of Spain without a person with parental responsibility. This is in addition to a valid travel document.
For further advice on whether a certified authorisation is required and how to obtain the document, seek the services of a public notary or other competent authority in Spain. There is no similar standard regulation in the UK therefore British consulates do not provide travel authorisation documents.
Passports and travel after Brexit
After Brexit, the rules on travel will change. Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.
If there is a deal, nothing will change until the end of 2020. In this time you can continue to travel freely in the Schengen area with your UK passport. What happens after 2020 will form the next part of negotiations.
If there’s no deal, you must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.
If there’s no deal, UK nationals will not need visas for short stays elsewhere in the EU. You will be able to stay up to 90 days in another EU, EEA or EFTA country, within a 180-day period. You must retain evidence of travel (such as train and plane tickets), in case these are requested by national authorities. If you hold a residence permit from an EU, EEA or EFTA country, you will be able to transit through other EU, EEA or EFTA countries to reach your country of residence.
You must register for healthcare as a resident in Spain.
Read the NHS guidance on who can access healthcare in Spain and how to register.
If you live in Spain and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or another exportable benefit, you may currently be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.
If you are entitled to an S1, you are also entitled to apply for a UK-issued EHIC.
If you are not an S1 holder, but are registered for public healthcare in Spain in another way and are travelling outside of Spain, you must apply for a Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea (TSE) online (in Spanish), or go to your nearest social security office (Insitituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social).
You must also buy comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your TSE, EHIC or for travel to countries outside the EU.
If you are resident in Spain, you must not use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from the UK to access healthcare in Spain.
When you travel from Spain for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in the country. During that short stay:
- the EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home
- an EHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance
- for more information, read our travel advice pages and advice on foreign travel insurance
If you are a student, read the NHS guidance on healthcare and studying abroad.
Healthcare after Brexit
If there is a deal and you are resident in Spain, your current rights on access to healthcare in Spain will remain the same as long as you remain a resident in Spain.
If there’s no deal, the UK and Spain have each taken steps to ensure that people living in each country can continue to access healthcare as they do now until at least 31 December 2020. This means that if you are currently living in Spain and the UK currently pays for your healthcare, for example you are an S1 form holder, your healthcare access will remain the same after 31 October 2019 until at least December 2020.
UK-issued European Health Insurance Care (EHIC) holders in Spain, such as tourists, students and some workers, will also be able to continue to access healthcare in the same way until at least 31 December 2020.
If you are an S1 holder your UK-issued EHIC may not be valid for travel to other European member states. In either case, you must ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance.
Read the NHS guidance on healthcare for UK nationals in Spain and how it may change after Brexit.
Read the Spanish government’s guidance on access to healthcare and Brexit.
Working in Spain
If you are registered as a resident in Spain, you have the right to work in Spain. Read our guidance on working in another EU country.
To apply for a job, you may need to provide a:
- UK criminal records certificate
- Spanish criminal records certificate (Certificado de Antecedentes Penales)
- certificate from the Spanish sex offenders registry (Certificado de Delitos de Naturaleza Sexual) to work with children
- record of your employment history in Spain from Seguridad Social (a Vida Laboral certificate)
Working in Spain after Brexit
Whether or not there is a deal, if you are already registered as a resident, your right to work will not change after Brexit.
Read the guidance on providing services after Brexit if you’re planning to start a business, provide a service, or do a job in a regulated profession after Brexit.
Money and tax
The UK has a double taxation agreement with Spain to make sure that people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. You can ask the relevant tax authority about double taxation relief.
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.
Read guidance about:
- telling HMRC if you leave the UK to live abroad
- the tax on your UK income if you live abroad
- paying income tax in Spain
You should get professional advice on paying tax in Spain. You can use a registered ‘gestor’ or find an English-speaking lawyer.
Declaration of overseas assets
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.
Find out if you can pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.
Money and tax after Brexit
The double taxation agreement with Spain will not change. Send your questions about double taxation to the relevant tax authority.
If there’s no deal, it may become more expensive to use your bank card in Spain. Read our guidance on using a bank card, insurance or other financial services if there’s no Brexit deal.
You will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.
If you retire in Spain, you can claim:
- your UK State Pension or new UK State Pension
- your Spanish and UK State Pension from the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social if you worked in Spain
- pensions from working in other EU countries
Life Certificates for UK State Pensions
If you get a life certificate from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible. Your payments may be suspended if you don’t.
Pensions after Brexit (Updated 03/09/19)
The UK government will continue to pay a State Pension to those eligible in the EU after Brexit. Your UK State Pension will be uprated in April 2020, 2021 and 2022 if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
If there is a deal and you work and pay social security contributions in Spain, you will still be able to add your UK social security contributions towards your Spanish pension. This will happen even if you claim your pension after the end of the implementation period.
If there’s no deal, the Spanish government has proposed that they will take into account periods of work in the UK before Brexit when calculating your Spanish pension. We will update this guidance when there is a formal agreement on this.
Read our guidance on pensions if there’s no deal.
You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in Spain.
- read our guidance on which benefits you can claim if you live abroad
- use our tool to check which benefits you can claim while your abroad
Many income-related benefits such as pension credit and housing benefit cannot be paid to you if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.
You may be entitled to Spanish benefits. To find out if you are entitled to Spanish benefits and how to claim, you can:
- read the European Union’s guidance on claiming benefits in an EU country
- speak to a social worker (trabajador social) at your local town hall(ayuntamiento)
- visit your nearest Instituto de Mayores y Servicios Sociales office (in Spanish)
You can request proof of the time you’ve worked in the UK from HMRC if you are asked for this.
Benefits after Brexit
If there is a deal and you work and pay social security contributions in Spain, your UK social security contributions will be taken into account when applying for Spanish contributions-based benefits. This will happen even if you claim contributions-based benefits after the end of the implementation period.
If there’s no deal, the Spanish government has proposed continuing to take into account any periods of work in the UK before Brexit, when working out your entitlement to Spanish contributions-based benefits. We will update this guidance when there is a formal agreement on this.
Driving in Spain
If you are resident in Spain, exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one. You can still use your Spanish licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test if you return to live in the UK.
If you hold an old UK licence that doesn’t have a 10-year validity period, you must renew or exchange it for a Spanish licence once you’ve been a resident in Spain for 2 years.
If you are in Spain and your UK driving licence is lost, stolen or expires, you will not be able to renew it with the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You will need to apply to the DVLA for a ‘certificate of entitlement’ in Spanish to be able to apply for a Spanish driving licence.
For information on driving in Spain, read our guidance on:
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. Read the European Union’s guidance on car registration rules and taxes in Spain.
You may be exempt from some of these taxes. If so you will need certificates of exemption.
Driving after Brexit
If there’s no deal, the Spanish government has said that valid UK licences will be recognised for 9 months after Brexit. You must start the process of exchanging your UK licence for a Spanish one before 1 November 2019 in order for the Spanish authorities to guarantee that your UK licence will be exchanged during the 9 month grace period.
Visit the Spanish Traffic Office website (in Spanish) for more information on the specific measures that have been put in place for UK licence holders until 1 November 2019.
Read our guidance on driving in the EU after Brexit if there’s no deal.
If there is a deal, driving licence rules will stay the same as now during the implementation period.
You can vote and stand in local elections. To do so, you must:
- register on the municipal register where you live (padrón municipal)
- formally declare your intention to vote and register on the local electoral roll
- confirm your padrón status every 2 to 5 years to remain registered and be able to vote
You can go to your local town hall and check your padrón status and the municipal electoral roll at any time.
Whilst the UK remains in the EU, we will participate in the European Parliament elections. As a UK national living in Spain, you can choose to vote in your home country or in your country of residence. If you have spent less than 15 years out of the UK, you can vote for UK candidates. If you are already registered to vote in Spain, you can vote here for the Spanish candidates for the European Parliament. However you cannot vote in both countries.
Read more information on voting in the European Parliament elections.
Read more about how to register as an overseas voter.
You cannot vote in general or regional elections in Spain.
You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:
Voting after Brexit
UK nationals will no longer be able to vote in European elections after Brexit.
UK nationals will still be able to vote and stand as candidates in local elections in Spain.
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:
- read our guidance on what to do after someone dies abroad
- read guidance for UK nationals on bereavements in Spain
- find a list of English-speaking funeral directors in Spain
Find out how you can get married abroad.
Find out about notarial and documentary services for British nationals in Spain.
Accommodation and buying property
Read guidance on how to buy or let property in Spain.
You will still be able to travel to and from the UK with a cat, dog or ferret after Brexit, but the rules will change. Read guidance on pet travel to Europe.
While the UK is still an EU member state, you’ll be able to travel with your pet to the EU under the current pet travel rules using your current EU pet passport. If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you must visit your vet to obtain a pet passport.
Read guidance on returning your cat, dog or ferret to the UK.
For moving pet horses and other equines read the guidance on export horses and ponies: special rules.
You can dial the European emergency number on 112 or:
- 091 for police
- 061 for health emergencies
- 080 for firefighters
- 092 for local police
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
Read our guidance on:
- access to benefits and services in the UK if there’s no deal
- bringing your family to the UK
- access to higher education, 19+ further education and apprenticeship funding
- importing vehicles back to the UK
- bringing your pet back to the UK
- checking your tax status after returning to the UK
Check if your tax status will change if you return to the UK.
Tell the UK and Spanish authorities if you are returning to the UKpermanently. To help prove you are now living in the UK, you must 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.
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) and Benidorm Seriously are not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.