As with most other European Countries, there are generally no changes to the rights and status of the one million UK nationals (and their direct family) living in Spain, while the UK remains in the EU.
Spain has the biggest British community in the EU and there are concerns about important ex-pat issues like property and tax, etc, but as it stands those who are residents and on the Padron (the equivalent of the electoral roll, but should be updated every five years), or in the Spanish social security system should see no change.
This also extends to working in Spain and accessing healthcare, plus UK pensions and other exportable benefits.
For those not correctly registered as resident in Spain, however, it’s best to start thinking about making yourself fully legal. There’s been an increase in Residencia applications – and if you’re under pension age this involves documentation like a passport, Padron ID, money in a Spanish bank and confirmation from them that it’s yours, plus health insurance cover.
The introduction of any new or updated administrative procedures after the December 2020 transition period will be decided by Spain themselves, but we have people in place and can bring you those details very quickly.
There may be a requirement for UK nationals to apply for a new residency document or status conferring the right of residence, but they’ll have at least until the end of December 2020 to submit their applications.
This should be free of charge, or at least no more than the cost of issuing similar documents (such as passports), but applicants may be required to provide proof of identity and undergo criminality and security checks. For more information visit our ex-pat areas within the forum.
Official information for UK nationals moving to or living in Spain, including guidance on Brexit, residency, healthcare and passports.
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, and you are resident in Spain before the end of the implementation period you will be able to stay.
If you arrive in Spain before the end of the implementation period, you will be able to register as resident in Spain under the current rules, and will have your right to residence in Spain protected for as long as you remain resident.
If there are changes to residency registration processes after Brexit, we will update this guidance as soon as information is available.
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.
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.
For more information:
If there’s no deal and you arrive in Spain after Brexit you will have to meet the requirements of the general immigration regime.
If you are planning to move to Spain, check the entry requirements.
You must register for healthcare as a resident in Spain.
Read the guidance on who can access healthcare in Spain and how to register.
State healthcare: S1
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.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
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 – a Spanish-issued EHIC) 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 your 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:
If you are a student, read the NHS guidance on healthcare and studying abroad.
You can also find an English-speaking doctor in Spain.
Healthcare after Brexit
If there is a deal, your current rights to healthcare in Spain will remain the same, as long as you remain covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.
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. If you are 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 the day the UK leaves the EU until at least December 2020.
UK-issued 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. You must ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance.
Read the 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.
Children 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, 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.
The Spanish Authorities have confirmed that the above regulation is not applicable to foreign minors resident in Spain who are subject to the law of their country of nationality or to non-resident foreign minors visiting Spain. The British Embassy has notified the Spanish immigration authorities that there is no similar standard regulation in the UK therefore British consulates do not provide travel authorisation documents. It is not customary for British minors to require written permission to travel unless the minor is subject to a court order, which specifically mentions that written permission is required from those holding parental responsibility for the minor. If the minor is subject to such a court order, or if you wish to ensure that an unaccompanied minor will be able to leave Spain without delay when passing through Spanish immigration, you will have to obtain the certified authorisation from a public notary in Spain.
Passports and travel after Brexit
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.
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 the guidance on:
Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Spain
Read the 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 is a deal, driving licence rules will stay the same as now during the implementation period.
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 31 January 2020 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 31 January 2020.
Read the guidance on driving in the EU after Brexit if there’s no deal.
If you are registered as a resident in Spain, you have the right to work in Spain. Read the guidance on working in another EU country.
To apply for a job, you may need to provide a:
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.
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:
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.
If you are employed or self-employed in the EU and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.
If there’s no deal and the end date on your form is after the day the UK leaves the EU, you should contact the relevant EU or EEA authority. They will confirm whether you need to start paying social security contributions in that country after Brexit, as well as UK National Insurance contributions.
Find out more about social security contributions after a no-deal Brexit.
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 the 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:
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
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.
Read the 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.
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:
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.
You can vote and stand in local elections. To do so, you must:
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.
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.
Read guidance on how to buy or let property in Spain.
Travelling with your pet between the EU and the UK will change after Brexit. If you’re living in the EU, contact your vet before travelling to check requirements. Also read the guidance for UK nationals living in the EU on pet travel to Europe after Brexit page.
Whilst the UK is still in the EU, you can take your pet between the UK and 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:
If you’re the victim of crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis abroad, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.
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 must deregister with your:
Check if your tax status will change if you return to the UK.
If you get UK State Pension or benefits payments, you must tell the International Pension Centre and the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social.
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.
Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax, access to services and bringing family members.
Please note this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Spanish authorities.