Guidance

Living in Spain

Official information for UK nationals moving to or living in Spain, including guidance on Brexit, residency, healthcare and passports.

Brexit: what you should do

You should:

Stay up to date on Brexit

The UK is leaving the EU. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit and will be updated if anything changes. You should:

Attend a citizen outreach meeting

The British Embassy regularly holds events across Spain for UK nationals. Attend one of our citizen outreach meetings to keep up to date on working and living in Spain after Brexit.

You can also:

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 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.

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.

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.

Healthcare

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’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.

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.

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.

Passports and travel

You can apply for or renew your British passport from Spain.

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 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.

For further advice on whether a certified authorisation is required you need to seek legal advice from a lawyer and possibly the services of a public notary. Those with parental responsibility of Spanish children in Spain can obtain a certified authorisation at a notary, national police station (in Spanish), or at the Guardia Civil (in Spanish).

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’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 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.

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 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 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.

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:

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:

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.

National Insurance

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 our guidance on using a bank card, insurance or other financial services if there’s no Brexit deal.

Pensions

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’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.

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.

Benefits

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.

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:

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’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.

Read the guidance on benefits and pensions if there’s no deal.

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.

Voting

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:

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.

Pets

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 the 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.

Emergencies

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

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:

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

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.

Disclaimer

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) is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

You may also want to view this list of useful websites for UK nationals living in Spain.

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 11 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Brexit update: Driving section updated to include latest information on the process of exchanging driving licences.
  2. Updated information on children travelling from Spain.
  3. Brexit update: healthcare section updated to reflect transitional arrangements announcement.
  4. Brexit update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating.
  5. Information on new requirements for minors travelling from Spain from the 1 September in the passports and travel section
  6. EU Exit update - additional information added to the passports and travel section.
  7. Information on voting in the European Parliament elections.
  8. EU Exit update: Added in new information on EU Exit in pensions, passports, healthcare and returning to the UK section.
  9. EU Exit update: updated information added to the visas and residency section.
  10. We have updated this guidance with what you should do to prepare for EU Exit and what the Royal Decree means for UK nationals.
  11. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.
  12. EU Exit update: links added to Spanish governments' brexit website and Spain's no-deal contingency measures as published in the Royal Decree
  13. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip
  14. EU Exit update: updated information on double taxation
  15. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare
  16. EU Exit update: New information on voting in local elections in Spain added to the voting section
  17. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving
  18. We have added the latest information with the new website of the Spanish Government for UK Nationals in Spain
  19. EU Exit update: Added information about the Spanish government announcement on EU Exit in the Visas and Residency section.
  20. EU Exit update: New information on voting in local elections in Spain.
  21. EU Exit update: New information in residency and visa section on draft withdrawal agreement in principle between the UK and EU. Plus information on travelling with pets in Europe in Pets section.
  22. Brexit update: Added in information about citizens outreach meetings across Spain
  23. June 2018
  24. Updated March 2018
  25. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  26. Updated hyperlinks and corrected a grammar error.
  27. Taxation information updated.
  28. Updated the information on UK benefits abroad
  29. Information added on returning to the UK
  30. Updated Life Certificate information
  31. Updated to include details of the double taxation treaties between Spain and the UK
  32. updated arrangements for signing of life certificates in Spain
  33. guide and category changed.
  34. First published.