Living in Spain

Official information British people moving to and living in Spain need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.

Brexit: what you need to know

There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Spain while the UK remains in the EU.

While the government continues to negotiate Brexit, you should:

Before you go

See travel advice for Spain and sign up for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for Spain in our travel advice.

You must register with the Spanish government if you are planning on staying in Spain for more than 3 months.

See residency requirements for Spain for information about registering and applying for permanent residence.


See healthcare in Spain and our travel advice for Spain.

The NHS also has information about healthcare for British people living in or visiting Spain.

You need a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get emergency medical treatment during temporary stays in EU countries. You also need comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your EHIC.

Once you’re registered as a resident, you can access the Spanish healthcare system.

You can find English-speaking doctors in Spain.

You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Spain. You can email Spain’s medical agency in English (La Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios) to ask about prescriptions.

S1 form – healthcare paid for by the UK

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Spain and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit.

You need to apply for a S1 form – contact the Department for Work and Pensions’ International Pensions Centre.

Working in Spain

See working in another EU country.

Some jobs may require a:

You can ask Seguridad Social for a record of your employment history in Spain (a Vida Laboral certificate).


See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

We recommend you seek professional advice on paying tax in Spain. You can use a registered ‘gestor’ or find an English-speaking lawyer.

If you are resident in Spain, Spain will tax your worldwide income, regardless of the country in which it arises. If you are not resident, you will only pay tax on income arising Spain.

See paying income tax in Spain.

In addition to an annual tax return, Spain requires all residents, including UK nationals, to file an annual declaration of overseas assets (Modelo 720), if they meet the minimum filing requirements. There are severe penalties if you fail to file or provide incorrect or incomplete information.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.


See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

If you last worked in Spain, you should make your claim for your Spanish and UK State Pension from the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social.

If you haven’t worked in Spain, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.

If you’ve worked in several EU countries, see state pensions abroad.

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.


See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

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

Spanish benefits

You may be entitled to Spanish benefits, including:

Find out more about claiming benefits in an EU country and see what benefits you may be able to get in Spain.

You can find out more about what income-related benefits are available by speaking to a social worker (trabajador social) at your local town hall (ayuntamiento) or visit your nearest Instituto de Mayores y Servicios Sociales office.

You can request proof of time worked in the UK from HM Revenue and Customs, if you are asked for this information.

Driving in Spain

See driving abroad and road travel in Spain.

Driving licences

See driving licence renewal and exchange.

If you are resident in Spain, you will not be able to renew a lost, stolen or expired licence with the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). It may be easier to convert your UK licence to a Spanish licence before it expires.

If your UK driving licence is lost or stolen, you can apply to the DVLA for a ‘certificate of entitlement’ in Spanish that can be used to apply for a Spanish driving licence.

See how to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one (PDF) on the Dirección General de Trafico website. If you hold an old-style UK licence, which doesn’t have a 10-year validity period, you must renew or exchange it for a Spanish licence once you’ve been a resident of Spain for 2 years.

Importing a UK-registered vehicle

See taking a vehicle out of the UK.

See information about car registration and taxation in Spain.

If you spend longer than 6 months of the year in Spain with your UK-registered car, you must register your vehicle with the Spanish authorities. For information on how to do this, including how to change your licence plate, contact the Dirección General de Trafico.

You may need to pay taxes when importing and registering your UK vehicle, including:

  • registration tax (impuesto de matriculación)
  • road/traffic tax (impuesto de circulación del ayuntamiento)
  • VAT (impuestos sobre el valor añadido, IVA)

You may be exempt from some of these taxes in which case you will need certificates of exemption.

See the Agencia Tributaria’s information on car registration tax.


British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

In order to vote in local elections, you must also sign onto the local election register. You can do this at the same office where you register on the padrón by completing a simple form. Some, but not all, town halls will ask you if you want to register to vote when you register on the padrón.

Once you have registered to vote once, the registration is permanent and you do not have to renew it. However, if you have fallen off the padrón due to a padron status check, you will also need to re-register to vote.

If you are not sure whether or not you are registered to vote in local elections, you can ask at the padrón office at your local town hall.

More information on voting in local municipal and European Parliamentary Elections can be found here.


See register a birth abroad.


See what to do after someone dies.

See also:

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Accommodation and buying property

See how to buy property in Spain.


See travelling with pets.


As well as the European emergency number 112, Spain also has:

  • 091 – police
  • 061 – health emergencies
  • 080 – fire fighters
  • 092 – local police

See Spain – emergency numbers.

If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

See tax if you return to the UK.

If you are returning to live in the UK permanently, it is important you tell the UK and Spanish authorities.

You should deregister with your:

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

Doing this will help prove you are living in the UK.

If you receive UK State Pension or benefits payments, you must tell the International Pension Centre and the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social you are returning to the UK.

If you receive healthcare in Spain through the S1 form, contact the Overseas Healthcare Team or Seguridad Social to tell them you are leaving. This will ensure your S1 is cancelled on the right date, avoiding UK taxpayers’ money being paid unnecessarily to Spain for care you do not need.


Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Spanish authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 22 March 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated March 2018
  2. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  3. Updated hyperlinks and corrected a grammar error.
  4. Taxation information updated.
  5. Updated the information on UK benefits abroad
  6. Information added on returning to the UK
  7. Updated Life Certificate information
  8. Updated to include details of the double taxation treaties between Spain and the UK
  9. updated arrangements for signing of life certificates in Spain
  10. guide and category changed.
  11. First published.