Official information for UK nationals moving to or living in Spain, including guidance on residency, healthcare, passports and the Withdrawal Agreement.
What you should do
Stay up to date
- sign up for email alerts to this guidance
- follow the British Embassy in Spain on Facebook and Twitter
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.
You can also:
- read the Spanish government’s website for UK nationals in Spain
The Withdrawal Agreement
The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights. It sets out a transition period which lasts until 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to live, work and study in the EU broadly as you did before 31 January 2020.
If you are resident in Spain at the end of the transition period, you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and your rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident in Spain.
Any rights that are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be the subject of future negotiations. Read this guidance page for more information
In the meantime, make sure you are registered as a resident in Spain. We will update this guidance as soon as more information becomes available.
You should also read our guidance on living in Europe.
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.
If you are resident in Spain before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, you will be able to stay.
If you arrive in Spain before 31 December 2020, 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 we will update this guidance as soon as information is available.
For more information:
- read the Spanish government’s guidance for UK nationals in Spain
- sign up for email updates to this guidance on living in Spain
If you are living in Spain or move there permanently before 31 December 2020, you’ll have life-long healthcare rights in Spain as you do now, provided you remain resident.
You must register for healthcare as a resident in Spain.
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.
You can apply for an S1 certificate through the Business Services Authority.
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, unless you are a student or posted worker.
When you travel from Spain for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can use your UK or Spanish-issued 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
There will be no changes to your healthcare access before 31 December 2020. You can also continue to use your EHIC, as you did before, during this time.
Read the Spanish government’s guidance on access to healthcare.
You should also read guidance on:
Passports and travel
The rules on travel will stay the same until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to travel to countries in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU with your UK passport.
Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.
You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.
We will update these pages with details of any changes to the rules as soon as information is available. You should sign up for updates to this guidance.
Children travelling from Spain
On 1 September 2019, the Spanish authorities implemented a new regulation. 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 Spanish authorities have confirmed that 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.
We have notified the Spanish immigration authorities that there is no similar standard regulation in the UK, so 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.
Driving in Spain
Driving licence rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020.
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.
You may be exempt from some of these taxes. If so you will need certificates of exemption.
Working in Spain
If you are resident in Spain on or before 31 December 2020, your right to work will stay the same, as long as you remain resident in Spain.
Read our guidance on working in an EU country.
To apply for a job, you may need to provide a:
- UK criminal records certificate
- Spanish criminal records certificate (in Spanish) (Certificado de Antecedentes Penales)
- certificate from the Spanish sex offenders registry (in Spanish) (Certificado de Delitos de Naturaleza Sexual) to work with children
- record of your employment history in Spain from Seguridad Social (a Vida Laboral certificate)
Money and tax
The UK has a double taxation agreement with Spain to make sure that you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. You can ask the relevant tax authority about double taxation relief.
Existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Spain have not changed.
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.
If you are employed or self-employed in the EU or EEA and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.
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 31 January 2020
There will be no changes before 31 December 2020 to the rules on claiming the UK State Pension in the EU, EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.
You can continue to receive your UK State Pension if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension.
If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 you will get your UK State Pension uprated every year for as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions explained in the new State Pension guidance.
If you are living in Spain by 31 December 2020, you will be able to count future social security contributions towards meeting the qualifying conditions for your UK State Pension.
If 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 31 December 2020.
You will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.
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:
- speak to a social worker (trabajador social) at your local town hall (in Spanish) (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 31 January 2020
There will be no changes before 31 December 2020 to the rules on claiming UK benefits in the EU, EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.
If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020, you will continue to receive any UK benefits you already receive. This will continue for as long as you live there and meet all other eligibility requirements.
If 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 31 December 2020.
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.
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:
- 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.
Current pet travel rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020.
If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you must visit your vet to get a pet passport.
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 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. 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.