Guidance

Living in Spain

Official information for British people moving to or living in Spain, including guidance on EU Exit, residency, passports and healthcare.

EU Exit: what you should do

You should:

EU Exit updates

To keep up to date with information about EU Exit:

Residency and visas

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 when the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, any UK national arriving in Spain before 31 December 2020 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 advice on the Moncloa website is to make sure you have proof you were living here before we leave the EU (eg padrón registration or utility bills), and to keep checking the online appointment system for new appointments.

After the UK leaves the EU, in any scenario, you will need to change your registration document for a new card. For more information you can:

UK nationals arriving in Spain after the UK leaves the EU will have to meet the requirements of the general immigration regime. We will provide further information on this in due course.

If you are planning to move to Spain you may want to check the entry requirements.

Passports and travel

You can apply for or renew your British passport from Spain. If you cannot get a passport in time for your trip, you may need to get an emergency travel document or ‘emergency passport’.

Passports and travel after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU with 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 the UK leaves the EU without a deal, new travel rules will apply. You should 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.

You should 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 it.

If the UK leaves the EU without a 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 country, within a 180-day period. You should retain evidence of travel (eg train and plane tickets), in case these are requested by national authorities. If you hold a residence permit from an EU member state, you will be able to transit through other EU member states to reach your country of residence. We will update this guidance as more information becomes available.

Healthcare

You need to make sure you are correctly registered for healthcare as a resident in Spain. You can read the NHS’s guidance on who is able to access healthcare in Spain and how to register..

If you are resident in Spain, you should not be using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from the UK to access healthcare in Spain.

If you live in Spain and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance 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 but note:

  • you may use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland
  • 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 you can read our travel advice pages and advice on foreign travel insurance

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 should 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 should also buy comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your TSE, EHIC or for travel to countries outside the EU.

You can read the NHS guidance on healthcare and studying abroad.

You can also find an English-speaking doctor in Spain.

Healthcare after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU with 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 the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare may change. You should ensure you are correctly registered for healthcare and, if in any doubt, consult with your regional healthcare authority. You can read the Spanish government’s guidance on access to Spanish healthcare and EU Exit.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Spanish Royal Decree states that if you are currently registered for healthcare in Spain as a resident, you will be able to continue to access healthcare until at least the end of 2020. This is provided the UK makes the same agreement for Spanish nationals in the UK. We will update this guidance when there is a formal agreement between the UK and Spain about this.

Should UK nationals face changes in their circumstance and wish to return to the UK, they will have an entitlement to NHS services as soon as they take up ordinary residence in the UK.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal your Spanish TSE may not be valid for use in the UK. 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 should ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance.

You should read the NHS guidance on healthcare for UK nationals in Spain and how it may change after the UK leaves the EU.

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.

You may need to apply for a:

Working in Spain after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves with a deal and you are already registered as a resident, your right to work will not change.

If you’re planning to start a business, provide a service, or do a job in a regulated profession after the UK leaves the EU, you should read this guidance.

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.

If you are 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.

You can read guidance about:

For 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

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

Money and tax after EU Exit

The double taxation agreement with Spain will not change. You should direct individual taxpayer questions about double taxation to the relevant tax authority.

If the UK leaves the EU without a 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:

If you get a Life Certificate form in the post, you must fill it in promptly otherwise your payments may be suspended.

Pensions after the UK leaves the EU

The UK government will continue to pay the UK State Pension to those eligible after the UK leaves the EU. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you can read our guidance on pensions. The UK government will uprate your UK State Pension for the fiscal year 2019/2020 in any scenario.

If the UK leaves the EU with 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 the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Spanish government has proposed that they will take into account periods of work in the UK before the UK leaves the EU when calculating your Spanish pension. We will update this guidance when there is a formal agreement on this.

Benefits

You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in Spain. You should:

If you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks, many income-related benefits such as pension credit and housing benefit cannot be paid to you.

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 EU Exit

If the UK leaves the EU with 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 the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Spanish government has proposed continuing to take into account any periods of work in the UK before the UK leaves the EU, 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, you should exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one (PDF). 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

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 can 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 the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, driving licence rules will stay the same during the implementation period.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, read our guidance on preparing to drive in the EU after the UK leaves the EU

The Spanish government has said you will have 9 months from the day the UK leaves the EU to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one. Your UK licence will be recognised in this 9 month 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

This includes the next local elections in May 2019, as long as you registered on the electoral roll before 30 January 2018.

You can go to your local town hall and check your padrón status and the municipal electoral roll at any time.

The UK Government wants to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement on our departure from the EU by 23 May. In that scenario, there will be no European Parliament elections in the UK, UK nationals won’t be able to vote in EP elections, and the UK will leave the EU on 1 June.

But there is a possibility that we will participate in the EP elections. In this scenario, 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 as long as you register before 7 May. If you are already registered to vote in Spain (the deadline was 30 January 2019), you can vote here for the Spanish candidates for the EP. But 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 the UK leaves the EU

UK nationals will no longer be able to vote in European elections after the UK leaves the EU.

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

You can travel with your pet to the EU under the current pet travel rules using your current EU pet passport. If you are travelling with your put for the first time, you will have to visit your vet to get a pet passport.

When the UK leaves the EU, you will still be able to travel to and from the UK with a cat, dog or ferret, but the rules will change. You can read guidance on pet travel to Europe if there is no deal.

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

Read our guidance on:

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 UK permanently. To help prove you are now living in the UK, you should deregister with your:

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

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.

Disclaimer

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 use this list of useful websites for British nationals living in Spain.

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