Guidance

Living in Spain

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

You should:

Coronavirus

You should follow the advice of the Spanish Government and your local authority. You can also read our Spain travel advice for our latest guidance.

Stay up to date

You should:

Attend a citizen outreach meeting

Attend one of our citizen outreach meetings to keep up to date on working and living in Spain. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the majority of our outreach will be taking place online.

You can also:

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

Residency

If you are legally resident in Spain before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, you will be able to stay. You must register as a Spanish resident if you want to stay in Spain for more than 3 months.

If you are living in Spain before 1 January 2021 and register as a resident after 6 July 2020, you will be issued with a biometric residence card called a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE). This card will prove your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you registered as a resident before 6 July 2020, you will have a green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper from Extranjeria or the police. This is still a valid document and will prove your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, including after the transition period ends. You can exchange your paper residence document for the new TIE but you do not need to.

The green paper residence certificate and the new biometric TIE card are equally valid in proving your residence status and rights in Spain.

Read the Spanish government’s guidance on how to apply for the new TIE.

If you move to Spain after 31 December 2020, different immigration requirements will apply. We will update this page when further information is available.

For more information:

UK Nationals Support Fund

The FCO has announced funding for organisations to provide practical support to UK nationals who may have difficulty completing their residency application or registration.

This support is available only to those who need additional help. This may include pensioners, disabled people, people living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties.

The services available for people who need this additional support include:

  • answering questions about residency applications, such as the documents required and application procedure
  • guiding individuals through the process, if necessary
  • supporting people facing language barriers or difficulty accessing technology

In Spain, this support is being provided by three organisations: The International Organisation for Migration will cover Andalusia, Madrid and Murcia, Babelia will cover Alicante, and Age in Spain will cover Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

If you or someone you know may have difficulty completing the paperwork, you can contact them using the details below to discuss how they may be able to help you.

IOM – The International Organisation for Migration (Andalusia, Madrid and Murcia)

Visit the IOM Spain website

Email: UKnationalsSP@iom.int

Helplines: Andalusia: +34 650 339 754, Madrid: +34 699 581 855, Murcia: +34 648 642 543, all available Mon to Thurs, 3.30pm to 5pm

Babelia (Alicante)

Visit the Babelia website

Email: info@asociacionbabelia.org

Helpline: +34 865 820 229 available Mon to Fri, 9am to 2pm

Babelia contact form

Age in Spain (Catalonia and Balearic Islands)

Visit the Age in Spain website

Email: residency@ageinspain.org

Age in Spain contact form

Helpline: +34 932 20 97 41 available Mon to Fri, 11am to 1pm

Healthcare

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.

Read our 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.

Read our guidance on how to get an S1 form

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:

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.

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

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.

If you have parental responsibility for Spanish children in Spain, you can obtain a certified authorisation at a notary, national police station (in Spanish), or at the Guardia Civil (in Spanish).

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. If you do this before 31 December 2020 you will not need to take a driving test.

You will need a valid residence document to exchange your licence.

To start the exchange process, book an appointment with the Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT) online or by calling 060 (Spanish language only). You can request an appointment to exchange your driving licence in a different province to the one you live in.

Make sure you request the correct appointment option:

  • if your licence has expired or is due to expire in the next few months, you should choose ‘renovación’
  • if you have lost your licence or it has been stolen you should choose ‘sustitución’
  • for all other instances choose ‘canje’

You should get a photocopy of your UK licence certified by a notary prior to initiating this process in case there are any delays. You will have to hand over your UK licence to the Spanish Traffic Authority when applying to exchange it for a Spanish one.

You will be issued a temporary driving permit (“Autorización temporal para conducir”) to use until your Spanish licence is processed. This document is only recognised by traffic authorities in Spain and is not a valid document in any other country.

You can instruct a registered ‘gestor’ to carry out this exchange process on your behalf if you wish.

These rules may change from 1 January 2021. We will update this guidance once more information is available.

Driving in the UK with a Spanish licence

Until the end of the transition period, you can still use your Spanish licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test.

These rules may change from 1 January 2021. We will update this page once more information is available.

Lost, stolen or expired UK licences

If you live in Spain and your UK driving licence is lost, or stolen, or if it 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:

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:

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 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.

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 31 December 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.

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.

If you are considering moving to Spain on or after 1 January 2021 and you are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, the rules depend on negotiations with the EU and may change. Check our guidance on benefits and pensions in 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.

Benefits

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.

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 31 December 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.

If you are considering moving to Spain on or after 1 January 2021 and you are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, the rules depend on negotiations with the EU and may change. Check our guidance on benefits and pensions in the EU.

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.

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:

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

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.

Read guidance on bringing your pet to the UK.

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 21 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Visas and residency section updated to include information about how to access the UK Nationals Support Fund for those who may find it harder to complete their residency application.

  2. Driving section updated with additional guidance on how to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one.

  3. Visas and residency section updated with information about the new residency document - Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE)

  4. Brexit update: includes further details on passport validity, healthcare rights and State Pension uprating if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

  5. Updated information on children travelling from Spain.

  6. Brexit update: Driving section updated to include latest information on the process of exchanging driving licences.

  7. Updated information on children travelling from Spain.

  8. Brexit update: healthcare section updated to reflect transitional arrangements announcement.

  9. Brexit update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating.

  10. Information on new requirements for minors travelling from Spain from the 1 September in the passports and travel section

  11. EU Exit update - additional information added to the passports and travel section.

  12. Information on voting in the European Parliament elections.

  13. EU Exit update: Added in new information on EU Exit in pensions, passports, healthcare and returning to the UK section.

  14. EU Exit update: updated information added to the visas and residency section.

  15. We have updated this guidance with what you should do to prepare for EU Exit and what the Royal Decree means for UK nationals.

  16. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.

  17. EU Exit update: links added to Spanish governments' brexit website and Spain's no-deal contingency measures as published in the Royal Decree

  18. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip

  19. EU Exit update: updated information on double taxation

  20. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare

  21. EU Exit update: New information on voting in local elections in Spain added to the voting section

  22. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving

  23. We have added the latest information with the new website of the Spanish Government for UK Nationals in Spain

  24. EU Exit update: Added information about the Spanish government announcement on EU Exit in the Visas and Residency section.

  25. EU Exit update: New information on voting in local elections in Spain.

  26. 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.

  27. Brexit update: Added in information about citizens outreach meetings across Spain

  28. June 2018

  29. Updated March 2018

  30. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.

  31. Updated hyperlinks and corrected a grammar error.

  32. Taxation information updated.

  33. Updated the information on UK benefits abroad

  34. Information added on returning to the UK

  35. Updated Life Certificate information

  36. Updated to include details of the double taxation treaties between Spain and the UK

  37. updated arrangements for signing of life certificates in Spain

  38. guide and category changed.

  39. First published.