Guidance

Living in Spain

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

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.

For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in Spain see our coronavirus travel advice.

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.

The Withdrawal Agreement

If you were legally resident in Spain before 1 January 2021, your rights will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

You should check that you are correctly registered as a resident. You have the right to obtain a new residence document to evidence your rights.

You should also read our guidance on living in Europe.

Visas and residency

If you were legally resident in Spain before 1 January 2021, you will be able to stay. You must ensure you are correctly registered as a resident. Children must also be registered with their own residency document.

If you are registering for the first time, 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 proves your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you have trouble using your green EU residence certificate, read the Spanish government’s informative note on documentation for UK nationals. This explains which documents you can use to prove your residence and Withdrawal Agreement rights in Spain. You can refer to this informative note when dealing with service providers.

You can exchange your paper EU residence document for the new TIE but you are not required to.

The Spanish government recommends obtaining the TIE because the biometric card is more durable. It will also simplify administrative processes and border crossings.

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

For more information:

Additional support

If you need additional support to complete your residency application, read the guidance on the UK Nationals Support Fund.

Other local support

For details of official Spanish government and non-government organisations including in the voluntary sector, visit the Support in Spain website.

Moving to Spain

Check the entry requirements for Spain.

You must register as resident, or apply for the appropriate visa if you want to stay in Spain for more than three months. Read the Spanish government’s guidance on moving to Spain (in Spanish).

Healthcare

Read our guidance on healthcare in Spain and make sure you are correctly registered for your circumstances.

State healthcare: S1

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Spain and you:

  • are receiving a UK State Pension
  • are receiving some other ‘exportable benefits’
  • are a frontier worker who lives in Spain and commutes to work in the UK
  • have been sent to Spain temporarily by your UK employer

Read our guidance on using an S1 form in Spain to ensure you are correctly registered in healthcare.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

If you are resident in Spain, you must not use your UK-issued EHIC or GHIC for healthcare in Spain, unless you are a student or a detached (posted) worker. Current EHICs will remain valid until the expiry date on the card.

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 living in Spain you may be eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC or GHIC if you’re:

  • a UK student in Spain
  • a UK State Pensioner with a registered S1
  • a frontier worker with a registered S1

The card you receive will depend on when you moved to Spain.

Apply now for a new UK EHIC or GHIC.

An EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance.

For more information read our guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe and advice on foreign travel insurance.

You should also read:

Passports and travel

Coronavirus travel restrictions may affect the information on this page. For the latest COVID-19 guidance, read our Travel Advice for Spain.

You should carry your residence document (the green paper EU residence certificate or the new TIE), as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry proof you have started the registration process.

If you have not yet applied for a residence document, you should carry evidence that demonstrates you are resident in Spain. This could include a tenancy agreement or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020.

If you cannot show that you are resident in Spain, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in Spain.

Passports

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You can apply for or renew your British passport from Spain.

You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). This requirement does not apply if you are in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement.

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.

Renew your passport before booking your travel if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

As a non-EEA national, different border checks will apply when travelling to other EU or Schengen area countries. You may have to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. You may also need to show a return or onward ticket.

Entry requirements

You can travel to other Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism.

To stay longer than 90 days in any 180-day period, to work or study, or for business travel, you must meet the entry requirements set out by the country you are travelling to. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit.

Periods of time authorised by a visa or permit will not count towards the 90-day visa-free limit.

Different rules will apply to EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area. Check each country’s travel advice page for information on entry requirements.

Travel to the UK and Ireland has not changed.

Children travelling from Spain

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 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.

The Spanish immigration authorities are aware that there is no UK equivalent, 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

If you live in Spain and have a valid UK driving licence, this will be recognised for driving in Spain until 30 June 2021.

If you wish to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one, the process to follow depends on whether you registered your intention to exchange with the Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT) before 30 December 2020.

If you registered with the Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT) before 30 December 2020

If you were resident in Spain before 1 January 2021 and registered with the DGT before 30 December 2020, you should request an appointment with the DGT to exchange your UK licence by 31 December 2021.

To exchange your licence you will need:

  • proof you are registered as a resident in Spain (eg. TIE – Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero; green EU residence certificate)
  • your UK licence

Read DGT’s guidance on how to get an appointment (in Spanish with English translation).

The DGT will exchange your UK licence for a temporary driving permit (‘autorización temporal para conducir’) until your Spanish licence is processed. This document is valid in Spain only.

If you did not register with DGT before 30 December 2020

If you did not register with DGT before 30 December 2020 and wish to exchange your UK driving licence, you should follow the DGT process for non-EU nationals. This includes taking a driving test.

The UK government is in discussion with the Spanish government on future driving licence exchange without the need for a practical test. Sign up for email alerts to this page, to get notified of our updates on changes to the rules.

Your valid UK licence will continue to be recognised in Spain until 30 June 2021.

Driving in the UK with a Spanish licence

You can use your Spanish licence in the UK for short visits, or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test. We will update this page if there are any changes to the rules, as soon as information is available.

Lost, stolen or expired UK licences

If you live in Spain, you will not be able to renew your driving licence in the UK. If your UK licence is lost, stolen or expired, you will need to apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for a ‘certificate of entitlement’ 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 were legally resident in Spain before 1 January 2021, you have the right to work, as long as you remain legally resident.

Read the Department for International Trade’s guidance on:

and sign up for their updates.

If you are planning to come to Spain to work, you may need a visa or permit. You should check with the Spanish Embassy in the UK.

To apply for a job, you may need to provide a:

Frontier workers

If you live in Spain and were regularly commuting to work in another EU or EFTA country, before 1 January 2021 you may need a permit to show that you are a frontier worker. You should also check that you are correctly registered for residency.

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 need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Spain.

Banking

Whether UK banks can provide service to customers living in the EEA is a matter of local law and regulation. Your bank or finance provider should contact you if they need to make any changes to your product or the way they provide it. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, contact your provider or seek independent financial advice.

Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on banking, insurance and financial services changes for more information on cross-border banking.

Pensions

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Spain.

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:

Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on pension and retirement changes for more information on cross-border pensions.

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.

Benefits

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Spain.

You will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

Check which benefits you can claim while abroad and how to claim them.

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.

Voting

You can vote and stand in local elections in Spain once you have been resident for 3 years. 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
  • reconfirm your registration on the electoral roll ahead of each election within the deadline set by the electoral authorities

Read the Spanish government’s guidance on voting in local elections. You can also read the bilateral agreement between the UK and Spain on voting rights (in Spanish).

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

If you have a pet passport issued by Spain or another EU member state, you can use it to travel with your pet to Great Britain and elsewhere in the EU.

A GB-issued EU pet passport is not valid for travel to the EU or Northern Ireland. You should speak to your vet before you travel to get the necessary pet travel documents and ensure you’re compliant with the EU Pet Travel Regulations.

Read guidance on:

Check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before you travel.

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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) 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 19 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. Additional support section updated with link to guidance on UK Nationals Support Fund; healthcare section updated including guidance on the S1 form and applying for EHIC and GHIC cards; working in Spain section updated with links to Department for International Trade (DIT) guidance on working or providing services and DIT guidance on recognition of professional qualifications.

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

  3. Coronavirus section updated with a link to guidance on vaccines.

  4. Visas and residency section updated with information on accepted residency documentation for UK nationals.

  5. Updated as the transition period ends with new information on driving, pet travel and moving to Spain.

  6. Passports and travel section updated on carrying proof of residence when travelling.

  7. UK Nationals Support Fund section updated with expanded geographical coverage for Spain

  8. Updated with latest information on exchanging UK driving licences.

  9. Healthcare section updated on how to apply for a new UK EHIC as a student or S1 holder. Working section updated with information on frontier workers.

  10. Passports and travel section updated to include information on passport validity and entry requirements when travelling to other European countries from January 2021.

  11. Addition to the UK Nationals Support Fund section regarding the provision of assistance with residency applications in Valencia and Castellon regions (Babelia Association).

  12. 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.

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

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

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

  16. Updated information on children travelling from Spain.

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

  18. Updated information on children travelling from Spain.

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

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

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

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

  23. Information on voting in the European Parliament elections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  30. EU Exit update: updated information on double taxation

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

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

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

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

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

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

  37. 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.

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

  39. June 2018

  40. Updated March 2018

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

  42. Updated hyperlinks and corrected a grammar error.

  43. Taxation information updated.

  44. Updated the information on UK benefits abroad

  45. Information added on returning to the UK

  46. Updated Life Certificate information

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

  48. updated arrangements for signing of life certificates in Spain

  49. guide and category changed.

  50. First published.