Moving to Spain after Brexit

Moving to Spain after Brexit has become more arduous and complex, but the process for British citizens considering moving to Spain is viable.
Article Published: 25 Mar, 2021, Updated: 21 Jan, 2023 under Retirement & Passive Income Visas

Following the transition period, Brexit has come and gone, the process for British citizens considering moving to Spain has become more arduous and complex. The process faced by British citizens is currently the same as for other non-EU citizens following the implementation of the Bilateral Agreement also known as the Withdrawal Agreement.

Can you still live in Spain after Brexit?

Now that the two year "transition" period has ended, British people who live in Spain may find themselves having less freedom of movement across the rest of the European Union after March 2019.

While no doubt the process is more complex, there still remain viable for those who, despite the obstacles put in place by Brexit, still want to take the plunge and start a new life in Spain.

If you qualify, you could still apply for Spanish residency even though you are not living here. However, you would need to show proof that you lived in Spain prior to 31st Dec 2020 and that you meet the European Union’s residence requirements on income and health care.

If you get Spanish residency and your TIE card then you will be able to stay in Spain afterwards regardless of whether the UK leaves the European Union with or without an agreement. You will have similar rights to all other EU citizens and can apply for permanent residency in Spain. Full details on how Brexit will impact British residents in Spain can be found on the following Spanish government website (in Spanish).

What about British Citizens who own a property in Spain?

You don't automatically get Spanish residency just because you own real estate there. You may be able to stay for up to three months without having to get an official document from the Spanish authorities.

If you're visiting Spain for fewer than ninety days, a Schengen visa is fine; if you stay longer, you may require a long-term visa.

Will I need a visa to be able to live in Spain after Brexit?

Unless you have been living in Spain before the cut-off date, and fulfil the criteria for proving same, then if you are a British citizen you will need to obtain a residency visa in order to stay more than 90 days at a time.

There are a number of visa options for those considering a relocation to Spain, which we outline below:

Golden Visa: Buying a Property Over a Certain Value

Golden Visa Spain by Property investment : Buying a property in Spain with a value of €500k or more will provide you with a residency visa including a right to live and work in Spain. The investment may be made in a single property or several, and may include commercial property, a plot of land or a mixture of any of the above.

You can live and work in Spain while the property investment is maintained and includes your family (spouse and children under 18 years of age and any disabled children over that age having access to public or private education).

A one-year visa is obtained, which can then be switched to a valid residence permit of two years duration and then becomes renewable for periods of 5 years while the investment is maintained.

Note that you will have to present proof that you don't have a criminal record and that you have the appropriate health cover.

Eventually, once you have spent a sufficient period of time living in Spain - currently 10 years - you even have an option to apply for Spanish citizenship - see:  Buy property in Spain and get citizenship.


Process for applying for a Golden Visa in Spain

Before applying for the Golden Visa, you must have made an investment. Once a contract has been signed, and before the sale is completed at the notary, the application process can begin. The funds must be available for the investment in a bank account in Spain. It usually takes between 10 and 15 days to apply for the residency visa. If the application is made in Spain, it is valid for two years. It can be renewed for five more years if the investment is not interrupted.

Apart from the requirement to invest in real estate, applicants must have a clean criminal record, sufficient financial resources to cover any stay in Spain, and medical insurance. Applicants must also not have been denied visas or refused entry to the Schengen area in the past.

Have an Existing Income of Sufficient Value with No Need to Work in Spain

If you are earning more than €2,260 Euros on a monthly basis (whether based on a pension or any other kind of regular income) you can also apply for residency in Spain – though for non-working purposes only. This is known as a 'non-lucrative visa'.
If more than one person is applying (for instance you intend to come with your spouse/partner and children) the income required will increase by approximately €565 per month for each additional member.

You can also apply even if you do not have regular income, but simply have deposit/s in bank account/s over that amount on a yearly basis, so over 27.115,20 Euros for 1 member and an additional €6,780 (approx.) for each additional member.

An important difference between this route to residency and the Golden visa is that here you are not entitled to work in Spain, but it is perhaps a more accessible option for residency in Spain.

Even not being allowed to work in Spain that does not mean you will not be allowed to work in any other country provided you do not lose Spanish residence by staying abroad working for longer periods of time.

Process for applying for a non-lucrative Visa in Spain

Non-lucrative residence visa applications must be submitted at your nearest Consulate in the UK.The person applying for the visa must present the application personally.A parent, guardian, or duly accredited representative can present an application on behalf of children under the legal age of majority.

The time-frame for approval or denial of your non-lucrative residency visa application is one month after receiving it.You have one month to collect your permit at the consulate if your application is approved.Along with your visa, you will receive your NIE number, which is necessary for carrying-out almost any formal process in Spain.

Successful applicants must arrive in Spain within three months of the date they were granted their visa. Once having arrived in Spain, you willhave one month to visit the Foreigners’ Office and apply for a Foreigners’ Identity Card (TIE) as well as complete registration at the town hall in the municipality where you will be residing.

Irish and other EU Passport Holders

Many people in the UK are entitled to an Irish or other EU passport as a result of being born there or indeed if a parent or grandparent was born in another EU country.

While this depends on the rules of the individual EU States, if a British citizen is able to successfully apply for an EU passport, they may apply for residency in Spain with all the typical rights to live and work here.

Once that application has been processed, their spouse and children may apply for residency on the basis that their family member is resident in Spain (See ‘Have a family member in Spain, with which he/ she wishes to reunite' below). This is known as the Family Reunification visa and may be applied for even at the same time as the primary visa in some cases.

Set-up an Innovative Business in Spain

Another option to get a residency visa that could allow you to work in Spain is provided by the Entrepreneur´s visa , under Law 14/2013.

This is a residence permit created for those non-EU citizens who want to open a start-up business in Spanish territory. Upon compliance with the requirements set-out in the relevant legislation, Spanish immigration law will grant you residency as a result of your business idea. However, bear in mind that business must be truly innovative and the project is required to be aligned with the interests of Spain.

In order to be accepted moving to Spain after Brexit, your project must fulfill the following conditions:

  • It has to create employment for the country, at least in the long-run, and be a positive stimulus for the general Spanish economy and good investment opportunities.
  • The business must involve a high level of technology and enhance the socio-economic development of Spain.

Becoming Tax Resident in Spain

If you aren’t a Spanish citizen, but you live there for at least 183 days out of every year, then you must pay tax here.

Becoming a tax resident means having to pay taxes on your global income and global assets at a progressive rate which can go up to 45% depending where you live.

This worldwide income can include your state or private pensions from the UK. Therefore, if you want to draw down large amounts of your pension fund when moving to Spain, it would probably be best done before moving so that you're still a UK taxpayer at that point.

If you spend less than six months per year in the county where you own a house, then you must pay non-residents’ taxes even if you don't rent the property out.

If you plan to spend only occasional time in your holiday home in Spain, see our article on non-resident property tax in Spain.

How do you register for healthcare in Spain?

Residents in Spain must be registered before they can receive medical treatment. Basic state services are usually completely free; however, there may be certain things that patients must pay for.

In order for an individual living in Spain who needs medical care from a hospital located outside their home country (in this case, the UK) to receive treatment at a public hospital within Spain they must:

  • Pay national insurance contributions in Spain as a result of self-employment or working as an employee in a Spanish company
  • Make direct payments into the special social security system for people who don't pay income tax.
  • Use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) (now obsolete).
  • Be entitled to healthcare as a permanent resident having lived in Spain for five years
  • Obtain private medical insurance that has been approved as suitable for the purposes of an application for a residency visa in Spain.

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Service Details

Retirement & Passive Income Visas

Available in the following locations: Arrecife, Barcelona, Benidorm, Cadiz, Castellon de la Plana, Cordoba, El Campello, Estepona, Fuengirola, Gandia, Granada, Jaen, L`Eliana, La Manga del Mar Menor, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Los Alcazares, Los Cristianos, Malaga, Mallorca, Mazarron, Motril, Murcia, Nerja, Orihuela Costa, Oviedo, Puerto del Rosario, Puzol, Seville, Torrevieja, Valencia, Velez-Malaga, Vigo, Yaiza

* If your local town is not listed, a lawyer from our nearest office will be happy to assist you.

Who Is This Service For?

This visa - known in Spanish as the 'No Lucrativa' visa - meaning it is not valid if you wish to be able to work in Spain, can nevertheless be a very interesting option for non-EU – including British citizens (post-Brexit) – who wish to reside in Spain.

If you are earning more than €2,260 Euros on a monthly basis (whether based on a pension or any other kind of regular income) you can apply for residency in Spain – though please note, for non-working purposes only.

If more than one person is applying (for instance you intend to come with your spouse/partner and children) the income required will increase by approximately €565 per month for each additional member.

You can also apply even if you do not have regular income, but simply have deposit/s in bank account/s over that amount during the time of residency, so over €27,115 for 1 member and an additional €6,780 (approx.) for each additional member.

The visa duration is for one year initially, renewable on a 2 yearly basis, until such time as you have spent 5 years resident in Spain, when you can request a long-term visa.

What Does This Service Consist Of

  • Advice and assistance from an experienced immigration lawyer to ensure the applicant has the required documentation and information
  • Complete the application request on your behalf
  • Assistance with arranging approved health insurance
  • Arrange for payment of administrative fee
  • Accompany the applicant to the appointment with the relevant government department to collect the visa once approved
  • Accompany the applicant to collect the TIE (foreigner’s identification card)
  • Assist with renewal of the visa after years 1, 3 and 5 (billed separately, as required)

Free Support Services Included

When combined with the free and innovative Advocate Abroad support services you can be sure that you are obtaining completely transparent legal services from registered and regulated English-speaking lawyers abroad.These support services include:

  • Verification of the regulatory status of your professional.
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