Brexit and your life and property in Spain

After Brexit, there will be some changes for British people moving to Spain. Buying property will be unaffected, but if you’re moving permanently, some new rules may apply. Here are your need-to-knows.

Why Brexit is not the end of your overseas property dreams

With the UK having left the European Union, some new rules will apply to British people moving to Spain and other EU countries.

The good news is that property buyers will be completely unaffected by Brexit. It is only if you are moving permanently that new rules will apply.

Even those who will be affected – principally those planning to retire, work or study in Spain – have until the end of 31 December 2020 to become resident abroad and keep all their current EU rights.

View our full infographic on the key points for Spanish property buyers

Here are your essential need-to-knows.

1. The right to buy and own property

You will continue to be able to buy and own property in Spain after Brexit, just as before, even after the transition period. Property ownership comes under Spanish, not EU control. You will also be able to rent it out, just the same as an EU citizen.

Transition period

The UK and EU have allowed a transition period – currently set to last until 31 December 2020 – where current rules will continue. If you move to Spain permanently before then, you will retain all your rights to residence, healthcare and pensions.

2. Access to health services

Holiday home buyers

During transition: You can continue to use your EHIC and current reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

After transition: The EHIC may continue to operate, but if not, you will require travel health insurance


During transition: You can continue to use reciprocal healthcare arrangements by registering at your local health centre, including filling in an S1 form if you’re retired. You shouldn’t use your UK EHIC to access healthcare in Spain if you’re a full-time Spanish resident.

After transition: The government says if you are resident by 31st December, you will have ‘life-long healthcare rights’, as long as you remain resident. It is likely that there will be further healthcare cooperation, but it remains to be announced.

3. Right to residence

Staying less than half the year

You should not need a visa. Most non-EU citizens are allowed free access without a visa for 90 days in every 180.

Staying more than half the year

During transition period: If planning to live in Spain full time, and you can move before the transition period ends, i.e. under the Withdrawal Agreement, you will retain all your current EU rights to live, work or study in Spain. However, it is essential to prove that by getting your (green) registration certificate and family member photocards as soon as possible, as there may be a long wait for an appointment.

The government has said: “All British nationals and their family members will be well advised to have a TIE format document, as they may benefit from a TIE format document that explicitly states that they are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement… The TIE may be requested during the transitional period, although a planning of the applications may be established in order to avoid all of them being submitted at the same time”.

After transition period: You will not be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and will probably need a visa. There are many variations of this, for whether you are working, investing or retiring.

4. Pensions

You can receive your pension in Spain if you are retired, whether you move before or after the Brexit transition period. You may also be able to claim certain Spanish benefits, if you qualify, but this will depend whether you move before after the transition period.

Move before end of transition: If you are resident in Spain before 31 December 2020 your pension will continue to be paid and up-rated every year, just as it would be in the UK. That applies even if you retire after that date. You will also be able to pay contributions into your pension.

Move after transition period: You will still receive your UK pension in Spain. However, whether it will be up-rated each hear has not yet been settled. The latest from the UK government is that: “the rules on entitlement to UK benefits in these countries will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the EU and may change.”

If moving to Spain, ensure your money is transferred into euro safely. Read The Currency Guide to Emigration, free to download.

5. Driving

If you are a resident in Spain, you can change your UK driving licence for a Spanish permit up till the end of the transition period.

After the transition period, British travellers wanting to drive in Europe may need an international driving permit (IDP). These are available at any British Post Office over the counter. The countries outside the EU this is currently needed for can be seen on the official list here.

“What about me?” Your questions answered

I’m buying a holiday home

No problem. Nothing will change.

I’m moving to the EU to retire/work/study, BEFORE 31 December 2020

No problem. You will not need a visa, but remember to register as resident at your local immigration office (oficina de extranjeros) or designated police station within three months of arrival.

I’m moving to the EU to retire/work/study, AFTER 31 December 2020

You may need a visa. A ‘temporary residence (non-lucrative)’ visa will let you live in Spain as long as you have sufficient funds, currently €8,000 per person per year and full private health cover. You can also work on a ‘temporary residence (lucrative)’ visa, including as self-employed, as long as you earn at least the minimum wage equivalent (around €600-800 a month).

If you buy a property worth €500,000 or more, you may qualify for a golden visa, giving you and your family fast-track residency, renewable for five years.

Remember, if you are simply buying a property and not planning to spend more than 3 months of the year in Spain, there is no change! You can press ahead with your plans.

We’d love to help along the way. Get in touch with us any time on 020 7898 0549 and don’t forget to download our free guide to buying in Spain.

Moving BEFORE Brexit

Moving to Spain before Brexit

The Brexit transition offers a breathing space to British people moving to the EU. You now have until 31st December 2020 to become “legally resident” in Spain retaining your full EU rights.

Moving AFTER Brexit

Moving to Spain after Brexit

Find out how Brexit might affect British people wishing to relocate or retire to Spain. Although not everything is certain yet after the Transition Period, you can assess the options.

Brexit Infographic

Moving to Spain after Brexit

Your 90 second guide. We have divided it into three main concerns: the right to buy property, to have access to healthcare, and to residence.

After Brexit Guide

Can I move to Spain after Brexit?

The After Brexit Guide will help you plot your way through a possible post-Brexit scenario, to ensure you can fulfil that dream of a wonderful lifestyle combining the best of our two cultures.


View properties in Spain

Make a start by viewing our wide selection of beautiful Spanish homes. All come from our carefully chosen agents based in-country.

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