Written by Christopher Nye, Senior Content Editor, Property Guides
Last Modified: 5th August 2021

Your checklist for success when moving to Spain after Brexit

Are you ready to move to Spain? With Brexit “done” and vaccines offering new hope for later in 2021, many of us are dusting off our plans to move to Spain. But what has changed since Brexit? This is your checklist for a bright, sunny new life in Spain.  

In this download-and-keep guide, we explain the practical steps and decisions you need to take.

All the information is kept up to date and has been checked by Spanish lawyers and other professionals. However, rules and procedures may change suddenly or may vary in different autonomous communities of Spain. Therefore we cannot guarantee that the information will be correct for your circumstances and we urge you to take independent advice.

In this factsheet we cover:

Residency and visas
 How to apply for Spanish residency
Tax changes
 Getting your NIE
  Moving with pets
  Driving in Spain post-Brexit

A new challenge for Britons after Brexit

Citizens of the UK are now classed as “third country residents” in the EU – just like citizens of the USA, Australia and many other non-EU countries.

That means we no longer have freedom of movement in the Schengen zone. For those wanting to enjoy the Spanish sun long-term, there have been some changes.

Here are your need-to-knows about living in Spain post-Brexit. Note that the same rules apply for mainland Spain and the Spanish islands.

Residency and visas

How long can I stay in Spain without a visa?

A visa is not required to enter Spain. However, you will need a passport with at least 6 months remaining. The Spanish border authorities may question you on where you will be staying, for how long and how you will support yourself while there.

Without a visa, British citizens can only stay for 90 days within a 180 day period. After this, they must leave Spain and must not return for 90 days.

The 90-days start as soon as you enter the Schengen zone, not just Spain. If you have a residency permit then you can stay as long as your residency allows.

I want to stay longer. What type of residency permit can I apply for?

1.      Non-lucrative visa/residency permit

The non-lucrative visa is similar to the European residency that we had before Brexit. It is essentially a non-working/retirement visa. You need to prove that you have somewhere to live in Spain (bought or rented), that you have enough money to support yourself, health insurance and no serious criminal record.


If you’re planning your retirement to Spain and want to speak to a Spanish visa specialist, just click here, fill in the form and I’ll put you in touch.


For the initial visa, an individual must prove that they have an income of €27,000 per year. If you are living with another family member – for example, your spouse – then you will need to prove an additional €6,000. Your approximate total income will therefore need to be around €33,000, which is equivalent to around £28,000 as of July 2021.

If you have large levels of savings rather than an income, i.e. “proof of funds”, this will normally be sufficient instead. However, as other third country visa applicants have discovered, what constitutes enough funds can vary. We expect more information to filter through as procedures are streamlined.

The initial residency permit lasts for one year. To renew it, you will need to prove you have been living in Spain for a minimum of 183 days of that year. It will then be renewed for a further two years. Then, you can renew it again for another two years. After five years, you can apply for permanent residency. Permanent residency lasts five years.

This visa does not allow you to work in Spain, but you can apply to be able to work afterwards.

2.      Residency by Investment (the “golden visa”)

The golden visa allows you to gain residency through investing in Spain.

To apply, you must have a property investment of at least €500,000 in Spain without a mortgage. You will need to get a certificate from the Land Registry which shows who has bought the property and the purchase price.

You will also have to prove that you have the same funds as with the non-lucrative visa (€27,000 for an individual or €33,000 for a couple), health insurance and no criminal record.

Golden visa moving to Spain after Brexit

Invest your way to residency

Only one person has to invest and then family can be added to the visa who can enjoy the same benefits. With this visa, you can both live and work in Spain.

The main difference compared to non-lucrative visa is that you do not have to prove you have been living in Spain to renew it. And, you can choose to pay taxes in either Spain or the UK.

3.      Job residency permit:

This visa allows you to live and work in Spain. You will need a job contract with a company first, or you can establish your own company in Spain and be self-employed.

4.      Residency through marriage:

A British citizen can get a residency permit if they are married to somebody who is a European citizen, for example, Irish, French, Italian, or Spanish.

This residency permit has the same rights as the old European residency, however, it is subject to the residency of the European citizen (your spouse).

You will still need to have proof of funds – although this is much lower than other visas at €6,700 for an individual – as well as have health insurance and somewhere to live (bought or rented).


Where do I apply for a non-working/retirement visa?

British citizens will have to apply for their first non-lucrative visa via the Spanish embassy or consulate in the UK or at a separate visa processing centre. You will need to book an appointment and make sure you bring all the necessary documentation:

  • Completed national visa form
  • A copy of your passport and a recent passport photograph
  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • Valid UK residence permit
  • Certificate of no criminal record
  • Proof of Spanish health insurance
  • Medical certificate
  • Proof of funds e.g. bank certificate
moving to Spain after Brexit applying for visa

Make sure you bring all the necessary documents to your appointment

How long does the application process take?

You should receive a response within 20 days of applying.

And what does it cost for a visa?

The visa application cost is currently £526. However, you will need to add to that the cost of an official translation of some documents and to get some ‘apostiled’ too.

Our visa partner can organise the process, which will be a huge saving in time and hassle, and for most cases the total cost (including the £526 application) will be at or below £1,000. Click here to be introduced to our visa specialist in Spain for an initial discussion

Can I freely travel in the Schengen area with Spanish residency?

The Golden Visa allows you to travel through the Schengen area freely. On the other hand, the non-lucrative visa only allows you to stay longer than the 90 days in Spain. In the rest of the Schengen area, you will still be treated as a tourist and will be subject to the 90-day rule.

Buying process

Are there any changes to the property buying process?

No. When acquiring property in Spain, Brexit has not affected the process.

How much will the property purchase process cost?

For a “resale” property the main tax is transfer tax. This is 8% of the purchase price when the purchase price is lower than €400,000. If a property costs between €400,000 and €700,000, the transfer tax will be 9% of the purchase price. A property costing more than €700,000 will have a transfer tax of 10% of the purchase price.

For new builds, you will be required to pay both IVA (VAT in the UK) of 10% and AJD (Stamp Duty in the UK) of 1.5%.

moving to Spain after Brexit

The property purchasing process has not changed after Brexit

What other fees will I have to pay?

You will also have to pay notary and land register fees. These are usually less than 1% of the purchase price. If the property is around €200,000 or €300,000, the fees will be around 1%, and for more expensive properties the fees will be less than 1% of the purchase price.

Legal fees can be around 1% of the purchase price plus VAT.


What are the changes to healthcare?

Social security payments fund the Spanish healthcare system, so if you pay into the social security scheme then you will be covered by the public healthcare system. If you are a retiree – with Spanish residency – who receives a UK State pension, then you can access UK-funded healthcare using an S1 form.

Will I still get free healthcare?

If you are a non-working resident or have taken early retirement in Spain then you will need to take out private healthcare. This is a requirement when seeking residency.

Your private healthcare must have complete cover in Spain and has to be without co-payment, which means that you don’t have to pay for extra services. Costs can vary depending on your circumstances.

healthcare in Spain after Brexit

You will need private healthcare to apply for Spanish residency

What about emergency healthcare?

If you are in Spain temporarily then you will be able to access basic state healthcare through the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The GHIC is replacing the previously used EHIC.

The GHIC entitles you to receive free, or cheaper, state-provided medical care on the same basis as Spanish citizens. You will still have to pay for some services. In Spain this includes making a contribution to prescriptions. Your EHIC will remain valid until it expires, after which, you can apply for the new free GHIC.

What does the GHIC cover?

  • Emergency treatment and A&E trips
  • Treatment for chronic or pre-existing medical conditions
  • Routine medical care
  • Routine maternity care
  • Oxygen and kidney dialysis.

The British Government advises that you still take out travel insurance as the GHIC, like the EHIC before it, will not cover you for private medical healthcare or other costs, such as mountain rescue or repatriation.

Still have questions about Spanish healthcare? Get in touch with one of our Spanish healthcare experts today.


Tax in Spain

The Spanish tax year runs from January to December. It can be quite complicated but you must know which taxes you need to pay to avoid nasty fines. It is a good idea to contact a gestoria (agency), which are similar to accountants.

Will Brexit affect property taxes?

Yes. When you come to sell your property, you will have to pay a higher percentage of tax on the capital gain. British citizens will have to pay the non-resident income tax of 24%, compared to 19% for EU/EEA state citizens. The tax is only applied to any gain you make.

You will not have to pay capital gains tax if you are not reselling your main residence, and there are also certain exemptions for over 65s.

Can I secure residencia in Spain but not pay tax?

No. If you spend more than 183 days in Spain – which is necessary for the non-lucrative visa – then you become a tax resident. The only exception is through the Golden Visa, but you will have to spend less than 183 days in Spain.

If I take my possessions to Spain will I have to pay tax?

No. If you can prove that you have owned and been using your possessions for at least six months then you can import them without paying any tax. Your possessions must arrive in Spain no later than three months after you move.

You will need a certificate issued by the British embassy that proves you have been a registered resident of the UK for at least a year and that you are now becoming a resident of Spain.

Getting a tax number (NIE)

What is a NIE?

In Spain, your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) is your unique tax identification number which you will need for all financial and legal activities. You will likely receive your NIE when you get your residency.

Once you have your NIE, you will need to register on the padrón municipal. It is important to do this as it will ensure you are added to a list of citizens which allows services – such as police, street lighting and education – in your local community to be subsidised by the Spanish government.

Opening a bank account

It is not compulsory to open a Spanish bank account, but it can make life a lot easier if you do, especially as some British banks do not allow non-UK residents to have accounts.

Many banks in Spain will support English speakers, but do beware high bank charges. You should always use a currency specialist to transfer money. At Property Guides we recommend Smart Currency Exchange.

opening a bank account in Spain after Brexit

Don’t worry about a language barrier. You can find many English speaking banks

What documents will I need to open a Spanish bank account?

To open a Spanish bank account you will need:

  • Proof of identity e.g. a valid passport
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of your employment status e.g. employment contract signed by your employer, student cards, unemployment documentation.
  • NIE and certificate.

You will need to translate any documents into Spanish, which can be done using an official translator (traductor jurado). You may also need to get them authenticated by an Apostille stamp.


What is the replacement for the pet passport?

A pet passport issued in the UK is no longer valid. Now, if you want to bring your pet into Spain from the UK, you will need an animal health certificate. Your pet will need a new certificate every time you enter the EU from the UK.

You can obtain an animal health certificate at your vets and this should be done no more than 10 days before you travel. Your vet will need to see your pet’s microchipping date and vaccination history. Ensure the certificate is signed off by an ‘official veterinarian’ (OV).

What else does my pet need to enter Spain?

All pets, including guide dogs, will need:

  • A microchip
  • A valid rabies vaccination
  • An animal health certificate (pet passports issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland are still acceptable)


driving in Spain after Brexit

UK drivers do not need an international driving permit in Spain

Will I need an international driving permit to drive in Spain?

No. The British Government has confirmed that UK drivers do not need an international driving permit in Spain, and indeed in any of the EU member states. If your number plate has GB or GB with a Union Flag on it, you do not need to display a GB sticker.

What documentation do I need to drive in Spain?

When driving in Spain, you will need to bring your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence, the logbook (V5C) and insurance certificate if you are driving your own vehicle from the UK, and a VE103 certificate if you are driving a hired/leased vehicle from the UK.

In terms of insurance, it is advised to have a “green card” – which gives you at least third party cover – when driving in the EU.

If you are ready to buy in Spain within the next few months, call our friendly Spain Resource Team on 020 7898 0549 or email Spain@propertyguides.com.

We also offer lots of free downloadable guides, including our Spain Buying Guide:

Healthcare Abroad

Taking care of your health doesn’t stop when moving to Spain. Get this one stop shop for expatriate healthcare.

After Brexit Guide

To help you plot your way through a possible post-Brexit scenario, to ensure you can fulfil that dream of a Spanish lifestyle.

Your Negotiation Guide

A handy guide to everything you need to know about negotiating for a property in Spain.

The Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency

Buying in Spain from the UK means you agree to a fixed price in euros but that is constantly moving in pounds. How can you budget when it is constantly changing?

Speak to an expert

We have Spanish property experts at offices in the UK and Spain who are waiting to answer any questions you have about buying property in Spain. Get in touch on +44 (0)20 7898 0549 from Monday–Friday, 8:30am–6:00pm or email spain@propertyguides.com.

Our friendly team can also put you in touch with all the professionals you will need by your side when buying property in Spain, to give you all the guidance you need and steer you around common pitfalls — particularly during those all-important viewing trips:

  • Trusted estate agent
  • Expert currency specialist
  • Independent solicitor
  • Independent financial adviser
  • Property surveyor

To speak to the right professional service providers for you, contact the Spain Property Guides Resource Centre today or fill in the enquiry form below.

Download your free Spain Buying Guide

Inside the Spain Property Guide

As well as a free online guide to buying property in Spain, we offer a downloadable booklet that will take you through the entire process. This PDF can be saved to your device or printed for future reference. Simply enter your details to download your free Spain property guide, which will help you to:

  Understand Brexit
  Find your property
  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying in Spain

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