Written by Bethany Hemsley,
Last Modified: 11th August 2022

It’s easy to hop on a plane to visit and purchase properties in Spain, but since Brexit, if you want to stay in Spain long-term, perhaps for retirement, then you’ll need a visa.

The team from JLCA Lawyers answer your most asked questions about obtaining residency and visas in Spain post-Brexit.

Get legal advice and guidance on your move from our recommended Spanish lawyers.

The 90- and 180- days rule

How does the ’90/180-day rule’ work?

Without a visa, you can only stay in Spain for 90 days within a 180-day period. You can use your 90 days as you wish, either staying for 90 days in a row or breaking the days up into smaller chunks. Either way, you cannot be in Spain for more than 90 days in a 180-day period.

It’s important to note that your ‘180-day countdown’ starts as soon as you enter the Schengen Zone, not just when you enter Spain. So, if you stopped off in France for a few days before heading to your holiday home in Spain, your 90 days would begin when you enter France.

How do I calculate the 180 days?

The 180-day period is rolling. The best way to visualise it, and subsequently keep track of your days, is to think of the 180 days as a moving block of time that is counted backwards from when you enter the Schengen Zone.

For example, if you entered the Schengen Zone on the 1 November 2021, your 180 days would be calculated backwards from then, which works out to 6 May 2021.

Simply put, on your arrival date, you just need to count backwards 180 days and make sure that you haven’t spent more than 90 days in the Schengen Zone in this time.

I know. It can be confusing. However, if you only plan to visit the Schengen Zone for short-term holidays, you shouldn’t have any problems. If you do want help keeping track of your days, there is a handy calculator specifically for this.

getting a visa in Spain

The 180 days as a moving block of time that is counted backwards from when you enter the Schengen Zone.

What happens if I overstay my 90 days?

It is really important to keep track of your days and to not overstay. The penalties for overstaying can be quite severe, including fines and deportation (that is sometimes immediate).

The penalties vary from country to country. In Spain, fines can range from €501 to €10,000 and potential expulsion from Spain can last from six months to five years.

Additionally, if you have previously not complied with the 90- and 180-days rule, you could find it difficult to enter the Schengen Zone in the future and apply for residency with the zone.

If I already own a holiday home in Spain, does the 90/180-day rule still apply?

Yes. Even if you own a holiday home in the Spain you must follow the 90/180-day rule. The only way to get around this is to apply for a visa.

Does the 90/180 rule apply to me if I have dual citizenship, such as an Irish passport?

No. If you travel using an Irish passport, or a passport of another EU-member state, the 90/180 day rules do not apply. You would be able to spend as long as you like in Spain and any other country in the Schengen Zone.

How can I stay in Spain permanently/longer than 90 days at a time?

The only way to stay in Spain longer than 90 days is to apply for a long-term visa. There are several options available.

The most popular option for expats tends to be the non-lucrative visa which allows you to be resident in Spain but does not allow you to work there. This visa is great for those who are retired or who live in Spain but work remotely for a company in a different country.

Another option, if you are hoping to work for a Spanish company, is the work permit visa. This allows you to both live and work in Spain but can only be applied for by an employer. This means that you would need a job offer in Spain first.

Read your Emigration Guide to find out everything you need to know about moving abroad.

The non-lucrative visa

I’m looking to retire to Spain. What visa do I need?

For those who are not looking to work in Spain, the most popular visa option is the non-lucrative visa.

It is a fairly easy process and you can apply at the Spanish consulate in London, Manchester or Edinburgh.

Getting a visa in Spain

The most popular visa option for retirees is the non-lucrative visa.

How much does it cost to get a non-lucrative visa in Spain?

The initial fee for the non-lucrative visa is around €550 but there will be additional fees to pay. These include the actual certificate, the legalisation and the translation.

How long does the application process take for the non-lucrative visa?

Applications for the Spanish non-lucrative visa usually take between 30 and 90 days.

Do I need private health insurance to apply for the non-lucrative visa?

Yes. You will need to take out a private health insurance policy to apply for the non-lucrative visa.

It is important to note that your policy must be ‘enough’ to properly cover you in Spain. So while you do not need the most expensive policy, you also should take out more than the most basic cover.

What funds do I need to be approved for a non-lucrative visa?

It depends on who is applying and how many people will be involved.

For a single person, you currently need to have just over €27,000. If you are looking to move as a couple, then one person would need the €27,000 but the spouse’s funds could be lower, at just under €7,000. Therefore, a couple would need around €35,000.

If you are moving to Spain with children, you will need an additional €6,778 per minor.

How long does the initial non-lucrative visa last?

It lasts for one year initially but can be renewed for a further two years.  After these two years, you can renew it for another two years. After five years, you can apply for a long-term residence permit.

After my initial visa runs out, do I have to return to the UK to renew it?

No, you will be able to renew your visa in Spain.

Can I move to Spain on a non-lucrative visa and then seek work there?

No. The non-lucrative visa does not allow you to work for a Spanish company. You would need to apply for a work permit.

If you’re preparing to come over to Spain to look at properties, make sure you know what to look for by reading our free guide, Your Viewing Trip.

Can I work remotely for a UK-based employer but live in Spain on a non-lucrative visa?

Yes. This is quite common. You would just need a non-lucrative visa.

I’m renting out my UK property and receiving a monthly income from this. Does this count towards the funds needed for the non-lucrative visa?

It is preferred for you to have the full amount (€27,000 or €35,000, for example) in your bank account before applying for the visa, however, any income that you can prove to be regular can count towards this figure.

Is there a minimum number of days that you must spend in Spain for the non-lucrative visa?

Yes. You will need to spend a minimum of 183 days in Spain for your non-lucrative visa to be valid.

If I have a non-lucrative visa, can I open a Spanish bank account?

Yes. You do not need to be a resident in Spain to open a bank account.

If I have a non-lucrative visa, do I need a Spanish driving license?

At the moment, the British driving license is still recognised. There isn’t an agreement in place yet regarding the long-term post-Brexit changes to driving licenses, however, negotiations are currently underway.

No major changes are expected.

Is the Spanish visa application any different if I am married to someone with an EU passport?

Yes, there is a separate process.

Many people choose to work remotely for a UK-based employer but live in Spain.

The golden visa

What is Spain’s golden visa and what are the requirements for this?

Spain’s golden visa requires investing in a property costing a minimum of €500,000. It is important to note that this must be bought without any encumbrance or mortgage. This €500,000 investment can be spread out over two cheaper properties.

The golden visa allows you and any family members to live, work or study in Spain. This includes older children who still depend on the visa holder, such as a student.

For this visa, you must spend a minimum of one day in Spain.

How long does the application process take for the golden visa?

The application process for the Spanish golden visa is generally very fast, taking around 20 days to complete.

Do I need private healthcare for the golden visa?

Yes. There are the same requirements for the golden visa regarding healthcare as with the non-lucrative visa. You must be covered by a private policy before applying.

You would only receive public healthcare if you were working in Spain and received it that way.

How long does the golden visa last?

The golden visa lasts for one year initially. After which you can renew it for another two years. After the two years, you can renew it for five years.

When you do decide to buy in Spain, Smart Currency Exchange is the specialist in exchanging your pounds into euros. They have two offices in Spain too, in the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol. Read Smart’s Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency here.

Other FAQs

What is the process for obtaining an NIE number?

You have two options. You can either manage it directly in Spain either in person or through power of attorney. Alternatively, you can apply via the Spanish consulate in the UK.

Can I relocate to Spain and start a business there?

Yes. You do not need to be a Spanish national to set up a business in Spain.

If I am relocating to Spain, what are the tax implications?

It depends on your personal situation. For example, whether you are setting up a business, how long you spend in Spain vs the UK etc… It is advised to seek profession tax advice on this topic.

Can I still access my UK pension if I relocate to Spain?

Yes. In terms of tax implications, although there is a double taxation agreement between the UK and Spain, you may still have to pay some additional tax if you are resident in Spain and do an annual tax return there.


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The Spain Buying Guide is a free, independent resource to help anyone who is looking to buy property in or move to Spain through each critical stage of their property buying journey.

Set up to help our readers avoid the many complexities and pitfalls of buying property in Spain, the guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves.


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

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