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How to Emigrate to Spain from the UK After Brexit

In this page we explain how a British citizen can move to Spain in the new post-Brexit environment. Whilst moving to Spain has become more difficult for British citizens, it is still possible.

Call us on 0333 305 9375 to discuss your case with us. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.


How to Move to Spain From UK?

The Brexit transition period officially ended on December 31st 2020. British citizens no longer have freedom of movement within the European Union. This means that British citizens need to apply for a visa if they wish to live in an EU country.

With a relaxed lifestyle, cheap cost of living and an average of 300 days of sunshine per year on the Mediterranean coastline, the allure of Spain is unsurprising.

Spain is the most popular European country for British expats, with well over 350,000 British citizens officially registered as living there (though it is estimated that up to a million Brits are living in Spain).

Do I Need a Visa to Move to Spain?

Since 1st January 2021, the UK is now considered as a “third country”. Any British citizen who wants to emigrate to Spain (or stay for longer than three months in the country) will need to apply for a visado nacionale (long-term visa). This includes those who have a second home in Spain, but no form of residency.

The main visas/residence permits are as follows:

  • Visado de trabajo y residencia. This is a combined residence and work visa, allowing you to work and live in Spain
  • Visado de estudios. This is a student visa which is valid for the duration of a permitted educational or training course
  • Visado de residencia. This is a visa for family reunification or retirement

A British citizen can move to Spain through the following routes:

  • As a paid employee of a Spanish company
  • As a self-employed person with a monthly income of at least £2,000
  • As a student
  • As a family member/dependant of a Spanish resident
  • To retire

Moving to Spain Post-Brexit to Work

It is still possible to move to Spain if you wish to work in the country as an employee of a Spanish company or to work on a self-employed basis.

Spanish authorities have announced that one of the following must apply if you wish to move to Spain as a worker:

  • You are earning money through employment with a Spanish company
  • You have at least £2,000 a month coming into your bank account

It is important to note that if you will be employed by a Spanish company, they must complete your visa application on your behalf.

If you wish to move to Spain as a worker and your family will be joining you, you will need to meet additional financial requirements. You will need to show that you have an extra £500 per month for each family member.

As an example, a family of five people would need an annual salary of £48,000 to be able to live in Spain.

What are the Different Spanish Work Visas?

There are several different work visas within the Visado de trabajo y residencia category. Your employer will need to request the relevant work permit pertaining to the type of job you will be doing and submit the application to the Ministry of Labour in Spain.

Usually, you will receive a copy of the application with a stamp from the office and a file number after the application has been submitted.

For standard Spanish work visa applications, the processing time can be as long as eight months. The work permit is valid for one year and can be extended. After five years of residence in Spain, you can apply for long-term residency.

Other Spanish work visas include:

  • Visa for seasonal worker. This visa lasts for as long as the duration of the contract. You must have suitable accommodation to live in Spain and your travel costs covered
  • Visa for Au-pairs. You must aged between 18-30, have an au-pair agreement with the host family and have proof you can support yourself. The visa can be renewed

How can I Move to Spain as a Self-Employed Person?

It is possible to move to Spain as a self-employed person either through registering as an ‘Autonomo’ or through registering your own limited company. In fact, more than three million people are currently registered as self-employed in Spain.

First of all, you will need to apply for work and residency permit from the Spanish embassy in the UK. When you apply for the permit, you will need to provide certain documents and information.

This might include:

  • Evidence you have appropriate finances to invest in your business or to support yourself
  • A business plan (if applicable)
  • Proof that you have the skills and experience necessary to do the work
  • Any contracts and/or commissions from companies

You may also need to apply for a freelance visa to become a self-employed person in Spain.

If you need any guidance or support with emigrating to Spain, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

How do I Establish Myself as an Autonomo?

As mentioned above, you will need to be earning at least £24,000 annually to be eligible for self-employment status in Spain.

If you are a self-employed freelancer, you can register as an Autonomo when you arrive in Spain. As an Autonomo, you will accept personal liability for your business as a sole proprietor.

You will need to pay through the personal Spanish income tax system as an Autonomo.

Establishing a Limited Company

Alternatively, you could establish a limited company. There are different options to establish yourself as a limited company. The most common form is the Sociedad limitada.

You would not have personal liability as a limited company. However, you would need to pay additional tax and undertake accounting and other additional responsibilities.

How to Register as Self-Employed

Firstly, you will need to register your business for the Impuesto sobre actividades economicas (tax for economic activities) with a tax authority office. You will need to provide your passport and NIE number to complete the application.

You will also need to be either an independent professional (profesional autonomo) or sole trader (empresario individual) to register for tax purposes. You will be asked to complete Modelo 036 or 037 (declaracion censal), after which you will be given a personal tax certificate (Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Fiscas or IRPF).

As an Autonomo, you will need to contact the Spanish social security authority to inform them that you are freelancing in Spain. Autonomos need to register with the Spanish social security system under the Special Regime for Autonomous Workers (Regimen Especial de Trabajadores Autonomos).

At your appointment, you may need to provide the following information:

  • Completed application form
  • Photocopy of passport
  • NIE number
  • IRPF form
  • Pages of Modelo 036/037

What are EU Blue Cards?

EU Blue Cards enable highly-qualified people from outside the EU the chance to live and work in EU countries. EU Blue Cards are valid in Spain.

The main eligibility criteria for the EU Blue Card is as follows:

  • Must prove you have a higher professional qualification which lasted at least three years OR a minimum of five years of professional experience at the same level
  • Must have been offered a job as a paid employee in Spain (self-employed people cannot apply for an EU Blue Card)
  • The job salary must be at least one and a half times the average wage in Spain. (Jobs that are in particular demand may require a salary of 1.2 times the average wage)
  • The job offer must be for at least one year
  • Must have health insurance for yourself and any family members joining you
  • Must be able to prove fulfil the legal requirements to practice your profession, if applicable

Your Spanish employer will submit the application on your behalf, which will include documents about the job role, your passport, information about your qualifications and evidence of your health insurance in Spain.

The EU Blue Card is valid for one year and can be renewed, provided you still meet the conditions for it.

Does Spain Have Family Visas?

If you have a family member who has been living in Spain for at least one year, and they are planning to stay for at least another year, you may be able to join them in Spain under family reunification rules.

You may be able to join your family member in Spain immediately if:

  • They hold an EU Blue Card
  • They hold an EU long-term residence permit from another EU state
  • They are a student or researcher

Eligible relatives for family reunification in Spain include:

  • Spouses/unmarried partners
  • Unmarried dependent children who are 18 or under of both the Spanish family member and their spouse. (This includes adopted children)
  • Dependent children, grandchildren or person whom Spanish family member is legal guardian of who is over 18-years-old, if they have disabilities
  • Dependent parents of both family member and their spouse, who are over 65

You can start the process for family reunification in the United Kingdom at the Spanish embassy. You will need to apply for a residence permit to begin with. If you’re already in Spain, you will need to book an appointment at your local Foreigner’s Office.

For more information on how to move from the UK to Spain post-Brexit, get in touch now

Required Documents for Spanish Family Visa Application

As mentioned, you can begin the application process for family reunification in Spain either in the UK or in Spain.

You will usually need to provide the following documents and information at your appointment:

  • Original and copy of your own passport and copies of passport of your family member
  • Copy of your family member’s residence permit
  • Proof of the familial relationship. For instance, a marriage certificate or birth certificate
  • Sworn statement from your spouse/civil partner in Spain that they aren’t living in Spain with another partner
  • Evidence of your partner’s employment and/or proof they have the means to support the whole family in Spain
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Evidence that there is suitable accommodation for you to live in in Spain

You may also be asked to provide other information too, such as a criminal record certificate and medical certificate indicating that you do not have a disease which could endanger public health.

Registering in Spain as a Family Member

Once you are in Spain, you will need to book an appointment at your local Foreigner’s Office to get your NIE number, followed by your TIE card.

Once that has been done, you will need to register as a resident on the padron at the local town hall.

The temporary residence permit will be valid for the same length of time as the relative already living in Spain. The permits will be renewed at the same time as your relative in Spain.

Spouses and dependent children over 16 can work in Spain without the need to apply for a work permit.

Can I Study in Spain as a British Citizen?

Spain is an extremely popular destination for students from overseas. A 2018 survey by GoEuro claimed that Spain was the number one destination for international students in Europe.

As Britain has left the EU, the much-loved Erasmus scheme will no longer be an option for British students.

Whilst it hasn’t been confirmed yet, it is highly unlikely that you will need to apply for a visa if you will only be studying in Spain for up to three months. However, if you will be studying in Spain for longer, you will usually need to obtain a Spanish visa.

If you have a Student Visa which is stamped with ‘180 days total studies’, you won’t be able to get a TIE card, which means you won’t be able to work in Spain.

If your course will last more than six months, you will need to apply for a Student Visa (type D). You will also need to apply for a student’s residence permit or TIE card within 30 days of arriving in Spain. You will need to book an appointment at your local foreigner’s office or police station.

The first step to becoming a long-term student in Spain is receiving an unconditional offer from a permitted Spanish higher education institution.

Once you have received the offer, you can apply for the visa at the Spanish embassy. You ought to do this 2-3 months before you plan to travel to Spain.

Usually, you will need to provide the following information at your appointment:

  • Details of your studies, training or research, including hours of study per week
  • Proof you have medical insurance
  • Medical certificate
  • Proof you have funds to support you for the duration of your stay
  • A criminal record certificate
  • Information about where you will be living

If you obtain a residence permit/TIE card, you will be able to work in Spain for up to 20 hours per week.

Also, your spouse/civil partner and children who are under 18 can join you while you are studying in Spain if you have a Study Visa.

What is the Spanish NIE Number?

The Spain NIE number is the Foreigner’s Identification Number (Numero de Identificacion de Extranjero). Your NIE number is the legal number to identify you as a foreign national who is living in Spain.

If you want to stay in Spain for longer than 90 days, you must apply for an NIE number. An NIE is needed for many important purposes and activities, such as working, studying, buying property, paying taxes and opening a bank account.

You ought to make an appointment for your NIE number as soon as possible after you arrive in Spain through your local Oficina de Extranjeros (Foreigner’s Office). Typically, you will need to wait at least a month for an appointment.

You will need to fill out the EX-18 NIE number Spain form, and take two copies with you to your appointment. The form must be written in Spanish.

You will also need to:

  • Have an original and photocopy of a document explaining why you want an NIE, such as an employment contract or mortgage contract
  • Take your passport and photocopies to the appointment, as well as passport-sized colour photographs. You may also need to take your visas/permits
  • Fill in the online 790 form and pay a government fee of around€10.71 

What is the TIE Card?

The tarjeta de indentidad de extranjero (TIE) is an identification card which shows your NIE number, address and where you work and study. You cannot get a TIE card if you do not have an NIE number.

It is a form of proof of permission to reside or remain in Spain for a specific period of time. As with the NIE number, you will need to book an appointment at your local Foreigner’s Office or police station to obtain the card.

The TIE Card is renewable.

What do I Need to do to Register When I Arrive in Spain?

As of yet, the registration process for British citizens looking to emigrate to Spain has not been confirmed.

However, it is presumed that British citizens will need to follow this process:

  • Book an appointment to get Numero de Identificacion de Entranjero (NIE number) as soon as possible (or book this appointment before you travel to Spain)
  • Obtain a tarjeta de indentidad de extranjero (TIE Card)
  • Register on the padron municipal at the town hall

If you were living in Spain before 1st January 2021, you can obtain a TIE card without necessarily proving that you have an immigration permission in Spain. This biometric card states that it was issued to the holder under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Firstly, you will need to submit a residence application. This can be done at the Oficina de Extranjeros (immigration office) in the province where you live or electronically

You will need to provide the following:

  • Completed application form EX20
  • Documentation proving you were a resident in Spain before 1st January 2021
  • Documentation proving you meet the EU residence criteria on income and healthcare
  • Your passport

Once your residency application has been approved, you can book an appointment to apply for your TIE.

Bear in mind that the specific process of becoming a Spanish resident is likely to differ depending on your particular circumstances. This includes the permit and visa application process.

It is prudent to get in contact with the Spanish embassy to establish exactly what you need to do.

Our comprehensive emigration package is designed to simplify the process of emigrating from the UK

How do I Register on the Padron?

If you live in Spain you must register on the padron municipal. This is a list kept by the town hall of all the residents living in the town. You need to register your home address in Spain. You do not need to own the property to register.

The registration process varies between regions. You may be able to do it online but in some areas you will need to attend an appointment online.

Some of the information which you will need to provide includes:

  • Your NIE number
  • Deeds of your house or rental contract
  • A recent utility bill in your name or proof of payment of municipal taxes

Through registering on the padron, you could receive a reduction in taxes, register for local healthcare, enrol children in school, access income-related benefits and social care and more besides.

You will need to confirm your padron status every 2 or 5 years.

When Can I Apply for Permanent Residency in Spain?

Once you have lived in Spain for five years, you can apply for permiso de residencia a larga duracion (permission to reside in the country). This means that you will be able to live in Spain indefinitely without any immigration conditions.

After you have lived in Spain for ten years, you can apply for Spanish citizenship. However, as a British citizen, you will not be able to apply for dual citizenship if you wish to become a Spanish citizen. This means you would have to renounce your British citizenship to become a Spanish citizen. The only exception is if you are of Sephardic Jewish origin.

If you have already lived in Spain for at least five years, you could apply for permiso de residencia a larga duracion and bypass the standard procedure of applying for a Spanish visa. (You will still need to formally make an application for permanent residency).

Even before Brexit, many British expats living in Spain chose to just have permanent residency in Spain and keep their British citizenship alongside their Spanish residency.

We are immigration specialists that care about your personal circumstances and immigration needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Those in certain professions do not need to apply for a work permit to work in Spain. Those working in the following professions could be exempt:

  • University professors
  • Technicians and scientists
  • Foreign journalists
  • Clergy
  • Trade union officials

Also, those travelling to Spain to develop scientific or cultural programmes and artists coming for special performances may also be exempt.

There are no restrictions for those who want to visit Spain to volunteer too.

At the time of writing, there hasn’t been confirmation of what the process will be for British citizens who wish to retire in Spain.

The pension age in Spain is 65. As the rules currently stand, if you are planning to move to Spain to retire, you will need to obtain a ‘Non Lucrative Visa’. This enables you to reside in the country without working or doing any lucrative activities. You will need to be living off your pension and investment income to live in Spain as a retired person.

After you relocate, you will need to register yourself as tax resident there. Once you are tax resident, you are liable to pay income tax on your income, including your UK state pension and private pension. Generally speaking, you don’t need to pay UK tax on a State Pension if you’re not a UK resident.

However, any income which is generated from the UK will still be liable to UK tax.

Thousands of British citizens have second homes in Spain. Before Brexit, it was simple for British citizens to divide their time between their British and Spanish homes. However, post-Brexit, balancing time between the UK and Spain will be more difficult.

As Britain is now considered as a ‘third-country’, British citizens will only be able to spend up to three months out of every six in Spain.

Ultimately, to be able to enjoy the same freedom of movement, a person/family with a second home in Spain would need to have permanent residency in Spain.

This depends on the length of your studies in Spain. Generally speaking, you won’t be able to work in Spain if your studies last up to six months, and certainly not if your studies are for up to three months.

If you will be studying in Spain for longer than six months, you will need to obtain a Spanish residence permit, which will enable you to work.

You can work for up to 20 hours per week, provided the job doesn’t interfere with your studies. The company employing you must get a work permit from the Foreigner’s Office. The employment contract cannot exceed your student visa validity date.

You don’t need to obtain a work permit if you will be undertaking an internship as part of your studies.

Simply put, it is not as easy to move to Spain as a British citizen as it was when the UK was part of the European Union. The UK is now treated as a ‘third-country’ in the EU, which means British citizens are now subject to the immigration rules of any EU country they wish to live in.

If you want to move to Spain from the UK, you will need to apply for a visa and a permit.

Provided the person meets the requirements, a British citizen  can move to Spain through the following routes:

  • As a paid employee of a Spanish company
  • As a self-employed person with a monthly income of at least £2,000
  • As a student
  • As a family member/dependant of a Spanish resident
  • To retire

Some have speculated that the Spanish authorities could introduce special arrangements for British citizens due to the significant links between the countries. However, no such agreement has yet been put in place as of yet.

National investors, highly qualified people, entrepreneurs and researchers may be able to apply for fast-track style visas and permits, offering particularly favourable conditions including free travel throughout the Schengen Area and immediate family reunification in Spain.

To be eligible, you will need to meet a number of conditions, including having at least €500,000 to spend on a Spanish property.

If you want to move to Spain, the Immigration Advice Service can help you with the emigration process.

We offer a range of comprehensive emigration packages to help you identify the optimum route for you to take to become a Spanish resident and begin a new and exciting life in Spain.

In the post-Brexit environment there are still a lot of uncertainties. Here at the IAS, we keep on top of all the latest news and changes.

We will liaise with Spanish authorities throughout the emigration process and we will keep you informed.

We are based in the UK, in areas such as LondonBirmingham and Manchester, but our lawyers can also assist you whilst you are in Spain with their remote services.

To find out more about how we can help to make your Spanish dream a reality, please call us now on 0333 305 9375.

Yes, the Immigration Advice Service offer specialist emigration packages to British citizens who want to move to other EU countries.

This includes UK citizens who want to move to Germany.

If you are looking to move to the UK from Spain, the Immigration Advice Service can certainly help.

We deal in all areas of UK immigration law and are highly experienced in dealing with all forms of UK visa applications.

With our specialist application package, we will pair you with one of our immigration lawyers who will work with you to formulate your application to the very highest standard.

We are confident in saying that we will maximise your chances of securing your UK visa.

Call us now on 0333 305 9375 to find out more.

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