moving to Spain after Brexit

Will it still be possible to move to Spain after Brexit?

This is the million-dollar question for those who had been planning on moving to Spain in the near future. Will it still be possible to move to Spain after Brexit? 

The short answer is ‘Yes’, a move to Spain will still be possible post Brexit. But it isn’t going to be as easy as before. British nationals will have more procedures to follow if they want to move to Spain after the transition period ends on 31st December 2020, and the whole process is likely to take much longer. 

We still don’t know the exact rules that Brits wanting to move to Spain after January 1st 2021 will have to follow but as non-EU citizens, it’s likely the rules will be similar to those already in place for third country nationals such as Americans and Australians. 

If you are still determined to move to Spain once the UK is no longer in the EU, here are some things you need to know about moving to Spain after Brexit…

The 90 day limit 

From 1st January 2021, you will only be able to travel to countries within the EU for up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period. You must register as a Spanish resident if you want to stay in Spain for more than 3 months, and children must also be registered with their own residency document. 

So, even if you plan to buy a property, get a job and move to Spain permanently, you can only live in Spain for 90 days without residency after Brexit.

If you want to stay for longer than 3 months, whether permanently or just for a year, you will need to meet certain entry requirements. This means that ‘trying’ life in Spain for 6 months or a year isn’t really an option any more. 

The Brexit Transition Period 

The Brexit Transition Period is due to end on 31st December 2020 and until this deadline has passed not much will change for those wanting to move to Spain. You’ll still be allowed to relocate to Spain in the same way as before, without any kind of visa. If you are lawfully living in Spain by 31st December 2020, your rights will remain the same following the deadline and you’ll be able to continue to reside in Spain. 

With the deadline getting closer there’s been a big rush for residency appointments for Brits not already Spanish residents and wanting to get everything sorted before the end of the year. Many people are really struggling to get an appointment for residencia, social security, or to change their driving license.  

Unfortunately, if you haven’t already started the process it is very unlikely that you’ll get everything sorted in time now. 

Residency requirements – now TIE 

Spain has already tightened the rules and requirements for British nationals to gain residency. To become a permanent resident in Spain the main criteria you need to be able to prove is that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family so you don’t become a burden on the Spanish state. 

Pre-Brexit those wanting to move to Spain would apply for Residencia, go down to the local police station, and receive a green credit card sized paper certificate once the process has been approved. This has now been replaced by the TIE – Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero. 

The green residencia card is still a valid document and if you already have one you will be allowed to remain in Spain. You can exchange the paper residence document for the new TIE but you don’t have to. 

Residency re­quire­ments for moving to Spain after Breixt will vary de­pend­ing on your cir­cum­stances and different documents will be needed for those working in Spain, the self-employed, and pensioners. 

If you are not going to be working in Spain (and are not a pensioner) you will need the following documents to apply for TIE: 

Note: The proof of income required seems to vary in different areas so below we have listed the maximum amounts we have come across. For a more precise figure, the British Embassy recommends contacting your local Oficina de Extranjeria. 

  • A completed EX20 (residencia) or EX23 (TIE) application form 
  • NIE
  • Spanish tax number (if you don’t already have one this will be done at the same time) 
  • S1 form 
  • A valid passport (plus a photocopy) 
  • Passport sized photograph 
  • Padrón (no more than 3 months old) 
  • Private health insurance policy with cover for at least 1 year 
  • Proof of payment of the €12 fee Model 790 Code 012 

If you are re­tired and want to live permanently in Spain you will need: 

  • A completed EX20 (residencia) or EX23 (TIE) application form 
  • NIE
  • Spanish tax number (if you don’t already have one this will be done at the same time) 
  • S1 form
  • A valid passport (plus a photocopy) 
  • Passport sized photograph 
  • Padrón (no more than 3 months old) 
  • Pension letter 
  • Last 3 months bank statements to show that the pension is being paid 
  • If the pension is paid in Spain, a bank statement with proof of payment 
  • Proof of payment of the €12 fee Model 790 Code 012 

If you will be working, you will also need to provide: 

  • A completed EX20 (residencia) or EX23 (TIE) application form   
  • NIE 
  • Spanish tax number (if you don’t already have one this will be done at the same time)
  • S1 form 
  • A valid passport (plus a photocopy) 
  • Passport sized photograph 
  • Padrón (no more than 3 months old) 
  • Proof that the main earner has a monthly income of €2,130 plus an extra €532 for each dependent, with evidence this amount has been paid into your bank account for 3 months
  • Proof that you can maintain this income for one year 
  • A valid signed work contract or proof of autonomo if self-employed 
  • Payslips 
  • SIP card 
  • Proof of payment of the €12 fee Model 790 Code 012 

These things can take time to sort, especially with the current waiting times for appointments, so the sooner you start the process the better. It is also important to make sure you have all paperwork needed, if something is missing you will not be granted residency and may have to start the process again – if you can get another appointment! 

Working in Spain after Brexit 

It will still be possible to work in Spain after Brexit, which will be good news for families wishing to make the move. 

If you plan on working in Spain after Brexit, you will need to provide the authorities with: 

  • A copy of your employment contract or other proof of your employment status such as payslips 
  • Application for ‘permiso de residencia no lucrativa’ (‘non-profit visa’). 
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to live on from a regular income source 

If you are planning on working for a company in Spain after Brexit, your employer is responsible for handling your application to stay in Spain. 

Becoming self-employed in Spain after Brexit 

If you are self-employed or run a business you can move to Spain and declare yourself ‘Autonomo’.  

To become self-employed in Spain you will have to: 

  • Apply for a permanent residency 
  • Prove that the commercial activity you are undertaking complies with Spanish rules 
  • Possess any necessary qualifications 
  • Provide details of any employees 
  • Have enough money to support yourself, your family, and the business 
  • Provide the Spanish authorities with a viable business plan 
  • Prove you are in good health 
  • Pay monthly social security payments 

Retiring to Spain after Brexit

If you’re wondering ‘can I retire to Spain after Brexit’ the answer is the same as those wanting to move to Spain for work or with children – not without a visa.

You can stay for 90 in every 180 days, or you can apply for a Non-Lucrative Visa to make your stay permanent.

If you plan to retire to Spain, we recommend checking out the tax rules on pensions first to ensure this is a good option for you.


If you become a Spanish resident before 31st December 2020, you will be entitled to life-long healthcare in Spain for as long as you are a resident. 

Currently UK nationals can access the Spanish national healthcare system if: 

  • They are a permanent resident, i.e. have lived in Spain for 5 years 
  • They are employed or self-employed in Spain 
  • They pay directly into the public health insurance scheme (‘convenio especial’) 
  • They have registered a UK-issued S1 form with the social security office 

At present there have not been any updates on how access to the Spanish healthcare system will change for British nationals after 31st December 2020. 

Private health insurance for expats in Spain


After 1st January 2021, you must have at least 6 months left on your passport to travel within the EU. If you don’t have the sufficient time left on your passport you will need to renew it before you can travel. 

So, if you’re planning on moving to Spain after 1st January 2021. make sure that everyone in the family has at least 6 months left on their passport! 

Exchanging your UK driving license 

If you are resident in Spain after 31st December 2020 you will be required to exchange your UK driving license for a Spanish one. Unfortunately, if you do this after 31st December 2020 you will need to take a driving test. 

You will also need a valid residence document (TIE) before you can exchange your license. 

To start this process, you’ll need to book an appointment with the Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT). If you aren’t fluent in Spanish we recommend getting a Gestor to help you with this. 

You’ll have to hand over your UK driving license to the Spanish Traffic Authority when applying to exchange it for a Spanish one. It could be several months before you receive your Spanish license so if you’re planning to hire a car during this time bear this timeframe in mind. 

The information surrounding Brexit and moving to Spain is constantly changing so we recommend visiting the Living in Spain section on the Government website to make sure you have up to date information to hand. 

If you would like some expert advice on applying for visas to move to Spain we’d highly recommend a chat with Bureaucracy who will guide you through the whole process via a free consultation.

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