Maria Luisa de Castro is a lawyer based in southern Spain. Since founding her practice in 2006, Maria Luisa has specialised in English-speaking expat relocation and property. After Brexit, Maria Luisa started using her experience to help Brits understand the changing regulations around immigration, buying property, taxes and more.
In this interview, Maria Luisa answers the most frequently asked questions about relocating to Spain from the UK after Brexit. We hope this information will clarify things for you. If you’ve got any more questions, feel free to reach out. You can find Maria’s contact details at the bottom of the article.
Can I move to Spain from the UK after Brexit?
Yes, of course. However, the UK is now classified as a ‘third country’ in EU regulations. This essentially means that, rather than going through a simple registration, Brits now need to apply for a visa. There are plenty of options, and each comes with its own application requirements.
Can I get residency and live in Spain full time after Brexit?
Yes, absolutely. The difference is that now you need to apply for a long-term visa or residency option. Here are the most popular options that can be relevant to your situation:
- Employment visa (permanent or a fixed-term contract)
- Self-employment visa
- Non-lucrative (passive income) visa
- Golden Visa (residency through investment)
- Entrepreneur visa
- Highly qualified professional visa
What are the passport requirements for travelling from the UK to Spain after Brexit?
The passport rules for Brits travelling to Spain (and the rest of the EU) are fairly straightforward. First, your passport must have been issued less than 10 years before your date of entry. Second, it must be valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Spain.
For example, if you plan to travel to Spain on 15th August 2022, your passport needs to have been issued after 15th August 2012 and be valid until at least 15th November 2022.
How much money do you need to live in Spain after Brexit?
As of 2021, you must have €27,115 in your bank account each year. This equates to €2,259 a month. For each dependent living with you, you need to show another €6,778 a year, or €564 a month.
These are the financial requirements for the Non-Lucrative Visa, which is highly in demand with Brits. This visa allows people with all kinds of passive income such as pensions, dividends, rental and investment income to come and reside in Spain. This is a perfect option for retirement.
Note, though, that this is the visa for ‘just’ living in Spain rather than working for a Spanish employer or running your own business.
How long can I stay in Spain without becoming a resident after Brexit?
The maximum stay for Brits in Spain is 90 days in every 180-day period. To clarify, this means you can stay up to 180 days of the year in Spain, providing there’s a 90-day gap in between your visits.
If you stay in Spain longer than 90 days, you risk legal repercussions. These could be as simple as a fine or as severe as being banned from the country.
What is the 90-day rule after Brexit?
The 90-day rule applies to all Schengen countries in the EU, which counts Spain. It applies to third-country nationals (which Brits now are) and means you can stay for up to 90 days with or without a tourist visa.
You can stay in a Schengen country for up to 90 days out of every 180. In short, this translates to 180 days in every year, with a 90-day gap in-between visits. The countdown starts from the day you enter any Schengen country until you return to your home country.
Can I stay in Spain longer than 90 days after Brexit?
No, not without a visa. If you know you want to stay in Spain longer than 90 days, you should apply for the relevant visa before you leave the UK.
However, you can extend your short-stay visa once in Spain, but only for another 90 days. Also, it’s only possible in extraordinary circumstances, such as late entry, humanitarian reasons, important personal situations, and force majeure (situations beyond anyone’s control).
What happens if I overstay 90 days in Spain?
When you leave Spain, you may be registered as overstaying. Because your passport will now be stamped on entry/exit, it won’t be difficult for Spanish immigration to know if you’ve stayed longer than 90 days.
If this happens, you could risk a fine and will likely find it harder to return to Spain at another time. The worst-case scenario is that you could be deported and/or banned from the Schengen area.
How often can I visit my holiday home in Spain after Brexit?
Without a visa, you can only visit your holiday home for 90 days in every 180, following the Schengen rule explained above. Unfortunately, home ownership isn’t recognised as a visa category or reason to stay longer.
However, I’ve started a petition to create a visa category for UK property owners in Spain. You can read more about it and add your signature on change.org.
How long can you stay in Spain if you own a property?
If you’re a Brit who owns property in Spain, you still need to stick to the Schengen rules. As such, the maximum stay is still 90 days.
Can I stay in Spain for 90 days and then apply for a long-stay visa without leaving the country?
This only works for a student visa. Any other visa category requires you to leave Spain and apply from the UK following the normal processes.
I want to retire to Spain; do I need a visa for this? What should I do step by step?
The most appropriate visa for retiring to Spain is the Non-Lucrative Visa. You need to being your application at least three months before entering Spain. Here’s a brief rundown of the information you’ll need to gather:
- Show sufficient financial resources to support yourself and any family members that accompany you to Spain.
- Have health insurance for yourself and other family members.
- Have a Spanish address.
- Show a lack of criminal record.
- Evidence that you’re not involved in any kind of unusual immigration situation in Spain or any other EU country.
The “sufficient financial resources” are €27,115 per year plus €6,778 for each family member that accompanies you. You need to show this money in a bank account as part of your application and during each renewal.
The visa is valid for one year and can be renewed for two years. After five years, you can apply for permanent residence in Spain and after 10 years you can apply for citizenship if you wish. For these later stages, there are other requirements you need to meet.
The first application needs to be at the Spanish Consulate in the UK. Renewals are processed at the Oficina de Extranjería in Spain.
Consulates take three months to approve non-lucrative Spanish visa applications. Once a visa is approved, you then have one month to pick up the visa and three months to travel to Spain, where you and your family must apply for a Spanish identity card (TIE).
For information on how your UK pension might be taxed in Spain read our UK Pension And Tax In Spain guide.
I am semi-retired, have an investment income, and work part-time in my online business. I am planning to move to Spain permanently, what are my options?
The best options if you’re still in some kind of employment are the Self-Employed Visa or the Entrepreneur Visa.
I am a UK citizen and a Spanish resident. Can I freely travel and stay in other EU countries?
If you’re a temporary resident in Spain, you can stay out of the country for up to 6 months in a year without losing your residency. If your travels are less regular, the total time outside of Spain may not exceed 12 months in a 5-year period. For example, you might leave Spain for a month in year 1, two months in year 2, a month in year 3, etc.
However, if you have permanent residency in Spain, the allowed travel period increases to 1 year, both continuously and consecutively. For example, you could leave Spain and return to the UK for 12 months in one go and still keep your residency.
You can move around the EU area indefinitely once you’re a permanent resident in Spain (thanks to the Schengen rules).
Can I buy property in Spain after Brexit? Do I need to be a resident to do so?
No, you don’t need to be a Spanish resident to buy property. Your ability and rights to buy property are no different than pre-Brexit. However, the maximum time you can stay in the property in one visit is different.
Can I get a mortgage to buy a property in Spain after Brexit?
As in the UK, the exact answer depends on your specific situation. But, as a general rule, Spanish banks can provide 70-80% of the property’s value as a mortgage loan to non-residents.
If you’re a resident in Spain and have traceable assets in the country (e.g., a bank account, etc.), mortgage lenders will treat you as a national resident, giving you a bit more flexibility.
I want to let my Spanish property. Will I pay more tax on my rental income?
In short, yes. Brexit changed two important aspects of rental income taxes for non-EU landlords:
1. Higher tax rate
British nationals now need to pay a non-resident rate of 24% on income tax instead of the pre-Brexit rate of 19%. Income tax in Spain applies, unsurprisingly, to income generated in the country, such as through employment or property letting.
2. Non-deductible expenses
Before Brexit, there was a fairly long list of things you could deduct pre-tax on income generated in the country. However, the following are now non-deductible for Brits on tax claims made in Spain:
- Mortgage interest on loans for the purchase or refurbishment of the property.
- Costs associated with the purchase of the property, for example, transfer tax and legal fees.
- Non-national taxes, e.g. local council rates (IBI).
- Upkeep and repair costs.
- Community fees.
- Insurance policy payments.
- Utility fees, i.e. gas, water and electricity costs if you pay them, not the tenant.
- Marketing costs if you promote your property on letting platforms.
Tax can be confusing at the best of times. It’s worth consulting a tax professional to make sure you stay compliant and don’t get in trouble with the tax authorities.
Can I work in Spain after Brexit?
You can work in Spain as an employee (for a Spanish company) by applying for an Employment Visa. Alternatively, check whether you meet the conditions for a Self-Employed or Entrepreneur Visa, which would apply if you’re self-employed or the director of a UK or Spanish company.
There are other visa categories that cover different forms of working in Spain, which you can check on our site as well.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that a Remote Work Visa is expected to be approved by the end of 2022. This would cover digital nomads and other forms of remote work, and would offer tax incentives.
The presumed requirements for this visa are:
- That applicants have worked remotely for at least a year.
- That the work can be carried out remotely.
- If they are under contract to a company, that they have had a professional relationship with the company for at least three months and that the company permits remote working.
- If they are freelance, that they work with at least one company outside Spain and can provide the terms and conditions of the remote work.
Bear in mind that the law is currently in draft, so some of these requirements might change.
Can I move to Spain to work remotely for my UK employer?
There currently isn’t a Remote Work Visa, so you’d have to apply under the Self-Employed Visa. However, this may change within the next year, so make sure you keep an eye on this.
If I work remotely from Spain for a UK-based company, where do I pay my taxes and national insurance contributions?
Providing you’re in Spain on a Self-Employed Visa (the only one currently applicable), you’d need to pay taxes and social security in Spain.
I am an IT consultant and work online for clients in different countries. Can I move to Spain as a self-employed person?
Yes, that would be the most appropriate visa until the Remote Work Visa is approved.
Can I drive in with a UK driving licence in Spain after Brexit?
As of December 31st, 2020, UK driving licence holders living in Spain as residents need to change their UK licence to a Spanish one.
Your UK licence is valid for 6 months after your date of arrival. To exchange it, you need to sit the Spanish theory and practical tests. The theory is available in English, but the practical can only be taken in Spanish.
Note, also, that International Driving Permits aren’t allowed.
Can I exchange my UK driving licence for a Spanish one?
Under current regulations, your UK driving licence is valid for 6 months from your date of arrival in Spain. By the end of that period, you need to have switched it for a Spanish licence if you wish to continue driving.
For UK nationals who moved to Spain after 1st January 2021, you can use your UK licence for 6 months from your date of arrival or until 30th April 2022, whichever is later.
As such, if you’ve been a Spanish resident for more than 6 months from 1st May 2022, you’ll no longer be able to use your UK licence. It looks like Spain and the UK are currently negotiating mutual recognition of driving permits.
Can I bring my UK-registered car to Spain and is it worth it?
After Brexit, UK cars are now treated as third-country cars. This means they either need to clear customs or obtain a certificate of customs exemption. The process can cost around €1,000 plus taxes – duty is 10% and VAT is 21%.
I am a non-resident in Spain. Can I buy and register a car in Spain to use while I am on holiday?
Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to buy and register a Spanish car as a non-resident. However, you need to provide proof of address in the country. You can do this with a padrón, a tenancy agreement, or property deeds.
Can I use Spanish public healthcare after Brexit?
As stated in the Withdrawal Agreement, any British expats residing in Spain before 31st December 2020 will keep their rights of residence, work, study and social security.
Therefore, British expats who have been residing in Spain since then continue to have the right to access medical assistance, as confirmed in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom.
They’ll keep access to the Spanish Public Health System under the same conditions as Spanish citizens, providing they have registered with the INSS (National Institute of Social Security) office through the S1 registration form.
Find out more about an S1 form in our Healthcare Abroad guide.
Those obtaining Visa or Residency rights after the WA:
1. If they are eligible for medical coverage in the country that pays their pension (both State Pension and Government Pension), they will be able to receive medical coverage in the country where they live. To access this coverage, you must apply for the S1 in the UK before you arrive in Spain. You must then hand over your S1 form to the INSS office in Spain to finalise the process.
2. If you are unable to provide the S1 form, you can either opt for private medical coverage or subscribe to the Public Health Services through the Convenio Especial and pay a monthly fee for this. This option is only available to those who are not entitled to healthcare in their country of origin. You can find more information in our Health Insurance In Spain guide.
Will applying for GHIC in the UK help me with healthcare in Spain?
The GHIC is the UK’s Global Health Insurance Card, which replaces the previous EHIC. If you don’t have private health insurance, applying for one will be useful for healthcare cover while you’re registering for your residency.
This would apply, for example, if you’re using the S1 card while it’s being processed by Spanish social security (INSS).
How can I bring my dog to Spain?
Taking your dog to Spain is a bit more complicated than it was pre-Brexit. Before, you needed a valid pet passport. However, UK pet passports are no longer recognised in the EU, so only one issued in an EU country can be used for travelling within the bloc.
Instead, you now need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC). These must be signed by an official vet and, from the date issued, cover you for:
- 10 days to enter the EU
- 4 months for further travel within the EU
- 4 months to re-enter the UK
Also, each AHC is only valid for one trip to the EU. To clarify, you need a new one every time you’re travelling to Spain.
As part of getting your AHC, you’ll need to show proof that your dog is microchipped and vaccinated. Then, when travelling to Spain, you’ll need to bring the following:
- Proof they’re microchipped.
- A valid rabies vaccination (coverage is typically 3 years). You must wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before you travel.
Speak to your vet for further information. If they’re not an ‘official vet’, they can help you find one.
As a Spanish resident, can I keep my UK bank account?
Yes, you can. Some UK banks closed their accounts for UK nationals living abroad after Brexit, but many (i.e., those operating in the EU) didn’t. For specific information, consider speaking to your bank before moving. Of course, if you’re already a Spanish resident, you’ll probably know whether your UK bank account is still open.
Contact Maria for help
You might find useful:
- Living In Spain As An Expat – practical tips and information on Spanish visas, residency, healthcare, taxes, the pros and cons and more.
- Best Places To Live In Spain – the best and most popular expat locations in Spain.
- Planning & Organising Removals To Spain – How to save time and money on organising removals to Spain: your removals options, how long they take and how much they cost, shipping pets, etc.
- See our complete Spain Country guide archive.
- Didn’t find what you were looking for or need further advice? Comment below with your question and we will do our best to help.