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Moving to Spain after Brexit


Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

27th Feb 2023 (Last updated on 12th Jun 2024) 9 minute read

Due to the end of the transition period in December 2020, the moving procedure has become more thorough than it was pre-Brexit.

The application process now takes longer to complete in comparison to when British people could move to Spain with no visa or residency permit.

This article discusses everything you need to know before booking your European removals to Spain, and how the process has changed post-Brexit.

  1. Procedures for Moving from the UK to Spain After Brexit
  2. Documents Needed For Visa Application
  3. What Can Affect Your Visa Application?
  4. Moving for Employment Purposes
  5. Moving Unemployed
  6. Moving as a Student
  7. Moving For Family Reunification
  8. Searching For a House
  9. Applying For Permanant Residency
  10. Why Are People Moving from the UK to Spain?
  11. Cost of Living
  12. Healthcare
  13. Removals to Spain from the UK

Procedures for Moving from the UK to Spain After Brexit

With the withdrawal agreement period ending, the previously free movement of people from the UK to Spain is prohibited. There are now stricter regulations in place for UK nationals looking to visit Spain on a long or short-term basis.

Short-Term Visits

Currently, if you're looking to visit Spain on a short-term basis before moving permanently, you may not need to apply for a visa. British people can visit any country in the Schengen region (including Spain) for up to 90 days in a 180-day period without the need for a visa.

However, from 2024 a new legislation will come into force regarding short stays. Non-EU citizens travelling to Spain will need to complete an ETIAS visa waiver before travelling. This will cost €7.

Long-Term Visa

If you're looking to stay in Spain on a long-term basis, you will be required to apply for a Spanish visa. The type of visa you apply for will vary depending on the purpose of your stay.

It's recommended to apply for a Spanish visa around 3 months before you move to ensure the application is complete in time. Visa fees will need to be paid during the application process and will vary based on the type of visa you are applying for and current exchange rates.

The Schengen visa eligibility checker provides details on whether you can apply for a Spanish visa. For the latest information and requirements, check the Spanish Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación website.

All visas need to be renewed every 2 years to remain valid. This applies until you are eligible for permanent residency in Spain. Here is the long-term visa application form.

Biometric Residence Card

Once living in Spain, you will then need to attend your local immigration office to receive a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE). This is a biometric residence card. This card is important as it confirms that you can legally live and study in Spain.

Obtaining an NIE Number

When moving to Spain, you must obtain a Spanish NIE Number. It's essential for tax purposes and allows you to work, study, and access key services.

For more information read Getting a Visa to Spain From the UK

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Documents Needed For Visa Application

You will need to apply for a Spanish visa through the Spanish Consulate in London. You will be required to fill out the relevant visa application forms and provide all the relevant supporting documents at your appointment.

These documents include, but are not limited to:

  • Valid passport
  • Criminal record checks (5 years' worth of clean records)
  • Supporting documents to display you meet the visa requirements
  • Medical certificate
  • Proof of financial stability
  • Health insurance
  • Residence permit (for long-term residency visas)
  • Standard photos
  • Passport photo

You will need to email to book an appointment at the Spanish Consulate for the visa application.

    What Can Affect Your Visa Application?

    If you fill out your visa application incorrectly, this can cause delays and your application may be rejected. It's important to ensure you have submitted the correct information and supporting documents to prevent this.

    Other factors that can prevent your visa from being accepted include:

    • Not having a clean criminal record
    • If you are currently or have previously been banned from entering Spain
    • If you are not going to be based in Spain regularly

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    Moving for Employment Purposes

    The application process will vary based on the type of employment status you have.

    Moving to Join a Spanish Organisation

    If you're moving to Spain to join a Spanish company, it's the employer's responsibility to ensure that you have a valid Spanish work permit.

    They will request all of the relevant documentation needed and will apply on your behalf. This application is sent to the elegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración (Ministry of Labour).

    The process can take up to 8 months to complete, so this must be completed well in advance. A copy of the application will need to be sent to the Spanish Embassy in the UK.

    Employed by a Company Based Outside of Spain

    If you're part of a company already that's not Spanish, you will need to submit proof of your employment contract and payslips. This is to ensure you have a stable job and an income to support your move to Spain. A permiso de residencia no lucrative (non-profit visa) is needed.

    Self-Employed Workers

    If you're self-employed, the application process requires additional supporting documents. You will need to submit the following to apply for a self-employed visa:

    • A clear business plan that passes Spanish approval checks
    • The relevant qualifications for your position
    • Proof your business is legal in Spain
    • Details of your funds and any investments
    • Be 18 years or older
    • Medical certificate
    • Private health insurance

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    Moving Unemployed

    The relevant application an unemployed person needs is a permiso de residencia no lucrativa (non-lucrative visa). You will need to prove you have 400% of the IPREM (Public Indicator of Multiple Effects Income index reference) in your account annually. This means the main applicant must show evidence that they have €28,000. Each additional family member travelling with you will have to show they have €7,200.

    Moving as a Student

    To study in Spain, you will need a student visa. To apply for this visa, you will need to submit the following documents:

    • Registration at the selected university or college
    • Private health insurance
    • Proof of your accommodation
    • Financial proof you can afford to live in Spain for the duration of the stay. This is €600 for each month of study according to Lingua Schools.

    Moving For Family Reunification

    If you have direct family members living in Spain, you can apply to join them through family reunification. Family reunification covers spouses, children, parents and parents-in-law. To be eligible for family reunification, the person living in Spain will need to have renewed their Spanish residence permit.

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    Searching For a House

    Buying a property in Spain is particularly affordable. The Spanish property market is known for its low mortgage rates. However, it's a competitive market.

    Affordable places to live in Spain include Gran Canaria, Alicante, Seville and Valencia. Barcelona and Madrid are more expensive as they’re the most popular cities to live in. Other popular areas are Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, and Catalonia.

    For more information, read A Guide to Buying Property in Spain

    Applying For Permanant Residency

    You can apply for permanent residency in Spain after Brexit through either a long-term residence permit or Spanish citizenship.

    EU Long-Term Residency for UK Citizens (Post-Brexit)

    If you want to keep your UK Citizenship but continue living in Spain on a long-term basis, you can apply for a permiso de residencia de larga duración. This is an EU Long-Term Residence Permit and can be applied for after you have lived in Spain for 5 years uninterrupted.

    A residence permit allows you to work in Spain and provides you with access to benefits such as the Sistema Nacional de Salud (SNS). This is their national healthcare system.

    To gain access to EU long-term residency, you will need to meet the following criteria:

    • Valid passport
    • Legal residence in Spain Documentation (this includes rental proof)
    • Clear criminal record
    • Certificado medico (medical certificate)

    Spanish Citizenship for UK Citizens (Post-Brexit)

    After living in Spain for 10 years, a UK citizen can apply for Spanish Citizenship. This allows a person some benefits, such as:

    • The freedom to travel within the EU without any restrictions
    • A Spanish passport
    • Free movement across the EU
    • The ability to vote
    • Access to certain benefits the UK had pre-Brexit, such as a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

    It's worth noting that if you want to gain Spanish citizenship, you will need to forfeit your current UK citizenship. Dual nationalities with the UK are not currently recognised in Spain.

    The criteria you need to meet and the information you require in the application include:

    • Clear criminal record
    • Ability to Speak Spanish
    • To be a part of Spanish culture and social activities
    • 10 years of residency in Spain
    • Spanish citizenship form
    • Your current passport
    • 3 photographs

    For more information visit the Spanish Ministry of Justice website.

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    Why Are People Moving from the UK to Spain?

    There are many reasons why people are choosing to move to Spain from the UK. Statista estimates that there are currently around 293,171 British expats living in Spain emphasising its popularity.

    Most of the country is situated on the Mediterranean coastline, providing a warm climate. Spain doesn't experience unpredictable weather in the winter months like the UK.

    Spain has a better work-life balance compared to the UK. Other aspects of life such as family and time off are seen as equally important. Spain is known for having a high quality of life, including a reasonably priced property market.

    Cost of Living

    The cost of living in Spain is 31% lower than in the UK. Some individual items are more expensive, but most things are cheaper, even when compared to other Western European countries.

    Here is a breakdown of Spanish living costs:

    Cost of Living ExamplesSpainUnited Kingdom

    Public transport pass (monthly)

    €38.21 (£33.70)


    Utility bills (monthly - one person)

    €81.07 (£71.50)


    Gym membership (monthly)

    €38.55 (£34)


    Taxi (5 miles)

    €14.97 (£13.20)


    Inexpensive restaurant meal for 2 people

    €40.37 (£35.60)


    1 cinema ticket

    €8.02 (£7.07)


    Beer (0.5L)

    €0.96 (£0.85)


    Chicken Breast (1kg)

    €6.94 (£6.12)



    €1.90 (£1.68)


    * Data taken from LivingCost.Org

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    Spain's healthcare system is organised and efficient. Spanish nationals have access to a National Health Service called the Sistema Nacional de Salud (SNS). This is similar to the UK’s NHS.

    While most services are free, some require residents to pay a percentage of the cost. Contributions to Social Security funds the free healthcare system. The Spanish regional health authorities offer a pay-in scheme for services.

    Unemployed British citizens need to be a resident in Spain for 12 months before accessing the Convenio Especial (public healthcare scheme). Many expats pay for private medical care. This is popular for dental treatment.

    Residents of European countries can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). As the UK is no longer part of the European Union, previous ETHICs are invalid.

    Removals to Spain from the UK

    Our international removal costs research displays that it will cost £3,015 on average to ship household goods to Spain. The cost of shipping to Spain will vary based on factors such as the type of shipping used and the weight of your goods.

    If you need additional services such as packing, this will be charged at an extra cost. On average, it will cost £250 for packing services. Compare My Move can connect you with up to 6 of our verified international removal partners.

    All costs listed in this article are correct at the time of writing. Costs may vary slightly and this is just an estimated number.

    Dave Sayce

    Reviewed by Dave Sayce

    Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

    Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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