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Getting a Visa to Spain From the UK

Martha Lott

Written by

27th Apr 2023 (Last updated on 29th Nov 2023) 8 minute read

With the UK leaving the EU, British citizens must apply for a Spanish visa to live there long-term.

Moving to Spain is exciting but not straightforward, so we’ve done our best to prepare you for different types of Spanish visas. This article will tell you if you require one and what essential documents you’ll need to proceed if you do. Once done, you can concentrate on buying a property in Spain before booking an international removals company.

  1. Do I Need a Visa to Move to Spain from the UK?
  2. How Can British Citizens Move to Spain?
  3. Main Spanish Visas
  4. Moving Long Term
  5. Residence Card
  6. Self-employed
  7. An Employee of a Spanish Company
  8. Employees of Non-Spanish Companies
  9. Student Visa
  10. What is an NIE Number?
  11. Moving to Spain From the UK

Do I Need a Visa to Move to Spain from the UK?

If you have a full UK passport and plan to visit Spain for 90 days or less within a 180-day period, you won’t require a Visa during your stay. This makes it simple if you’re in the process of viewing properties, so you can find the right home without going through the faff of a visa application.

Spain is a Schengen member state, so UK residents from other countries will need what is known as Schengen Visa to visit Spain for short stays. This depends on the person’s country of origin. The Schengen area includes most of Europe, making it easier for people to travel throughout the region with just a single document. To see if you need a Schengen Visa to travel to Europe, check out the full list of nationalities listed on the Schengen Visa website.

From November 2024, a new electronic authorisation system known as ETIAS. This visa waiver will allow UK citizens to travel throughout most of Europe visa-free - similar to European travel before Brexit. Since ETIAS isn’t the same as a visa, it will only require you to submit a brief application form online. After this, all ETIAS-holders will be able to travel throughout the Schengen area for anytime up to 90 days within a single period. An ETIAS will cost £7 and will not expire for 3 years once secured.

How Can British Citizens Move to Spain?

British citizens can apply for a Spanish Visa as long as they fulfil one of the following parameters:

  • They’re becoming a paid employee of a Spanish company or of the Spanish branch of an international business.
  • They’re self-employed and earn at least £2,000 a month.
  • They’ve been accepted to study at a Spanish institution.
  • They can prove they’re a family member or dependent of a Spanish resident.
  • They’re looking to retire.

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Main Spanish Visas

There are several separate Visa types depending on what you’re looking to do during your stay in Spain:

Visado de trabajo y residencia - A combined residence and work visa.

Visado de estudios - A student visa that remains valid for the duration of your studies.

Visado de residencia - A Spain retirement Visa, also suitable for those reuniting with family.

Moving Long Term

Movers looking to live in Spain will need to visit one of the Spanish consulates in the UK. Once you visit the sites in either London or Manchester, you can find out through consular services the visa type you need and other general requirements.

The application procedure involves first filling out an online application form. You’ll then submitting a selection of relevant files so the Spanish authorities can assess your suitability. If you’re unsure how to start, you can send a visa query online by emailing

The majority of applicants will be looking for a Spanish Long-Term Visa (otherwise known as a Spain National Visa or D Visa). Remember that you’ll have to pay an admission fee to obtain a visa.

Visa requirements for Spain

There are a variety of documents that are required to process a visa application in Spain:

  • A valid passport.
  • An identification document that isn’t a passport such as a driver’s licence.
  • Bank statements (at least three months).
  • A document proving you’re not banned from entering Spain.
  • Two passport-sized photographs.
  • An income tax return.
  • Private health insurance.
  • A police record confirming you’ve conducted no criminal acts in the past five years.
  • A medical certificate issued by a GP.
  • A cover letter explaining the purpose of your visit.

You may require different documents as well as those listed here to prove you’re suitable for the right visa. A D Visa takes between 15 and 45 days to process, which will then remain valid for a year (which can be extended up to five years).

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Residence Card

Besides your visa, you’ll need what is known as a residence card or residence permit to secure the right to live in Spain short term. As a starting point, UK movers will need to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit, which will give you the right to live in Spain between 90 days and 5 years.

Once this is done, you can concentrate on the move itself. You’ll have to wait to either renew your residence permit a few years down the line or apply for the right to permanently live in the country. You can apply for a permanent residence permit after a minimum of five years of living in Spain.

When applying for permanent residence, you may have a hard time remembering specific dates. If so you can request a residency certificate from the national police. This will summarise your time in Spain, including your immigration status as well as the dates you entered the country.


Entrepreneurs can apply for a long-stay visa in Spain, they need to prove they have their own business and earn enough to sustain it. Provided you fulfil the initial criteria of earning at least £2,000 monthly, you can apply for a self-employed work permit. To qualify, you’ll need to:

  • Set up a company in Spain.
  • Own the right licence for your business and have made sufficient investments.
  • Have a minimum of three years education at bachelor’s degree level or a similar length of relevant work experience.

Keep in mind that it takes between six and eight months to process this visa, so give plenty of time to allow for this. Once approved, your work permit remains valid for up to a year, with the option to extend it anywhere up to 5. If you’re looking to take your family as well as your business abroad, they can only join you as dependents once you’ve lived in Spain for a full year.

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An Employee of a Spanish Company

Whether you’re working for a Spanish-based company or are transferring to the Spanish branch of a UK company, you’ll need both a work permit and a D Visa. Along with these documents, you’ll also need:

  • An official document from your employer confirming you’ve received a job offer in Spain.
  • Evidence that you’ve secured accommodation.
  • Any other licences or registrations required to carry out your duties.

There are also certain occupations that do not require you to apply for a work permit and instead need only a D Visa. Please check with the consulate if you’re unsure as to whether you qualify, but as a general rule the following roles are exempt:

  • Researchers, scientists and technicians.
  • Trade union officials.
  • University professors.
  • Civil servants or military officials engaged in a bilateral cooperation agreement.
  • Foreign journalists.
  • Religious officials.

Employees of Non-Spanish Companies

Another alternative for non-EU nationals wanting to work in Spain is the new digital nomad visa. This visa is for remote workers looking to take up residence who’ll only earn up to 20% of their income from Spanish firms. This makes it ideal for people who work entirely from home and still hold contracts with a UK company.

If you’re looking to move and fit in this criteria, you’ll have to prove you’ve been a client of or part of a company for at least three months. The business itself must be operational for a minimum of one year. If you freelance, you’ll instead have to prove that you’re regularly employed by companies or individuals outside of Spain. Whether you’re contracted or freelance, you’ll also have to show that your job can be done remotely.

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Student Visa

If you’re moving to study in Spain for longer than 90 days, you’ll need a Student Visa. There are numerous educational opportunities that can entitle you to apply for a Student Visa in Spain, which include:

  • Full-time studies that lead towards a degree or certificate of studies.
  • Doctorates.
  • Student mobility programmes at secondary education level.
  • Training placements that aren’t covered by internship visas.
  • Volunteer services within the public sector.

Applicants for Student Visas will have to supply proof of acceptance from their chosen educational institute - both the original and a copy. A spouse or unmarried partner is also entitled to join a Student Visa-holder during their studies abroad.

What is an NIE Number?

An NIE Number is a unique tax number assigned to every foreign visitor residing in Spain. It doesn’t provide the right to live in Spain, but is essential for various key services. You’ll need an NIE Number to sustain yourself in Spain long-term, as without one you cannot:

  • Legally work.
  • Register a business.
  • Pay your taxes.
  • Open a bank account.
  • Study.
  • Get a Spanish driving licence.
  • Set up utilities.
  • Buy or sell property.

With this in mind, make NIE a top priority on your moving list if you have plans to live on the Iberian Peninsula.

Moving to Spain From the UK

At Compare My Move, we know you’ll have plenty on your plate if you decide to move to Spain from the UK. That’s why we make the actual moving process as stress-free as possible with our international removals service to Spain. We’ll shortlist up to six of the best removal companies to transport your goods door to door, saving you as much as 70% on removal costs.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.