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The New Rules For Brits Moving To Spain

Brits moving to Spain


The UK has now left the EU and any Brits moving to Spain no longer have the right to remain in Spain and enjoy the same rights to healthcare and other benefits as they did while the UK was a member of the EU.  What are the new rules and can you still live and retire to Spain?




Withdrawal Agreement

Provided you had established legal residence in Spain by 31st December 2020 The Withdrawal Agreement gave you until 30th June 2021 to submit your application for residence.

There was also a provision for late submission beyond this requiring the Spanish authorities to allow a ‘reasonable further period’ if ‘there are reasonable grounds for the failure to respect the deadline’.  What will constitute reasonable grounds is not defined!


What Are The New Rules For British Expats Wanting To Live, Retire or Work in Spain?

The end of the Brexit transition period brought in new rules for Brits wanting to visit or move long term to Spain.  What are the new rules and what does it mean for people with a holiday home in Spain and those wanting to live long term in Spain?


Short term visits

Now that the UK is no longer a member of the EU British citizens are subject to broadly the same rules as other Non-EU citizens.  You do not have to apply for a Schengen visa, but are subject to the same restrictions.  You can travel to Spain for short stays of up to 90 days as a tourist, to visit family and friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short term studies or training.

You can only spend 90 days in any 180-day period in Spain.  So any time spent in the previous 180 days counts towards the 90-day visa-free limit.  The restriction applies to the overall Schengen zone (which includes all of the EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City).  Any period spent in a country in the EU before 1st January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

At the Spanish border control you will no longer be able to use the EU/EEA lane and may be required to show a return or onward ticket and you may need to show that you have enough money for your stay.  Your passport will need to have six months validity before the expiry date.


Longer Visits

If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, for work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to get a visa appropriate for the purposes of your stay in Spain.   Thus Brits must now apply for a Golden Visa, Non-Lucrative Visa, Entrepreneur Visa or obtain a student or work visa if they wish to stay long term in Spain.


Golden Visa

If you plan to buy a property (or properties) in Spain for €500,000 or more then a Golden Visa could be a route to becoming resident in Spain.  You must be a non-EU citizen over 18 years of age, with no criminal record.  You have to obtain private health insurance and must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family in Spain.

The income requirement is for twice the IPREM (a salary index used for various grants and allowances).  For 2021 this is €564.90 a month giving a requirement of €1,129.80 or €13,557.60 a year going through your bank account.  Each additional family adds €564.90 a month to the requirement.

There are a number of benefits including being able to bring your family members with you and gaining free movement within the Schengen area.  You can work in Spain either self-employed or for a company.

The application procedure is fairly easy and you can apply from Spain. You can directly move to Spain and get your golden visa while in the Spanish territory.  Processing is rapid with an undertaking to respond within 10 days with a decision.


Non-Lucrative Visa

Spain’s Non-Lucrative Visa is available to non-EU citizens to live in Spain provided they are able to support themselves financially.  It is used by those planning to retire to Spain and is an option for British retirees and other people who do not plan to work in Spain now that the UK is no longer a member of the EU.

Although the visa does not allow you to carry out any type of economic or professional activity in Spain, it does not require you to invest in the country to obtain a visa.  There is, however, a higher income requirement than for EU citizens and creates a higher threshold for Brits wanting to retire to Spain.

You must prove that you have 400% of the IPREM annually in your bank account.  In 2021 this means that the main applicant must demonstrate he or she has at least €27.115.20. This is, however, the minimum and a higher amount may be required.  For each dependent travelling with you will require that you have an additional amount equal to the IPREM (€6.778.80 annually).  Thus a couple retiring to Spain will have to demonstrate an income of €33,894 a year.

You also need to have private health insurance and no criminal record.  The visa allows you to say in Spain for one year initially.  You must spend a minimum of 183 days in the country to be able to renew (meaning that you will become tax resident and taxable on your worldwide income).  The visa can then be renewed every 2 years until you get permanent residency, which is available after 5 years in the country.

The application must be made in your country of origin or there where you are legally resident.  You are not able to apply in Spain having entered the country as a tourist.  Confirmation will be within one month and the visa will be stamped in your passport and you will then be free to travel to Spain.  The visa will also include your NIE Number.

If you plan to work or run a business, you will need an appropriate visa.  Details of the options and how to obtain them can be found in the article Visa Options For Non-EU Citizens To Live, Work Or Retire In Spain



The new rules result in a higher financial threshold for those wishing to live or retire in Spain without working.  Those who have been used to visiting their home in Spain for most of the Summer and parts of the Winter or who have taken long term summer or winter rents will now have to plan carefully to ensure that they do not fall foul of the 90 in 180 days rule.  This has significant implications for many who have been regular visitors to Spain and for those with holiday homes in Spain.

There are always rumours that there will be a deal between the UK and Spain to loosen these restrictions to avoid these problems and avoid the likely damage to the Spanish property market and economy, but nothing has been announced yet.


My Lawyer in Spain provide a range of legal services including immigration and property services.


These articles provide more details on the terms and benefits of the visas: