Residency procedure after Brexit for UK Nationals moving to Spain

Editorial Lifestyle

Marbella Expat Guide

The Brexit transition period ended on 31st December 2020. This means there are now new Spanish residency requirements for British citizens / UK nationals effective from January 1st 2021. British citizens / UK nationals now have to follow the same process as other non-EU national citizens of third countries to get Spanish residency.

Since July 2020, British citizens / UK nationals taking up residency in Spain, have had to partially follow the non-EU process, as Spain introduced the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ TIE ‘tarjeta de identidad de extranjeros‘. The TIE is the foreigner's ID card which all non-EU nationals have to obtain when they permanently reside in Spain. During the transition period, and thereafter for those who already have a Spanish residency certificate, a special ‘withdrawal agreement’ card is issued. This ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ TIE card confirms the holders protected rights as a former EU citizen according to the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The procedure for a British citizen / UK national applying for Spanish residency for the first time is now completely the same as that for any other non-EU national, there is a requirement to first obtain a visa. 


The Spanish residency visa application is made through the Spanish Consulate either in London or Edinburgh, depending on which part of the UK you live. There are some exceptions to this requirement. For example, if you are joining a family member who is already a Spanish resident. The UK is included in the list of countries whose citizens don’t need Schengen Tourists visas, and citizens of these countries are allowed to apply for residency as a ‘family member of a resident’ whilst visiting Spain as a tourist. In all other cases, Spanish residency visa applications have to be made before you travel to Spain and once applied you can check the status of them via this website.

Once you arrive in Spain with the relevant visa (or otherwise meeting residency eligibility) you can begin your application for the Spanish residency card, the TIE.

The following is a summary of the various types of Spanish residency visas that British Citizens and UK Nationals can apply for, and more detail regarding residency for family members of existing Spanish residents.


As noted, the right to Spanish residency can be extended to a spouse or civil partner, and to direct ascendents, descendants or dependents who are part of your household, and under 21 years of age.
If the Spanish resident family member is a national of an EU country, or British citizen / UK national with protected rights under the Withdrawal agreement, then the UK family member joining them, can travel to Spain as a tourist, but must apply for Spanish residency within three months of arrival.
Where the Spanish resident family member is a national of a third country, the individual or family members joining them, need to first obtain a family reunification visa.
In both cases, the sponsoring Spanish resident family member has to prove that they have sufficient financial means to support themselves and their family, and provide them with self-funded access to healthcare.


The non-lucrative visa for Spanish residency is for those who have the means to support themselves without working whilst residing in Spain. According to the Spanish Embassy website, it is ‘for non-working individuals (with a reliable, ongoing source of income and substantial savings) who wish to reside in Spain for more than 3 months’.
Residents with this visa cannot engage in any economic activity in Spain. To obtain the visa, they must have private medical insurance and prove that they have either sufficient capital to fund the duration of their residency, or adequate secure income, e.g. pension, business or investment income. The income requirement for a couple is just under €33k per year.


British citizen / UK nationals can obtain a Spanish residency visa under Spain’s Investment Permit Program. More commonly known as the ‘Golden Visa’, it allows investors and their families who meet the requirements to secure Spanish residency by investing in Spain.
The minimum qualifying investment is €500.000 into real estate. Larger investments such as bank deposits, purchase of shares in a Spanish company or Spanish Government bonds are also eligible.
‘Golden visa’ Spanish residency doesn’t impose a minimum period of residence, and also gives the holder visa free access to the 26 countries in the Schengen Zone. (Subject to the 90 day rule).


To apply for a work visa, a British citizen / UK national will need to have an offer and contract of employment from a Spanish employer. There are a few exemptions from the requirement for a Spanish work visa. For example, scientists or teachers invited by a Spanish University or research institution.


The Entrepreneurs Visa is for British citizen / UK nationals wishing to start a business in Spain or move or expand their existing business to Spain. This includes freelance working and self-employment.
An entrepreneur visa applicant planning to work on a self-employed basis, must demonstrate that their proposed enterprise in Spain is viable and also that they have sufficient economic means to fund themselves and their planned business activity through to profitability. The minimum requirement of personal funding is approximately €13k per year. Business running costs, e.g. social security are counted in addition.
Those with a high-tech, high-growth business idea and the qualifications to pull it off can also apply for an entrepreneur visa. The business plan has to be approved by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the applicant must have the financial means to start the business. The entrepreneur visa is a temporary work residency, valid for two years and renewable.
In relation to visas for business purposes, the website for the Spanish Consulate lists the following general examples of possible requirements amongst others:
a) Work Permits or Licenses that sanction the building, opening and operation of the planned project or the professional activity, including the information regarding the stage of the process and, if corresponding, certificates of applications filed with competent authorities.
b) Business Plan of Activities that will be carried out, with the anticipated investments shown, projected profits and the possible amount of jobs created and proof of sufficient economic funds, or contracts of investments or loans from financial institutions. There must be evidence of sufficient funds to establish and maintain employment indefinitely.
c) Proof of having the legally required professional qualification or sufficient experience of carrying on professional activity, as well as professional registration when required.


As the name suggests, this visa allows Spanish residency for those coming to study in Spain. You can apply for the student visa for undergraduate courses, Masters, Ph.D. and other short term qualifying studies.
The student visa is valid for one year and renewable. It also allows work for up to 20 hours per week on an internship, gives easy access to getting a work permit once your studies have finished. Student visas also allow the students family members to get Spanish residency subject to the conditions of financial means being met.


Once you have arrived in Spain with the relevant visa or otherwise meeting the eligibility for Spanish residency, you can begin the process to apply for your Spanish residency card or TIE as it’s now called, ‘tarjeta de identidad de extranjero‘.
The application for the TIE has to be made in person at the Provincial Foreigners Office, or National Police station in the area that you are living. 

Click HERE to see a step by step guide to obtaining your TIE, the process is slightly different if you are from the UK.


There is no requirement for holders of the ‘Golden Visa’ and Non-Lucrative Visa, to spend a minimum number of days in Spain. So holders of these types of visa can keep their tax affairs out of Spain. You are generally liable to pay taxes in the country in which you reside. Your country of residence is usually deemed to be the one in which you spend 183 days or more in.

If you become tax resident in Spain you pay tax on:
*General income
*Interest on savings and investments
*Capital gains on sale of assets
*Wealth (if your total wealth is €700k or more – €1m including your main home)
*Gifts and inheritance
Taxes apply to worldwide income, interests and assets.

On taking up residency, Spanish residents must declare certain assets they own outside of Spain, such as:
Read more about Overseas Assets Declaration in Spain


The process for British Citizens / UK Nationals to get residency in Spain is now a much more involved and lengthier process. You can no longer just turn up in Spain and apply. Aside from the convoluted formalities of the process itself, prior to applying, there is now the added need to determine which type of residency you qualify for or which will be right for you!

That said, with the help of a professional service such as Overseas Lifestyle Services who helped us to curate this article the process can be smooth and stress-free!