Can I still move to and live in Spain post-Brexit and COVID?

Moving to Spain after Brexit and the Pandemic

If you are an aeroplane geek, and aware of Flight Radar 24 (check it out if not) then the number of yellow aircraft emojis over France and Spain is all the evidence you need that travel around the continent of Europe is back up and flying.

Flight Radar 24
Flights over France and Spain (Flight Radar 24. 16 August 2021)

Is the dream of living in Spain back on?

Looking at the number of flights, does that means people’s dreams of living in Spain are back on? Just because COVID has pushed Brexit off the front page for 18 months that doesn’t mean Brexit’s challenges have gone away. The attraction of living in Spain is still strong, but what about whether it is still worth the effort? This article will answer some of those questions. Do you have a right to live and work in Spain, will you need a visa to visit and can you retire to Spain now the UK has left the EU?

Two things that are unarguable about Spain is its year-round climate (in the south and south east particularly) and the favourable cost-of-living compared to the UK. However, since 1 January 2021, new rules apply for any Brit pursuing the dream o a life in Spain.

Can I still move to Spain after Brexit?

Yes. But the process is different, more drawn out and likely to be less attractive to all but those serious about relocating to Spain come what may. That’s even more the case if people are yet to retire, and will need to work out there. Pre-Brexit, as EU citizens, Brits had the right to visit, live and work anywhere within the European Union. There were no visa restrictions and no maximum stay periods. Now, with third-country status, the rules for Brits are the same as for Americans and Australians, plus other non-European people wanting to live in Spain. Some bi-lateral agreements may be struck in the future, but nothing is imminent.

The maximum continuous stay for UK passport holders in Spain is now 90 days in any 180 day period. Remember this is an allocation of time that applies to the whole EU. You can’t do 90 days in Spain and then another seven in France within a 180 day period for example.

Anyone who wishes to stay longer than 90 days must legally register as a resident, and any non-resident hoping to work in Spain, will need a visa or work permit. For those closing in on retirement and still wanting to live out in Spain can their plans still become a reality?

Residency in Spain after Brexit

UK citizens can still move to Spain, but since leaving the EU, those who want to make the move permanent will have to meet certain criteria in order to gain residency. These criteria vary according to your age, employment status and other factors. Common to most applications is a clean criminal record, health cover and proof of income/financial means to support a life in Spain. We have a dedicated relocation department at Sun Lawyers who will advise and support applicants through the residency process. Anyone wishing to move to Spain from the UK with the view to starting a business must have the necessary qualifications as well as an adequate business plan.

buying a property in Spain

Brexit has not changed in anyway the process for buying a property in Spain. The market has remained resilient these last 18 months and demand looks set to increase. Preparedness is the keyword in planning a property search. Don’t wait until you’ve found the perfect property to ‘get your ducks in a row’. It will likely be too late and you will lose out to another buyer who can show:

  • NIE Number (a foreigner identity number need for all major purchases in Spain)
  • Spanish bank account
  • Mortgage approval (if needed)
  • Foreign exchange partner
  • Power of Attorney (a lawyer to act on a purchase on your behalf)

Sun Lawyers can help with all of these and we recommend that you make an appointment with us so you can understand the process of buying a property in Spain.

Can I continue living in Spain after Brexit?

Any UK citizens already living in EU countries prior to 1 January 2021 are allowed to remain living there as part of the European Union Withdrawal Act. Spanish authorities have agreed with the UK that British people living in Spain pre-Brexit will have the same rights after Brexit, in the same way as Spanish people residing in the UK will.

In order to remain living in Spain as a UK citizen, you must be legally registered as a resident there, and you must have done so correctly. This includes children, who must be individually registered with their own documentation. Those who are compliant will be issued a TIE residence card, proving their rights under the Withdrawal Act.

Once you have moved to Spain

While there are more hoops for Brits to jump through to live in Spain after Brexit, it can be done. Whether you wish to retire, work or holiday there, you can still lawfully do so if you meet the requirements above.
Once you have gained permission, living in Spain will be just as it was before Brexit. British expats can purchase property, have the same rights and pay the same tax as they would have pre-Brexit.