Moving to Spain after Brexit from the UK

Tired of the UK? Looking to move to sunny Spain? Don't blame you. Read on to see how you can make it happen.

Spain’s always been massively popular for Brits looking to move abroad. There’s something for everyone. For those looking for a quiet, sophisticated life, there’s the old-town, off-the-beaten-track villages. For those who’ve recently binge-watched Benidorm and aren’t too ashamed to admit it, there’s… well, Benidorm. They’re the two extremes, though – there are plenty of places in between that offer a nice balance.

Fun fact for you – in 2015, a year before the UK referendum, there were over 300,000 UK migrants living in Spanish territories. Then, much to the disappointment of those of us who like travelling and embracing other cultures, the UK decided to pull out a double-barrelled shotgun, name it Brexit, point it downwards, and shoot itself directly in the foot.

Things that used to be quite simple and easy suddenly became complex and difficult. Moving to Spain after Brexit is still a possibility – it’s just a lot harder now. At least we’ve got our blue passports, though.

I’m only joking. It’s not all doom and gloom. If you’re wanting to move to Spain, it’s still an option. There are three common routes for doing so. These are open to:

  • Retirees
  • Investors
  • Self-employed

Each route has differing criteria, and they’re quite hard to meet. For all the routes, you’ll need to provide the basic documentation needed for any move abroad – like your passport, paperwork, insurance, all the stuff like that. For any move abroad, you’ll need to legalise your official documentation. We can sort that for you – just visit our site.

Individually, though, all the routes have their own requirements. Here they are:

Retiring to Spain from the UK

Old couple relaxing in the sea after moving to Spain after Brexit
Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

If you’re thinking of retiring in Spain, you’ll want to look into ‘Non-Lucrative Visas’. They’re perfect for retirees. You can’t work, but you can buy a house and live there.

Why spend your twilight years moping around the UK when you could spend them living it up in the Spanish sun? Chill on the beach, drink a couple of cocktails, have a little siesta. Do whatever you’d normally do in England, but do it in pleasant weather.

If that sounds good to you, have a read of our dedicated blog post on Spanish Non-Lucrative Visas here. It’ll tell you all you need to know. If you haven’t got time for that, or you just straight up can’t be bothered, I’ll give you a quick crash course. You need:

  • UK residence permit (if you’re not a UK national)
  • Passport with at least one year’s validity before the date of expiry
  • Health insurance
  • No criminal record in the UK or Spain
  • No involvement in any legal (or otherwise negative) entanglements in Spain
  • Proof of your ability to financially support yourself

They’re all pretty straightforward. To prove you’ve got the financial means, you’ll have to produce evidence (bank statements) that you’re bringing in a minimum of €27,792.96 a year. For every family member coming with you, that goes up by €6,948.24. In pounds, that’s about £22,931.29 per main applicant and another £5,732.82 per family member (as at April 2022).

Let’s imagine an old couple wanting to retire in Spain. We’ll call them Terry and Janice. Proper British expat names. Between them, they’d need to prove they were bringing in an income of at least €34,741.20 a year. ‘It’s bloody expensive, this moving abroad business‘ Terry moans. He loves a moan. Janice tells him to shut up and have another custard cream. Their pension covers it.

Assuming Terry and Janice were approved for their Non-Lucrative Visa, it’d be valid for one year. Once that year’s up, they’d be able to renew it for another two. After those two years, they could renew it for another two. Once that’s up, they’ll have been in Spain for five years and could apply for permanent residency.

Just as a little warning – always ask the Spanish consulate or Embassy what the most up-to-date requirements are. Double check what documents you need and how much money you need to be bringing in. Everything I’ve written here is correct at the time of writing, but by the time you’re reading this they might have moved the goalposts a bit. Make sure you’re using the most up-to-date information, and the best source for that is the embassy.

Investing in Spain


If your name is Scrooge McDuck, this section’s for you. It’s a bit of a weird one – it’s both the easiest, and hardest, way of moving to Spain after Brexit.

It’s the easiest ‘cos you can just buy some property and you (and maybe your family) get residency.
It’s the hardest ‘cos you’ve got to spend at least €500,000 for the privilege.

It’s called a ‘Golden visa’. The clue’s in the name – it’s the gold standard for visas. If you’ve got €500,000 (£416,707.50, as at April 2022) spare and you’re wanting to move to Spain, this could be the visa for you. You literally just buy €500,000 worth of property and you’ll qualify for the Golden visa. It doesn’t have to be all on one property – you could buy a few and rent them out, so long as their combined value is at least €500,000. You do need the money upfront, though. You can’t use a mortgage. Well, you can, but only on anything over €500,000 – you have to put in the first €500,000 yourself.

Perks of the Golden visa include:

  • A speedy process – once you’ve bought the property, you could potentially be granted the visa within a month
  • You can work
  • Any family members included in your application get residency too
  • It’s valid for two years before it needs to be renewed
  • You only need to visit the country once a year to renew it – you don’t have to move to Spain
  • You get free movement in the Schengen Area

You can renew the Visa after two years as long as you still own the property. If you’re wanting to move permanently, if you get a Golden Visa, you’re pretty much set. As long as you don’t sell your property, you can enjoy the perks of your Golden visa.

I should mention that you don’t have to buy real estate. There are other ways to get a Golden visa. You could invest €1million into shares of a Spanish company, or you could put €2million into Spain’s public debt. Why anyone would ever do that rather than buy a house for literally half, if not a quarter, of the price beats me. Maybe I’m just selfish.

Looking at the perks of a Golden visa, most people would probably agree – they’re the best you can get. Unfortunately though, elephant in the room, they’re not an option for most people. Who’s got €500,000 laying around? I certainly don’t. Wish I did.

If you are fortunate enough to have the money and you are wanting to move to Spain, this is most likely your best option.

Moving to Spain after Brexit and becoming an autónomo


Your third most popular route for moving to Spain after Brexit is to become what the Spanish call an autónomo – which, by the way, has to be one of the coolest job titles ever. Being an autónomo just means that you’re self-employed.

If you’re wanting to go down this route, you need to either run your own business or be a freelancer. You’ll need a feasible business plan, and you’ll need to present it to the Spanish authorities before you’re granted your visa. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

There are two parts to becoming an autónomo. First, you’ll need to get a residence and self-employment permit. For this, you need:

You’ll need to apply for the permit in person (and, of course, there’re some application fees). Just a reminder – this isn’t for your visa – this is your permit.

Assuming you’re successful, then you can apply for your visa. To apply for your visa, you’ll need:

  • Passport
  • Passport-size photograph
  • Criminal record check certificate
  • Medical certificate
  • Proof of residence in the consular district
  • A visa application form

All documents will need to be legalised (with an Apostille) and, if possible translated into Spanish. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered – we can take care of the legalisation side of things for your move to Spain. We’re legalisation experts, and we offer a 100% guarantee that any documents we process for you will be accepted by the Spanish authorities. We can take some of the burden of moving to Spain after Brexit off of you.

You might be thinking that once you’ve sorted your visa, you’re ready for your move to Spain. Unfortunately not. You need to get an NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero), for starters. These let you do pretty much everything you’ll need to do in Spain – set up a bank account, pay tax, drive, work, and, pretty crucially for autónomos, set up a business. You can apply for one at the Spanish embassy before your move to Spain.

Then you’ll need to register with the Spanish Tax Authority (Agencia Tributaria). You need a Spanish bank account, so you’ll need to set that up. Then you need to register with the social security authority. Autónomos need to register with the Regimen Especial de Trabajadores Autonomos, or RETA, for short.

Now you’re more or less done. It’s a pretty basic explanation, and I’ve probably made it seem a fair bit quicker than it is, but I won’t go into anymore detail. It’s a full article in itself.

And there you have it! They’re the three most common routes for people looking to move to Spain. They’re all a bit niche, I know, but they’re the most common – or, to be honest, the easiest – ways of moving to Spain after Brexit. If you’re wanting to do so, just give us a shout and we can take care of the legalisation side of things for you!

Still got questions?

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Declan Ramsden
Declan Ramsden

Declan is a Content Creator at Vital Consular. He studied English Literature for 4 years before joining the company. Outside of work, he enjoys listening to retro music and reading classic novels – particularly Charles Dickens!

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