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Moving to Spain from the UK after Brexit

2nd April 2024

Since the start of Brexit, travelling and moving to Europe has changed. The Freedom of Movement within Europe has been withdrawn, making selecting the right visa very important, especially for those considering a move to Spain. Understanding the ins and outs of visas, the Spanish healthcare, banking, and driving systems post-Brexit, is vital to your hassle-free move to Spain. 

Visas options for moving to Spain


Since Brexit, European travel dynamics have shifted; Brit’s rights to free movement within Europe have been withdrawn, so securing the right visa is crucial if you plan on moving to Spain. 

Long-Term Spanish Visas

Securing a long-term visa is essential if you plan to stay in Spain for more than 180 days. You should apply for your visa online your visa at least three months before your travel date to ensure it is approved in time. It’s also worth noting that complete payment is required during the process; the cost of a visa depends on the type and duration but often costs around £100. 

All visas must be renewed every 2 years until a permanent residency is attained, for which you will become eligible after 5 years.

Leisure or Educational Visa Options in Spain 

Spain offers a range of visas to accommodate different lifestyles and purposes of moving:


  • – Au Pair Visa: This visa is for young individuals keen on cultural immersion. It allows you to live in Spain in exchange for assistance with household tasks or childcare.
  • – Student Visa: Student visas are for students planning to study in Spain for longer than three months.
  • – Family Visa: If you are moving to join family members, this visa also allows you visa-free travel throughout the Schengen Area.

Spanish Working Visa Options

Entrepreneur Visa: These visas are for individuals looking to relocate for work; this visa grants a three-year residency to begin entrepreneurial ventures within Spain.

EU Blue Card: Reserved for professionals with high-level expertise, this visa allows skilled migration to Spain.

Highly Qualified Work Permit: Similar to the EU Blue card, this visa allows individuals with exceptional professional capabilities to move to Spain for work.

If you are an individual relocating to Spain from the UK for work, check out our Employee Relocation services, or if you want to move your office across the sea, take a look at our Office Removal services.

Biometric Residency Card

Once in Spain, you can apply for a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE) from the local immigration office. This £110 biometric residency card legitimises your stay, enabling access to education and other essential services. 

Additionally, obtaining a Número de Identificación de Extranjero (NIE) is a must for tax purposes and grants access to employment and other crucial services. This letter costs between £10-£20, and can also be applied for at the local immigration office.

We recommend discussing all the visas and identity cards that are available for moving to Spain with an Immigration advisor or professional to ensure you are fully covered and have/acquire all of the right documentation when you are there.


Spanish Healthcare System


With EHIC cards becoming invalid for Brits in Europe post-Brexit, gaining an understanding of Spain’s healthcare system is important to your well-being. 

Securing healthcare coverage is essential before registering as a resident or applying for a visa in Spain. Once you’ve settled, registering at your local healthcare centre with your social security number is a must. Access to basic state healthcare services then becomes complimentary, though certain services, such as prescriptions, may require full payments or contributions.

Employed or Self-Employed Individuals

If you are employed or self-employed in Spain, you can access healthcare entitlement by making contributions through social security. Registering a UK-issued S1 form with the Social Security office allows for integration into Spain’s healthcare system.

Permanent Residents

Once you have lived in Spain for over five years, you become automatically eligible for healthcare entitlement. This includes contributing directly to the public healthcare insurance scheme and ensuring coverage for the long term, whether you are employed or not.

Healthcare for Non-Workers

For those who are not employed, obtaining an S1 form is not applicable. However, upon achieving permanent residency status, registration for healthcare at the local INSS Office is possible. In the meantime, non-working individuals can opt for the Convenio Especial, a public health service scheme allowing access to essential healthcare services.


Spanish Banking


Establishing a banking plan is important when relocating to Spain, ensuring easy management of finances and facilitating everyday transactions. Since Brexit, banks such as Barclays have closed branches and bank accounts associated with Spain. Therefore, banking in Spain as a Brit has changed slightly.


Spanish IBAN

A Spanish IBAN number is essential for setting up utilities in your new house. This number streamlines the process of managing essential services, ensuring a smooth transition into your Spanish lifestyle. IBAN numbers are only available once you set up a Spanish bank account and will be accessible through your bank.  

Opening a Spanish bank account

Though your English bank account will be accessible from Spain, you may face extra charges and difficulty accessing money instantly if you don’t switch it over. We therefore recommend opening a Spanish bank account for ease.

Opening a bank account in Spain as a UK expat is fairly straightforward as there are minimal obstacles getting in the way.  You will need the following documents to open a new Spanish account in a physical branch.


  • – Valid means of identification
  • – Spanish NIE (Foreigner’s ID Number)
  • – Proof of income or employment contract 
  • – Proof of address in Spain

Driving in Spain

Is my UK driving licence valid if I live abroad? 

This is a common question asked by British expats across the world, especially after Brexit. If you move to Spain and want to be able to drive, you now need to exchange your British licence for a Spanish one within 6 months of arrival. As of 16th March 2023, you will no longer need to retake your driving test, thanks to the new UK/Spain driving licence agreement. British citizens can continue to use their original permit to drive in Spain while they undergo the exchange process.

To exchange a UK or Northern Ireland driving licence for a Spanish one, you must fulfil a set of specific requirements: 

  • – You cannot exchange your licence if you obtained it in your home country while being a legal resident in Spain.
  • – If you acquired it after becoming a legal resident in Spain, it cannot be exchanged for a Spanish licence. 
  • – If your licence has expired since your arrival in Spain, you can still exchange it. 

Steps to take to get a Spanish Licence

  1. Take the “psicotécnico” test: In Spain, individuals must have a medical examination called a ‘psicotécnico’ to get a driving licence. This test evaluates physical and mental capabilities to determine if an individual can perform certain tasks, such as driving a car safely. 

When it is time to exchange your licence for a Spanish version, you can do so by visiting your provincial tráfico headquarters Jefatura Provincial de Tráfic; you will need to make an appointment by phone or online.


“Understanding the ins and outs of visas, the Spanish healthcare, banking, and driving systems post-Brexit, is vital to your hassle-free move to Spain.” 


If you’re ready to begin your move to Spain from the UK, get in touch with a member of our team to talk about your moving options, fill out one of our forms, or book a virtual survey to get started!