Moving from UK to Spain

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Moving to Spain from the UK can be a very tempting proposition for people seeking to escape from heavy British weather and enjoy a more easy-going lifestyle in the Mediterranean. However, making this change involves taking several additional steps, especially following the end of Brexit’s transitional period on 31 December 2020.

Can I Move to Spain from UK?

Spain has been the go-to destination for a great number of British ex-pats over the last decade or two, currently housing over 350,000 British citizens. This trend slowed down in the wake of Brexit, which has hampered free movement for UK nationals within EU territory. Hence, while it’s still possible to move to Spain from the UK, you must fulfil certain conditions and file extra paperwork.

Do I Need a Visa?

You won’t need a visa to travel to Spain if you only wish to stay for 90 days within a 180-day timescale. However, since 1 January 2021, the UK is deemed a “third country” and any UK national will need to submit an application for a visado nacional (long-term residence visa), even if they had a second home in Spain already.

The types of visas available to British citizens are:

  • Work and residence visa (visado de trabajo y residencia): This visa will permit you to live and work in Spanish territory. You may move to Spain under this visa as an employee of a Spanish company (who must complete the application on your behalf) or as a self-employed individual (autónomo). You’d have to earn at least £2,000 per month to be eligible.
  • Study visa (visa de estudios): This visa is offered to UK citizens who enrol in any authorised educational or training course, and its validity is linked to the course’s duration.
  • Residence visa (visado de residencia): A visa route devised for retirement and family reunification.

What are the Spanish Work Visas Available?

Spanish work and residence visas vary depending on the job type. If you intend on working for a Spanish company, they will have to request a work permit that corresponds to the job category that you’re being hired under. This work permit is issued by the Ministerio de Trabajo (Ministry of Labour).

For the purposes of your work and residence visa application, your hirer should hand you a copy of the work permit application with the stamp from the respective office and a número de expediente (file number).

These work visas are granted for one year if the contract is permanent, and may be extended. After four extensions (five years), you’ll be eligible for a permanent residency permit (residencia permanente).

Other work visas available are:

  • Seasonal worker visa: This visa has a validity period equal to the duration of the contract and you ought to show evidence that you have travel expenses and accommodation secured.
  • Au-pairs visa: This visa is for individuals aged between 18 and 30, and must have an au-pair agreement with a host family, as well as proof that they can sustain themselves financially during their stay.
  • Freelance visa: You need to be registered as an “autónomo” or self-employed worker in the Spanish Social Security or create a limited liability company, in which case you may be asked to provide a business plan and evidence of your skills and experience, as well as documents showing your past contracts and your financial sustainability.
  • EU Blue Card: Blue Cards allow people with high qualifications to live and work in EU countries, including Spain. They must not be self-employed and the job contract must be for at least one year, among other requirements.

What Are the Spanish Family Visas Available to UK Citizens?

Family visas are granted to individuals whose family members have been residing in Spain for at least a year and plan on staying for another year. Qualifying family members whom you’ll be able to reunite with include:

  • Spanish citizens
  • EU Blue Card holders
  • Long-term residents from another EU state
  • Students or researchers

The relatives eligible according to Spanish family reunification rules are:

  • Spouse or partner
  • Unmarried dependent children 18 years old or younger
  • Dependent children, grandchildren, or persons under the legal guardianship of a Spanish family member if they’re over 18 years of age and disabled.
  • Dependent parents over 65.

Visa for Students

Since the Erasmus scheme is no longer available to UK students, you will have to find other means to study in Spain. Luckily, you can skip the visa process if your course is imparted for a period not exceeding 90 days. Beyond that timeframe, you’ll have to apply for a study visa.

You can obtain a visa for:

  • Full-time studies at an approved school
  • Training activities
  • Student mobility programmes
  • Training placements not covered by internship visas
  • Volunteer services for programmes that pursue public interest goals
  • Conversation class assistance
  • Au pair
  • Doctorate studies

Documents You’ll Need and Fees

For every visa application, apart from documents proper to the type of visa (employment contract, proof of familial relationship, among others), you’ll need to provide the following:

  • National visa form (which you can grab from the local Spanish Consulate site)
  • Original passport valid for at least 1 year and with two or more blank pages
  • Health insurance from an authorised insurance provider
  • 3×4 cm photos with a white background
  • Medical records showing that you don’t have any diseases that could bar your entry
  • Your criminal records evidencing you have not been convicted during the past 5 years in any of the countries you’ve resided
  • Fee payment receipt

You must lodge your visa application at least 15 working days and no earlier than six months before your intended travel date.

The consulate fees for a visa application are:

  • 80euro per adult
  • 40euro per child between 6-12 years of age
  • No fee is paid for children 6 years old or younger

Frequently Asked Questions about Moving to Spain from UK

How long does it take to have my Spanish visa approved?

It depends on the type of visa. Normally, it can take from one to four weeks. However, some work visas could take up to eight months.

What is the NIE?

The NIE stands for Numero de Identificación de Extranjero or Foreigner Identification Number. It is reflected in the TIE, which is the card you receive upon applying for the NIE. The NIE is necessary for various errands and activities, such as opening a bank account or for your inscription in the Spanish Social Security system and Hacienda (tax bureau).

To obtain your NIE, you must fill out two forms: The EX-18 NIE form and the online 790 form. In addition, you must pay a fee of roughly 10.71euro.

When can I apply for permanent residence and Spanish citizenship?

You can apply for permanent residency in Spain after reaching your fifth year of legal residence. You may apply for Spanish citizenship after 10 years, but you won’t be able to hold dual citizenship, meaning you would have to renounce your British citizenship unless you have Sephardic Jewish origin.