How to Move to Spain after Brexit: A Guide to Your Options
Because of the UK’s decision to implement Brexit, life is now much more complicated for UK residents hoping to move to Spain.
But although it’s a lot more difficult, it’s certainly not impossible… assuming you know how.
So in this article, your relocation amigos Homelike have covered everything you need to know about moving to Spain after Brexit. We’ve covered all the basic stuff, along with the most popular ways of relocating.
Important note: the advice in this article only applies to UK citizens. If you aren’t a UK citizen (no matter where else you might be from), the rules have remained the same for you (unless you’re a Spanish citizen moving to the UK, but that’s a whole different story!).
Around 300,000 UK nationals officially live in Spain, so it’s obviously a great choice for a relocation. Want to know how to move to Spain after Brexit? In this quick guide, we’ve brought you juicy details on it all—so pack that case, book a flight, and get ready for a brand-new life!
The Basics of Moving to Spain after Brexit
How to Move to Spain after Brexit: Short Stays
If you’re only moving to Spain for a short while, things are still pretty simple and easy (with a small number of exceptions).
UK nationals can visit Spain for three months without a visa—and if you’re not going to do any paid work during those three months, you need to deal with absolutely zero bothersome bureaucracy. So if you just want to stay in Spain for a maximum of three months, and you don’t want to get a job, things are very straightforward.
But here’s where things can potentially get a little tricky: because Spain is in the Schengen Zone, and because UK residents no longer have unfettered access to the Schengen zone, you need to time your trip carefully.
These days, UK residents can only spend 90 days in any 180-day period in the Schengen Zone without a visa. So if you’ve recently been to another part of the Schengen zone, your Spanish plans might be affected.
How to Move to Spain after Brexit: Long Stays
If you’re staying for longer than three months, you’re going to need a visa. But quite what visa you need is massively dependent upon what your Spanish plans are. So coming up, we’ve broken down all of the most popular options.
Important note: no matter which of the following are relevant to you, you need to apply for the appropriate visa in advance. You can contact any of the Spanish consulates in London, Edinburgh, or Manchester. When you contact these consulates, chat with them about the specifics of your situation, and they’ll be able to give you the most accurate advice.
So here are all the different visas and requirements depending on what your particular plans are when you’re moving to Spain after Brexit…
2- Requirements for Moving to Spain for Work
If you’re moving to Spain after Brexit and you plan to work, things are now much more difficult than they were before—you can’t just turn up and spontaneously start applying for jobs in the way you once could.
Instead, you should apply for jobs in advance, and do your best to secure a job before you move to the nation. To do so, you must be earning your money via employment with a Spanish company, who will typically apply for your visa on your behalf.
(It’s also possible to move to Spain after Brexit as a self-employed worker, but we’ve covered that coming up soon).
Your new employer will work out which of the many visados de trabajo y residencia (visas for working and residency) you need to apply for, and usually submit that application for you.
Although securing a job in advance can be difficult, this approach is in some ways the most simple option—if you have a job offer, entering the country is a pretty easy process.
That said, because Spain is such a massively popular relocation hub, this process can take many months, and delays are almost inevitable.
3- Requirements for Moving to Spain as a Self-Employed Person or Freelancer
Spain doesn’t yet have a designated digital nomad visa, but the nation is currently working on one.
And when that happens, moving to Spain as a freelancer or self-employed person will be much easier.
But until then, you have two options: you either need to register as an ‘Autonomo,’ or register your own limited company with the Spanish authorities. To do so, you need to apply for a work and residency permit—and in that application, you’ll most likely need proof of funds and skills. You might also need to provide proof of work contracts, and you might be asked to apply for a freelance visa.
So in short, you can’t just pretend that you’re a self-employed person; you need to be able to prove it. And if you can’t supply evidence that you earn at least £24,000 a year, you won’t be granted entry.
No matter whether you register as an Autonomo or with a limited company, you need to pay taxes in Spain. Limited companies are typically liable to more tax payments than Autonomos—so if you’re a traditional self-employed person without any employers or gigantic contracts, applying to be an Autonomo is probably the best choice.
To start the process of moving to Spain as a self-employed person, you’ll first need to contact an embassy to get your hands on a work and residency permit. When (and if!) this is granted, you’ll be able to enter Spain. After you enter, you’ll need to register with a tax office, who’ll be able to give you all the right documents… or at least tell you where to get them.
4- Requirements for Moving to Spain as a Student
If you’re moving to Spain after Brexit as a UK-born student, you can no longer apply through Erasmus.
You instead need to apply for a visado de estudios (which more or less translates to ‘studying visa,’ though you probably worked that out for yourself).
In order to obtain any type of student visa, you absolutely need an acceptance letter from the education company providing your education. Without one, you won’t be able to get your mitts on a visa.
You also need to provide some other basic documents such as a Schengen visa application, a passport, health insurance, and proof of sufficient funds. But that stuff is all pretty simple to get your hands on, making for a relatively stress-free ride.
You can check out all the different rules and requirements in much more detail here.
5- Requirements for Moving to Spain on an Internship
If you’re moving to Spain to do an unpaid internship, things are pretty simple. Because you aren’t working in exchange for money, you don’t need to apply for a work visa.
Instead, you simply need to apply for a long-stay visa, in the same way you would if you were visiting the nation on a very long vacation.
And as a nice bonus, if your internship will be no longer than three months, you don’t need to apply for any visa at all!
You can find more information on internships in Spain here.
6- Requirements for Moving to Spain as a Digital Nomad
As we’ve already covered, Spain doesn’t yet offer a digital nomad visa… so you’ll need to follow the same rules we’ve outlined above for freelancers and self-employed people. For you, the simplest solution will likely be to register as an ‘Autonomo’.
Because there’s no digital nomad visa for now, there’s no chance of tax exemption for now—so you’ll need to pay taxes if you’re moving to Spain as a digital nomad.
When you’re traveling as a digital nomad, your biggest challenge will probably be finding a good place to stay. Because you’ll be working from the moment you arrive, you won’t want to waste endless hours looking at houses and apartments.
And since you probably won’t be sticking around for too long (you zany digital nomads love to move around!), you likely won’t want the obligation of a multi-month tenancy.
If that’s the case, take a look at the huge number of apartments we offer in Spain. They’re all comfortable, affordable and homely, and they’re perfect for digital nomads. If you’re looking for a serviced apartment in Spain or a serviced flat in Spain, you won’t find anything more suitable or convenient!
7- Requirements for Moving to Spain Without a Job
Moving to Spain after Brexit without a job is absolutely possible. But you should consider this one carefully depending on your actual plans.
If your plan is to get a job eventually, it’s usually easier to find a job before moving to the nation. As we’ve covered, a job offer makes moving to Spain much more simple.
Moving to Spain on a non-working visa of course means you’re not permitted to work in the nation. If you later decide that you actually do want to work, you’ll need to jump through lots of bureaucratic hoops. So think this one through properly before making a choice.
That said, if you’re certain you’ll never be working in Spain, your best option is usually a non-lucrative visa.
8- Spain’s Golden Visa
Spain’s special ‘golden visa’ is an excellent option for any non-EU national who wants to make a hefty investment in the Spanish economy.
To qualify, you can do one of four things: purchase Spanish real estate worth at least €500,000, make a Spanish investment of at least €2,000,000, buy shares worth (or make a bank deposit of) at least €1,000,000, or invest in a new business.
If you qualify, you can take your spouse with you, along with your kids (assuming your kids are under 18). With a golden visa, you’re allowed to work and live in Spain, and you can roam freely around the Schengen zone.
For much more information on getting a golden visa when moving to Spain after Brexit, we recommend reading this.
9- Getting an EU Permanent Residence Card to Live in Spain
If you have lived in any EU country for a period of 5 continuous years, you’re eligible to apply for an EU permanent residence for that particular nation.
If you have one of these residency cards from another country, you’re able to move freely within the EU in the same way an EU citizen can. Yes, there are still some formalities you need to follow if you plan to move to Spain, but having pre-existing access to an EU permanent residence card makes these formalities much more simple and stress-free.
So in short, if you have a valid EU permanent residence card, moving to Spain is typically very easy!
10- Applying for Spanish Citizenship
No matter how you obtain it, Spanish citizenship grants you the exact same rights as any other Spanish citizen (native or otherwise).
That means you can vote, you can stay indefinitely, and you can live like a lifelong local. And as a nice little bonus, Spanish citizenship allows you to live, work and roam within any other part of the EU. In short, it’s the ultimate golden ticket for anyone who wants to live in Spain!
There are three main ways you can qualify for this citizenship:
- By residency: Because you’re reading this guide, we’re gonna assume this is probably the option for you. Usually, you need to have been living in Spain for ten years to qualify, but there are a small number of exceptions.
- By descent: Got some Spanish family? You can use that as leverage to nab yourself some Spanish citizenship! The more immediate the family, the better your chances.
- By marriage: If you marry a Spanish citizen then live in Spain for one year, you’re entitled to Spanish citizenship. The marriage must be recognized in Spain.
You can find much more information on all of those various options here.
How to Move to Spain after Brexit: Final Thoughts
There you have it—all the basics on how to move to Spain after Brexit!
Again, we recommend getting a temporary serviced apartment or serviced flat for a little while when you arrive. Because Spain is one of the planet’s most popular places for a sunny relocation, it can be very difficult to find a long-term place to stay without first arriving in the nation.
So it’s best to move into a short-term rental while you view houses in-person, so you can find an accommodation (and a neighborhood!) that’s perfect for you. We offer an almost-endless number of places throughout Spain, and they’re all fantastic for a short-term stay. Top cities where we offer short term rentals are Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Malaga and Seville.
And before we sign off, here’s our final piece of advice: immigration rules can be complex and changeable, so you should always contact an embassy to talk about your specific plans and circumstances. Without doing that, it’s almost impossible to know exactly what you’ll need to do. But unless anything drastically changes, all of the above should be a pretty good guide.
Anyway, thanks for reading, have an incredible time in Spain, and we hope your brand-new life is packed with fiestas and siestas. Adiós!