A total of 45,600 Spaniards took out UK national insurance numbers — essential for working in Britain — in the year to September 2014, according to figures published on Thursday by the UK's Office for National Statistics.
That was down from 49,900 in the year to September 2013, a drop of nine percent, the report into immigration shows.
While there can be a lag in the figures because of the time taken to register for a national insurance number, the drop is in line with anecdotal evidence that the number of Spaniards trying to escape Spain's 23.7 percent unemployment rate by moving to the UK is falling.
"People are saying that Spaniards are beginning to leave the UK," London-based Spanish property expert Borja Mateo told The Local.
"While some of this may be to do with a slight improvement in the Spanish economy, it's also true that many Spaniards have gone because they haven't found work, or because they have had enough of life here," said Mateo, who has written a book telling Spaniards how to live and work overseas.
"Many of the people who come to the UK are badly prepared. They don't speak English well enough to get a good job, and they end up in bad jobs which don't give them a chance to improve their English. In the end, they realize their quality of life was better in Spain, and they go home."
"Spaniards coming to England often don't have the budget they need. More importantly, they don't have a vision and they are impatient, wanting results now," Mateo said.
The new UK immigration figures show that people migrating from Spain were the second largest group entering the UK after China, with 33,000 people making the move. However, just over one in four of those people (27 percent) coming to the UK from Spain was a Brit heading home.
Spain was also the third most popular destination for people leaving the UK on a long-term basis, behind the US and Australia. Some 16,000 people made the move from the UK to Spain in 2013, with 56 percent of them Brits.