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EXPLAINED: How Britons can import belongings into Spain duty-free post-Brexit

British nationals who are in the process of moving or intend to move to Spain have to factor in that the customs rules for moving belongings are different after the UK has left the EU. Here are the documents and the requirements that Spanish customs now expect from British applicants.  

EXPLAINED: How Britons can import belongings into Spain duty-free post-Brexit
Photos: Quintin Gellar/Pexels, Loic Venance/AFP

“The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union has led to an increase in requests for customs exemptions and VAT exemptions for importing goods and personal belongings from UK citizens who are transferring their residence to Spain,” La Agencia Tributaria, Spain’s version of Inland Revenue, sums up in a press release from March 2021. 

As a result, Spain’s tax agency has sought to clarify what the customs requirements are for British nationals importing goods to Spain from 2021 onwards, be it furniture, kitchen appliances or vehicles. 

These are the main requirements they have to meet if they don’t want to pay duty on the goods they bring in. 


The British applicant must have lived outside the EU (including the UK) and customs union for at least 12 consecutive months before relocating to Spain. 

These circumstances can be proven with “some” of the following documents according to Spain’s Tax Agency:

  • Property purchase/sale or mortgage documents (escritura de compraventa o de constitución de hipoteca) if it’s accompanied by another document which shows that the acquired property was the applicant’s main residence. 
  • Proof of fiscal address (justificante de domicilio fiscal)
  • The address that features on the person’s ID document 
  • Home insurance contracts in which it’s stated where the applicant’s main address is
  • Electricity, phone, water or other utility bills or similar documents that show it’s the person’s permanent address.
  • Proof on bank, insurance and other official documentation that feature the address that the applicant has marked as his or her usual place of residence. 

The UK national has to be in the process or intending to move to Spain. 

Britons going to Spain for study purposes are not included in the category and their move will not lead to an exemption from paying VAT on belongings they want to bring over. 

Britons who have already obtained residency and are living in Spain can get their belongings over from the UK duty free as well, but they are only exempt from customs and VAT charges if they have been living legally as a resident in Spain for no more than 12 months.

The following documents have to be provided as proof of the UK person’s intention to move to Spain. 

  • A document showing that you’ve given up residency in a country outside the customs union, in this case the UK. Spain’s tax agency doesn’t give the exact name of the document they expect from Britons but says that if the foreign country doesn’t expedite any documents for the residency “baja” (cancellation) other documents that show the change of address (fiscal, health, pension or similar documents) will work. 
  • Proof of application for TIE residency card or proof of the residency document itself. 

The type of goods being imported will also determine whether they are exempt from duty

We recently looked at which items are exempt from duty for Britons moving belongings to Spain, and which ones you need to pay duty for, keeping in mind the conditions and requirements mentioned in this article. 

According to the latest information published by Spain’s tax agency in March 2021, personal belongings should have been owned/used for at least six months before they can be taken to Spain duty-free.

In general terms, if they’re personal non-consumable non-commercial goods they’re duty free for new arrivals, but you can find out more about this in detail in the article below.

FIND  OUT: Which items are exempt from duty for Britons moving belongings to Spain?

An inventory 

Spain’s Agencia Tributaria will expect you to present a detailed list of the goods you intend to import from the UK into Spain, with an estimate of their value and the approximate date they were purchased on.

There are some extra requirements Spanish customs may or may not require from Britons. 

These include that imported goods must be used in the new place of residence in Spain, that they haven’t been loaned/lent/rented and that the goods were purchased under the normal tax regime of the country. 

If you want to check more information in Spanish, you should read articles 3 and 11 of Spain’s Reglamento (CE) 1186/2009 del Consejo on tax exemptions (franquicias aduaneras).

What’s the process to apply for a duty exemption on imported goods to Spain?

In her latest correspondence towards UK nationals wanting to move belongings to Spain, the vice-president of Spanish Customs Nerea Rodríguez Entremonzaga doesn’t specify whether the process is best done in person at the customs office or online. 

What is clear is that to request a duty and VAT exemption on Spain’s tax agency website, you will most likely need either a digital certificate or a NIE number to be able to register.

This page on Franquicias arancelarias y exenciones IVA (Duty free and VAT exemptions) allows Britons to present their application as a result of change of residency to Spain. You can access this via the section titled “Presentar solicitud (traslado de residencia, estudiantes, herencias…)”

According to Spain’s Agencia Tributaria, the sections that are relevant to British people’s applications are:

  • Box (casilla) 33 (Commodity Code): 9905000000 Personal property belonging to people changing residence
  • Box 37.1 (Customs Regime): 40.00 Release for consumption and free circulation
  • Box 37.2 (Additional code): 101 VAT exemption
  • Box 37.2 (Additional code): C01 Duty for transfer of residence
  • Box 37.2 (Additional code): 9CR Franchise application for change of residence with a commitment to settle in the customs territory (TAU) in six months. This code will be used exclusively when the free circulation of personal property is made prior to the transfer of residence.

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Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

The Spanish government has confirmed that it will not extend its reciprocal healthcare agreements with Gibraltar, meaning that from July 1st 2022, it will come to an end.

Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

When the UK left the EU on December 31st 2020, both sides agreed that the UK’s EHIC European healthcare cards could still be used until their expiry dates.

This card provided British travellers with free state-provided medical care in the EU in case of emergencies.

Beyond their five year period of validity, EHIC cards are no longer valid and travellers have to apply for the new Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. 

Spain made a separate agreement with Gibraltar under its Royal Brexit Decree in which unilateral arrangements would be maintained in the territory and extended until June 30th 2022.

During the meeting of the Spanish Council of Ministers on Tuesday, the Spanish Government decided not to extend the agreement further, meaning that residents of Gibraltar will no longer be able to benefit from it.

In a statement the government of Gibraltar said: “It would have been HMGoG’s preference for these arrangements, which deeply affect citizens on either side of the border on matters as essential as healthcare, to have been maintained. Indeed, HMGoG was prepared to continue with them”.

“However, because reciprocity is a key element to these arrangements which cannot work without coordination and provisions for reimbursement of costs etc., HMGoG is left with no option but to discontinue them also in so far as treatment in Gibraltar is concerned,” it continued. 

What does this mean?

Gibraltar residents insured under Gibraltar’s Group Practice Medical Scheme will, after 30th June 2022, no longer be able to access free emergency healthcare in Spain during a temporary stay in the country. 

Those who are residents in Spain who travel over to Gibraltar will not have access to free healthcare on The Rock either. 

As a consequence, if a resident of Gibraltar falls ill or has an accident while over the border in Spain or the same for a Spanish resident in Gibraltar, they will have to pay for healthcare.

The government of Gibraltar is encouraging its citizens from July 1st 2022 to have appropriate travel insurance with medical cover each time they visit Spain.

This means that even those who are hopping over the border for few hours such as for a shopping trip or going out for dinner will have to make sure that they have adequate health insurance. 

“Where medical attention is required the costs incurred may be considerable, so you should ensure you have adequate insurance cover or alternatively the means to pay,” the Gibraltar government said in their statement.