For members


Moving to Spain after Brexit: Everything Brits need to consider before deciding

Moving to Spain since Brexit came into force has become considerably harder for UK nationals, with everything from visas, to healthcare, taxes and other matters to weigh up before deciding whether it’s worth it. Here are 24 detailed articles that will help you decide.

Moving to Spain after Brexit: Everything Brits need to consider before deciding
Cibeles fountain in Madrid. Photo: Jorge Fernández Salas/Unsplash

Is it possible to move or retire to Spain after Brexit?

Yes, but it’s become increasingly complicated and it’s not possible to do it on a whim anymore. 

Since the beginning of 2021, Britons who have wanted to move to Spain have had to factor in that, as they are non-EU nationals now, they have to abide by more stringent rules, just like Americans, Indians, Australians and other third country nationals. 

As a result of Brexit, UK nationals no longer have the freedom of movement, access to jobs, guaranteed healthcare and other perks of the EU framework that give Europeans flexibility and ease when moving to another EU country. 

What paperwork and requirements do Brits need to move to Spain after Brexit?

Before Brexit, UK nationals could move to Spain without hassle, even if they had few savings, no job waiting for them and if they hadn’t set up their healthcare yet.

Now they have to get a visa at the Spanish Embassy in London if they intend to spend more than 90 out of 180 days in Spain. 

Visas such as the non-lucrative visa and the golden visa (€500K property purchase) are good options for those with considerable financial means to cover their life costs, private healthcare and possibly a property. 

Spain also has a work visa and a business visa for those who intend to work for a company or become self employed, but Britons need to be aware that these also have tough criteria, such as there being no EU candidate for the job or a comprehensive business plan and job creation.

A student visa is also available for UK nationals who want to enrol at a Spanish university or educational institution.

The following articles will help you to decide which visa is best for you.

Do Brits moving to Spain after Brexit need to get a Spanish residency card?

Yes. Whichever visa Brits obtain will entitle them to enter Spain and effectively make them residents, but they must still apply for Spain’s Foreign Residency Card for non-EU nationals, the TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) within the first month they’re in the country. 

Britons who were living in Spain before Brexit are now also being encouraged to get this biometric card even if they have the old green residency documents. 

You can find out more about the TIE card here and how to apply in the links below.

What do Brits need to know about healthcare if they move to Spain after Brexit?

UK nationals moving to Spain for the first time in 2021 and onwards have to have total healthcare coverage in Spain, with no co-payments or shortages. This can be through public or private healthcare, depending on your situation. 

The following articles should help you decide on the best option for you.

Roda de Berà in Catalonia. Photo: Alberto Frías/Unsplash

What other important matters should Brits moving to Spain after Brexit consider?

UK nationals need to know that when they take up residency in Spain, they are also becoming fiscal residents in Spain and ceasing to be a resident of the UK. 

There are other matters to consider from the lack of dual nationality available to them, the reasons for losing Spanish residency and other questions which we’ve covered in the articles below.

If Britons move to Spain after Brexit, can they drive with a UK licence?

Yes, but as things stand only for a period of six months, just like other non-EU nationals in Spain. 

The UK and Spain are having ongoing discussions about whether they’ll allow the exchange of all British licences for Spanish ones after Brexit, talks that have gone on for over a year and with the latest extension to UK licence validity in Spain set to end on February 28th 2022.

As things stand Britons who didn’t register their intent to exchange their UK licences will have to sit their driving test again in Spain, unless a deal is finally reached.  The following links cover what you need to know in more detail. 

What do Brits moving their belongings to Spain after Brexit need to know?

Brexit has ushered in a host of extra rules and restrictions on imports to Spain from the UK, but Britons moving to Spain in 2021 can bring belongings into Spain duty free. Here’s what they need to know about this and the different paperwork and processes.

Is it worth it for Brits to move to Spain after Brexit?

That really depends on your personal assessment of the pros and cons that are covered in the articles we’ve linked to, and in many cases whether you can meet the visa requirements.

Spain consistently ranks amongst the highest for quality of life in expat surveys, with fantastic weather, food, people, history, nature and more. It’s also an integral part of the EU, to which you’ll have easier access as a Spanish resident. 

Ultimately it’s up to you and your circumstances, but our recommendation is that a move to Spain after Brexit is certainly still very much worth it.

Member comments

  1. We have had our property in Spain now for 15 years and until COVID we would fist 5/6 times a year .
    We have not been able to visit our Casa for two years now again due to COVID .We pay all the Taxes etc due to owning our property what are our chances of getting full residency.
    My husband is 68 and I am 64.
    Can anyone advise Please .

  2. Dreana

    If you don’t qualify for the non-lucrative visa then I don’t think you’ll be able to get full residency now (assuming you’re both retired and not looking to work). Such a shame that you weren’t able to start the residency process before the end of last year as things were totally different then.

    You may have to settle for the 90 days in 180 rule, but it’s expensive running two homes.

    Hope it all works out for you.
    Best wishes.

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For members


Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

If you're travelling between Spain and the UK this summer and want to take some of your favourite treats with you, here's what you should know about the food and drink rules post-Brexit so you don't get caught out by customs.

Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

Flying to the UK from Spain

For those flying to the UK from Spain, the rules are relatively lax.

Note, if you’re spending the summer in Northern Ireland there are different rules on food and animal products. Find them here. 

You can bring the following products from Spain into the UK without worrying about any restrictions:

  • bread, but not sandwiches filled with meat or dairy products
  • cakes without fresh cream
  • biscuits
  • chocolate and confectionery, but not those made with unprocessed dairy ingredients
  • pasta and noodles, but not if mixed or filled with meat or meat products
  • packaged soup, stocks and flavourings
  • processed and packaged plant products, such as packaged salads and frozen plant material
  • food supplements containing small amounts of an animal product, such as fish oil capsules

Meat, dairy, fish and animal products

If, like many of us, you have friends and family already putting in their orders for stocks of jamón serrano, know that the rules on bringing meat, dairy, fish and other animal products into the UK are relatively relaxed. You can bring in meat, fish, dairy and other animal products as long as they’re from the EU, so your jamón and Manchego cheese are safe. 

what food can and cannot bring between spain and the uk

You will still be able to bring cured Spanish ham from Spain to the UK. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

Alcohol allowance

For many, the big one, but there are some limits on how much booze you can bring in from Spain and the EU more generally. How much you can bring depends on the type of alcohol, so get up to speed on the limits and make sure your favourite Rioja and Cava aren’t taken off you or heavily taxed:


  • beer – 42 litres
  • still wine – 18 litres
  • spirits and other liquors over 22 percent alcohol – 4 litres
  • sparkling wine, fortified wine (port, sherry etc) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent alcohol (not including beer or still wine) – 9 litres

It’s worth knowing that you can split your allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

Flying into Spain from the UK

While British borders are laid back when it comes to travelling with food and drink, the rules are much tougher when entering the EU from the UK.

Most importantly, tea bags – longed for by Brits the world over – are allowed. Marmite, which is vegan, is also fine to bring but Bovril, which contains beef stock, is not.

Travellers arriving in the EU from Britain can, according to the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC), bring the following quantities of alcohol, so if you fancy a British tipple in Spain over the summer such as Pimm’s it is possible, within reason: 4 litres of still wine and 16 litres of beer, 1 litre of spirits, or 2 litres of sparkling or fortified wine.

If you arrive in the EU from a non-EU country, you cannot bring any meat or dairy products with you. That means no Wensleydale, no Cornish Brie in your ploughman’s lunch and no British bacon to enjoy in Spain for English breakfast fry-ups.

Ploughman's lunch

British cheese for your Ploughman’s lunch is not allowed. Photo: Glammmur / WikiCommons

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products technically come under these rules, so even your custard powder to make rhubarb fool or bars of your favourite chocolate are now banned, because of the milk.

Be aware, however Spanish customs do not always check your suitcase, so you may be able to get away with bringing in a small packaged item such as a chocolate bar, without it being confiscated. 

Similarly, if you’re planning on asking a friend or family member to bring you over some sweets, cakes, or other home comforts, be aware that the ban includes all products that contain any meat or dairy as an ingredient – which includes items like chocolate, fudge, and some sweets (because of the gelatine.)

You are allowed to bring a small quantity of fruit and vegetables as well as eggs, some egg products, and honey. Restricted quantities of fish or fish products are also allowed: eviscerated fresh fish products (gutted, with all the organs removed), and processed fishery products are allowed up to 20 kg or 1 fish, so you can enjoy some Scottish smoked salmon in Spain over the summer if you want.

If you’re travelling with kids, note that powdered infant milk, infant food and specifically required medical foods are allowed up to 2kg, as is the case for pet foods. 

Clotted cream for cream teas won’t be allowed to be brought into Spain. Photo: Tuxraider reloaded / WikiCommons

This means that even the classic British summertime favourites such as sausage rolls, scotch eggs, packaged trifle and clotted cream for your cream tea will not be allowed because of the meat and dairy they contain.

It is worth noting that these strict EU rules also apply to sending products by post, so if you were hoping to get around the newly applicable legislation by having someone send you a delivery some Devon fudge, they will probably be intercepted and confiscated by Spain’s postal service, unfortunately. 

READ ALSO: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?