For members


What changes for me in Spain if I get an Irish passport?

What happens if you're a non-EU national who has successfully applied for Irish nationality? What changes for you in Spain and do you need to tell the Spanish authorities about your new passport?

Irish passport and Spanish residency
What changes for you in Spain if you get an Irish passport? Photo: Esme Fox

According to the British authorities, some 420,000 people applied for Irish nationality since the Brexit vote and around 25,000 of these were British nationals living in Spain in just 2018. 

Ireland’s generous approach to citizenship through ancestry means that it’s relatively easy for non-EU nationals such as Brits, Americans or Australians, who have Irish family connections, to get nationality.

But what changes if you want to move to Spain with your new nationality or if you’re already here?

Moving to Spain

If you want to move to Spain and you have recently gained Irish nationality you can do so just like the British did before Brexit, without any need to apply for a visa. You have the same freedom of movement rights as the rest of the EU citizens. 

Within the first three months of living in Spain however, you must apply for your green residency card and NIE number. To do this, you will need to show a reason for wanting to get your card, such as a job offer, buying a house or a car or proving that you have enough savings to support yourself, as well as private health insurance.

If you have a spouse or registered partner who is a non-EU citizen, then they are entitled to apply for a residence card of a family member of a European Union citizen or tarjeta de residencia de familiar comunitario.

READ ALSO – Q&A: Can EU nationals bring non-EU family members over to Spain?

If you just want to visit Spain with your new Irish nationality then you can do so with no need to limit your stays to 90 days in every 180 – as non-EU citizens must. There is no need for a visa for travel either. 

If you wish to work in Spain as an Irish citizen, you can simply move here and start looking for jobs, there’s no need to apply for a work permit. However, you will still need to apply for your green residency card as mentioned above. 

If you get a job in Spain or you become self-employed, you will start paying into the Spanish social security system. Among other benefits, this will entitle you to Spain’s public healthcare system. All you need to do to be able to access is to apply for your public health card and register with your local clinic. Here’s how you apply for your card in each region in Spain. 

If you’re an Irish citizen who lives to Spain for more than 183 you are considered a tax resident and must file an annual tax declaration (Declaración de la Renta), even if you do not have any income in Spain. This rule is the same for EU and non-EU nationals. 


As an EU national you are entitled to vote in local and European elections, but not in general or national elections. Find out about your voting rights here

What if you already live in Spain?

If you already live in Spain and then gain your Irish citizenship, you will still be registered under your first and original nationality.

Therefore, if you change nationalities or gain an extra one, you should inform the authorities. This will make your situation in Spain easier and give you several benefits, as you can see above. It could also mean extra advantages for your spouse and kids through the residence card of a family member of a European Union citizen.

If you are British and you previously had your green residency card, which states your nationality on it, you will need to exchange it for a new one stating your Irish nationality on it instead.

If for example you are British and have now become an EU citizen again because of your Irish nationality, you should be able to exchange your old green residency card at your local national police station for a new one stating your new nationality. If you were already a non-EU citizen, such as an American, you should be able to exchange your TIE for an EU green residency certificate instead. 

Your NIE number on the card is for life, so should stay exactly the same, even if you’ve changed your nationality, so you shouldn’t need to go around changing this with all the companies you’ve given it to.

However, you will need to get a new padrón certificate from your local town hall or ayuntamiento, as this also states your nationality.

Any other official documents involved with residency in Spain that mention your non-EU citizenship will also need to be changed by informing each individual authority.

One of the main ones, if you drive, will be the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT), if you haven’t already exchanged your licence for a Spanish one. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way of informing them all at once.

Each body is likely to want proof of your new citizenship before they make changes on their systems, so there’s likely to be lots of paperwork, plus countless photocopies of your new Irish passport.

If you are working you should also inform your company’s HR department of the change, so that you are not incorrectly asked for proof of residency at any time in the future.


It may sound obvious, but if you want to benefit from European freedom of movement, you need to make sure you are using your Irish passport at the border to travel onwards.

You will also want to ensure you are using your Irish passport every time you leave and re-enter Spain, so that the authorities are not counting the days on your British or other non-EU passport instead.

Remember though, when you go back to your home country, you’re going to want to show your original passport upon arrival. If you’re from the US for example, you can leave Spain on your Irish passport and re-enter the US on your American one. If you’re from the UK it’s not necessary to enter the UK on your British passport, you can simply enter on your Irish one, however, it’s completely up to you. 

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For members


How do I get my boat licence in Spain?

Have you ever dreamed of getting your boat licence in Spain and exploring its spectacular coastlines from the water? Here’s how to go about it, from what type of licence you need to how much it will cost you.

How do I get my boat licence in Spain?

Living in Spain you may have chosen like many foreigners do, to live near the coast in order to make the most of the great weather and the Mediterranean Sea.

You may be content exploring the coastline by swimming, stand-up paddleboard or kayak, but you may also want to explore further and get your boat licence.

Even if you don’t buy your own boat in Spain, you will still need a licence to be able to rent and drive certain boats while you’re on holiday.

How does getting your boat licence in Spain work and what type of boats do you need it for?

If you have a boat that is longer than 5 meters and is more powerful than 10 KW, it is mandatory to have a boat licence in Spain. It won’t be necessary for very small boats, peddle boats, kayaks or canoes.

There are several different types of boat licences in Spain, so in order to know which you’ll need, you’ll first need to know what type of boat you want it for.

The process is somewhat similar to getting a driving licence for a car, you will need to first take a course or some lessons, followed by an exam before you are awarded your boat licence. You can do this at many different sailing schools, located in marinas across the country.

You can visit the site to find your nearest sailing school, where you can take lessons, as well as the necessary exams.

READ ALSO – Brexit: UK nautical qualifications to be recognised in Spain by the summer

Different types of boat licences in Spain

Licencia de Navegación

The simplest type of licence in Spain is the Licencia de Navegación, which allows you to be able to drive small boats of up to six metres in length. You will only be able to sail in the daytime and can only go up to two miles from the coast or port.

In order to get this licence, you will have to take at least a two-hour lesson, where you will learn how to access channels through marked and unmarked beaches, regulations regarding maritime traffic and inland navigation in ports. This will be followed by a four-hour practical exam out on the water, showing the examiner how you can safely navigate and follow all the rules.  

The lesson will cost around €130, while the practical exam to obtain your licence will cost around €80.

Título de Patrón para la Navegación Básica (PNB)

The Basic Navigation Licence will allow you to drive jet skis, motor boats up to 7.5 metres in length and sailing boats up to 8 metres in length. With this licence you are allowed to go a maximum of 5 miles from the coast at any time, including at night-time. In order to get this permit, you will need to take a course, as well as a practical exam, like above. This generally costs between €250 and €350.

El Título de Patrón para las Embarcaciones de Recreo (PER)
The Recreational Boat Skipper licence is one of the most popular as it allows you to drive sailing and motor boats up to 12 metres in length. Your permit allows you to go up to 12 miles away from the coast and sail between the islands of the Canary and Balearic archipelagos too. The cost of this ranges between €500 and €700.

To get this licence, you will have to pass a multiple choice exam, undergo a 16-hour basic safety and navigation practical course and a theoretical radio operator course which will take around 12 hours.

Patrón de Yate

In order to get your Yacht Skipper licence, you will first have to have the Recreational Boat Skipper licence above. This permit allows you to operate sail and motor boats of up to 20 metres in length and up to 60 miles from the coast.

As well as already having a licence, to upgrade it to this one, you will need to do a theoretical exam, as well as 48-hour practical cruise test. This usually costs between €600 and €700.

Remember that as well as having your licence, you will need to take out adequate insurance to be able to drive a boat here.