How to move to Spain from UK

How to move to spain from uk
How to move to Spain From Uk

Making your decision

Your reasons for making such a move should be valid and not because of a wonderful holiday that you would like to live again indefinitely.

Warm weather:  Remember this is all well and good but if you have to work on a daily basis it’s not a valid reason for disrupting your present circumstances.

Efficiency and immediate service:  If this is part and parcel of your everyday and is something that you cannot do without, then think again about a permanent move to Spain.  Spain enjoys a much slower pace than most Western European countries and it takes a little longer for things to actually get done, which can become stressful for those who like things to happen immediately.

If you are happy that these are not the reasons for your move and that you are not looking to live a ‘never-ending’ holiday then you need to clear up your affairs in the UK and get ready for your move.

Before you go checklist

  • Notify the authorities, banks, tax and social security offices (pensions) , of your intention to relocate to Spain and provide them with your change of address.
  • Check on schooling arrangements for your children. Schooling in Spain
  • If you have purchased a property in Spain check that all the paperwork is in order. Buying a Property in Spain 
  • If you have already taken a lease on a property – check that everything is in order.  It is recommended that you rent a property at first rather than buying a property for the first year.  This way you have a better idea of which neighbourhood you would want to live in Spain, and it gives you enough time to purchase your ideal home.  Renting  a Property in Spain
  • Unless you are really financially well off, you will have to make decisions regarding possessions. What to take, what to leave, what to give away, sell etc.
  • Contact with 3 different international removal companies (moving companies), and get quotes.
  • If the removal company is to pack your possessions as well as transport them then all you need is to make sure that you get your possession lined up and ready for packing and correct labelling. e.  kitchen, bedroom etc.
  • Arrange the date for removal with your chosen removal company.
  • Make arrangements for pet travel if applicable. How To  Bring Your Pet To Spain
  • Make sure that phone and internet services are given sufficient notice for disconnection.
  • Make sure you have nothing out on loan such as library books and return them.
  • Check that you have collected everything from the dry-cleaners.
  • Check passports, travel tickets and car documents
  • Check your insurance: travel insurance, Green card for your car.  Green Card
  • Make sure you have cash and that your credit and debit cards are not coming up for renewal.

Your personal affairs

No moving to Spain does not mean you can leave it all behind!  Once in Spain you will still have to deal with:

  • Pensions
  • Tax
  • Investments
  • Healthcare


If you are retiring to Spain and intend living there as a permanent resident, you can still continue to receive your UK pension but there are forms that will have to be submitted.  So, you need to contact the nearest Social Security Office to ensure you have the correct forms to complete.

  1. Pension forecast: Up to 4 months prior to your retirement or UK pensionable age, you can apply for a BR19 form which you can get from the Retirement Pension Forecasting and Advice Unit (RPFA) or Future Pension Centre. Your forecast will tell you, according to your general entitlement at the date they receive your application and whether or not your pension will have increased by the time of your actual retirement.

Note:  If you are already in Spain and are paying local Spanish social security subscriptions then these will not be calculated in to the UK forecast.

  1. Pension’s office notification: You need to contact the UK International Pension Centre and inform them of your new address.
  2. State pensionable age and entitlements: These vary between the two countries.
  3. Receiving your UK pension in Spain: To ensure that you receive your pension once you are in Spain you need to complete a claim form – this has to be done within the 4 months prior to reaching pensionable age, or 4 months before your retirement date.
  4. Company Pensions: Some companies will only pay UK past employees through a UK bank, or may charge a levy for forwarding payment to foreign banks.  There are companies however, who do not levy charges.
  5. Transfer of Pension fund: If you have not yet retired you could look into the possibilities and advantages of transferring your pension fund to Spain.  It’s a good idea to seek specialist advice from a pension’s expert.  If this is found to be feasible then you will have to apply for approval from UK Inland Revenue.


UK:  You will not be liable for UK tax if you cut all ties with the UK and become domiciled in Spain.  If you have retained resident status in the UK your income will be subject to UK tax. The Inland Revenue’s IR20 will provide you with comprehensive information.

Spain:  Spain has a ‘wealth tax’ which will be levied on your world-wide assets, but this will only apply if you become a Spanish citizen as Spain and the UK have a double taxation treaty.

Property retained in the UK: If you have property in the UK which you have rented and have a tenant you will have to pay income tax on the income.

Your move to Spain

Clearly, if you have got this far you know where you plan to settle in Spain and have organised somewhere to live, work etc.  So now you will have to decide on how to get there.


Take with you:

  • Driving licence
  • Car insurance & Travel insurance papers
  • Birth/Marriage certificates
  • Passports
  • Bank books/cheques/credit cards
  • Medical form E111

Make several photocopies of each document. Keep these separate from the originals – They will be your back-up should anything go missing.

Another good idea before you go is to get passport renewal forms before you leave, these are generally available at the post office.  These are not available in Spain so it will save a lot of frustration if you have the forms in case of loss or if a passport is stolen.

Getting there

A Ferry crossing:  Most ferries will not sell you a one-way ticket, but you may find that the cost of a return ticket would be cheaper anyway.

  • Ferry/Tunnel to Calais: Before you decide on bypassing the ferry option and using the tunnel consider the costs from Calais in road tolls and petrol to get to Spain.
  • Ferry to Santander or Bilbao: These run from Portsmouth and Brittany Ferries are the carriers.

On arrival in Spain

Even though as an EU British citizen or holder of an EU passport you are not required to have an entry visa, on your arrival the very first thing you MUST do is apply for an NIE number.  This number is your tax number and you will need it to access utilities, open a bank account or make purchases.  How To Get a NIE Number

Help with bureaucracy:  If you feel you really won’t have the time to see to this yourself you can get a Gestor to apply for you.  A Gestor is a Spanish accountant who will deal with administrative bureaucracy for you for a fee.  Many people use them as they save time, frustration and time.  Usually your first appointment is free so that they can find out what you require – the fees can be as high, or higher than €100, but many wish they had taken this option. Your nearest Spanish consulate or embassy should have a list of reliable Gestors.

Doing it yourself: Once you have arrived go to the nearest police-station and request an NIE application form.  There is no cost and you can complete the form in English.  You can also download a form from the citizens advice website and click on ‘Library’ then click on ‘Residency Section – click on the icon for an EX-15

Filling out your application form:  helpful tips

DATOS PERSONALES = Personal Details

  1. 1 er Apellido = Surname
  2. 2o Apellido = Second Surname – put a dash or if completed on a computer – three chiffons (—)
  3. Nombre: First Name (exactly as given in your passport)
  4. Fecha de nacimiento: Date of Birth (two digits as in DD  MM)
  5. Lugar de nacimiento: Place of Birth
  6. Sexo: Gender – remember this is Spanish so: ‘H’= male (Hombre) and ‘M’ = Female (Mujer) – put an ‘X’ on the gender applicable.
  7. Estado Civil: Status i.e. single, married, divorced.  Again be careful:

S = single,  C = married, V = widow/er, D = divorced

  1. País de nacimiento: Country of Birth
  2. País de nacionalidad: Current nationality
  3. Nombre del padre: Father’s name
  4. Nombre de la madre: Mother’s name
  5. Domicilio en España: Address in Spain,
  6. Localidad: Town,   CP = Postal code,  Provincia = Province


If you are in Spain because of employment fill in the sections under ‘Professional’

‘Social’ if you are purchasing a property.


Sign the form bottom right under ‘firma de solicitante’

The completed form:  Once you have completed the form make 2 photocopies, one for your records and one to go with the original.

Application Documents:

  • Application form + 1 photocopy (black and white)
  • Passport + 1 photocopy

Your TIE (a card with your NIE number) will be issued in approximately 4 weeks after your application.  You will not be notified when it is ready, you have to check with the police station at the appropriate time.


Social Security

If you are to work in Spain you need a Social Security number.  Your employer usually deducts your contributions from your pay cheque/salary

If you are self-employed you have to pay into the Social Security.


  • You are entitled to social security benefit on a pro-rata basis (calculated on the amount paid up)
  • You are entitled to national medical care: you sign on with your local practitioner.
  • You only pay into Social Security if you are earning money in Spain This does not apply to receiving pensions from the UK (any pension from the UK).


Spanish Residence

EU citizens are not obliged to apply for a residencia, but don’t discount it, as there are tax advantages once you are officially a Spanish resident.

Unlike your NIE application this can only be done once you have lived in Spain for a period of 6 months.  Of course you can do so before if you prefer.

EU citizens are no longer required to provide proof of income or medical insurance when they apply for Spanish residence.

You will need to go to the nearest National Police Station and their foreigner’s office –  oficina de extranjeros – and request the application form or you can download the form from the citizen advice bureau website:  (See: ‘Doing it yourself’ – above)

  • Completed application form
  • Four passport photos
  • Passport plus photocopy

Note:  As the requirements do change from time to time, it is a good idea to check that these are the only documents required.

You will be given a document stating that your application is being processed, but the actual document could take up to 6 months to arrive.

Once you have applied and have the temporary document it is advisable to make a photocopy which you should keep with you at all times.  This will avoid any possible problems with the authorities in situations which may arise.

Read more: ‘Spain’s NIE number : All you need to know’ »

Read more: ‘Driving in Spain : All you need to know’ »

Read more: ‘How to get Spanish Citizenship’ »

Read more: ‘Renting a property in Spain’ »

Read more: ‘How to find a job in Spain’ »

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