Spanish legal advice in plain English

Deal or no deal - Brexit update

Please note that there is more up-to-date information in relation to Brexit. You may find our video on the effect of Brexit for UK nationals throughout the transition period and beyond helpful. We also have a more recent article on living, working and owning property in Spain.

In 2016, immediately following the referendum of 23 June, we considered the possible effects of Brexit on British property owners in Spain, Brits intending to move to Spain, and those thinking about buying property in Spain after Brexit.

We intended, as the negotiations progressed, to write regular updates as the terms for the United Kingdom leaving the European Union were agreed.  Since 23 June 2016 we have been watching and waiting. It has been extremely difficult to put anything in writing when the position has remained undefined.  We are now in April 2019 and it seems that the Brexit position is no clearer.

The fact that a Brexit deal that can pass through Parliament has not yet been reached does not, however, mean that the position is entirely uncertain.  In some ways Brexit will not have any discernible effect on day to day life for individual Brits in Spain. In some respects Brexit will have a minor impact and in other areas we will see significant change to the status quo.  

The Spanish government, aware that there are significant numbers of Brits travelling to, investing in and residing in Spain, has put initiatives in place so that the position in the event of a no deal Brexit is clear.  

How will Brexit affect the ability of Brits to move to Spain?  

The Spanish government has approved a series of contingency measures to preserve the interests of the British citizens who exercised their right to free movement to reside in Spain prior to the withdrawal date, in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The measures state that if you wish to stay in Spain for more than three months you must register as a Spanish resident.

After Brexit, UK nationals officially registered as a resident in Spain before the date of the no-deal withdrawal will need to change their green registration document for a new non EU country ID or Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros to guarantee their right to reside and work in Spain. The Spanish government states that the procedure for granting this new status will be “practically automatic” for British citizens who are legally resident in Spain.

Applications from people arriving after 12 April 2019 will be processed in the same way as those for all non EU nationals, with corresponding requirements, which are considerably more demanding than those for EU citizens, especially for non-working people.

Furthermore, in the event of a no deal Brexit, after 12 April, British citizens who are not registered as residents will, like all other non EU nationals, only be permitted to spend 90 days in Spain during any one six-month period.  Exit and entry will be controlled at ports and airports to enforce this.

For more information on the types of visas available to non EU nationals and the process of obtaining these visas, you may find our video guide to the possible effect of Brexit upon the ability of Brits to holiday, live and work in Spain to be of use.  You can also read our article living in Spain after Brexit.

How will Brexit affect the ability of Brits to buy property in Spain?

Your right to purchase property in Spain is not affected by Brexit and the manner of the UK’s departure from the European Union has no bearing upon this right. Buying property in Spain after Brexit is not affected. 

Brexit may ultimately have an impact on the Spanish property market, and almost certainly upon currency and how much your money is worth, so there will be extra costs to you in real terms.

The only likely change in terms of property ownership will be the amount of tax you pay on rental income from Spanish property. The rental income tax rate for Spanish citizens and residents of EU countries is 19 per cent. After Brexit, it is likely you will have to pay the same tax rate as non-EU citizens (currently 24 per cent).

In summary, you will still be able to buy property in Spain after Brexit. How much it costs you, in view of the impact of Brexit on the Spanish property market and currency fluctuations, is as yet unknown. Taxes and restrictions on travel will also undoubtedly be affected. On the plus side, the fundamentals of buying and owning a property in Spain will remain the same, so if it is your dream to own property in Spain, it will still be achievable regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

For more information on buying property in Spain, please take a look at our Buying Property in Spain pages.  For more detailed information on Brexit and tax in Spain please read our article on the tax position in Spain for EU residents and non-EU residents.

Find out more about selling property in Spain tax implications.

How will Brexit affect life for Brits already in Spain?  

Brits who are already living and working in Spain are, to a certain extent, protected.  Certainly, as addressed above, your right to buy and own property will not be affected by Brexit, whether there is a deal or not.  

If you are employed in Spain (por cuenta ajena) or self-employed in Spain (por cuenta propia), you will be able to continue working. If you are working in Spain and have carried on a profession using UK qualifications before 12 April, you will be able to continue to do so.

UK nationals who permanently work and live in Spain will have the automatic right to healthcare for all workers registered in the Spanish social security system. Health cards issued before the UK withdrawal date will continue in force and be fully valid for healthcare in Spain. Furthermore, family members (worker's spouse or life partner, and descendents of 26 years of age or under, or of any age who are disabled, provided that they are dependent on and live with the worker) of a UK national who is working legally in Spain have the right to healthcare, provided that they are authorised to be resident and actually reside in Spain.

The UK government will continue to pay the UK state pension to eligible UK nationals after the UK leaves the EU.  

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal and you work and pay social security contributions in Spain, you will still be able to add your UK social security contributions towards your Spanish pension.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Spanish government has proposed that it will take into account periods of work in the UK before the UK leaves the EU when calculating your Spanish pension.

If you are concerned about your ability to live and work in Spain after Brexit and you are not already resident in Spain please watch our video guide to moving to Spain after Brexit for detailed information on some of the visas you may need to apply for.  

What next?

What happens next in political terms is not clear.  From a practical perspective it is clear that those who have already obtained Spanish residency before 12 April 2019 will be much more certain as to their position.  

If you are considering buying a property in Spain or moving to Spain and you are concerned about the potential effects of Brexit upon your ability to do this please contact us to discuss your plans. 

You can contact us by email at or by telephone on 020 3478 1420.  You can also reach us by completing our contact form

Please note that there is more up-to-date information in relation to Brexit. You may find our video on the effect of Brexit for UK nationals throughout the transition period and beyond helpful. We also have a more recent article on living, working and owning property in Spain.

Last updated: 27 August 2021


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