1. Attain a NIE number
A NIE number is a tax identification number for foreigners which identifies you before the Spanish Tax Office and allows you to file and pay taxes in Spain. For more details on how to get a NIE number, see our guide explaining all about the NIE Number.
2. Join the Registry for citizens of the Union
If you are going to spend over 3 consecutive months in Spain, it is mandatory you enrol. You must attain a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión. This is the equivalent to the former residencia card. Attaining Spanish residency ensures your EU rights and entitlements will be respected post-Brexit. If you do not register, and continue living in Spain, you will be stripped of a series of rights to which you would otherwise have been entitled. You may also be regarded as an illegal alien in EU territory by the Authorities, which may even lead to deportation to your country of origin. Take heed, this is the most important advice we can give you by a long shot.
3. Enrol in your town hall census
In Spanish, this is known as empadronarse. By law, if you spend more than 183 days in a calendar year in Spain you must register in your local town hall.
4. Swap your UK driving licence for a Spanish one
If you are a Spanish resident, you must change your UK driving licence for a Spanish one. You only have 2 years to do this without a penalty.
5. Submit your resident tax returns
- IRPF: Spanish residents are taxed on their worldwide income and assets. You will be required to file an income tax return once a year. If you work in Spain, lease property or derive any income in Spain (or abroad) you need to submit IRPF.
- Wealth tax (Patrimonio): This tax is only paid by affluent taxpayers; most people do not have to pay it. As a Spanish resident you have a personal tax allowance of 700,000 euro per partner. So, a couple would have a combined tax allowance of 1,400,000 euro. In addition, residents have a further allowance of 300,000 euro on their main home, per taxpayer. So, for a married resident couple, the combined tax-free allowance would be 2,000,000 euro. If your net wealth exceeds this amount, then you must file Patrimonio once a year.
- Modelo 720: All residents in Spain with assets over 50,000 euro abroad, must report it by filing the Form 720 tax form. There is no tax to be paid on completing this tax return. Its sole purpose is to act as means of control on assets held abroad by Spanish residents and nationals.
6. Apply for an EU Social Security card
It is strongly advised that you apply for one to have unfettered access to Spanish healthcare.
7. Apply for permanent residency
If you are able to demonstrate a continued legal residence in Spain for a period of 5 years, you may now apply for permanent residency, which grants you unconditional residency.
8. Apply for Spanish nationality (optional)
After 10 years of continued and legal residency in Spain, you may opt for a Spanish nationality.
Unlike in the United Kingdom, where we can hold dual nationality with other countries, Spain is very restrictive. It only allows you to hold dual nationality with a limited number of countries with which it has strong historic ties (mostly Ibero-American, the Philippines, Portugal, Andorra and Equatorial Guinea). This means that if you decide to take up Spanish citizenship you will be forced to relinquish your nationality of origin by the Authorities. Becoming a Spanish national is by no means necessary and is purely optional.