Retiring in Spain: what you need to know

Spain remains the destination of choice for most expats seeking a sun-filled retirement in Europe. It’s officially home to more than 370,000 UK residents, for example, many of whom are retired – although this figure is, in reality, much, much higher as many don’t register themselves as they should. Spain’s enduring popularity as a retirement destination comes from its warm climate, charming villages, sun-kissed beaches, bustling cities, as well as its lower cost of living and higher standard of living compared to many countries, plus the fact that it has great infrastructure, services, and a welcoming vibe that embraces intergenerational and family-orientated get-togethers.

Retiring in Spain post-Brexit

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has prompted some major changes for Brits seeking to retire in Spain. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Visas. Due to the post-Brexit rule changes, you must now apply for a residency visa to be retired in Spain. Part of the process is showing proof that you have income to cover your living expenses through pensions or investments.
    The minimum monthly income is at least €2,259 and for each additional member of the family living with you, you’ll need to provide evidence of an extra €600 a month income.
    You may also have to provide the authorities with paperwork to show that you have extensive medical insurance.
  • Residency. When you arrive in Spain, you must apply for an official residence card known as a ‘Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero’ (TIE) from your local National Police station As a Spanish resident, you must declare your global income to the Spanish authorities, no matter which country it came from. If you are not a resident, you will only pay tax on income that came from Spain. You may need to file an annual declaration of overseas assets called a Modelo 720.
  • Pensions. You can claim the UK State Pension abroad if you’ve paid enough UK National Insurance contributions to qualify. Get a State Pension forecast if you need to find out how much State Pension you may get. You can choose to be paid every 4 or 13 weeks.
    You may also be able to transfer private / workplace pensions, so that you’ll have all your pension income in one place, which might be easier and more tax efficient. Due to the complexities of cross-border regulations, you should speak to an independent financial adviser with the relevant expertise and experience.

Retirement visa for Spain

So, the very first thing you need to do when you’re looking to retire to Spain is get your visa sorted. The visa to apply for is the ‘visado de residencia no lucrativa’, or Non-Lucrative Residence Visa. You can download and complete the application form which you can return with your supporting documents to the Spanish Consulate. You’ll need to make an appointment in advance. At that appointment you will need to take with you:

• Completed visa application form
• Valid UK passport with at least one year’s validity remaining and at least two blank pages
• Certificate of criminal record which you can get from the Criminal Records Office
• Recent passport photograph of yourself
• Medical certificate issued by your GP no longer than three months before your appointment
• Proof of qualifying health insurance cover
• Proof of the required financial means to cover your living expenses
• A filled-out EX-01 form – or non-profit temporary residence authorisation form.

In addition, you will need to pay for the visa application itself and then wait up to an estimated three months for it to come through. You can apply for permanent residency after living in Spain for more than five years. It seems like a lot of paperwork, right? But the benefits of living in this perennially popular expat destination are usually worth it. Spain is a magical place in which to retire. Just ask the hundreds of thousands of expat retirees already there.

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