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December 2020 3 minutes

Brexit: What should British citizens living in Spain know?

An overview of the steps British citizen must take before December 31st 2020

On January 31st 2020 Great Britain left the European Union after the settlement of the Withdrawal Agreement. At the moment we are in the transition period, which ends on December 31st 2020. Until that day British citizens are still granted the right to freedom of movement within the EU and, thus, continue to be able to travel, settle and live in EU countries. Nevertheless, since the end of the transition period is drawing closer, it’s crucial you act now to ensure you can legally stay in the EU. 

British citizens in Spain: what steps do you need to take?

We know this time can be stressful for British citizens living in Spain. With this article, we aim to give you an overview of the situation in Spain and provide you with a precise list of steps to tick off on your To-Do list. In this way you get all the administrative tasks done quickly and effectively. With the bureaucratic hassle out of the way you can fully enjoy the Christmas period and look forward to a - hopefully much better - year of 2021 in Spain.

The first steps: what do you need to do right now?

Registration as a resident: 

As long as you are lawfully registered as a resident in Spain before January 1st 2021, you continue to hold the right to stay. When staying in Spain for longer than 3 months you must register as a Spanish resident. You will receive a biometric residence card, the Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE). If you have registered before July 6th 2020, you received a paper document from the Extranjeria or the police which, in the future, will serve as legal proof for the continuance of the rights you held under the Withdrawal Agreement. If you want to, you may exchange the paper document for a TIE.

Life in Spain post-Brexit

The following sections will summarise the regulations and laws governing life as a British citizen in Spain after December 31st 2020. 


You maintain your right to work in Spain, as long as you are registered as a Spanish  resident before December 31st 2020, given you remain in the country.

Depending on your employer, you may need a UK criminal records certificate, a Spanish criminal records certificate, a certificate from the Spanish sex offenders registry when working with children, and/ or a record of your employment history in Spain from Seguridad Social.


Since Great Britain has a double taxation agreement with Spain you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. The existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Spain will likely not change. Every Spanish resident has to declare their income to the Spanish authorities, even when it does not come from Spain.

Banking arrangements should stay the same after the end of the transition period on December 31st 2020. If your finance provider needs to make any alterations to one of your products, they will contact you directly.


Until the end of the transition period on December 31st 2020, the legislation on driving license exchanges will remain the same. 

You should exchange your UK driving license for a Spanish one before December 30th 2020 in order to avoid taking a driving test. To apply for the exchange, you must (1) apply for the exchange at the Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT) before the end of the transition period, and (2) Three days after your application, go on the DGT’s website and request an appointment in order to complete the final driving license exchange. This appointment can happen after December 31st 2020 but must take place before June 30th 2021.

Without the exchanged driving license, you will be able to legally drive in Spain with a UK license until June 30th 2021.

Do you still have doubts about what you must do to legally stay in Spain or other EU-member states post-Brexit?

We have created a comprehensive guide on how British citizens can remain compliant with the new regulations in Spain and other EU-member states. In case you still have further questions that are not answered in this article nor by the guide, please send us a message or schedule a free consultation - we will be happy to help you!

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