Emigrating to Spain is not as simple as hopping on a plane and finding a home!
If you’re a British Citizen with a right to live in the UK, then won’t need to purchase a visa to enter Spain – should you wish to simply visit the country before deciding if you want to live there or not.
If you’re a British National but are unsure of your right to live in the UK, you may need to inquire at your nearest Spanish Embassy before taking your plans any further. You’ll need a valid passport that’s within date to enter and exit Spain.
Gaining residency in Spain is a different kind of challenge all together. For the last 10 years, it’s been a requirement (via Royal Decree) for every EU citizen wishing to live in Spain to register their interest in person at the Oficina de Extranjeros in their chosen province or at a specified Police Station. Once you’ve been accepted to stay there you’re handed a Residence Certificate (around the size of a credit card), once you’ve lived in the country for 5 years you’ll then be eligible to apply for permanent residence.
In order to be accepted you may be asked to prove that you have the financial means to support yourself, in addition to providing details about any dependants that may be moving with you. You may also be asked to show proof of medical insurance (either private or public). The Spanish Ministry for Work and Social Security lay out the requirements to live in Spain which you find a translation for here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain
In addition to the above requirements listed above, when moving to Spain from the UK, you must also remember to register ‘on the padrón‘. This is a process that is separate to the application for residency and is more of an administrative requirement, rather a legal. The process is quick and painless, only requiring you to fill in a small form at your local town hall. You may need to present some documents there, such as your residence card or copy of your rent contract. The whole procedure is over quickly, although you may need to return to collect your certificate that same day.
Once you’ve registered your details, you’ll be eligible to take advantage of a number of benefits including: better public services, access to certain forms of benefits, discounted leisure activities and the right to vote. Although it may not be a legal requirement, you’ll find that you need to be registered on the padrón in order to carry out several mandatory admin tasks – so don’t assume that you can get away without doing it.
Most importantly, you’ll need to sign on to the padrón if you want to have access to Spain’s state-sponsored Healthcare system. If you’re planning on working in Spain and contributing to the National Insurance system accordingly, then you’ll be able to have full access to the healthcare system as if you were a citizen of the country. If you’re a child or a pregnant woman then you have a legal right to healthcare whilst you’re staying in the country – you’ll need to contact a social worker to begin the process of application. However, if you’re not planning on working whilst you’re out there then you’ll need to purchase public health insurance. Find out more about Healthcare whilst you’re living in Spain here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-in-spain