What UK and Spanish benefits are available to Britons living in Spain and information on driving regulations in Spain.
If you are a British citizen or British subject with right of abode in the UK, you do not require a visa to enter Spain. Other British nationals should confirm the current entry requirements with their nearest Spanish Embassy.
A valid British passport must be held for entry to and exit from Spain. There is no minimum passport validity requirement but you should ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your visit.
This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Spain, including British and Spanish pension and benefits entitlements, and vehicle and driving licence laws.
For more information on accessing healthcare in Spain, whether on a temporary stay or as a resident, please see our dedicated page on healthcare.
The UK basic state pension is payable in Spain.
The state pension changed in April 2010. More people now qualify for a full basic state pension. Find out about the most important changes and what they mean to you.
To find out when you reach State Pension age, use the State Pension Age Calculator.
Where to apply for your UK State Pension
If you currently live in but have never worked in Spain, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre in the UK.
If you currently live and have worked in Spain, even for just a short time, you must apply for your UK state pension via the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS) in Spain. You can download the application form from the INSS website. This is a form specifically for people who have worked in more than one European country and is only available in Spanish. When filling in the form, remember to declare time worked in all EU countries, including the UK.
The INSS office is then responsible for processing your claim and bringing together records of your contributions from all the countries you worked in.
Please note, your claim for a UK State Pension may be rejected if you apply directly to the International Pension Centre (IPC) but have worked and made contributions in Spain.
Moving to Spain once in receipt of a UK state pension
If you are moving to Spain from the UK you should inform the IPC of the changes to your circumstances. This will prevent any problems with your pension payments.
UK pension credit is not payable in Spain. If you decide to move to Spain permanently you must inform the office that pays your benefits before you leave.
Entitlement to a Spanish retirement pension
After working in more than one European Economic Area country, it is possible for your contributions from each one to be taken into account when calculating your pension or benefit.
If you have worked in Spain for at least one year you may be entitled to a Spanish retirement pension, provided you meet other entitlement conditions. For information on how and when to claim your Spanish retirement pension or how your contributions in the UK can contribute toward your entitlement to a Spanish retirement pension, contact your local office of the Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social (INSS).
When applying you must give as much information as possible about your working life.
You may also be thinking about paying voluntary contributions to top up your pension entitlement in either country. For further information on paying voluntary contributions in the UK, contact HMRC. For Spain, contact the Tesorería General de Seguridad Nacional (TGSS).
Life certificates for UK state pensions
If you have received a life certificate from the UK Pension Service it is important that you reply as quickly as possible otherwise your benefit may be stopped. You’ll need to either:
- get it signed by a ‘witness’ and send it back, as instructed on the form
- obtain a Certificado de Fe de Vida (Proof of Life Certificate) from your nearest Civil Registry in Spain and return it together with your form
To get a Certificado de Fe de Vida you need to take with you to the civil registry:
- your town hall certificate (certificado de empadronamiento)
- your passport
- your residence certificate (certificado de residencia)
If you decide to get your life certificate signed by a witness, check the list of people who can witness a life certificate. This is now the same as the list of people who can ‘countersign’ a passport photo, although they don’t need to live in the UK, or have a British or Irish passport.