Spain Explained

Retiring to Spain from the UK: How it’s done

What could be better than living out one’s twilight years under the Spanish Sun? It is a dream come true for people who are reaching retirement age.

The lifestyle, weather, entertainment and relatively cheaper property make retiring to Spain from the UK a very attractive prospect.

However, make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible so you can focus on the things you care about.

Throughout this article we set out all the necessary steps to take before making the move.

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What documentation will you need?

First of all, there are several things you need to make sure are complete before retiring to Spain from the UK.

As you are coming from the UK, then much of it is fairly straightforward. Another thing to bear in mind is that there are regional variations.

1. NIE number

The first thing to do on arrival as a retiree in Spain is to apply for a número de identidad de extranjero (NIE). You will require this number before anything else, as it is essential for making any financial transactions.

This includes opening a bank account to pay rent or purchasing a home. To obtain this, fill out the NIE application form and take it to your nearest National Police station or oficina de extranjeros

2. Residency

After receiving your NIE, you can then apply for residency. In the town or municipality where you live, go to the oficina de extranjeros to begin the application.

This is a required document if you plan to live in Spain for longer than three months.

3. Padrón 

The padrón is a document that you can have once you have your residency. It means the town or city you live in can include you on the census and you can vote in local and European elections.

In some areas, the town hall requires you to have a padrón before you can apply for residency. If this is the case someone will make it clear to you.

Pensions and healthcare

If you have a state pension awarded in Europe, then the process of moving to Spain is quite straightforward.

You can show proof of your pension to the Spanish authorities at the same time as your residency application, where you declare your income.

A yearly pension of around €20,000 would be considered a good pension in Spain.

This is especially true of a country with lower living costs than many other western European countries. 

This proof of pension will help you access healthcare in Spain

Anything else?

It is vital to make tax declarations each year before the 30th June. If you hold assets outside of the country with a value greater than €50,000 then you must declare these before the 31st of March or you could face large fines.

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Get set to relax in Spain

By all accounts, living in Spain is a hugely rewarding adventure for those reaching their advanced age in life.

If you make sure you document and correctly apply for everything, then your time in Spain will be an escape that is both relaxing and rejuvenating.

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Leave a comment


Noel Fancis Brennan

1 December, 2022 7:41 pm

is this up-to-date information. I have been told that i must apply for residency in our home country the UK. We have our N.I.E numbers as up until recently we had our own property in Spain. Because we wish to retire, we have been told that we need to apply for a non-lucrative visa, and this must be done in the Uk. Can you please confirm.

Oscar Paoli

1 December, 2022 9:12 pm


We would recommend you to speak with our relocation adviser collaborator David Ruiz. He will go through everything with you. If you wish to contact him directly please send him an email at

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers