Spain Explained

Changing your status as a resident in Spain

Last updated on October 28th, 2019 at 05:09 pm.

There are a number of official actions you need to take to achieve full Spanish residency. This doesn’t just include obtaining a civil residency but fiscal residency in Spain too. It is also important to make sure you complete the necessary paper work and inform authorities if you decide to return to your native country.

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Which country do I live in? The rule is that if you live in Spain for 183 days or more then you are a resident in Spain. Those days don’t have to be sequential. Many people spend part of their year in one country and part in another or even alternate the months. They find that this way they enjoy the benefits of both countries and avoid some of the disadvantages.

There is no problem with doing this as long as you are clear which is your country of residence and which is not. Your country of residence (the one where you stay for more than 183 days) is the one to which you should pay your taxes. This includes all taxes on pensions except where the tax is removed at source as might be the case with some public sector pensions.

In this article we outline some of the procedures you must go through to make sure that whatever your status, you are complying with the law in Spain.

Changing from non-resident to resident

There are a number of hurdles you have to negotiate in order to become a resident in Spain. To begin with you need your Spanish NIE which is the number that registers you as a foreigner with an interest in Spain. You need your NIE for most financial activities such as buying a house or a car and it is prerequisite to becoming a resident.

Once you have your NIE you need to obtain your civil residency certificate. This is available from your nearest National Police office and you must check the documents you need to take to obtain one. With your civil residency, NIE and proof of where you are living you can register at the town hall on the padron. This is the local register of people who are resident in that area and is sometimes needed for buying a car or always for enrolling a child in school. You will also need it to obtain your health card (SIP).

The next stage is to become a Spanish fiscal resident. This is important as evidence of the length of time you have been living in Spain and enables you to benefit from reductions in capital gains and inheritance tax payments. You will be issued with a fiscal residency certificate when you present an annual tax declaration which you should do before the 30th June every year.

You are obliged to make a resident’s annual tax declaration if you have two or more sources of income (excluding some public sector pensions) or receive more income than the Spanish Tax System’s thresholds and allowances allow.  Even if your income is modest or you only have one source of income it is beneficial to make the declaration as a record that you are in Spain and you are known to the Tax Authority.

Changing from resident to non-resident

If you find, for whatever reason, that you must return to your home country then it is just as important to make sure you inform the authorities that you are going as it was when you arrived.

As a minimum you should:

  • inform your bank – you will need to change your resident account  to non-resident
  • inform the town hall where you registered on the padron
  • go to the National Police office where the residency certificate was first issued
  • if you have a residency card you should return it to the Foreigner’s Delegation Office

When you cancel your residency at the National Police office they will issue you with a stamped document that includes the date of cancellation and the reason for it. This is your proof that you are no longer a resident and that you have informed the necessary people.

You will also have to let your fiscal representative know about your change in circumstances. You will probably still have to complete   one more resident tax return  the year after you return to your home country as taxes are presented retrospectively. After that you will complete a non-resident tax declaration form before 31st December every year if you haven’t sold your property.

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Although you will no longer be required to pay taxes on your income, including pensions, to the Spanish Tax Authority you will still have the Spanish imputed income tax to pay as a non-resident or income tax on rental if you rent out your property in Spain.  Imputed income tax is the tax that non-residents pay if they are not renting out their property.

Of course, you must also inform the relevant offices and organisations in your home country of your change in living arrangements.  But remember, if anyone tells you that you can be resident in two countries – you can’t. You have the decision about where you spend most of your time. After that you have no choice at all.

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40 comments

Simon Scott

29 March, 2019 7:16 am

Dear Sirs
Dear Sirs

I moved from Spain to Cyprus at the beginning of this year and have not yet unsubscribed from the Spanish tax system. I came across an article online written by your firm which sets out how to do this (https://www.abacoadvisers.com/spain-explained/spanish-law/news/changing-your-status-resident-in-spain )

The penultimate step mentioned in your article is returning my original certificate of residency to the local police station, and that I will then be issued by the national police with a stamped document that states the date of cancellation of residency and the reason for it.

However, I have never been issued with a certificate of residency, only an NIE number, social security number, certificado de registro de ciudadano de la union and certificado de empadronamiento, therefore will I still be able to obtain a certificate of non-residency ?

Regards

Simon Scott

Suzanne O'Connell

2 April, 2019 1:00 pm

Hi Simon

Hi Simon

The 'certificado de registro de ciudadano de la union' is the Spanish residency card and you should cancel this with the police. David Ruiz would be happy to help you do this. 

joshua

29 June, 2019 8:08 am

hi,please i have a residence
hi,please i have a residence permit in spain and now has a child in the netherlands,i am on the process of getting a new residence permit from the netherlands immigration and the the immigration in netherlands ask me to give out my spanish residence permit first,i have went to give out my spanish residence card to the spanish consulate in Amsterdam,now i need a certificate of no residence,so please what should i do??

Suzanne O'Connell

6 July, 2019 2:42 pm

Hi Joshua

Hi Joshua

You should apply for a non-resident certificate at the relevant national police station. 

Maria-Isabel Dunne nee Reyes-Minana

29 December, 2019 7:08 pm

I was born in Spain to Spanish parents in 1961 and came to live in England with them in 1964. In 1979 I became a British citizen. How do I relinquish my UK citizenship to reclaim my citizenship in Spain if / when I relocate to Spain from Ireland, where I am now living these past two years in March 2019.

Thank you

Oscar Paoli

31 December, 2019 12:41 pm

Hi Maria-Isabel,

As far as we know it is possible that you have never lost your Spanish Nationality as Britain allows for dual nationality, but you just have to contact the Ministry of the Interior for clarification.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Harry Eamey

19 April, 2020 12:47 pm

Hi there,

I am currently a resident in Spain (UK citizen), and been here since January 2020.
If let’s say, in a year or so I decided to travel outside of Spain and spend less than 183 days in the country, would I still have to pay taxes in Spain for that fiscal year given that I am technically a resident? Bear in mind, I don’t have any physical assets or property here in Spain. Any information would be highly appreciated.

Oscar Paoli

21 April, 2020 4:39 pm

Hi there,
Complicated if you are just out of the Country travelling then your main residence remains here and the tax obligation remains here, if you are not intending to live here for 183 days then you should cancel the residencia and pay Tax where you are Resident.
Best regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Roy Hall

16 September, 2020 11:13 am

Very useful information, much clearer and direct than some sites visited. It always seems to be – becoming a Resident! but reversal to non Resident is almost nil information.

Many thanks

Roy Hall.

Oscar Paoli

16 September, 2020 3:57 pm

Thank you Roy for your kind words, much appreciated.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Mrs Shirley Doyle

9 November, 2020 11:23 pm

Hi we are trying to get our residence but can’t seem to get it done can you help

Oscar Paoli

10 November, 2020 5:22 pm

Thank your for contacting us. Unfortunately we do not deal with the application process directly, but we would recommend you to speak with our relocation adviser collaborator David Ruiz. He will go through everything with you, timing, documentation and costs. If you wish to contact him directly please send him an email at david@torreviejatranslation.com

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Daniel

7 January, 2021 11:26 pm

I have spanish permanent residence for more than 15 years and now I’m tired I want to go back to my home country so I want to give the residence permit to the authorities and I want to know after the non residence permit if I would get money from the authorities or not

Oscar Paoli

8 January, 2021 10:33 am

Hi Daniel,
Unfortunately you will not receive any money from the authorities once you give up your residence in Spain.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further queries.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Goutham

14 June, 2021 11:48 am

Hi,

I have “residencia permenante espanya” but I move to another country to work . I understood that I need to inform respective authorities that I am not living in spain ? If I have “residencia permenante espanya”, then do I lose my residence permit ?

Oscar Paoli

14 June, 2021 2:00 pm

Hi,

If you move to a different country to work and you become fiscal redisent there you will have to inform the authorities and you will then lose your fiscal residency in permit.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Goutham

14 June, 2021 1:54 pm

Hi All,

I have “residencia permenante espanyol”. I moved to another non-eu country to work. Should I cancel my residency in spain ? will I lose my residencia permanante ?

Oscar Paoli

25 June, 2021 2:22 pm

Most likely it will be canceled automatically, but the correct thing is to cancel it yourself if you are going to be a tax resident in a different country.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Elisabetta

14 June, 2021 1:59 pm

Hi,

My name is Elisabetta. I have been living in spain for more than 5 years. I applied for “residencia permanente españa” . It is accepted (Favourable). Now I got a job in UK. I am moving out of UK. Should I cancel my residency in Spain ? Will I lose “residencia permanente españa” ?

Thanks,

Oscar Paoli

15 June, 2021 11:17 am

Hi Elisabetta,

Thank you for contacting us. The law states that to maintain residence rights, you must stay in Spain at least 180 days a year. We understand that if you leave and do not do anything about it, you will lose residency at some point. Whether to cancel it or not is a personal decision.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

FREDERIC HOFFMANN

29 June, 2021 12:57 pm

Hi,
I have recently obtained my spanish residency in March 2021 but following a change of plans, I have to go back and live in my home country, France by the end of July. I am a freelancer and my business is registered in France and I am paying taxes there. Am I required to do anything to show that I am tax resident from France to avoid paying taxes in Spain if I don’t live here anymore? thank you for your help

Oscar Paoli

1 July, 2021 7:45 am

Hi Frederic,

You will need to cancel the resident document as soon as possible with the Police this will justify that you are no longer living here but it would also be adviseable to obtain a Certificate of Fiscal Residency form France to cover any possible claims form Spain.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Lee

10 August, 2021 11:54 am

Hi There,

I moved to Spain in December 2020 from the UK, completed all the required residency papers but it has been declined on a technicality (Health insurance only ran from June and my EHIC expired in March). An appeal is underway but I’m not expecting it to be successful.

I would like to move to Portugal instead as it has a better tax regime, do you have anyone able to advise on how best to relocate?

many thanks

Oscar Paoli

10 August, 2021 7:53 pm

Sorry Lee, unfortunately we are not familiarized with the move to Portugal and have no recommendations to send you. Sorry for the inconvenience.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Carole Dale

20 September, 2021 3:22 pm

My father returned to the UK early this year after living in Spain for 17 Years and has now sold his apartment which he owned over there.

We understand that he will pay Spanish tax for this year (2021), which will be payable in 2022, but now he obviously wants to be deemed a British tax payer going forward. unfortunately he is unable to return to Spain to personally cancel his residency due to ill health (he is aged 87).

As he will never be returning to Spain and so won’t be there for more than 180 days again, can we assume his residency will automatically be cancelled and make arrangements for him to pay his taxes with the UK tax office from next year? Or is it necessary to contact or write to a particular government department in Spain to notify them of his change in circumstances?

Look forward to your comments.

Oscar Paoli

21 September, 2021 7:49 pm

Hi Joan,

The cancellation process is not automatic. In other words, if a European citizen is outside Spain for 180 days, the residence will not be automatically canceled. In fact, it could be years until the police find out somehow, and then proceed to cancel it, and we understand that in the meantime the fiscal situation would continue its course in Spain.

If the residence was obtained in the province of Alicante, we can recommend you to contact David Ruiz who can assist you in the process. You can contact him directly at david@torreviejatranslation.com

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Cameron

1 October, 2021 8:30 am

Dear Suzanne,

Assuming you are a permeant resident in Spain (UK expat) having been here for mother than 5 years. Can you leave Spain for the UK for a period of minimum one year sell your property take the 25% advantage of the pension lump sum and have no tax liability’s in Spain?

Thank you
Cameron

Oscar Paoli

11 October, 2021 11:21 am

Hi Cameron,

In order to make sure you were not liable for Tax in Spain you would have to cancel the Resident document or TIE before leaving Spain (Very Important) then sell the following year, you would also need to make sure you did not return till at least the next year so in reality at least two full years outside of Spain.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Adviser

Karen Baxter

18 December, 2021 2:41 pm

Hi, I wonder if you could please help us with some advice,
We applied for residency here in spain last December 2020, and also indicated our intention to exchange our uk drivers license for a Spanish driving license, our uk driving licenses expired before our residency notification, so we renewed our uk licenses to stay legal in spain, now the DGT want the old licenses that we had to return to the DVLA in England,
Our residency was granted about 4 weeks ago, so now we need to exchange our driving licenses, we have our new continuation uk driving licenses, will they still exchange our licenses even if they are not the original ones we started with? Thank you very much. Karen.

Oscar Paoli

20 December, 2021 4:30 pm

Hi Karen,

Thank your for contacting us. Unfortunately we do not deal with this process ouserlves. Nevertheless, 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 david@torreviejatranslation.com

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Nathalie

21 December, 2021 12:55 pm

Hi,

When leaving Spain in April I never thought about deregistering with the police or town hall. My husband and I are now residents of Portugal but in order to bring our car and register it to Portugal I need Declaration of Cancellation of Residency in Spain. It is something that we never obtained. Is there someway of obtaining this document now that we have been in Portugal for 8 months and not able to go to Spain to deregister or back date this deregistration.
Thanks
Nathalie

Oscar Paoli

28 December, 2021 9:23 am

Hi Nathalie,

Thank your for contacting us. Unfortunately we do not deal with this process ouserlves. Nevertheless, 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 david@torreviejatranslation.com

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Ann beauchamp

12 February, 2022 8:49 am

Have sold property what do I do about our sip cards as we are moving back to uk

Oscar Paoli

13 February, 2022 5:54 pm

Hi Ann,

You may cancel you SIP card before leaving back to the UK.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Dorothy Littler

19 February, 2022 1:21 pm

How do you pay to give back your residency and what form do I complete

I will still have a house in spain, a bank account and a padron and NIF number, is there a problem with this?
. I had these before I got my residency card. I never did swap my health care from the UK as I became Poorly and continued with the nhs which is why i need to go back to my original status
I have only had my residence card for fourteen months

Oscar Paoli

21 February, 2022 3:01 pm

The Resident document has to be cancelled with the Police Station where you applied, one this is cancelled you will also need to notify the Town Hall to have your name taken of the Padron and the Bank to change the account to a Non resident one.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Steven Kendrick

19 May, 2022 7:29 am

Do I need a cita previa at the National police to cancel my residency, as I did when applying, or can I just turn up. If a cita is required, under which category should it be made. Thanks

Oscar Paoli

19 May, 2022 2:49 pm

Hi Steven,

From our experience if it is a residency card you will not need an appointment but if you have a TIE card then you will definitely need an appointment.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Michael Norton

19 June, 2022 11:11 am

Hi,

I am retired and I understand the process for renouncing my residency, which I have had since 2006, although I only obtained my TIE in November 2021 but if I do this, would I still be eligible to apply again at a later date, say three, six or fifteen months later, for example. I do know that I can be out of Spain for two of these periods but this is a special situation. If affirmative, would the process be straight forward ie no visa?

Kind regards

Oscar Paoli

20 June, 2022 12:18 pm

Hi Michael,

Assuming you are of British nationality, if you cancel the residency, you will have to go through the visa application.

We understand that you had a European residency, then changed to TIE (non-European), so if you cancels it, you will have to go through the non-European process. Even if you had not changed the green card. There is no easy way to get your residency back if you cancel it, but to start from the beginning of the application of the visa process.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers