Planning for Tax in Spain

Changing from UK to Spanish Residency and Understanding Tax in Spain

Needless to say when taking up Spanish residency, understanding tax in Spain and planning for fiscal residency is important.  Tax in Spain is very different to the UK, so for anyone making the move, planning this part of the transition to full-time Spanish residency is should be firmly on the agenda.

Here we provide an overview of the tax related requirements and key points that most need to consider when moving  in Spain.

Tax related requirements once you’ve taken up residency in Spain

There are lots of things to consider when taking up residency in Spain, and where tax is concerned, the starting point is understanding all the differences Spanish resident status brings with it.

You are generally liable to pay taxes in the country in which you reside.  This means that once you have taken up residency in Spain, you will be subject to Spanish taxation.  The obligation to pay taxes in Spain arises when you meet the residency measure based on the 183 day rule.  This responsibility applies regardless of whether you have registered as a resident or not.

As a resident in Spain you are liable to pay tax on:

  • General income
  • Interest on savings and investments
  • Capital gains on sale of assets
  • Wealth (if your total wealth is €700k or more – €1m including allowance for family home)*
  • Gifts and inheritance

*Allowances are lower in some regions – in Madrid and Andalucia wealth tax is currently waived. 

Large fortune tax is a new national tax on wealth that kicks in on net wealth above €3m.  (Regionally paid wealth tax is applied as a tax credit)

Spanish residents must also declare assets they own outside of Spain such as:

  • Property
  • Investments
  • Savings
  • Pensions
  • Insurance

When do you become resident for tax purposes in Spain?

Tax obligations arise for the fiscal year in which you become resident in Spain, not from the date you got your residency.  New residents in Spain need to be mindful that the Spanish tax authorities apply the default assumption that an individual who has obtained residency, (formally registered as a resident), in Spain, has done so because they are switching their habitual residence from the country that they were living in, to Spain.

Depending on your circumstances, this means that you could be deemed to be fiscally resident in Spain despite not having lived in Spain for 183 days of the year.  For example if in August last year you sold your home in the UK, bought a home in Spain, moved over and obtained residency, under the habitual residence rule you will be deemed to be Spanish tax resident in last year.  This is because Spain do not split the tax year, so the fact that you now only have a home in Spain overrides the 183 day rule, i.e. you cannot claim habitual residence in the UK if you no longer have a permanent home there.

On the other hand, if you moved to Spain and obtained residency, however have kept a permanent home in the UK, you could claim that your habitual residence did not change in last year applying the 183 day rule, as you spent more time in your home in the UK than you did your home in Spain.  This year as you will spend more than 183 days at your home in Spain, then you will be resident for tax purposes this year.

What do you need to do after becoming a Spanish resident?

Individual circumstances are of course all different.  It’s therefore important to know the key things that apply and need to be done in your own personal situation.

Generally speaking, when you change residence from one country to another, in most cases there is, or should be an element of financial and tax planning.

Basic planning begins with knowing the taxes that will apply, the returns that need to be done, and when.   Then it’s a case of getting a clear picture of how these will apply in your situation, and the implications so you can plan accordingly.

The following is a summary of the Spanish key tax dates and when they apply according to when you became resident.

Spanish Tax Return Deadlines

Non resident property tax Modelo 210 – 31st December following year (e.g. 2023 must be submitted by end of 2024)

Overseas assets declaration Modelo 720 – 31st March the year after becoming tax resident

Income tax return Modelo 100 – 30th June the year after becoming resident

Tax Return and Declarations Guide for Change of Residency

New Residents Last Year

If you took up residency and became resident for tax purposes in Spain last year, assuming that you were in receipt of income, your personal tax return is due in June this year.  If you owned assets outside of Spain, of value €50k or more, you should also have submitted an overseas assets declaration (Modelo 720) in March this year.

Anyone who took up residency in the second half of last year who can claim that their habitual residence did not change, assuming they spent less than 183 days in Spain in the year, then this year is their first fiscal year in Spain.  If they were an owner of a property owner in Spain the previous year, they will complete their last non resident property tax return this year and in June next year their first resident income tax return will be due.

New Residents This Year

Anyone who moved to Spain in the first half of this year, will generally be deemed tax resident in Spain this year.  If applicable, the Overseas Assets declaration, Modelo 720, is due in  March next year and income tax returns by end of June next year.

If you take up residency in the second half of this year, and are able to show that your habitual residence didn’t change, then next year will be your first fiscal year in Spain.  The Overseas Assets Declaration and income tax returns will not be due until the year after next.

What are the differences between UK taxation and tax in Spain?

Tax in Spain has a general reputation of being excessive compared to the UK.  This is not surprising if for example you compare income tax.  The basic income tax allowance in Spain is €5,550 (low income €14,000), vs £12,500 in the UK, and the tax rate rises to 30% as soon as your taxable income reaches €20,200.  These are clearly negative differences.

There are however also many positive differences.  For example, in a family with 4 children, the parents get an addition €19,100 tax allowance between them  Rental income from a residential property also has a substantial 60% reduction applied before it is taxed, and the top rate of tax on dividends in Spain is 26% versus 38.1% in the UK.

In some circumstances pensions may also attract less tax in Spain than in the UK.  Read more about Taxation of UK Pensions in Spain.

We aren’t going to list every difference in this article, and the above examples illustrate that the differences aren’t necessarily all negative.  How it works out for each individual taking up residency in Spain, depends on their situation and how they plan and prepare for their transition to being a Spanish tax payer.

Planning for tax in Spain before taking up residency

Contrary to perception Spanish taxation is often not as bad as many thought, or were lead to believe that it would be.  The reality is that if you become resident in Spain, you are liable to pay tax in Spain.

For most it is certainly not a matter to be avoided.  Anyone who has recently take up residency in Spain or who is planning to, should be considering the fiscal aspects of their move, the possible tax implication what they need to do to be ready for Spanish taxation.

By taking time to plan, it is possible to minimise potential Spanish tax exposure, limit it, or at very least fully understand it.

We recommend anyone moving to Spain to follow these 5 steps:

Simple Steps to Successfully becoming a Spanish Tax Resident

  • Learn about the tax system – what needs to be done and when
  • Understand how the Spanish tax regime differs in your situation and what tax you will have to pay
  • Find out what tax treatment applies to assets you own and tax breaks that you currently enjoy
  • Make changes in your financial set up to minimise, limit or avoid Spanish tax
  • Get professional advice on financial or tax matters in both the UK and Spain

Spanish Residency Financial & Tax Consultation

If you are not sure about your tax position, have questions about tax in Spain, or would like assistance with any of the steps above, we can provide you with an initial review of your situation.  We’ll highlight key tax points relating to tax, your situation and answer your general questions.

You may need further help understanding how tax in Spain affects you, or planning to limit how much it does.  In which case our team of financial and tax consultants specialised in change of residency planning between UK and Spain, are here to help.

Spanish Residency Financial & Tax Consultation

Read more about Tax in Spain

Read more about Overseas Assets Declaration in Spain

This information is provided for informational purposes only and we do not warrant it’s accuracy or completeness.  It is not intended to provide advice, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own suitably qualified tax, legal or accounting advisors before making financial or tax related decisions. 

UK Financial Advisers With Clients Living in Spain and other EU countries

We wrote an article recently detailing that many British nationals living in Spain and other EU countries, have received letters from their UK banks telling them that their accounts will be closed at the end of 2020.  This due to no Brexit trade deal having been agreed.  

That article explained the impact of no Brexit trade deal on financial services providers in the UK.  After 31st December 2020, these service providers will not legally be able to carry on providing services to their expat clients who reside in Spain or other EU countries.

The Brexit transition period ends at the end of the year, and with it the financial services licence EU ‘passporting’ rights which allow UK firms to provide financial services in EU countries. 

As a result many providers, including Financial Advisers, are withdrawing their services as advisers where their client is a UK national living in the EU.  It is only a small minority of financial service providers that have taken the necessary steps to establish themselves in the EU so they can continue providing their services. 

It is therefore quite likely that from 2021, most expats living in Spain or other EU countries will not be able to receive advice or services from their UK Financial Adviser.  Clients and advisers alike who are affected by this, should be acting now to make alternative financial arrangements. 

UK Financial Advisers and Advice in the EU After the Transition Period

The UK is unlikely to get any special access to the EU over and above any other third country.  That was a benefit of being in the EU.

Any UK IFA firm that wishes to carry on business with clients in an EU country such as Spain, will need to be authorised by the regulator of that country to be able to do so.

The options an adviser may have are to:

  • Get approved to advise in the EU country in which they have clients
  • Partner up with a firm that is already established in the EU
  • ‘Sell’ their EU based client to an EU firm of advisers

Getting a financial services licence, is not a quick or straight forward process, and it’s not cheap either, so this will not be viable for most UK financial advisers.  This means that many Brits living in Spain and other EU countries who currently have UK financial advisers, will need to find new one.

Brits In Spain With UK Financial Advisers

If you live in Spain and have a UK Financial Adviser, there is a good chance that they are not going to be able to legally carry on as your adviser next year.  If they have told you they can, you should ask them to provide you with confirmation of the EU permission that they have obtained.

We have heard of UK advisers that have told their clients that they just need to just use the UK address of a friend or family.  The issue cannot be fixed by pretending you live in the UK.  If your adviser is not licenced to advise in Spain their Professional Indemnity Insurance will not cover their advice or services.  The UK regulator and their insurance provider would certainly take action, if they became aware of advisers doing this.

If you are affected by this or think you may be, and haven’t already spoken to your UK financial adviser you should do so.  If you’re not sure what to do or need to find adviser in Spain, we can recommend firms and advisers who are licenced to advise in the UK, Spain and other EU countries.

Please feel free to get in touch and ask to speak to one of our Financial Services Advisers.

Contact Us

Phone & WhatsApp (+34) 951 77 55 44 / (+44) 033 000 10 777




UK Banks To Close Accounts & Withdraw Services for Brits Living in the EU

The UK press and expat papers in Spain have all carried articles warning that thousands of Brits living in the EU will have their UK bank accounts closed by the end of the year.

In the UK the The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Telegraph to name a few, have all detailed how banks including Lloyds, Barclays and even the Queen’s bankers Coutts, will be closing expat accounts and withdrawing services.  The reason for this is the UK’s failure to agree a post-Brexit trade deal to allow cross border Financial Services to continue.

Banks are having to make decisions as to which EU countries to pull out of and which to continue operating in.

Lloyds Bank confirmed to The Sunday Times that it will be withdrawing services from Holland, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal – a move that will affect 13,000 British customers.

The bank, which is Britain’s biggest banking group, started writing to its customers living in these countries since August, telling them that their UK bank accounts would be shut on December 31.

Barclays also confirmed that its banking and credit-card customers living in the EU had started receiving letters.

Why Are UK Banks Closing Accounts & Withdrawing Services for Brits Living in the EU?

Until now the UK banks and other financial service providers have been able to use the EU ‘passporting’ system to provide services to customers living in other EU countries.  In the absence of a Brexit trade deal, the UK will no longer be able to use the passporting system,  This means when the transition period ends, it will become illegal for UK banks and other financial service providers to offer their services to British customers living in EU countries unless they have a licence in each country to do so.

Given the relatively small amount of customers that UK banks have that live in the EU, for most UK banks and other financial service providers, it is not commercially viable to go through the process of obtaining licences and establishing branches in each EU country where they have British expat customers.

Which UK Banks Are Closing Accounts and What Services Are Being Withdrawn?

All the major UK Banks have either already confirmed that they will be closing expats accounts and withdrawing services, or are in the process of reviewing the services that they offer.  Closures will affect current and savings accounts, ISA’s, credit cards and investment accounts.

It is not just bank accounts that are affected.  Customers are also having their credit card facilities withdrawn.  And its not just banks that will not be able to continue offering services.  All financial service providers will lose the ability to serve customers in living in EU countries, unless they have opened up shop in each country where the want to provide their services.  This includes insurance providers, investment companies and firms who provide financial advice.

Will Any Banks or Other Financial Service Providers Continue Offering Services?

Most banks have already made the decision not to continue offering services in the EU.  The decisions are simply based on the commercials.  If it’s not commercially viable for big banks with thousands of customers in the EU, to continue operating, then the same will apply to other financial services providers.  Not least financial advisers.

Many Brits who moved to Spain have kept their UK financial advisers.  This is understandable given that they will usually have had a relationship with them for many years and can therefore rely on them and trust them.  The vast majority of UK financial advisers will will not have the means or justification, to go to the expense of setting themselves up in Spain, to continue servicing a few clients who live there.

The reality is that many thousands of Brits throughout Spain and the EU, stand to be abandoned by their UK banks, financial advisers and other service providers due to Brexit.

Read more about UK Financial Advisers and their EU resident clients post Brexit.

What Do Should I do If My UK Banks or Financial Service Provider is Unable to Provide Services in the EU?

A short term measure could be to use the address of a friend or family member.  This could help you keep your account open for the time being giving you some time to plan and sort out new arrangements. If you do this, it’s important that you check the terms of the the accounts that you have.  Most accounts that include a credit facility, (overdraft, credit card etc), actually require you to be resident in the UK, not just have a UK address.

It really does depend on your situation, and the reason why you use the account provided by your UK bank.  If you need an account denominated in GBP (pounds), to make and receive payments, then online account providers like for example Revolut, may have a solution.  They offer accounts in the main currencies including GBP, and support direct debits in both EUR and GBP.

Some Spanish banks also offer GBP accounts, and there are also a few international banks such as Standard Bank, that provide accounts in all the main currencies.  With the advent of online banks, it’s also quite easy to open accounts with EU online banks, so there are quite a few options to set up alternative banking arrangements.

One thing to also be aware of is that come 1st January, Spanish banks will be able to charge to receive payments from UK banks, so it’s worthwhile taking the time now to fully review your banking setup.

Of course, whilst there are options, when relationships stretch back many decades and your banking has been a habit of a lifetime, being abandoned is a bitter pill to swallow.

If you are affected by this or think you may be, the first thing you should do is contact your UK bank or financial adviser to find out where you stand.  If you then need to set up new banking arrangements, it’s advisable to do so without delay.

If you’re not sure what this means to you, whether you’re affected, or not sure what to do and would like to speak to a professional who can guide and advise you, please feel free to get in touch and ask to speak to one of our Financial Services Advisers.

Contact Us

Phone & WhatsApp (+34) 951 77 55 44 / (+44) 033 000 10 777

Exchanging Your Spanish Residency Certificate for the TIE for British UK Nationals

The TIE, Tarjeta de Indentidad de Extranjero, is the Spanish identification card for citizens from third countries (non-EU) who reside in Spain.  Since July 2020 British UK nationals moving to Spain have also had to apply for this card, as the UK is no longer in the EU.

If you already have a Spanish residency certificate, you do not have to apply for the TIE, but you can voluntarily exchange your certificate for the card.

Both the Spanish and UK Government websites and their Consulate pages confirm that the green residency certificate, A4 and credit card sized remain valid for UK nationals and prove the holders residency and retained rights under the withdrawal agreement, having settled in Spain before the UK left the EU.  However considering the issues some have encountered during the recent Covid19 travel restrictions, e.g. multiple incidences of authorities and airlines not understanding the rules and denying certificate holders entry to Spain, it is advisable to get the TIE.

Aside from this the card is a full bio-metric national ID card, therefore so much more useful than the paper certificate.  The card also has the words ARTICULO 50 TUE, a reference to note that the holder was resident in Spain before the end of the transition period and has retained rights.

The Residency Certificate TIE Exchange Application Process

The application process is relatively straight forward, and appointments are readily available in most areas at the Foreigners Offices and National Police Stations.

You need to have a pre-booked appointment.

You can make an appointment through the following link:

For your appointment you will need:

*Completed EX23 application form
*Your existing EU residency Card and a copy
*Passport and a copy ( a copy of your passport and the application is acceptable if you are in the process of renewing it)
*Small passport (carnet size) photo 32mmx28mm
*Recent padron (if you have changed address since you obtained your residency certificate)
*Modelo 790 form with 12 euros tax paid and stamped at the bank

When you present your application your fingerprints will be taken, and if everything else is in order, you will be given confirmation of your processed application and told to make an appointment to go back and collect your card in 5 to 6 weeks.  You may have to wait longer.

If you currently have a temporary residency certificate, your new TIE will be valid for 5 years.   You can apply to get a permanent one, either when you reach the 5 year anniversary of the date you got your residency certificate, or at the 5 year expiry of your TIE.

If you currently have a permanent residency certificate (with the word ‘permanente’), your new card will be issued for 10 years and thereafter is automatically renewable.  If you have held a temporary residency certificate for more than 5 years (but didn’t upgrade it to permanent), you may also be issued with a 10 year permanent TIE.

The TIE for British UK Nationals

Withdrawal Agreement TIE for British UK Nationals
The new Withdrawal Agreement TIE ‘tarjeta de idenitidad de extranjeros’ for British UK Nationals

Need a Hand With Your Residency Certificate TIE Exchange Application?

Residency Certificate TIE Exchange Service

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(+34) 951 77 55 44 / (+44) 033 0001 0777