The route to Spanish residency is likely to look different for British citizens after the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year, and after 31st December 2020 the amount of money you have in your bank account (or your annual salary) is likely to determine whether your application for residency will be approved or not.
Effectively, if you want to be a Spanish resident then you need to demonstrate that you have a suitable income to support yourself, and any dependents that you would like to move to Spain with you. One of the stand out requirements of Spanish residency is having “sufficient income” or “sufficient resources” as well as having secured adequate healthcare coverage. This has always been the case, even before Brexit, but these minimum income requirements have rarely been enforced for EU nationals who moved under freedom of movement.
Defining Sufficient Income
According to the website of the Spanish Interior Ministry, the self-sufficiency requirements are: “They have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members so as not to become a burden for social assistance in Spain during their period of residence, as well as a public or private health insurance that covers all risks in Spain.”
This means that you are either working a job that generates enough income to support yourself and your family, have a regular pension income, or have substantial enough savings that you can demonstrate you can support your family without needing to claim benefits from the Spanish state.
Registering for Residency Before 31st December 2020
If you are in a position to register for residency before the end of the Brexit withdrawal period then you will still be treated as a regular EU/EEA citizen, even if you don’t have your residency appointment until after 31st December 2020. That means registering for residency ASAP is the best route to take, if you’re able to.
In order to register for residency now, you need to be able to show that you have been living in Spain before the date of your application. This proof can be provided in a variety of different ways: property deeds, rental agreement, utility bills or a padron certificate (this is a registration certificate from your local town hall).
Until this year, income requirements for all EU nationals have been very vague and that also applied to UK citizens, but even during this withdrawal period, many Brits are reporting that they are now being asked to show that they are self-sufficient, even though their right to remain is still protected under the Withdrawal Agreement.
How Much Money Do You Need?
The amount of cash you will actually need is the million dollar (or Euro) question that everyone wants the answer to! Unfortunately, there is no simple answer: According to Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Spain, the minimum annual amounts required in 2020 for residency applications for citizens of the EU, EEA and Switzerland are:
€5,538 for an individual applicant
€9,415 for families with two members
€13,292 for families with three members
€17,169 for families with four members
An extra €3,876 for each additional family member
However, it isn’t as simple as just having this minimal amount available: different rules apply to different types of residency applications, and the amount of money you need will also vary depending where in Spain you want to live. What’s more, the official Spanish authorities don’t seem to have set a specific fee, as the amounts they suggest changes depending on the organization they are speaking to.
Why Does the Amount Change From Region to Region?
The Spanish Royal Decree states: “As regards sufficient financial means, a fixed amount cannot be established, but rather the personal situation of nationals of a Member State of the European Union or of another State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area. In any case, this amount will not exceed the level of resources by which social assistance is granted to Spaniards or the amount of the minimum Social Security pension”.
Effectively, because different regions set their own benefit figures, and you must have more than the minimum amount required to claim benefits in order to secure residency (in order to ensure you won’t be a burden on the state) the figures vary from region to region.
To further complicate things, civil servants in different “extranjería” offices are allowed to use their discretion when judging what constitutes sufficient income or financial resource: that means that you could find that you are asked for more (or less) than you expected when you attend your residency appointment.
Most offices, therefore, operate on a case-by-case basis but according to British Consul Sarah-Jane Morris “It’s based on what they consider to be enough for you to live off, which is why it can vary because it's linked to the benefits that you can get at in areas.That is why it’s important to find out from the area you are registering in how much you would need to prove. It will also depend on your personal situation, whether you live alone, how many dependents you have, whether you rent or own a home.”
The only way to know for sure how much you will be expected to have to qualify for residency is to contact your local extranjeria office and ask them directly.
Cash Isn’t King!
Not going to be earning an income whilst you’re living in Spain? Investment rich, but cash poor? Don’t worry, it isn’t just the money in your bank account that counts towards your self-sufficiency or financial means. Proof of your financial means can come from a variety of different sources including, but not limited to, property titles, certified checks, even credit cards accompanied by a bank certification that proves the amount available as credit on the card. Effectively, any proof that you can provide that you have assets that will make you self sufficient will help when you make your application for Spanish residency.
Registering for Residency After 31st December 2020
What will happen after the end of the withdrawal agreement has yet to be clarified, which is of particular concern to individuals who want to move to Spain but aren’t able to do so before the end of 2020.
The assumption is, when they are no longer a part of the EU, British residents will be treated like third-country nationals, and that means that whilst it is still more than possible to secure Spanish residency, it will be much more complicated than it is right now. If this is the case, and the third party national rules do apply post-Brexit, then you can expect to have to prove that you have €25,816.32 per annum per person (€2,151.36 per month) and not quite double for a couple. (These are the current amounts, but they could change, or different amounts could be put in place specifically for UK residents that haven’t been announced yet.
The clear message though is that if you already live in Spain, or are planning to move to Spain soon, you should ensure you are registered as a Spanish resident by the end of 2020 wherever possible.
Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Whether you’re looking to buy or rent a Spanish property, our local property experts are perfectly placed to help. Why not get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you.