Are you a ‘Swallow’ or do you actually ‘live’ in Spain? What does Brexit mean for you from January 1st 2020?


The term ‘Swallow’ is used to describe a certain type of Brit we find here in Spain. I first heard it used by the British Consul at a seminar where we were advising Brits in Spain on what to expect from life post-Brexit.

As you may know, a swallow is a type of bird that flies south to warmer climes for the winter months, returning to Britain each year. The word ‘Swallow’ has been frequently used to describe Brits who travel to Spain each year, often for months at a time, but who are not resident here, meaning they stay under the 183-day rule and return to the UK for the majority of the year.

Until now that’s been a pretty good arrangement for many of you. You can enjoy many months of the Spanish lifestyle, but on the whole avoid more complicated matters such as Spanish tax, residency, healthcare etc.

From January 1st 2020 that all changes. As a financial adviser I am currently inundated by former swallows who have now decided they want to make Spain their permanent home. With such a choice comes all the usual questions in terms of ‘What will this cost me from a taxation point of view?’, ‘What do I need to do with regards my pensions & investments before I become a Spanish resident?’, and ‘What should I know with regards Inheritance and Wealth Tax?’. As we near the end of the year the time to get answers and organise your finances is shortening.

Let’s firstly consider what it means for swallows going into 2021. Well, according to the government advice page you’ll need to have a passport that is less than 10 years old and has at least 6 months left on it. You’ll need travel insurance that includes healthcare. You’ll also need around 4 months to prepare if you intend to take your pet with you. You may also need to show a return or onward ticket and prove you have enough money for your stay.

The good news is you won’t need a visa, but the really alarming part for our swallows is that you only have the right to stay in the EU (plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) for a total of 90 days in every 180 days. This means you can’t simply turn up and stay for 182 days, as you could before. This could really disrupt those of you who are used to staying for long period during the times you want to be here the most.

This is why so many of you are now deciding to make Spain, rather than the UK, your permanent home. As long as you have applied for residency before December 31st, then none of the above applies to you. You can stay in Spain as long as you want, and for many you’ll be guaranteed healthcare and other benefits. You won’t be restricted in terms of visiting the UK either, as long as you retain your UK passport.

One last point that seems to cause a lot of confusion, if you obtain residency, and have a green card or TIE, you are only protected under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and avoid the issues in this article if you subsequently remain in Spain full-time, register for taxes etc. Simply having the Green Card or TIE doesn’t guarantee anything in itself, you also need to live here full-time and follow the rules of residency.

At Chorus Financial we are having this conversation with Brits every week. So many people assume that becoming legally resident in Spain is a chore and will lead to higher taxes and other issues, but with the right financial planning that is not necessarily the case.

If you are in the process of obtaining residency or are perhaps on the fence, contact Chorus Financial today for a free, no obligation review of all your finances. Chorus offer fully transparent financial advice without hidden fees or unnecessary product tie-ins and can helps Brits across Spain prepare for a smooth and stress-free post-Brexit life. Contact us today on +34 965 641 163, [email protected] or visit for more information.

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