13 Apr, 2021 @ 20:30
2 mins read

EXPLAINED: What Spain’s new population stats tell us about British expat residents

Brits on the beach Spain by Cordon Press
Brits on the beach Spain by Cordon Press

NEW data revealing a boom in the number of British nationals registering as residents in Spain has been published by the Spanish government.

And the report by Spain’s Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration provides some fascinating reading,not only highlighting the sudden rush by Brits to legalise their status as Brexit approached but also revealing the favoured areas of Spain for Brits to settle in.

Here’s what we found out:

Despite difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, an astonishingly large number of British nationals managed to register as residents in Spain during 2020.

READ MORE: Stats reveal expat boom in Spain as Brits rushed to meet Brexit deadline

Daily Life Amid Coronavirus (covid 19) Crisis In Benidorm, Spain 09 Sep 2020
The number of Brits officially resident in Spain rose by 6.1 percent in 2020. Photo: Cordon Press

The surge in applications came as the Brexit deadline approached and likely included a huge number of people who never quite got round to officially registering with the extranjeria (foreigner’s office) before.

But it also included people who made the last minute move to Spain before Brexit ended their right to freedom of movement within the European Union and in order to secure rights to live in Spain guaranteed for all Brits living here December 31 under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The stats show that some 22,000 British nationals successfully went through the residency process during the course of 2020, an annual increase of 6.1% on the year before.

By the end of the Transition Period on December 31, 2020, Spain had registered a total of 381,448 British citizens as residents in Spain.

Of this number, 20 percent (64,715) people have already requested the new biometric TIE card, with 48,177 of those choosing to replace their old green residency certificates for the new identity card.

Many others are likely still going through the process, waiting for their residency applications to be accepted.

The recent data reveals where in Spain British nationals are registered as residents in Spain, and not surprisingly it’s those regions with a Mediterranean coastline that prove most popular.

Andalucia is the region of Spain with the largest number of British residents, some 29% of the total, while the Valencian Community runs a close second at 27%.

But island life also proves a draw with 11% of Britons in Spain choosing to live in the Canary Islands and 8% on the Balearics .

Meanwhile ten percent of the British population in Spain choose to live in Catalonia.

Madrid attracts just 6 percent of Brits in Spain, while Murcia is home to 5 percent of them.

Those British nationals who live in other areas of Spain, including almost the entirety of the northern half of the peninsula plus Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha, amount to just 4 percent or just over 15,000 people.

Captura De Pantalla (251)
Chart shows total number of Brits in Spain, age demographics and distribution by region.

The average age of British nationals now resident in Spain is 54-years-old, older than the average age of all the other nationalities with sizeable populations in Spain. The average age of a German resident in Spain is 49 while the country with the youngest age residents in Spain is Pakistan with an average age of 30.

British nationals now make up the third most numerous group of immigrant residents in Spain after Romania who number just over a million and Morocco with 811,530.

After Britons it is Italians and then the Chinese who form the biggest nationality groups in Spain.


Fiona Govan

Fiona Govan joined The Olive Press in March 2021. She moved to Spain in 2006 to be The Daily Telegraph’s Madrid correspondent and then worked for six years as Editor of The Local Spain. She lives in Madrid’s Malasaña district with her dog Rufus.

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