If you intend to return to the UK permanently, this sheet gives advice on what to do before you leave Spain, and what your rights will be when you get to the UK – it should be as well planned as if you were moving abroad.

De-registering with the Spanish Authorities

Tell the Town Hall and the Police you are leaving; and if you have registered for healthcare, the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social (INSS) also need to know. If you don’t de-register before you leave Spain, you may face difficulties in registering in the UK and getting benefits.

Rights to means-tested benefits

You won’t automatically be entitled to all the benefits you had before you left the UK and special rules apply to people who arrive there after living in another country. Means-tested benefits are only available to people who are ‘habitually resident’. This means you must be able to show that:

You have attachments in the UK

You have lived there for some time, and;

You have a settled intention to remain in the country.

You may need to have been living in the UK for 1 to 3 months before you can demonstrate that you are habitually resident there. Eligibility for means-tested benefits is decided by your local authority.


The NHS is first and foremost for the benefit of people living lawfully in the UK. Entitlement to free NHS treatment is based on whether someone is ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK, and not on British nationality or past / present payment of National Insurance contributions or UK taxes.

People who don’t pass the ‘habitual residence’ tests may be charged for treatment. It is up to NHS / Primary Care Trusts to establish whether each patient is ordinarily resident for the purposes of healthcare. If you can’t satisfy the NHS / Primary Care Trust that you’re entitled to free treatment you may be liable to pay.

However, the local authority in your area is obliged to provide or arrange residential accommodation even if you’re of ‘no settled residence’, or not ordinarily resident in the area and in urgent need of residential accommodation.

People who can pay for their own care can of course make their own arrangements, but local authorities are able to arrange care on their behalf if appropriate. Before care home options are considered for individuals, local authorities have to complete assessments of their needs and financial circumstances.

Useful information on finding a care home, assistance from councils, costs and related topics is available on the Directgov public information website at: wellbeing/healthservices/carehomes/dg_10031407