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Repatriation for Expats in Spain

Submitted: August 2013

Repatriation can occur voluntarily – when you decide to return to the country of your origin, or forcedly – when the government requires you to return to your home country, either because your visa was not extended or because you entered the country illegally.

When you decide to return to your country of origin voluntarily, you will find that the repatriation process involves nearly as much bureaucracy as when you first left the country. Therefore it is advisable to start planning your return several months in advance.

If you have been away for a long time and have given up your original citizenship, you should look into entry requirements in your country of origin. You might also want to consider reapplying for your original citizenship. The websites of the respective immigration or border control departments offer extensive information. For example, Spanish expats returning to Spain and wishing to reapply for their Spanish citizenship can have a look at the Website of the Ministry of Justice on Citizenship Options, where you will also find information on resuming citizenship.

Top of the to-do list when repatriating is also informing your landlord that you will be leaving the country. Make sure to do so within the agreed notice period; otherwise you might incur additional costs. If you own a flat, it is also a good idea to put the property on the market a few months prior to departure as it might take a while to sell. On the other hand, if you were renting out a property in your country of origin to which you are now returning, you should inform your tenants in due time so that they can start searching for new housing.
Another important step is to inform the tax authorities that you are leaving the country. Note that if you leave in the middle of a particular tax year, you might still have tax obligations in that country for the remainder of that tax year. At the same time, you should register with the tax authorities back home. Make sure to look into current tax regulations as these might well have changed since your departure. Expats leaving Spain and Spanish expats returning to Spain should consult the Website of the Spanish tax authority, Agencia Tributaria, for more information. 

Another time-consuming matter is cancelling all subscriptions and services in the country you are leaving. Think of your newspaper subscriptions, sports club memberships,  internet and TV provider, TV license, mobile phone contract, and many more. Make sure to look into cancellation policies well in advance as certain service providers might have a set notice period and you run the danger of extra costs if you cancel prematurely.

You will also have to inform your bank of your departure. Take time to think through whether it pays off to keep your bank account open for a while longer, in particular if you are still expecting income from that country. However, note that certain banks may charge extra if you live abroad.

Additionally, do not forget to inform everyone that your address has changed! It is also a good idea to arrange for your mail to be forwarded to your new address for a certain period. If you are an expat departing from Spain have a look at the Spanish Post Website (Correos) on Diverting Mail (Reénvio postal).

Finally, you will have to go through a similar relocation process as upon your arrival. You will have to  take care of the shipment of your personal items, vehicles, and pets; therefore make sure to consult our Expat Briefing articles on relocation to the respective country of your origin. Spanish expats returning to Spain can have a look at: International Relocation for Expats to Spain and Relocation with Families and Pets.



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