Even though it’s been nearly a month since the deadline for reaching an agreement passed, we still don’t know what the future relationship between the UK and the European Union will look like after Brexit. This uncertainty, naturally, has Brexit expats in Spain concerned about a whole host of issues relating to their residency status, pensions, healthcare, and more.
In this article, we’ll look at how Brexit could affect expats living in Spain in a variety of scenarios, from a “soft” to a “hard” Brexit, to potential deals, indefinite delay, and a no-deal Brexit situation. However, we recommend that you seek advice from legal experts in expatriation and Spanish visas.
Soft Brexit for Spanish expats
The term soft Brexit has come to mean a separation of the UK from the EU with a certain transition or grace period. This would allow British expats living in European countries time to get their legal situation sorted out.
Spain’s government is working to draw up the specifics of what would happen to their Brexit expats. Although still tentative, Simon Manley, British Ambassador to Spain, reassured people earlier this year that their rights would not change significantly until the end of the transition period, which would be the end of the year, 2020.
What a deal looks like for Brexit for expats in Spain
In his assemblies with British expats living in Spain, Manley described the impact that a Brexit deal would have on them. “The deal will maintain your right to residency, pensions will continue to be uprated and healthcare will continue as before.” However, you would have to get the foreigner’s identity card or TIE, although will fewer requirements than other non-EU nationals.
The crucial catch here is that, to get your TIE, you must be registered as a resident with your local National Police office (Comisaría). Manley urged attendees to register their status as soon as possible to avoid being denied residency status at the end of the grace period.
No deal Brexit expats in Spain
A no-deal Brexit for expats in Spain and elsewhere in the EU is worst-case but still very possible situation. This is why the Spanish government is working proactively to decide what will happen to UK expats living in Spain in the event that no deal is reached.
In the most dire of circumstances, this will mean Brits are treated no differently from citizens of other non-EU countries, like Australia or the USA. That means you would need to apply for a residency visa depending on your situation (pensioner, worker, student, investor, etc.). If you are not legally working and paying into social security, you would need to take out a private health insurance policy in Spain.
It would be extremely important to ensure your residency status is clean as a whistle in this case, because after Brexit, you could be legally deported as an illegal alien.
Brexit and expats living in Spain: options
There is a possibility that the deadline for the Brexit deal will continue to be extended, which could buy Brits living in Spain some extra time. It could even be drawn out indefinitely or scrapped if Theresa May and her Conservative Party are replaced in the next elections, in which case a new Brexit referendum could be on the table.
But in the interest of preparing ahead, here are some options for Brexit and expats living in Spain:
- Register your residence with the National Police as soon as possible so you can get your TIE card if and when the time comes.
- Review the eligibility criteria for the different visas available to non-EU nationals, and find the option that best fits your situation.
- If you have the means, consider the “golden visa”, an expedited residency visa for investors who buy more than €500,000 worth of real estate property in Spain.
- If you have been living in Spain continuously for at least five years, you may be able to apply for permanent residency status regardless of the outcome of Brexit.
- Some UK expats are looking for ways to become citizens of EU countries before their status changes. In the case of Spain, you must have lived continuously for at least 10 years, have at least an A2 level of Spanish language, be integrated in Spanish society, and be able to pass an exam on Spanish laws and culture.