UK expats in Spain after Brexit

All of the latest Brexit news on how British expats living in Spain could be affected.

Brexit is here; but what does this mean for expats living in Spain? / Gtres
Brexit is here; but what does this mean for expats living in Spain? / Gtres
24 January 2020, Emma Donaldson

At the end of 2019, the Conservative party won the UK general election with a huge majority, promising to "get Brexit done". The 31st of January, Brexit day, is finally upon us, but Brexit has been so long coming that majority of us have probably forgotten what it means for British people living in Spain and if there are consequences, let alone for everyone else. And although there is a Brexit deal, no one really knows what the coming months of negotiations between the UK Government and the EU will bring. Here’s the latest Brexit news and what we do know about how Brexit affects expats in Spain and those who plan to travel there:

The transition period

Let’s start with some good news for Brits: the agreed Brexit deal includes a transition period; this agreement basically keeps relations between the UK and the EU as they are now and comes into effect immediately upon the UK leaving the EU and will run until December 2020, unless it is extended. This means that Brits who want to move to Spain but have yet to do so can still make the move on the same terms as before until the end of December 2020.

How does this affect expats living in Spain?

First of all, if you are a legal resident in Spain, or for that matter in any EU country, the deal states that you will have the right to stay, however, all Brits living in Spain must apply for a “NIE” (foreigner identity card) before 31st December 2020 to prove their legal residency status. There doesn’t seem to be the necessity of an additional visa and the Spanish government has approved legislation for the estimated 400,000 British people who live in Spain, laying out that Brexit won’t change the status of Brits in Spain. This is what Spanish president Pedro Sanchez has stated, on the condition that the British Government extends reciprocity to Spanish citizens living in the UK.

How will Brexit affect British property owners in Spain?

Future British investment in Spain should not be dramatically affected by Brexit and British citizens would, in the current position, be able to invest in the Spanish real estate market given that there are no current restrictions regarding being an EU national in order to buy a property in Spain. Unfortunately, we do not know exactly Brexit will bring for British citizens who already own property in Spain, nor do we know if Tax Treaty International Agreements will be signed between both the UK and Spain to resolve any possible issues.

Will Brits still be entitled to healthcare?

Another big question on everyone’s mind is healthcare after Brexit. So far, we know that the aggregation of national insurance contributions has been agreed and during the transition period, the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will continue to cover EU travel. What will happen to them after this period is yet to be established, unless you’re from Northern Ireland, where citizens will be given an alternative EHIC by the Irish government.

Pensions and benefits

On a positive note, things shouldn’t change too dramatically for pensioners living in Spain and for those who receive benefits. The necessary agreements have been reached so that those affected in Spain won’t be left out of pocket. The deal states that UK state pensions will be increased annually as has been the case for those living in the UK or in the EU up until now and the plan is that this will continues. Disability benefits will also remain unchanged.

Freedom of movement

On a less positive note, leaving the EU goes hand in hand with the end of freedom of movement for the UK. As well as affecting people who arrive in Spain after the end of the transition period, this equally means that British people cannot move as easily between countries. For example, if you have residency in Germany, you cannot then move directly to Spain for work without having to go through the Spanish immigration system.

As we all know, Brexit news can change rapidly from day to day, so keep watching this space to see how Brexit will affect British expats living in Spain.

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