With Brexit due to take place on the 29th of March 2019, it is important that UK expats living in Spain keep themselves informed as to all of the latest news and updates coming from the British and Spanish governments, as well as from the European Union.
Although at this moment in time we do not know whether the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal (or even leave at all), importantly, both the UK and Spanish governments have previously signalled that they are committed to working together in order to protect the rights of British citizens living in Spain and the rights of Spanish nationals living in the UK.
Both governments have suggested that access to each countries respective healthcare systems and legal residency would be maintained after Brexit.
This page will be updated as and when there are any announcements or any significant changes in regards to the topics below. Please bookmark and share with your friends and family.
Here you will find a brief overview of the most important areas for British expats living in Spain both prior to and after the UK exits the EU. We also outline the most essential things for you to do prior to the Brexit deadline to insure that you are seen as legally resident here in Spain.
It is important to note that although the Brexit deadline is the 29th of March 2019, The Withdrawal Agreement provides a transition period until the 31st of December 2020, which may be extended. The transition period will allow all parties more time to get everything finalised, iron out any issues that may arise and negotiate any future trade deals.
[19/03/2019] Third Brexit Vote Blocked By House Of Commons Speaker - https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/668-third-brexit-vote-blocked-by-house-of-commons-speaker.html
[15/03/2019] British MPs Vote To Delay Brexit - https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/666-british-mps-vote-to-delay-brexit.html
[14/03/2019] No 10 Will Give MPs Free Vote To Extend Article 50 Today - https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/664-no-10-will-give-mps-free-vote-to-extend-article-50-today.html
[13/03/2019] Deal or No-Deal: MPs To Vote After May Crushing - https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/663-deal-or-no-deal-mps-to-vote-after-may-crushing.html
[05/03/2019] Spain Guarantees Expat Rights For No-Deal Brexit - https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/655-spain-guarantees-expat-rights-for-no-deal-brexit.html
[27/02/2019] Spanish PM announces decree to deal with a “disorderly” Brexit - https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/02/27/inenglish/1551263074_453645.html
[27/02/2019] EU Confirms Brits Will Retain Social Security Rights If No-Deal Brexit - https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/653-eu-confirms-brits-will-retain-social-security-rights-if-no-deal-brexit.html
Under current Spanish law, you must register with the government if you intend to stay in Spain for longer than 3 months in any one period.
If you are registered as a resident in Spain prior to the 29th of March 2019, there is nothing you will need to do at this time.
There will be a transition period between the 30th of March and the 31st of December 2020. During this time your rights under EU law will be maintained.
If you currently hold a registration certificate or ID card, these are valid for proving that you are legally resident in Spain following the UK’s withdrawal on the 29th of March 2019 and as such you will benefit from the rights specified under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Once the transition period begins, those who were resident in Spain prior to the 30th of March 2019, will need to request a definitive residence document which will be a foreigners identity card or ‘third-country’ ID card commonly referred to as a TIE (Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros). These will need to be obtained by the end of 2020 and will replace the existing A4 green residency certificates and cards.
If you arrive in Spain during the transition period, a TIE card will be issued to you directly.
The TIE will be a biometric card and will prove your eligibility to benefit from the rights included under the Withdrawal Agreement. The card will also mean your status will be that of a legally resident ‘third-country’ national.
If you have Spanish nationality, there is nothing that you will need to do.
If you are currently living in Spain and have not yet registered as an EU citizen here, you should do so NOW. Please see the section further below on ‘What you should do prior to Brexit’.
Spanish law currently states that you must exchange your UK driving licence within 2 years of becoming legally resident in Spain.
The current fee to exchange your licence is €24.10. You will also need to take a basic fitness and aptitude test via one of the official driver medical centres (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado) You can see a video of the process from n332.es via YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh4EZP92znY
To exchange your licence, you will need to make an appointment via the DGT website at https://www.dgt.es or call 060. Further details can be found here https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/expat-tips/88-spanish-driving-licences.html
If your UK driving licence is lost or stolen within the two year period before you have exchanged it, you will need to contact the DVLA in the UK who will issue you with a ‘certificate of entitlement’ in Spanish.
You can use this as proof of your eligibility to drive in Spain and will also enable you to apply for a Spanish licence. The DVLA will NOT issue you with a new UK driving licence if you are resident in Spain.
You can see the official information from Spain’s DGT traffic department in English here.
The official form can be downloaded and printed from the following link
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Spanish government have said that under their new contingency plans (Ley 5/2019), British nationals resident in Spain will have a grace period of 9 months in which to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one. The grace period of 9 months means you will need to do this by the end of the transition period on the 31st of December 2020.
It is not clear what will happen after the 9 month grace period, but it may then mean that those who have NOT previously exchanged their licences would need to take driving lessons AND sit a Spanish driving test. Not only would this be quite stressful for the majority of Brits, it would also be expensive as Spanish law dictates that you must sit at least 20 hours of lessons prior to taking the test.
You would also need to pay the application fee. It is estimated that it could cost around £1,800, so it is well worth renewing your UK driving licence in good time prior to Brexit.
Under current European Union Law both UK citizens in Spain and Spanish citizens in the UK have the right to free healthcare under the healthcare legislations established in those countries.
If you receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit in Spain, you can apply for an S1 certificate, which will allow you and your dependants to access public healthcare in Spain up until the 29th of March 2019.
If you currently have an S1 or EHIC (For those travelling to Spain) you will continue to be covered up until the end of 2020 and mirrors the offer that the British government has made to Spanish nationals living in the UK.
If you pay into the Spanish social security system and have a health card (Tarjeta Sanitaria) you are currently entitled to healthcare in Spain.
If you are moving to Spain, do not qualify for an S1 card and will not be employed here and paying into the social security system, you will need to prove to the Spanish authorities that you will not be a financial burden to the state.
One of the requirements is to obtain private health insurance cover. You will also need to prove sufficient income for you and your family. This also applies to students studying in Spain. Official information can be found here http://extranjeros.mitramiss.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/CiudadanosComunitarios/hoja102/index.html#requisitos
UK exits the EU with a deal - Holders of a health card will retain their rights, and will be dependent on any specific bilateral agreements that are adopted between the United Kingdom and Spain.
UK exits the EU with a no-deal - If you have a Health Card (Tarjeta Sanitaria) issued by the Spanish National Health System, it is because you meet legally established criteria under Spanish law to be eligible for that card. Your individual situation will not change because the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the EU.
Once the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals will no longer be permitted to vote in European elections.
However, the UK and Spanish governments recently signed a bilateral treaty meaning that UK citizens will be able to vote and/or stand in local elections regardless as to whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal. Further reading here
UK nationals in Spain can still vote in UK Parliament Elections, but will need to register as an overseas voter. More info here https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/can-i-vote/overseas
Currently you may only register and vote in UK Parliament elections if you have previously lived in the UK within the last 15 years.
The outcome of Brexit will not affect your right to hold a UK passport and to renew it while living in Spain.
You can renew your UK passport from overseas via the official website page at
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal after the 29th of March 2019, you will need to make sure that you have 6 months validity left on your passport prior to your arrival in Spain.
Please note that if you renewed your passport before it expired, you may receive up to 9 extra months validity on the passport. Any extra months on your passport over the 10 years, will not count towards the 6 months that should be remaining in order to travel to most European countries.
You can check the validity of your passport via the official government passport checker service online at https://www.passport.service.gov.uk/check-a-passport
The UK currently has a double-taxation agreement with Spain, which ensures that you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.
When the UK leaves the European Union on the 29th of March 2019, regardless as to whether there is a deal or no-deal the double taxation arrangements with Spain will NOT change.
This means that if you are resident in Spain, you will be taxed in Spain only on your worldwide income, regardless as to the country the income was derived. Those who are classed as non-resident will only pay tax on income that arises in Spain for example, capital gains tax, I.B.I and Imputed Income Tax/Rental property taxes. More on those below.
Spain also has an additional requirement for residents, which is known as the annual declaration of overseas assets (Modelo 720).
This only applies to those who have foreign assets over €50,000. Further info can be found at https://www.healthplanspain.com/blog/spain-news/179-new-spanish-wealth-tax-deadline-april-30th-2013.html
PENSIONS & BENEFITS
Regardless as to whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, you will still be able to receive your UK pension if living in Spain.
If you last worked in Spain, you will need to apply for your pension via the Spanish social security system or INSS (Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad) http://www.seg-social.es/Internet_6/Pensionistas/Servicios/Solicitudesdepresta34887/PensionesdeReglamen34912/index.htm
If you have not worked in Spain, you can contact the IPS (International Pension Centre) to apply for it. https://www.gov.uk/international-pension-centre
The UK has said that it is committed in continuing to uprate pensions until 2020, but whether they will be uprated beyond this will depend on reciprocal agreements with Spain and other EU countries.
Other benefits such as child benefit and disability benefits will also continue to be paid to those living in Spain.
Further official guidance on pensions and benefits can be found here
If the UK exits without a deal, the rules on travelling with pets between the UK and the EU will change. In the event of a no-deal, the UK would possibly become an ‘unlisted country’.
Although the UK is committed to minimising the impact that Brexit will have on those wishing to take their pets abroad, a lot will depend on whether there is a deal or not.
Official guidelines say that if you wish to travel with your pet after the 29th of March 2019, you will need to contact your vet at least 4 months before travel to get the latest advice.
You can view the latest information via the UK government site here
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO PRIOR TO BREXIT
If you are already resident in Spain you will need to make sure that the Spanish authorities are aware of this. By doing so, there can be no ambiguity come the 29th of March 2019.
The following advice is not only our own, it is also the advice of the British Embassy here in Spain and the British government.
Even with around six weeks to go, it’s important that you get the ball rolling, even if you cannot complete any of the above before the 29th of March 2019. If you can show that you have already applied, you will still be in a good position and will not be leaving anything to chance.
The Spanish government has now given its assurances to British expats living in Spain that they will give them a ‘grace period’ in order to complete any residency requirements and get their documentation in order. The grace period will end on the 31st of December 2020. This should give British nationals resident in Spain sufficient time in which to get their affairs in order.
We have read countless comments on social media from expats who seem to think that the above is “just scaremongering”. Although we would definitely agree that the press have been circulating a ton of ‘fake news’ recently in regards to Brits living in the EU, it’s a FACT that if you are a resident in Spain, you will need to make sure that the Spanish authorities are aware of this and that you have registered in all the right places as outlined above.
If there is a no-deal, things will be even more uncertain. Why leave these things to chance?
If you are genuinely resident here and are not trying to avoid paying taxes or flout the law in some way, there can be no reason why you wouldn’t want to make sure you are legally registered wherever you need to be.
There are many gestors and companies who can help you to obtain all of the above for a small fee. In the long run it will help you to avoid any sleepless nights with the run up to Brexit D-Day just weeks away!
For more details and information from both the UK and Spanish governments, please see the following two websites.
UK Government Official Guidelines - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain
Spanish Government Official Guidelines - http://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/lang/en/brexit/Paginas/index.aspx
February 21, 2019