Spain promises to safeguard residency rights for British expats as long as the UK promises the same for Spaniards.
The Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell has confirmed that the Spanish cabinet has signed off a decree to ensure that British citizens living in Spain can continue to enjoy the same residential rights as before in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, the guarantee is only on the requirement that the same terms will apply for Spanish citizens living in the UK.
Currently, over 300,000 Britons are officially registered as residents in Spain. However, this number increases dramatically when you take into account the number of British citizens who only spend part of the year in the country. Similarly, there are over 150,000 Spanish citizens living in the UK. As a result, the Spanish government is keen to protect these residents.
This decree can help to provide peace of mind to nervous British citizens who currently live in Spain and provides the reassurance they need in the face of what is considered chaotic Brexit negotiations. The Spanish cabinet would like all Britons living in Spain to be legally registered by the end of 2020. As a result, they will receive a new residency card, which protects their rights as a resident of Spain. The government predicts that over 400,000 will apply. In some cases, the government will make the application process 'automatic'.
Spain is also allowing expats to continue with their UK driving licenses for nine months. However, during this time, residents should look at replacing these with Spanish permits. Furthermore, Spain will work with the UK to calculate pensions and other benefits. This is on the understanding that the UK will do the same.
While UK citizens remain in a state of flux with no clarity surrounding Brexit, Spain has offered much advice for tourist, residents and businesses who have a connection with Spain. The Spanish government have an advice page on their website which covers important aspects (in English) and the implications Brexit will have on financial services, travel, pensions, healthcare and education. Many British authorities in Spain have also been running events around the country to help prepare people for Brexit.
Josep Borrell explains; "Our main objective is that no British or Spanish citizen is left unprotected, neither they nor their relatives."
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