Brexit, some advice for British people in Spain
Some basic Residency Guidance for UK Nationals living in Spain.
Amanda from Spanish Solutions attended our Comaskey sales meeting the other day with some information regarding Brexit and how it will affect our buyers and sellers in Spain. Of course, there is still a big chance that enough people in Britain will decide this is not a good decision economically or socially (why would you want to exclude Europeans from your country!!) and a second referendum will take place late in 2018. If this happens there will be a landslide victory, for the remain in Europe campaign but in the meantime, let’s assume that does not happen and the breakup of Europe and Britain actually takes place.
The question we asked Amanda was to explain where does that leave British people who are ready to move to Spain or those already living here?
We look after our clients- sure, every estate agent in Spain will tell you that. We do not like guess work however, we tell our clients exactly what we think will happen, but better still with our hundreds of years accumulative experience, we also make sure you are protected legally, from a taxation point of view and for your own peace of mind.
Over the past few months, Amanda told us, Spanish Solutions have seen a greatly increased number of enquiries from British people wanting to acquire residency here in Spain or Residencia as it is in Spanish – Our Spanish property buyers too are asking us daily about this. As you can imagine, the first thing that happened is that all the relevant offices across Spain have large delays for residency appointments. Of course, they do, this was a big a shock to the Spanish Government as it is to the British. Do not be expecting an appointment anytime soon to resolve your situation! This is moving like a wet week in Father Teds caravan.
Spanish Solutions (the experts when it comes to English speaking law in Spain) genuinely don´t know how difficult it may be to obtain residencias after 29th of March 2019. Again, this is assuming Britain goes ahead with Brexit.
If you refer to the GOV. UK website in the UK, you like me will possibly leave it as confused as I did. Yes, there is a great deal of information there to read but it is very clear the British government does not know how they will handle millions of Britons looking to get out of the country within the next year or so. We currently have full right to leave the UK and set up a life in any country in Europe and that is what people look like they are going to do, before the pain really kicks in.
What do you need to get a Residency Certificate in Spain pre-Brexit? (ie now!)
Nothing related to the Brexit and Spain is going to be easy- it may be ultimately simple, but not easy. I mean, it’s easy to get in touch with Spanish Solutions or Comaskey and let us deal with the far from easy paperwork.
The documentation you need to get a residency certificate depends on you. It´s different for a pensioner, worker, business owner, an early retiree or student.
On the Orihuela Costa. As a pensioner, you´ll need your NIE number, your tax number for Spain, the UK health form S1, passport, Padron (no more than 3 months old), bank statement, and also proof of pension (letter from the pension service). If you fall into one of the other categories, its more complicated but your Spanish Accountant and fiscal advisors will have access to all or most of the documentation.
At the beginning of January 2018, we managed to pull this information from the British government Brexit recommendations:
What according to the British Dept of Foreign affairs is the legal status of British people should they trigger Article 50?
British nationals, as well as their family members, will be able to live here, once covered by the agreement, once they are lawfully residing in Spain before 29 March 2019.
Can you see the reason for the rush to get residency?? The government is saying if you are here before this date, you can remain here, fully legally!
• Children born or adopted outside of a UK national’s resident state will also be covered by this agreement after the date of 29 March 2019.
• Close family members will be able to join UK nationals in Spain after pending exit under these rules- where the relationship clearly existed on 29 March 2019 and continues to exist. Therefore, a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, dependent children, grandchildren, dependent parents and grandparents can move to live in Spain with their family once that family member has already sorted out their residency in Spain
• Spain may require and will be entitled to do so, UK nationals and their family members covered by the latest agreement to apply to obtain individually the status to live in Spain. Basically, if your parent lives here, you can go through the easy procedure to apply for the right of residence in Europe generally and Spain specifically.
• Where an application is required after 2019, to obtain Spanish residency status, British nationals will have at least two years to submit their applications. So even after the cut off dates, there is a window for family to get legal status here but still we think the time to get applying is now.
• British nationals and their family members, post Brexit, will be entitled to be absent from their Member State of residence (Spain) for up to five years without negatively affecting their right to return to Europe.
• Healthcare, pensions and other benefits – Excellent news, UK nationals and family members covered by the agreement, will after Brexit, continue to have the same access and entitlements as they currently do to.What about UK nationals who move to Spain after 29 March 2019?
For UK nationals who buy property on the Costa Blanca and move to Spain after the UK’s withdrawal on 29 March 2019, they can expect not too many changes really. These British people can still live, work, live and study in Spain after the UK has left the European Union. How long will this period last? We have no clue, as it still is subject to negotiations. It is likely to be around 2 years and then, after that details of the immigration rules for UK nationals who wish to move to Spain will have been agreed (we hope!!).
UK nationals in Ireland
The rights currently enjoyed by UK and Irish nationals in the Common Travel Area will not be affected by the UK’s exit from the EU. We think then that British people can apply for an Irish passport (once they reach the requirements of the Irish Department of foreign affairs) and buy property, travel live and work in Spain just as Irish citizens- Again, we don’t know!
Current Status of British nationals in Spain
Until the UK finally leaves the European union, (it’s important to note that experts like Michal O Leary of Ryanair, say it is going to be impossible to have the agreement in place until 2023 by the way, that’s a full 4 years after the current cut-off date for negotiations) the UK remains a full member of the EU. This means for our British clients and family all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force.
This means they can:
• continue to travel freely within Spain and the EU using a UK passport.
• continue to enter Spain or any EU country with absolutely no visa requirements.
• continue to access health care, as they do now, during temporary visits to Spain and EU countries, simply using their European Health Insurance Card. Of course, private health insurance is a good option.
• retain their legal status as European citizens.
• continue to work and live in EU countries, like Spain.
• continue to receive their expected healthcare in EU countries.
• continue to retire in Spain
• collect their British pensions in EU countries.
Post-Brexit in Spain from 29th March 2019 The withdrawal agreement between Britain and Europe is still being discussed, we know this. It is looking likely that, as the UK loses EU citizenship, their citizens will no longer be entitled to reside in Spain under that status, but we do know it is not in the interest of Spain or Britain for their pensioners in particular to go home. (less tax for Spain, more health care costs for Britain).
Spain to make it easier for everyone will probably take the option provided for them in the joint UK/European report where they could ask that UK nationals to make a new application to replace the present residency certificate in exchange for a new residency document, in line with the new regulations.
Those already holding a permanent residence document issued under the EU law in Spain will have that document converted into the new document free of charge, subject only to verification of identity, a criminality and security check and confirmation of on-going residency. If you already are a resident of Spain, nobody wants you to change that.
So, what do you do today? You may be living in Spain without a Residencia? That’s fine, but get your status changed ASAP. You should also be able to apply for a residency certificate by proving you are residing in Spain. You can always change your status before next year, but for now, if you think you´ll be here after 2019, do not delay, get it done now.
Currently European citizens applying to become a permanent resident in the U.K. have to fill in an 85-page form, pay £65, and prove that they’ve been residing in Britain for five years and that they’ve been covered with health insurance for the whole time.
Many EU citizens currently living in England have already started to apply for permanent residency status in the U.K. and are facing paperwork problems. Surprisingly, if you have ever dealt with the red tape in Spain, they want to make the process very simple for Brits coming here.
In Spain, things are not yet so tough to become a resident. The problem is the bottle necks which will appear are likely to slow everything down, and the uncertainty of Spain is not going to help you get residency in two years’ time- As I said, apply today!!
At a recent meeting on the Orihuela Costa attended by Spanish Solutions, the British Consulate and local elected councillors, British Costa Blanca residents and locals, all present were urged to get their paperwork in order before March 2019. Basically, the same advice we are giving you here.
What about those who only live in Spain part of the year?
One current problem everyone is aware of is that there are many Comaskey clients from the UK who live between the two countries. I mean we have loads of people who work abroad (UK) for a few days per week and return to Spain for a long weekend. We have people who work eight days on, eight days off working in the oil industry and we even have DJs who work in London over the weekends and live in Spain the rest of the time. Thanks Ryanair for making it so easy!!! Anyway, British residents who spend up to six months a year in Spain and don’t register themselves with the local authorities on the Costa Blanca could find themselves in a situation where they don’t meet the requirements to qualify as permanent residents of Spain. They could find themselves with problems if they do not get advice now regarding their status in Spain. What if Spain does complicate the system just like the British are doing with Spanish people living there?
If you are here in Spain for a total of 183 days not necessarily consecutive days, then you are classed as being a tax resident of Spain. You should pay your tax here (many of us Irish citizens with income there and here, already do this- it’s not a big deal and you are only taxed once). You should be thinking of getting your Residencies, Health card and Padron. If like so many British people, you are living in Spain permanently but as a non-resident of Spain, and for example going back to the UK for hospital treatments, perhaps driving a car with British plates on Spanish roads, you might need to sit down with an expert like Amanda in Spanish Solutions.
This is how its currently sitting- Totally up in the air. Just to reiterate… If you are a resident of Spain before the article 50 is triggered by Theresa May or whoever is in charge in March of 2019, your status will not be affected. The only way we know of to be totally safe is to get your new home in Spain, legally ASAP and allow us to help you get your legal resident status in Spain. Be careful when you buy your home in Spain that you can get deeds now. For example, if you buy a new build whereby the deeds may not be issued until May 2019, you might have missed the boat. Get in touch with Claire on the Comaskey Live chat, via email or on Facebook and she will help in any way we can.
Good news- Its always sunny in Spain!