Brexit: where we are now
As you will know, the UK left the EU last Friday at 23:00 (CET), so it seems like the right time to send you an update on what this means for UK nationals living in Spain.
The Withdrawal Agreement which sets out how the UK leaves the EU has been agreed by both the UK and EU and is now in force. This is very positive news for UK nationals who are resident in Spain, as the Withdrawal Agreement contains some really important protections for your rights:
- You will be able to continue to live and work in Spain
- UK state pensioners will continue to have lifelong healthcare as long as they remain living in Spain. This also applies to residents who claim a UK state pension in the future
- Your UK state pension will continue to be uprated. As above, this also applies to those claiming a pension in the future
Those rights will be protected for as long as you live in Spain, provided you are legally resident here by the end of 2020 – that means having the green residency certificate, which remains a valid document. These citizens’ rights are not affected by the negotiations taking place on future trade and security.
The Withdrawal Agreement also provides an Transition Period (from 31 January until 31 December 2020) during which time nothing will change for UK Nationals in Spain. You will also be able to exchange your driving licence until the end of 2020 without taking a driving test.
The rules for travel between the UK and Spain will not change during the transition period. We know that there are many swallows, who split their time between the UK and Spain, who are concerned about what the UK’s departure from the EU means for them. They will be able to continue as they have been until the end of this year, but after that freedom of movement will end, which will have an impact on how long UK nationals will be able to spend in Spain without a visa or residence permit. We will be providing further information on our Facebook channels specifically for swallows and would encourage them to also sign up for alerts to travel advice (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain).
What to do next
Residency: the most important thing UK nationals can do is to make sure they are registered as a resident before 31 December 2020. If you are not yet registered you should take steps to apply as soon as possible (https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/index.html). If you already have the green A4 or credit card-sized certificate you may need to exchange this for a foreigners’ card (or TIE). We will update gov.uk/livinginspain and facebook.com/britsinspain as soon as we have further information, but for now anyone with the green certificate does not need to take action.
Driving licence: we advise anyone living in Spain to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one by 31 December as you will be able to do so without taking a driving test during this period. The DGT (dgt.es) has updated its website to confirm that UK licences will continue to be exchanged as before during the transition period (ie in the same way as any other EU licence). We recommend people take action as soon as they can as the number of appointments in some areas still seems to be quite limited, but do keep trying and remember that you do not need to exchange where you are resident if other areas have more appointment availability.
Healthcare: we urge people to check that they are accessing healthcare in the correct way. For example, if you are resident in Spain you should not be using a UK-issued EHIC to access healthcare unless you are a student or a posted worker. Please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-in-spain-including-the-balearic-and-canary-islands for further information.