There’s no denying that Brexit is creating tons of doubts for everyone. But that is true especially for UK expats living in Spain and for British citizens wanting to move to the country. What will happen to them? Will they still be able to work in the country? But now everything is clear. If you want to know how to get the residency in Spain after Brexit and how what to do if you are a UK citizen already living in Spain, keep reading! We are going to cover everything you need to know.
Background: Brexit negotiations and timing
As we have mentioned, the referendum took place in June 2016. It was not until March of the following year, after some bureaucratic procedures took place, that things didn’t keep moving. Then, a two-year negotiation period started with the European Union. This negotiation was carried by two technical teams of negotiators, one representing the UK and the other one in the EU.
As Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union states, “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”
Respecting this article, the UK parliament sent an agreement proposal on three occasions. That got rejected three times.
Seeing how difficult reaching a plausible agreement was, both parties decided to extend the negotiation period until the 31st of October. If If a deal between the two parties is made before that time, there would be a one-month period before it starts applying.
Nevertheless, the UK finally agreed to leave the region, and did so on the 1st of January of 2020, marking a historical event.
Hence, many things were about to change, but no one seemed to understand how.
What will happen from now on with the more than 300.000 British citizens that are resident in the Spanish territory? And with those wanting to move to the country? And to their family members?
Will they still be regarded as EU citizens even though they are not that anymore? Will they keep the same rights?
In the next sections, we will find an answer to that question.
New residence permit for UK citizens in Spain
Here’s the answer you were looking for.
The Spanish government has created a new type of residency. A special type of residence permit for UK citizens living in Spain.
It will grant the same rights to British citizens in the Spanish territory as if they were Europeans, so obtaining it is kind of a must. There are two options for obtaining this permit:
- In case you are already living in Spain, you just need to transform your current green card into this new special type of permit.
- If you are still in the UK but want to move to the Spanish territory, then you need to start the application procedure directly, without getting an EU permit before.
Furthermore, this also applies to the spouse, children, and parents of the British citizen. That is, those non-EU citizens who could get the Spanish residency as they were relatives of a European Union individual (in this case from the UK). They can also get this new permit as family members.
Moving to this new type of residence permit after 5 years in Spain
Another frequent question we are receiving a lot lately is what to do if you have already been living in Spain for 5 years.
In that case, there are two options:
- After those 5 years, the UK citizen had already obtained their EU permanent residency card.
- On the other hand, and despite being in the country for the same amount of time, they are still with a temporary residency.
In both cases, the British expat can obtain this new type of residence permit, and it will last for 10 years.
In the first scenario, the transition is straightforward. But in the latter case, she will need to prove that she has been living for 5 years consecutively in the country. If that is the case, no matter if she is still with the temporary card, she will be granted a 10-year permanent one.
How to get it?
No matter if you are a UK citizen with a temporary permit, a permanent green card, or a relative with the family member of an EU citizen visa, the process is the same (and a really simple one).
You just need to get an appointment (online) with the police office that corresponds to where you are registered, go there, and formalize the whole procedure.
Select the provicen in which you are living, and within the displayed options, choose: “POLICÍA-EXP.TARJETA ASOCIADA AL ACUERDO DE RETIRADA CIUDADANOS BRITÁNICOS Y SUS FAMILIARES (BREXIT)”.
Spanish residency after Brexit
If you have read the prior section, you now understand that any British citizen wanting to get the Spanish residency must harry up.
If he or she starts the application procedure before the end of 2020, she can still get the special residence permit for UK citizens that acts as an EU registration certificate. And this also applies to her relatives.
But from the 1st of January and onwards, then any individual from the United Kingdom will start the procedure as any other non-EU citizen. And hat makes the application much more complex and difficult (with extra requirements that sometimes are impossible to meet).
So make sure to move from your current card to this new special type, or start your application now before it’s too late.
Living in Spain after Brexit for UK citizens
Finally, we are going to tackle some other relevant issues that define the normal life of a UK citizen in Spain, and how that is likely to change as a consequence of Brexit.
Working in Spain after Brexit: the problem with the work permit
What will happen with the work permit application process?
Because there is something worth considering. We know that for non-European Union citizens, like Russians for example, the process to get the work permit is really tough. A lot of requirements, tons of documents to present…
Conversely, for European Union citizens, the application procedure is really easy. French citizens, Germans or Italians, with their European passport, can get a work permit in Spain in just 24 hours.
What would happen to British citizens if the UK is no longer a European Union country?
Well, there is a third situation, the case of countries like Andorra. These countries are not from the European Union, but do enjoy special treaties with Spain. And that enables them to get their residence permit as easily as if they were Europeans.
We have some signs to say that something similar would happen to the UK. The most probable outcome is that British citizens will, in the end, be assimilated as Europeans in regards to immigration. Therefore that will not constitute a problem.
Nevertheless, the instability that the Brexit created among Europea, inciting similar movements, may be a good reason for the European Union to punish the UK and make things difficult in this matter. We don’t know exactly what will happen, and things are still on the air.
Will my right to work still be granted?
We have just talked about the case in which individuals would like to obtain a work permit after Brexit happens. But what about those who already possess one? Will they keep their right to work?
Because, as we have said, the right to live in Spain for UK citizens will still be granted. But what will happen with the right to work? That is something that is also specified in the announcement of the Spanish government: it will still be granted.
Nevertheless, you will have to change your card (residence and work authorization) into a non-European Union one.
Family member of an EU citizen: special caveat
As you already know, one way to get a residence and work authorization in Spain is to be a family member of a European Union citizen. And that is how many non-EU citizens got their residence permit in the country: by being married to a UK citizen, for example.
But that is something that worked till today. What will happen after Brexit, as UK citizens are no longer European Union citizens?
Well, there is something for sure. Those non-EU citizens married to a UK citizen will also have to change the card. We assume their residency will be still granted, the same as the rights they had before, but they will need to change their status.
What will happen to your taxes?
Another crucial issue: taxes.
Now, as a European Union resident, you don’t need to be in Spain 183 days a year to keep the green card. But non-EU citizens with a residence permit are required to be in the country at least 183 days to maintain the green card.
And that means becoming a tax resident in Spain, therefore taxpayers in the country.
We still need to wait to see if an agreement between Spain and the UK will take place in terms of taxes, maybe setting up a double treatment convention that eradicates this problem.
Driving license validity
Finally, something many are concerned about. The validity of their driving license. Will there be an automatic renewal or will it be disqualified as soon as Brexit happens? What we know is that, during this transitory period of 2 years, all these things like driving licenses, social security,… will remain protected.
But what happens if your driving license expires in 10 years, time by which the transitory period will have completely ended?
Then probably there will be a way to exchange the European driving license. A lot of countries who are not from the EU, like Ukrania, can exchange the Ukranian one for the European one. Therefore, it is highly likely that you as a UK citizen will need to update for the new one as a non-European Union country.
Can I live in Spain after Brexit?
As you have seen, as Brexit starts implementing, many areas of the life of a UK citizen in Spain will start changing. Taxes, their legal status, social security…
And yes; you will still be able to live in Spain, and you can do it without any kind of problem now. But we recommend you to contact us so our team can help you act now and easily get your residency before it’s too late.
As immigration lawyers with tons of British clients, we can advise you and help you be prepared for the Brexit. That is why, if you would like to be secure and start normalizing your situation NOW, do not hesitate to contact us, we will be glad to help!