The UK left the EU at 11pm on 31st January 2020 with a withdrawal agreement in place. This means that we are now in the transition period which will run until 31st December 2020.
During the transition period, EU rights and freedoms are unchanged. So for now Brits can continue to have and take up residency as EU citizens. What happens at the end of the year remains to be seen.
The UK and Spanish Governments have made clear what the transition period means for British Nationals in Spain, and what they need to do if they want to continue living in Spain
According to the withdrawal agreement, UK nationals settled and lawfully residing in Spain before the end of the transition period, will continue to be considered legal residents and keep rights they have had, and enjoyed as EU citizens.
It is also made clear what Brits living in Spain need to do to achieve and maintain lawful residence.
So What do Brits Living in Spain Or Planning to Need to Do?
Everyone has their own set of circumstances, and some will have a lot more to do than others. Anyone planning to move to Spain from the UK, is well advised to make the move in 2020 if they can.
The following is a list of the main things Brits living in Spain should do if they can, before the end of the year, to put themselves in the best position to continue enjoying life in Spain as they do now.
1) Residency Certificate for EU citizen
The first step to lawful residence, is registering as an EU citizen living in Spain to get a Spanish EU resident certificate, (certificado de registro cuidadano de la union). Registering and getting this certificate is a legal requirement for Brits and nationals of other EU countries, when they come to live in Spain. You have to register, if you spend, or intend to spend more than 3 months in Spain. When the UK is no longer in the EU, British nationals will be subject to the same visiting restrictions as other non-EU nationals.
The residency certificate is the most important document a Brit living in Spain needs to get. If you don’t have one, get one, and if you’ve had one for 5 years or more, apply for a permanent one.
The expected transition period gives many Brits living in Spain and those planning to move here, time to sort out their residency documentation before the UK’s ‘final departure’ on 31st December 2020.
British nationals moving to Spain after the transition period, are expected to have to apply for a TIE, tarjeta de identidad de extranjero. Those who already have a residency certificate will be able to exchange it for a TIE. Those who don’t, will need to follow the full application process. This process and the requirements to apply for a TIE, are a lot more stringent than those for a Spanish EU residency certificate.
Read more about Brexit and Spanish Residency for British Nationals
2) Register on the Padrón (Municipal register of inhabitants)
The padrón is a list of residents in the municipality. It’s a bit like the electoral roll in the UK, and it’s mandatory by law, for anyone who lives in Spain (183 days of more) to register. If you are a part-time resident, you can register voluntarily. The padrón certificate, ‘Certificado de Empadronamiento‘, issued when you register, is official proof that you live at an address in Spain.
Read more about Registering on the Padron
3) Get a Spanish Driving Licence
UK driving licences are at the moment EU licences, so can be used in Spain and other EU countries. After you’ve moved to Spain, you are supposed to register your UK licence with the Spanish traffic authority (DGT), or exchange it for a Spanish driving licence. When the transition period ends, a UK licence will be treated as a third country licence, which can only be used for tourist visits, and or with an international permit. UK licence holders living and driving in Spain, therefore need to exchange their driving licence for a Spanish one. This process is often called ‘canje de permiso’, or simply ‘canje’.
Read more about Exchanging Your UK Licence
4) Register to pay tax as a resident and complete obligatory declarations
Living in a Spain and not paying tax when you should, is of course not lawful, whether done knowingly or in ignorance. If you live in Spain, Spanish taxation applies to your worldwide income and assets, for income and capital gains tax, as well as wealth tax (depending on your net wealth and which part of Spain you live in). Succession and gift tax may also apply to an inheritance or gift made or received. Spanish residents also have to declare overseas assets exceeding €50,000.
Being registered as a fiscal resident in Spain, completing tax returns and paying tax as a Spanish resident is strong evidence that someone is settled and residing lawfully in Spain.
Read more about Tax in Spain
5) Register for state healthcare
If you work in Spain, either employed or self-employed, and are correctly registered, you should be contributing into the Spanish Social Security system and so you, and your dependants will have the right to use Spanish public healthcare.
Pensioners, are afforded access to the Spanish public health system via reciprocal agreements signed between various countries, and gain access via the S1 form.
To access the Spanish public healthcare system, you have to show your entitlement, either through your social security number associated to your social security contributions, or through your certificate of entitlement (S1) if you’re a pensioner.
In Andalucia, if you have been resident in Spain for more than 1 year, and do not work or have entitlement through the reciprocal agreement, you can register for healthcare through the convenio especial, which allows you to pay a monthly contribution to get access to state system.
Being registered in the Spanish public healthcare system, is a clear indication that an individual is living in and settled in Spain.
Read more about Heathcare in Spain
Everything listed above, is also confirmed in the UK Government’s official living in Spain guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain#brexit-what-you-should-do
Other ways to secure your position
Apart from the above, most of which will be relevant for a the majority of British nationals living in Spain, there are other ways that someone can secure their position and EU citizen entitlements.
Get a passport from another EU country
If you have a parent or grandparent from another EU country, you can often apply for a passport from that country. You will then hold citizenship of that EU country. Given the close connection with Ireland, many British have Irish family history and there has been a surge in applications for Irish passports due to Brexit.
Marry someone who is a citizen of an EU country
We’re not expecting people to go seek out EU citizen partners because of Brexit, but for those already in a relationship, it’s a consideration. If you are married to, or in a civil partnership with someone who is a citizen of an EU country, you are entitled to residency in the EU. Similarly, non EU citizen family members, and legal dependants of the holder of the Spanish residency certificate, can apply for residency in Spain, avoiding the more stringent application process and requirements that normally apply to non EU applicants.
Apply for Spanish nationality
Not a consideration for many, but once you’ve been ‘lawfully resident’ in Spain for 10 years, you can apply for citizenship. It’s worth noting that under Spanish law, you cannot have dual British and Spanish nationality. A British national applying for Spanish nationality would have to give up their British nationality.
So there you have it, our transition checklist for British Nationals living in Spain. If there’s something there that you can do that you haven’t yet done, we urge you to do it. If you are unsure about your situation or would like further information about anything in this article, get in touch and we’ll be happy help.
Questions about living in or movng to Spain and the Transition Period?
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