The UK’s decision to leave the EU has had a significant impact on everyday life for Britons in Spain, particularly those who are not Spanish residents. Britons without residency are only permitted to spend 90 days out of each 180-day period in the country, whilst rules and regulations have been tightened, even for those Britons with residency. From problems with health insurance, to property sales figures, here’s everything you need to know about how Brexit has changed life in Spain this week:
Britons are No Longer the Biggest Foreign Property Buyers in Spain
The relationship between Britain and Spain has been long established – for decades, British retirees have chosen Spain as their preferred retirement destination, and Britons of all ages have invested in Spanish second-homes. But, for the first time since modern records began, Britons are no longer the biggest foreign property buyers in Spain. This position has now been taken by the Germans. In the third quarter of 2021, 10.42% of properties in Spain were purchased by German buyers: 9.82% of properties were purchased by British buyers and 7.82% by French buyers. To demonstrate how sharp a decline this is, in 2010 (long before Brexit) Britons accounted for 35% of property sales in Spain. This is likely to be the result of the rule that Britons without residency cannot stay in Spain for longer than 90 days in each 180-day period, meaning that Spanish second home ownership looks less attractive to some Britons.
A Warning from the British Embassy in Madrid
The British Embassy in Madrid has issued a reminder to Britons to ensure that when making their residency applications they submit the correct information to the correct bodies, and use a legitimate gestores to support their application process. In the update, which was posted to Facebook, the Embassy stated that “The Spanish authorities have asked us to warn UK Nationals against submitting fraudulent residency applications – either directly or through a third party,” ...“They are particularly on the alert for forged healthcare insurance, padrón certificates and lease contracts, as well as people falsely claiming student status.”
This is a useful reminder that some unscrupulous scam artists may pose as a gestoria and target non-EU citizens with the promise of making their application easy and ‘fixing’ any problems. When searching for a gestor to work with, make sure you find one that is reputable, registered, and has reviews and recommendations that you can follow up. Don’t forget that duped clients could find themselves on the wrong side of the law, as because their details have been used the police may assume that you are carrying out the fraud.
S1 Health Cover Issues
If you have retired to Spain then you will have an S1 form: this is a form that demonstrates your entitled to health cover in Spain and it is issued to UK state pensioners. The form, and the cover it offers, is funded by the Uk government who then reimburse the Spanish health system for the costs of cover used. You collect your S1 form from the NHS and then register it with your local social security office (INSS) in Spain. They then give you a social security number and certificate which you take with you to your doctors, and finally you can use all of this to apply for a health card.
The process might seem straightforward, but as a result of the pandemic, things are not as easy as they sound. A lack of face-to-face applications being available has caused a backlog of applications. This, in conjunction with confusion surrounding the rules for Britons as a result of Brexit, means that many British retirees in Spain are unsure if they will get the public health cover they’re entitled to. The process is complicated, and having to carry it out online is certainly not making it any easier.
Another issue that Britons are experiencing relating to the S1 health cover is that if you are in Spain because you have secured a non-lucrative visa, you cannot use your S1 health cover as the medical insurance required for this visa type: you need to have private medical insurance. After a year of residency, you can cancel this medical insurance and use your S1 instead.
TIE No Longer Requested by Cajamar Banks
Cajamar is a medium-sized Spanish banking institution, and they have been sending emails to their British customers asking them to show their TIE card or else risk having their account closed. This made many Briton's panic, particularly those who don’t have a TIE card because they are still using the old-style green residency documents. Many Britons complained to Cajamar, and they have since withdrawn this requirement: good news for those Britons who are members of this bank.
Whilst Brits are being strongly encouraged to exchange their old-style green residency certificates for the TIE card, this isn’t a legal requirement yet. Legally, any pre-Brexit green residency documents must be recognised for travel and other purposes at this point.
Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Or looking for a holiday home so that you always have a place to stay when you visit the country? Then why not get in touch with our locally based property experts, who are perfectly placed to help make you dream of Spanish home ownership a reality. We’re already excited to work with you!