Living in Spain After Brexit: 2020 Update

We are now more than halfway through the Brexit transition period, which means that we now have a slightly clearer picture of what this will mean, both for Britons already living in Spain as well as those who own holiday homes in the country, or are thinking of investing in property here.

From understanding your rights to remain to a comprehensive look at the health cover you will need, here is our updated 2020 review of everything you need to know about living in Spain after Brexit:

Obtaining a TIE Residency Card

Earlier this month, the Spanish government finally confirmed that UK citizens registering as residents in Spain will now be issued with a TIE residence card. Formally known as the “Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero” card, this is an identity card that is currently issued to non-EU residents of Spain, and soon that list of non-EU residents will include residents from the UK. It is worth noting, however, that the card that is issued to Britons will be slightly different to the one that is issued to other third country nationals.

Whether or not you will need to apply for a TIE card will depend on your current residential status. If you are already in possession of a green card (either an A4 green residency certificate or a small green residency card) then obtaining a TIE card will be optional. Hugh Elliot, the British Ambassador to Spain, confirmed this, saying “Whilst you may choose to change your current certificate for a TIE at some point in the future, there is no requirement to do so”.

If you are currently residing in Spain but don’t have a green card, or any kind of residency status, you will now be required to register for a TIE in order to secure residency and obtain any of the benefits offered by the Withdrawal Agreement. This isn’t a negative! The TIE card is smaller and plastic rather than paper, making it easy to carry with you at all times, enabling it to serve as photo ID, and will be valid for either 5 years or 10 years. However, there is currently a long wait to obtain an appointment to apply and register for your TIE card, due to a backlog of applicants. If you are concerned you won’t get an appointment before the 31st December deadline then we suggest that you call your local Migration office: the Spanish government have not yet issued an official statement on what will happen in this situation.

Fulfilling Health Insurance Criteria

According to Hugh Elliot, posting on his official Twitter feed, Britons concerned about meeting the deadline for their Spanish residency TIE card application should focus instead on ensuring they have fulfilled the requirements of obtaining this card. He shared that “Your rights as UK nationals in Spain will be guaranteed, not by possession of the Residence document itself, but by your being legally resident in Spain before the end of the Transition Period,”

The two main criteria you will need to ensure this is to be working in the country and have the required level of income (or be retired and have a self-sufficient income) and having your own locally sourced healthcare cover. Although it is still preferable to obtain your residency card as soon as possible, and Ellliot reports that new appointments are opening up all the time, this should offer some reassurance to residents who are struggling to get the appointments they need to obtain official status.

Have you chosen to make Spain your permanent home? Then don’t overlook the option of applying for Spanish citizenship, which will give you the extra reassurance and peace of mind that you will never be asked to leave your home. It is worth noting, however, that applying for citizenship is a much lengthier process and with much more stringent guidelines than applying for residency.

The Status of Second Homeowners

This may well provide reassurance for Spanish residents and permanent homeowners, but for many second homeowners, their position in the country will still feel unclear. Of course, the Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown has slowed down the process of negotiating rights for all residents following the UK withdrawal from the Eurozone, meaning that whilst we might have expected full details at this stage, in many cases we are still dealing with implications and guesswork.

For second homeowners who are not residents, their position and the next steps they take will depend on how long they spend in Spain each year (or how long they intend to spend in Spain each year in the future). If you spend no more than 90 days in Spain out of every 180 day period (you never visit for more than 3 months at a time, for example, or you take regular short trips throughout the year) then nothing has to change for you unless you want it to: you can still enter Spain on a regular tourist visa whenever you visit.

If you are spending up to six months a year in Spain, however, then you are being encouraged   to register for a residency permit in order to access the healthcare provisions afforded to residents and also to help you meet your fiscal obligations.  It’s important to note that, right now, there is no middle ground and none has been suggested: you either apply for residency or you choose not to, and the amount of time you can spend in your property in Spain will be limited.

There can be no denying that Brexit will impact the lives of second home owners with properties in Spain, because they will no longer be able to travel to and from their homes whenever they like without obtaining residency. And it should be noted that the 90 days in 180 days rule will apply to all Schengen area countries: it would not be possible to spend 90 days in Spain and then 90 days in France, for example, without obtaining residency in one of the two countries.

A Message of Reassurance

Above all, it is important to note that all of the news about Brexit and the situation for Britons living in Spain has been very positive and reassuring in recent months. Provided you are currently a resident of Spain and meet the criteria for residency as they always were, then you should have no problem with remaining in the country that you call home. What’s more, the extension of the TIE card application process to Britons means that if you aren’t yet a Spanish resident, and are thinking of moving to Spain or buying property in the country, then obtaining the residency you meet to move to and live in Spain should be very straight forward. Existing citizens’ rights are already protected by the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU, which came into force at the end of January. Of all the EU countries looking to open up their borders to Britons post-Brexit, Spain has been by fair the most welcoming and clear in their intentions, ensuring that the country remains a very attractive prospect for Britons hoping to buy property abroad.

 Are you thinking of investing in property in Spain? Or perhaps you’ve always dreamt of a Spanish bolt hole of your own? Well there’s never been a better time to start searching for Spanish property. Why not get in touch today and let our locally based property experts help you to find the property you’re looking for. We look forward to hearing from you!