Preparing for Brexit
Updated: Jan 28, 2020
The four things you MUST do to ensure you have a stress free Brexit
ARTICLE WILL BE SUBJECT TO REGULAR UPDATES TO REFLECT CHANGES OR MORE ACCURATE INFORMATION.
Updated with further links October 23rd 2019
Updated with revised dates November 11th 2019
Updated to confirm post-election situation December 19th 2019
Updated to reflect Withdrawal Bill being passed into UK law January 28th 2020
The British Consul General Lloyd Milen and the Vice Consul Annabelle Sproat Wilkinson with responsibility for Catalonia, Aragon and Andorra were in attendance in Zaragoza to answer Brexit concerns on Monday 21st October, and Bulldogz were on hand to sit down with them and confirm what we need to do to prepare for Brexit.
This report will be updated to reflect changes or improved links to information, but you can also listen to our summary and interview with the Consul General via our youtube channel.
The good news, and there is plenty of it, is that providing you have certain procedures in place, your life is not going to change a great deal.
There are four fundamental things you must ensure you have completed or underway prior to the 31st January 2020:
1) Residency Status: Ensure you have your residency paperwork in place. This is the famous green A4 certificate or credit card-sized document. Many of us already have this certificate, even if it is old, dog eared or not updated as "Permanante" or with changes to address, this is not a concern. The Spanish authorities are more concerned that you have registered, details can be fully updated when you transfer to your T.I.E (Tarjeta Identidad Extranjera). There will be a grace period of 21 months for UK nationals to get this paperwork in order, what you need to have handy is proof of residency. A rent contract, a padron certificate or a utility bill are just some examples.
2) Driving License: Change your UK driving license to a Spanish equivalent. This is standard advice regardless of Brexit, but it is critical you get this process underway before 31st January 2020. Spanish authorities have introduced a special process for UK nationals to facilitate this change, you can read about this on the Dirección General de Trafico page, in English, here. (If the page appears in Spanish you can simply change the language at the top right of the page) UK licenses will become invalid without an international permit to drive, which is only available to you if you are resident in the UK. Your Spanish license will always be valid in the UK and if you get yourself registered to begin the change before Brexit then you will not have to sit a Spanish driving test with all the costs and time that will incur.
3) Healthcare Card: Your access to healthcare should continue along similar lines as your current status. Providing that status is in good order. If you have a health card then your services will continue as now. Pensioners might have a slightly more complicated procedure if they are registered as UK health service users, but providing you present documented evidence you have rights to access in the UK, you will have healthcare rights in Spain. There is a degree of complication for pensioners depending on a "deal" or "no deal" outcome. We will attempt to address this in a further specific article shortly, when that is complete, we will link it here.
4) Passport: Keep your passport validated. Simply put, this means look at the date your passport was issued and calculate 9 years and six months forward. Renew your passport before you reach that date. Your passport will still be valid even if it says "European Union" on it.
Check your passport validity status here
These four steps will ensure a relatively pain-free Brexit epoch for us Brits, aside from the bemused questioning we will always receive from curious Spaniards.
Once (If? When?) Brexit happens, we will need to register to convert our documentation into a T.I.E. There will be a grace period so do not panic if you cannot get this arranged immediately. There will be a great number of people looking for these appointments come Brexit as you can imagine.
Further areas of discussion included:
Travel: For friends and family visiting from UK, they will not need a visa to come to see you in the future. The key factor we must all ensure is that passports have six months minimum of the ten year period of issuance. What this means is simply count forward nine years and six months forward from the date of issue of your passport and renew it before that date arrives.
Pets: If your adored four-legged family member is chipped and passported under the Spanish scheme, there are only minor changes to your procedure to enable travel between Spain and the UK. These changes are more substantive if your pet has a UK passport, so we recommend contacting your vet and consulting the government website for accurate and up to date information. The current advice provided by the UK government is available here
Pensions: There is no change to pension provision post-Brexit, and there will be no change. Uprating beyond the current agreement will depend on reciprocity between the Spanish and UK governments reaching an agreement, but the general expectation is that will be met. We had further discussion for those of us not yet of pensionable age and with work and social security payments accrued in the UK being applicable to our Spanish data. This is unaffected and the Consul General recommend contacting the INSS to inform them of your accrued provisions in the UK or other EU states. We will provide some more specific advice on this process at a later date.
The current UK government guidance is available here for current pensioners. This is perhaps the area that has been the cause for the most concern, so as with healthcare, we will look to publish a specific guide to potential outcomes depending on "deal" or "no deal" variations.
Voting: We keep our rights to vote and stand in Municipal elections, which do hold considerable influence over how money is spent in our local community. As may seem obvious, we will no longer be able to vote in European elections and continue to be ineligible to vote in national elections.
EU Spouse: Those of us married to an EU citizen (including Irish wives and husbands do not forget) will have a further, more secure status in which we inherit EU citizens rights from our better half. The full EU Directive 2004/38/EC sets out all the rights of people in this situation
When you convert your DNI into a TIE you must inform the authorities of your marital status to have this confirmed. Unfortunately, we do not yet know if this changeover would involve a change in our identity number, this would be a source of much frustration and red tape agony, so it is hoped the Spanish authorities intend to keep the number unchanged.
If you have any further questions or concerns, we will do our best to provide you with up to date information or point you to the right people or information source. We strongly encourage you to sign up to the British Government update email or follow the British Consulate facebook or twitter accounts. There will be more Q&A sessions in the future and there will continue to be online Q&A events as well.
The existing withdrawal agreement has been passed into UK law and is set to be ratified by the EU Wednesday 29th January. This will provide a two year transition period which will be put into place from 31st January 2020.
Living in Spain UK Government web portal
Brexit UK Government Brexit portal
Healthcare in Spain UK Government web portal
The Spanish Government Brexit website for Brits