As we all know after the approval of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement the UK now finds itself in a transition period which will last until the 31st December 2020, assuming that it is not extended. During this transition period UK citizens can continue to live, work and study in the EU as they did before the 31st January 2020, but it is important for those who have not done so yet to start preparing for their stay in Spain after the end of the transition period.
Legal residency and NIE
If you are living in Spain, but have not yet obtained your legal residency certificate (green A4 or card size document) you can still do so before the 31st December under current EU regulations, which we highly recommend. Any application made after this date, unless the transition period is extended of course, will be considered under whatever new regulation is agreed between the UK and EU, or under Spain’s current regulation for non-EU citizens if no agreement is reached on residency. This could mean a substantial increase in minimum income requirements, employment law requirements, etc. depending on the basis for your residency application.
The NIE document (white A4 document), as you will already know, is not proof of residency and is a way of assigning a legal and tax identification number to non-residents, which is required for certain transactions, such as buying a property, registering a vehicle, etc. The regulation surrounding this document will not change after the 31st December, as it is already a document which has exactly the same requirements for EU and non-EU citizens alike.
Life-long healthcare rights in Spain have been guaranteed to those who are resident in Spain before the 31st December, provided they remain a resident.
You can continue to receive and can still claim your UK State Pension if you live in the EU. If you are resident in Spain by the 31st December you will get your pension uprated each year as long as you continue to reside here, and even if you start claiming your pension on or after the 1st January 2021 as long as you meet the conditions set out in the new State Pension guidance.
Driving license and vehicle registration
Once you become a legal resident in Spain you are required to exchange your UK driving license for a Spanish one. Again, before the 31st December this can be done in the same conditions as before under the regulation of EU license exchanges, which is to say a straight exchange of one for the other.
Equally, if you are a resident or spend more than 6 months a year in Spain you are required to register your vehicle in Spain.
It is essential, even more so if you are a Spanish resident or in the process of obtaining residency, to make sure you have a Spanish will in place for your assets in Spain with an express choice of law clause allowing your inheritance to be governed by UK law. The importance of this is addressed in more detail in our post “Why is it more important than ever to have a Spanish Will?”.
The majority of regional Inheritance Tax allowances that UK citizens currently enjoy in Spain do not apply to non-EU residents. This means that, save for a tax agreement to the contrary, UK residents will have Spanish State Inheritance Tax regulation applied to their inheritance. It is therefore important to seek the right advice when structuring you will, in order to keep this in mind.
If you need help or advice with any of these proceedings, do not hesitate to contact us.
As we all know, citizens of EU and EEA member states are allowed free movement throughout the Spanish territory. This is in theory. In reality, since 11th July 2012, the conditions for residence in Spain for more than 3 months have become much stricter.
Workers’ rights in the EU
Workers originating from another EU member state have the following rights:
Freely enter, exit, travel and reside in Spanish territory with the exception of the exclusions made on the basis of public order, security or health.
Perform any activity, as an employed or self-employed worker, to provide or receive services or to permanently reside after having carried out a work activity on the same terms as Spanish nationals, as well as to have access to public employment offers and be employed at the service of the public administrations.
Match the Spanish workers in terms of: salaries, advancement, professional training, social security, working conditions, union affiliation, etc.
Aggregation of insurance periods fulfilled in member states, for the purposes of social security benefits.
New conditions introduced for residence in Spain of EU citizens and their families (since 11th July 2012)
In 2007 the contents of a European Directive referring to the right of EU citizens and the family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states, was incorporated into Spanish Law (Directive 2004/38/CE).
Although the incorporation included some of the conditions placed upon the rights of free movement and residence within the member states, it did not include all of the requirements under the Directive. This has caused a great deal of financial loss for Spain, especially where the inability to ensure the reimbursement of the costs incurred in the provision of health and social services to European citizens is concerned.
It is for this reason that in 2012 Spain established new conditions to govern the right to residence of EU citizens for a period of more than 3 months.
STAY OF UP TO 3 MONTHS
In the cases of EU and EEA citizens whose stay in Spain does not exceed 3 months, whatever the nature of their stay may be, it will be sufficient to be in possession of a valid passport or ID card, which must be the one used for entry into Spain. These 3 months will not count towards the minimum stay required for the purposes of residency.
RESIDENCE BEYOND 3 MONTHS
The main requirement that must be met by EU citizens who intend to reside in Spain for more than 3 months is that they must be registered in the Central Register of Foreign Nationals. You can complete this registration process, if you are in possession of a valid passport or ID card, at the Foreigners’ Office of the province in which you intend to reside and you will be issued with a certificate on the spot as long as the conditions are met. This certificate will include, amongst other details, your NIE number (Identification Number for Foreigners).
Additionally, since 2012 the following documentation is also required, depending on the situation of the applicant:
a) Employed workers must submit a statement from the employer or certificate of employment, which must include certain details of the employer. Employment contracts registered with the Public Employment Service or certificate of registration in the social security system will always be admitted, although these will not be necessary if the applicant consents to the verification of these details from the social security records.
b) Self-employed workers also have to submit evidence of their situation. Registration in the Economic Activities Census, registration of your establishment in the Company Registry or certificate of registration in the social security system will always be admitted, although, yet again, these will not be necessary if the applicant consents to the verification of these details from the social security or tax records.
c) Those not engaged in work in Spain must submit documentation that attests to the following conditions being met:
Health insurance, public or private, taken out in Spain or any other country, as long as it provides cover in
Spain, equal to that which is provided by the Spanish National Health System, during the period of residence. Pensioners will be considered to have met this requirement as long as they submit the appropriate certificate to show that they are entitled to healthcare from the state where they receive their pension.
Be in possession of sufficient funds, for oneself and family members, so as not to become a burden on the Spanish welfare system during the period of residence. Proof of the existence of sufficient funds, whether they consist of a regular income or capital assets, may be provided by whatever means the law allows. The assessment of this self-sufficiency will be made on the merit of each case, always keeping in mind the personal and family situation of the applicant.
d) Students, including those on vocational training courses, must present evidence to certify the following:
Registration in an educational establishment, public or private, approved or financed by the educational administration.
Health insurance, public or private, taken out in Spain or any other country as long as it provides complete cover within Spain. However, this will not be necessary if the student possesses a European Health Insurance Card and its validity covers the entire period of residence.
Affidavit stating you are in possession of sufficient funds for yourself and family members, so as not to become a burden on the Spanish welfare system during your stay.
In the case of EU exchange programmes, evidence of this fact will be sufficient to meet the criteria.
RESIDENCE FOR FAMILY MEMBERS
These rights will be extended to family members who accompany, or will be joining, an EU or EEA citizen:
If the family members are citizens of a member state they must register in the Central Register of Foreign Nationals.
If the family members are not citizens of a member state they must apply for an EU citizen’s family member residency card, which will be valid for 5 years from the date of its issue.
Furthermore, all of these procedures could be affected if the UK votes to leave the EU in the upcoming Brexit referendum, so it is important to stay informed on this matter. If these processes are not carried out properly it can cause serious delays in your application, which is why we recommend that you seek the appropriate legal advice from professionals specialised in this area before proceeding.