So that’s it, the UK has finally left the EU after 47 years. Freedom say some, paradise lost say others, and many in the middle who aren’t really sure. Only time will tell.
What happens now? There is an official EU-wide transition period until the end of the year in which British citizens can continue in Europe as before, during which time the UK has to negotiate the new terms of its relationship with the EU. So now we have to wait and see what sort of hard or soft Brexit gets thrashed out this year.
So far we have a signed Withdrawal Agreement, and the Spanish government says that “Once the transition period ends, the Withdrawal Agreement stipulates that your rights of residence, work, study and social security will be maintained.”
The website of the Office of the Spanish PM (La Moncloa) goes onto explain that “You have to bear in mind that the registration certificates (the green certificate) and ID cards of family members of the EU citizen obtained before the end of the transition period will subsequently serve to accredit their legal residence in Spain and benefit from the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement. However, during the transition period you may request the issue of a Foreigner Identity Card that explicitly mentions your condition as beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement. Having a registration certificate in force is a guarantee of your rights as resident in Spain.”
So it’s helpful to have a green registration certificate, but what if you didn’t get one before the UK left the EU? Many people found it difficult to get an NIE number of registration certificate on time because of delays in the Spanish bureaucracy. The Spanish government explains that “it is inevitable that the system will become strained in all the offices despite all efforts made, as a result of people doing things at the last minute.” Now that the UK is out, I have been reliably informed by one reader who got this information from the Spanish foreign office, that you need to request online an appointment for something called ‘documentation for UK nationals’ (trámite para la documentación de nacionales del Reino Unido in Spanish). Depending on where you live, you many not find any appointments being offered for a month or more. But as explained above, thanks to the Withdrawal Agreement, it now appears you have until the end of the transition period, so the end of 2020, to get your documents in order.
Buying and selling Spanish property after Brexit
The process of buying and selling property in Spain will not change for Brits. It’s already the same process for non-EU nationals like the Swiss and Norwegians, so there’s no reason to expect it to be any different. But Brexit probably will affect British demand, and therefore the market in some way, and the taxes Brits have to pay might also change.
Brexit is now a reality, and is going to have a significant impact on British expats and second-home owners in many different ways. I’ll be researching and explaining all the ramifications of Brexit as they become clear. Sign up for my news bulletin to be kept informed.
EDITED 3-JAN-2019: The original version of this article mentioned a 21-month grace period until the end of October 2021 for British expats in Spain to continue enjoying the same rights as before. That would have been the case if there was no Withdrawal Agreement signed by the UK and the EU. In the end a Withdrawal Agreement was signed that set the transition period deadline at the 31st of December 2020.