Spain has long been a popular destination for many retired Brits, with more than half of the 300,000 British expat population aged over 65. And it’s not difficult to see why – the country has much to offer – affordable coastal resorts, glorious sunshine, idyllic beaches and delicious cuisine, to name a few!
With Brexit looming, the ease of retiring to Spain will of course be affected after the UK leaves the EU. However, agreements already made with the European Union on citizens’ rights for those residing in EU countries, has provided some reassurance among Spanish expat communities. Yet, this is of course subject to the UK leaving the EU with a deal.
What is the EU citizens’ rights agreement?
As part of earlier Brexit negotiations, back in December the European Union and the UK government reached an agreement whereby all UK nationals residing in the EU would be able to remain in their country of residence post-Brexit.
Furthermore, in March of this year, they also agreed an implementation period which would run from 30th March 2019 until 31 December 2020. This would essentially allow UK nationals looking to move to EU countries a longer time frame to relocate. Therefore, as long as you are lawfully residing in another EU country on 31 December 2020, you would be covered by the citizen’s rights agreement.
On 14th November 2018, the UK government published the draft withdrawal agreement which sets out the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. This is promising news as is a step closer to Brexit deal. Whilst the withdrawal agreement has been agreed in principle, it is currently in the process of being formally agreed by each member state. After which it will go to a parliamentary vote.
Retiring to Spain before Brexit
It would appear that not all who have dreamt of retiring to Spain have been perturbed in the face of Brexit. Instead it has simply been a motivation to retire there before March 2019.
Currently, if you retire to Spain whilst the UK remains in the EU, there will be no change to your rights and status and if the withdrawal agreement goes ahead, this will include the implementation period up to 31st December 2020. However you would need to ensure you were registered as a resident which can be done by arranging a face to face appointment with Oficina de Extranjeros – the Spanish immigration office or police station in your province.
Whilst this is likely the safest option in such an uncertain situation, will it be impossible to retire to Spain after Brexit or indeed after any agreed implementation period?
Post Brexit retirement in Spain
You will still be able to retire to Spain after Brexit, regardless of what the final situation looks like. Assuming, a worst case scenario, retiring to Spain post Brexit would mean having to apply to reside there without permission to work.
Of course, it will perhaps come with a few less benefits. However, Spain actually treats its non-EU countries exceptionally well, so whilst it will be different, it definitely won’t be impossible.
Moreover, as the UK government have already secured pension and healthcare reciprocal agreements with other non-EU countries, who is to say Spain won’t do the same in due time?