Introduction

Summary of measures taken by Spain to promote the re-location of British Nationals and Companies. Includes information on Brexit consequences after the 31 December 2020, UK Nationals living in Spain and the possibility of requesting a residence card, Spanish nationality, British students of higher education in Spain, Social Security rights and driving licenses.

U.K. Withdrawal from the European Union

The United Kingdom (UK) withdrawal agreement from the European Union (EU) was approved by the British Parliament on January 9th. Ratification in the European Parliament took place on January 29th, two days before the official exit date.
The text of the agreement provides for a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which the four European freedoms will prevail (free movement of goods, services, capital and workers), which will prevent a sudden breakdown in relations and an adaptation to the new rules that will be negotiated.

In order to help the Companies, the European Commission has made available a Checklist for preparing for Brexit for companies operating in the EU.
On this side, Spain has implemented a set of measures that aim not only to support national companies, but also to guarantee the stability of British citizens in Spain and to promote the relocation of British companies and their workers, administrators and owners, regardless of their nationality, to the national territory.
Thus, with regard to British citizens and their families (and subject to the verification of equivalent treatment by the British authorities towards Spanish citizens residing in the United Kingdom) the following safeguards were determined:

  • UK Nationals who have a residence established in Spain continue, to be considered residents, without any interruption. If they have lived for less than 5 years, they must apply for a temporary residence card. If they have lived for 5 years or more, they can choose to apply for permanent residence card or for the long-term resident status. The request shall be made by 31/12/2020. Proving legal residence in Spain for 10 years, they can apply for Spanish nationality.
  • For those enrolled in a Spanish higher education institution or enrolled until for the school periods of 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, European rules and benefits shall continue to be applicable, being excluded from the application of the international student status, until the end of the study cycle in which they enrolled or moved on.
  • Recognition of the social security rights of persons who have completed periods of insurance in the UK, up to the date of UK departure from the European Union
  • UK nationals residing in Spain at the date of the UK’s departure from the European Union continue to be beneficiaries of the National Health Service (SNS). In the case of workers, they will be able to benefit from the Spanish National Health System as long as they are registered in the Spanish Social Security System, just like any other Spanish national, this also applies to posted workers in Spain. In the case of students and tourists will be covered by the Spanish National Health Service but they will be requested to show the supporting document which reflects their coverage under the UK´s NHS.
  • UK nationals and their families living in Spain must exchange their driving licenses up to 9 months after official exit day (31 January 2020). In case of non-resident UK nationals, their licence will be valid for six months after their date of entry in Spain.

This set of measures, associated with the quality of life and security offered by Spain, places the country as one of the most attractive destinations for the relocation of British citizens and companies, also allowing to reinforce the growing development in the areas as technology, real estate, tourism and pharmaceuticals, which are already at the forefront of British investments in Spain.