THE Brexit transition period, agreed in March, gives British expatriates, and those wishing to move to Spain, more time to prepare. This was welcome news, but the clock is still ticking to get ready in time, particularly where paperwork is involved.
The key issue for many people is residence. If you are already living here, will there be any problems with you staying after Brexit? If you are still arranging your move to Spain, how can you secure residence in time?
The UK and EU27 have committed to maintain existing residency rights for Britons and EU nationals who are “lawfully residing” within either area before the withdrawal date, and they can continue “to live, work or study as they currently do, under the same conditions as under Union law”.
Although the official Brexit date is 29th March 2019, the transition period effectively ‘pauses’ Brexit until 31st December 2020, to enable citizens and businesses to prepare for the changes.
If you are settled in Spain before the end of 2020, you should keep the right to stay there for as long as you remain resident. But what does lawful residency mean in practice? How close can you get to demonstrating that in time?
Although December 2020 may seem some way away, it is advisable to start the process as soon as possible, rather than risk being caught in an administrative queue of others trying to do the same thing, as the deadline approaches.
Beyond Brexit, we do not yet know how acquiring residency, visas and permits will work, but can expect this to be less straightforward than today.
As a foreigner living in Spain, there are a number of things you should do, anyway, to register here, regardless of Brexit.
All EU/EEA nationals staying in Spain more than three months should have the residence certificate Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión (also known as Certificado de Registro Comunitario). If you spend more than 183 days here, you are also obliged to register with your local municipal registry (Padrón Municipal). Residents (and Spanish property owners) should have the NIE fiscal identification number.
Of course, if you meet any of the criteria to be tax resident, you also should have formally registered with the Spanish tax office, and submitted annual income-tax and wealth-tax (if applicable) returns.
Longer-term residents of Spain can take further steps. If you can demonstrate continuous legal residence in Spain for at least five years, you can apply for permanent residency. If you can do this for 10 years, Spanish nationality is an option, but you would have to renounce your UK nationality first.
There may be other steps you can take to help demonstrate your Spanish residence before the Brexit. Once you are settled in an EU country, existing partners and close family members will be able to join you, even after Brexit. Also, freedom of movement is still under discussion.
Take personalised advice to establish what steps you may still need to take to formalise your residency in Spain. Talk to a financial adviser early on for guidance on how your affairs should be structured, to avoid unintended consequences. They can review your tax and estate planning, pensions and investments to help you set up them in the best way for your life in Spain, pre and post Brexit.
Blevins Franks accepts no liability for any loss resulting from any action or inaction or omission as a result of reading this article, which is general in nature, and not specific to your circumstances. Summarised information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices, which may change. Individuals should seek personalised advice.
Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at www.blevinsfranks.com
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