Brexit Expat Facts. Not Fiction

By Alex Trelinski

The best part of four years on from the June 2016 referendum, when British voters chose to leave the European Union, Brexit is real that on Friday January 31st 2020 the Withdrawal Agreement kicks in.

There will be no magic puff of smoke, as everything will continue as it is right now for British nationals living in Spain, with the main UK focus being on striking a trade deal with the EU before the transition period comes to an end on December 31st 2020.

Forget the unfactual scare stories popping up on internet forums and local bars, and let´s focus on facts.

There will be a time, yet to be specified, where British nationals in Spain, who hold a residencia, will have to switch to a Foreigners ID card, according to previous statements from the Spanish government.

The British Embassy in Madrid said last week:-

“The Spanish authorities have not yet confirmed the exact process nor timetable. However, we want to reassure UK nationals that an implementation period after Brexit will last until the end of the year”.

“During this time, you will be able to continue to live, work and move to Spain in the same way that you do now. The green residency certificate will continue to be valid. If you don’t yet have your certificate you will be able to register during the implementation period according to the current EU residency criteria”.

Essentially there is a longer period for British nationals who are living in Spain without a residencia to get that sorted, with October 31st 2019 having been a previous deadline..

Information on Spanish government websites have suggested that the switch from a residencia to a Foreigners ID card will be “straight-forward”, but as the British Embassy has stated, no timetable has been declared yet.

The issue of health provision has led to frequent “bar” talk on the Costa Blanca with “so-called” alcohol-fuelled “experts” proclaiming that health entitlements for expats would somehow disappear.


That´s despite politicians like prime minister Pedro Sanchez and Valencian president, Ximo Puig, repeatedly stating that Spanish healthcare access would continue for retired expats after Brexit,

And only a few days ago, the British Embassy in Madrid made the position absolutely clear yet again:-

“S1 form holders who have moved to Spain before  December 31st 2020 will continue to have life-long healthcare rights provided they remain registered as resident in Spain.”

“ This means access to healthcare in Spain will not change for those S1 form holders for as long as they remain resident in Spain.”

“ Remember that as an S1 form holder, if you visit the UK you will still be able to access free NHS care when temporarily visiting England, Scotland and Wales, as you can now.”

Expats working in Spain and paying into the social security system of course will continue to access healthcare as well.

UK state pensions rates will continue to rise at the same rate as back in Britain and disability benefits will be transferred in the same way that they are right now.

Close family members will be able to come over and live with you in Spain, so long as you are an official resident.

There are issues though that are “up in the air” but the bottom line is that if you are a legally-registered  British national in Spain, you should largely be fine.

Things to be “resolved” include the matter of visa-free travel between the UK and the EU; any UK EHIC card replacement(if any); and the use of UK driving licences in the EU if you are going on holiday. If you are a Spanish resident you must have a Spanish driving licence anyway..

A good source of facts and updates is the British Embassy Facebook page, Brits in Spain, where you can get the official position, rather than from a know-all propping up your local bar!