BUT HOW DOES IT AFFECT RESIDENTS AND VISITORS IN TENERIFE?
As generally predicted, the European Union has today signed the UK Government’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement. This means that a Transitional Period now applies until 31st December 2020, during which time the UK and EU will continue negotiations with a view to reaching a permanent Deal on all aspects of Brexit (Immigration, Trade etc). Whilst there is a mechanism for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request a further extension to the transitional period if required, he has stated he has no intentions of agreeing any further extension.
During the Transitional Period, UK nationals visiting Spain, currently living in Spain, or thinking of moving to Spain will continue to enjoy the exact same rights as before. This means there is no change to residency applications or the status of existing residencia cards.
Meanwhile, the English speaking press in Tenerife and further afield continue to run Brexit scare stories. Today’s nugget in a well-known English newspaper in the Canaries carries the sensationalist headline “SWALLOWS GROUNDED BY BREXIT”. It quotes British Ambassador Hugh Elliott as allegedly saying:
“”But we know that many of them like to stay for five or six months at a time. Currently, they can stay for six months, but not in the future, after 31st January.”
“That’s because their time in Tenerife will be cut to three-monthly periods when Brexit kicks in next Saturday (1st February).”
This information is misleading on 2 counts. Firstly, UK Nationals have never been limited to 6 month stays in Spain. Secondly, they are most certainly NOT limited to 3 month stays from 31st January 2020 onwards.
What Mr Elliott and the newspaper neglect to mention is that the “3 month period” actually refers to the requirement to register as resident in Spain and has in fact been a legal requirement since 2012.
In its infinite wisdom, Spain decided at that time to introduce a new law requiring anybody intending to live in Spain for more than 3 months to apply for Spanish Residencia and register as Empadronamiento at the local Town Hall. This is of course rather at odds with the concept of ‘tax residency’, which states that a ‘Spanish Resident’ is one who resides in Spain for at least 6 months and 1 day in any given tax year.
Guru can confirm that between 31st January 2020 and 31st December 2020, there will be NO CHANGE WHATSOEVER to the rules for UK nationals wishing to visit Spain or reside in Spain and they can continue to visit or live in Spain for as long as they wish.
So technically, all Swallows and part-time residents who have spent more than 3 continuous months in Spain at any time since 2012 have technically been required to apply for ‘residencia’ in any event, although the vast majority of them (including most Swallows) have never bothered to do so.
Fortunately for those who do choose to register, applying for ‘Residencia’ in Spain is entirely separate to being a tax resident (i.e. filing resident tax returns, declaring bank accounts as resident etc etc).
In conclusion: All UK nationals can continue to spend as much time in Spain as they like after 31st January 2020. The only question is whether they are required to ‘register’ during the stay of their choice. However, the implication that they are either “grounded” or “limited to a 3 month stay” after 31st January 2020 is both utter nonsense and irresponsible scaremongering.
- DRIVING LICENCES: UK Nationals can continue to use their UK driving licences in Spain until at least 31st October 2020, regardless of whether they are residents or tourists, and no International Drivers Permit or other documentation will be required.
- MEDICAL CARE: Reciprocal medical care rights for UK Nationals living in Spain will also continue unchanged for the entire Transitional Period (i.e. S1 Certificate holders (residents) or EHIC cards (tourists).
LIKELY SITUATION AFTER 31st DECEMBER 2020:
In the unlikely event of a No Deal, then there may be changes to the above rights from 31st December 2020 and we will publish further updates as soon as information is available. However, our continuing advice is that UK Nationals living in Spain DO NOT NEED to take any different or additional steps at this moment and should simply continue to monitor the situation.
However, for anyone who absolutely needs to apply for Residencia at this point (e.g. for contractual reasons, or security clearance etc) may still do so, but the only police station currently accepting residency applications from UK residents is in Santa Cruz.