Spanish Rules for no deal Brexit

New Spanish Rules for a No Deal Brexit

An extraordinary regulation has been approved – Real Decreto-ley 5/2019 to rule some measures in the case of a no deal Brexit in order to manage some important questions regarding expats in Spain. These measures will enter into force only if and when the European Union Treaties are no longer applicable to the UK and with no alternative regulations having been agreed.
It must be stressed that the following are temporary measures designed to facilitate the transition to the new situation resulting from the United Kingdom being considered as a third state.
Therefore, they will cease to be valid once the period indicated for each measure expires, or, either nationally or internationally, permanent regulations come into force with the United Kingdom in respect of the situations considered under these measures.
The rules are based on two basic principles: continuity and reciprocity.
As a consequence, some of these measures will be discontinued after a period of two months from coming into force if the British authorities do not concede the same treatment to Spanish nationals in any territory under their jurisdiction.


With the aim of avoiding a situation resulting in any irregularity, an ad hoc regime has been established to document UK nationals who are resident in Spain before the exit date, as residents of a third country (including members of their families).
The application to obtain this documentation should be made within a period of twenty-one months from the date of the UK exit from the European Union without an agreement. The application can be made both by those who have a certificate of registration as a citizen of the EU or a card of residence as a family member, or by those who do not have either but can be accredited as resident in Spain before the date of exit.
Up to the end of that period, certificates of registration and cards of residence will continue to be valid until they are substituted by the new documents. Moreover, residency of British nationals (and their family) will continue to be legal even if they do not have an EU certificate of registration or EU card of residence, whilst the new documents are applied for.
The decree continues the current requirement of being legally & continually resident for a minimum of five years, prior to access to long-term residency (for British nationals and their families)»

The proceeding to obtain long term residence will be that currently ruled in the LO4/2009 of rights and obligations of foreigners in Spain. Periods of residence in Spain previous to the exit date would be counted.

If a British national has already got a «certificado de residencia permanente» or a family member of whatever nationality has already got a permanent residency card of family member of an EU citizen, they can apply directly for a «tarjeta de residente extranjero de larga duración» from the «Dirección General de la Policía». In this case a prior and continuous residence of at least five years will be presumed


Again, the basic principles of continuity and reciprocity will be applied. It is envisaged that for a period of twenty-one months from the date of the coming into force of these measures, Spain will continue to provide healthcare under the same terms and conditions as before the exit of the UK from the EU, provided that the UK reciprocates and guarantees the same conditions for people with the right to be provided with healthcare from the Spanish State.
Likewise, in order to assure the benefit of access to healthcare, health cards which have already been issued will remain valid, as well as those documents which, without a health card, can give access to the health system. The procedure for invoicing and reimbursement that are attributed to the Instituto de Nacional de la Seguridad Social and to the Instituto Social de la Marina will continue.

Driving Licence

For Spanish residents who have a British driving licence, which at the moment is valid to drive in Spain because it was issued by a European Union member state, this will no longer be valid once the UK leaves the EU.
A transition period of nine months has been fixed for drivers with a British licence who have acquired residence in Spain to exchange it for a Spanish driving licence, assuming they comply with all the relevant regulations, to allow them to continue driving despite the exit of the UK.
However, this exchange will only be possible if, during this period of nine months, the current system of verification of driving licences within the EU is maintained.
Following the expiry of this nine month period the Spanish regulations for driving licences issued by third countries will be applied, and it will no longer be possible to exchange a British driving licence for a Spanish one, until a bilateral agreement on this issue has been reached.


British citizens at the time of the UK exit who are carrying out their profession in Spain according to their recognised qualifications will be able to continue under the same conditions.
Professional qualifications obtained in UK, or by British citizens obtained in a Member State will be recognised during the next five years under the same rules and proceedings that currently exist, assuming that the studies started before the UK exit.

Social Security

The new rule also regulates the social security rights that British citizens enjoyed under Spanish law or under British Law, if they are residents in Spain.
Spain will continue to pay pensions to British citizens regardless of the country of residence.
The time of insurance accredited either in Spain or in the UK, before the UK exit, will be accumulated for the obtaining of pensions and other social security rights under Spanish law.

Also, a British citizen can obtain unemployment benefit in Spain for the relevant period during which he or she has contributed in England assuming that the last contributions were made in Spain and during his or her time of residence in Spain.


UK students during 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 will have access to Spanish universities under the same terms and conditions as students from any Member State assuming those students comply with the academic requirements demanded by their education systems.

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