New Spanish Rules
for a Hard Brexit

New Spanish Rules for a Hard 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 These measures will enter into force only if and when the European Union Treaties are no longer applicable to the UK and with no alternative regulations having been agreed.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, in order to guarantee the legal security of British nationals and the family of a British national resident in Spain before exit, whether or not they have an EU certificate of registration or EU card of residence, their residence in Spain will continue being legal.

Likewise, this decree regulates the requirements for access to long term residence for British nationals and for members of their family resident in Spain to those who have been legally, and continually resident for a minimum period of five years.

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.

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