Costa Blanca Property Guide: Effects of Brexit on Expats


What is the situation going to be for expats in Spain following Brexit? What measures have come into place to protect the interests and rights of individuals affected? New legislation has been passed covering contingency measures being put in place. Read below for more information on the arrangements.

Date Updated

24th April 2024


Click to view Facebook page


Costa Blanca Property Guide: Effects of Brexit on Expats

Property Guide | Emigration Guide | Effects of Brexit on Expats | Costa Blanca Online 24

The Effects of Brexit on Expats

What is going to happen to British expats living in Spain with Brexit fast-approaching? What measures have come into place to protect the interests and rights of individuals affected? Well, as of March 2019, a Royal Decree-Law has been passed outlining the measures to be adopted by the Spanish legal system in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit.

The current plans cover a wide variety of areas with the key points of interest including residency, cross-border workers, professional rights, social security, healthcare, and driving. The main objectives of the legislation are to maintain the interests of citizens (both British and Spanish) whos free right to movement was exercised before the EU exit date was arranged, as well as to protect the flow of commercial and economic development in Spain.

More details follow below. It's worth remembering that these measures are intended to be transitory facilitations for the proper development of a new situation should the UK leave without a pre-arranged deal.

Residency Requirements

Until a final solution is agreed upon, individuals without residency prior to the date will remain legal. UK nationals and family members are required to apply for Tarjeta de Indentidad Extrajero (Residency Cards) before December 2020 so that their legal residency status may be confirmed.

Following Brexit, UK nationals become third country nationals, making the above application essential. It must be completed within 21 months of Brexit.

Driving Licences

Currently-held British driving licences will last only nine months from the date of Brexit. It is required that the licence is exchanged for a Spanish one within this period.

Following the nine-month mark, third country rules will be enforced and the simple exchange will no longer be possible until the arrangement of a bilateral agreement between the two countries.

Cross-Border Work

Work permit administration to UK nationals will follow the conditions for cross-border works in Spain - provided that there is a reciprocal assessment of Spanish nationals in the UK.

Professional Rights

Rights will continue for those professionally qualified/trained in the UK with no need for re-examination, provided it was originally completed prior to the new Royal Decree-Law, or within five years following it.

Social Security

Workers and pensioners rights are covered by British/Spanish social security, and will remain protected until a determined period.

This only applies until arrangement of an international agreement between the EU and the UK or else between the UK and Spain bilaterally.

Healthcare Cover

The current conditions provided by Spain will remain, as long as the UK guarantees the same conditions within two months of this decree. If so, those already covered will remain so by the NHS, until the arrangement of an alternative agreement. UK nationals and temporary visitors will remain valid for healthcare in Spain, but treatment will remain paid by the UK.