With the countdown to Brexit underway, the UK is still a long way off getting the deal it wants with the EU. But among people’s many unanswered questions, one of the biggest, which held particular importance for a large section of Brits living abroad, was how will Brexit affect British property owners in Spain?
With the Government and the media focusing on trade deals, divorce bills, and ‘the road ahead’, there are hundreds of questions that no one can yet answer. More detailed, and arguably more complex, issues involving the rights of both UK and EU citizens who live abroad, continue to have a lack of detailed clarity surrounding them.
However, recent first-round negotiations in late 2017, meant outline agreements were reached between the UK and the EU for the nearly 1m UK nationals living permanently in the EU. So what does that mean exactly?
With the UK being a member state of the EU, Brits currently have the right to live in Spain and use its healthcare system if they choose to do so. But since the referendum in June ‘16 and for the 18 months thereafter, there followed a gross lack of clarity from the Government on UK citizens’ rights after Brexit.
One of the biggest questions raised continually was whether UK nationals would be able to continue living permanently in the EU at all after Brexit. For those who had already made Spain their home, worry and uncertainty left many feeling that Brexit spelled the end of the road, and they would be left with no choice but to return to the UK.
Thankfully, with those agreements in December ‘17, all the uncertainty was finally put to rest. It now means that those UK nationals with permanent residence in Spain (or any other EU country), will continue to reserve the right to residence and healthcare as before.
So if you plan to move to Spain and become a permanent resident, it would be wise to start the process now. With plenty of others applying to the authorities and only a little over a year until the UK is set to leave the EU, the Brexit clock is ticking.
Second Properties and Holiday Homes
Many Brits are also lucky enough to own or want to own, holiday property in Spain. Whether you’re retired or not, where do you stand? The good news is that owning or buying a holiday property in Spain shouldn’t have much, if any, effect on whether we see Brexit or not.
If you currently own, or are looking to own at any point in the future, it’s unlikely any property rights, taxes, VAT, or duties will change due to the Brexit process. Even if a visa-style entry to Spain should ever be introduced post-Brexit, this certainly wouldn’t apply to holidaymakers looking at a stay of under 3 months. And it’s likely in that scenario that a visa-waiver scheme would be introduced anyway (much like when visiting Turkey or Egypt).
So while the agreements will be of reassurance to all UK nationals living in the EU, there is still progress to be made on the finer details. One of the key issues continues to be whether UK nationals will have the ability to keep certain rights if they move to another EU member state.
While these should be discussed and concluded with the upcoming second round of negotiations, we’ll have to wait further for the final outcome.