British Expats who want to stay Spain are facing an arduous and complicated task.
When the UK left the European Union on December 31, British Expats lost most of their privileges as EU citizens, such as public health care and moving to Spain without a job or substantial financial resources to stay.
Overseas Experts and British Associations like "Brexpats in Spain" which has more than 20,000 members on Spanish soil, fought to prevent Brexit and many are extremely upset about the red tape they’re now forced to navigate.
“They’ve begun to feel foreign in our country,” says Marbella Lawyer & Foreign Specialist Ricardo Bocanegra, who believes that it’s the people who want to move to Spain in the future, not the people who are already here that face real problems.
From January 1, British citizens who are thinking of settling in Spain will have to comply with the provisions set out in the General Regime of Foreigners. “The conditions are very strict and British people will be treated the same as any other foreigner,” says Bocanegra.
It means that British citizens moving to Spain will have to prove they have somewhere to stay, sufficient financial resources to stay in the country if they don’t work and private medical insurance that provides health coverage equivalent to what's provided by Social Security.
Brexit also affects everyday issues such as driving, because the mutual recognition agreement between the two countries is now void, so Britons will now have to sit a driving test and a written exam to obtain a valid driver's licence for Spain.
“This issue generates great unrest, especially amongst those who already live here, because from the announcement of Brexit until the end of 2020 a British driver's licence could simply be exchanged for a Spanish one, but now those who move to Spain will have no choice but to sit the tests," adds Ricardo Bocanegra.
Sharon Hitchcock has lived in Malaga on the Costa del Sol for more than 30 years and when she moved to Spain she didn’t need to prove that she had a job or money in the bank.
“Brexit is a change for the worse and a setback to the 1980s,” says Hitchcock, who finds it "very sad" that as things stand today, people can only move to Spain if they have significant financial support.
"A large number of British retirees also used to settle in Malaga, Alicante, Mallorca or the Canary Islands, but this new situation doesn’t do them any favours either,” says "Brexpats in Spain” Pesident Anne Hernández.
"The elderly have their pensions and many also have some savings which used to be enough to live on here, before the UK left the EU."
Now they have to adapt to these new conditions and meet the strict requirements of Spanish law," says Hernández. They'll have to take out health insurance which is very expensive because of their age and pathology and prove that they have an enormous amount of money in the bank, which most do not have.”