How have new Brexit rules affected retired expats in Spain?
Currencies Direct January 28th 2021 - 3 minute read
The end of the transition period on 31 December means that the thousands of UK pensioners living in Spain are having to adjust to new post-Brexit rules and regulations.
But just how much of an impact are these new Brexit rules going to have on retired expats in Spain? And what additional hoops might future expats have to jump through to retire in Spain?
A change in residency status
If you were one of 360,000 Britons registered as a legal resident in Spain before 1 January 2021, then your pre-Brexit rights as an EU resident will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement signed between the UK and EU in 2019.
However, for UK citizens arriving after this date, the loss of the EU’s freedom of movement means that they will no longer automatically be able to stay indefinitely in the country.
This means that non-residents who own a second home in Spain can now only travel to the country on a tourist visa, meaning that you can only spend a maximum three of every six months there.
Those who are seeking to stay in Spain year-round will now need to show proof that you are able to sustain yourself. This requires you to prove that you have an income of at least £2000 each month, rising by £500 for each additional family member.
In addition, residents in Spain will have up to 30 June 2021 to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one. If you spend more than 6 months a year in Spain, you will also need to register your vehicle with the Spanish authorities, which may include paying additional taxes.
Claiming your UK pension
Thankfully, even after Brexit, anyone receiving a UK state pension will still be able to claim it while living in Spain, and your state pension will also continue to rise in line with the UK’s usual annual increase.
Relevant social security contributions made in EU countries will also help you to meet the qualifying conditions for a UK State Pension.
Anyone who has been living in Spain before 1 January 2021 will be able to also claim their Spanish state pension from the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social.
However, some people who live in Spain and receive their pension into a UK bank account may have recently been informed that their UK account will be closing due to Brexit.
If this affects you, then you will need to check with your pension provider about what payment options they offer for customers living overseas without a UK bank account, or create an account with a UK bank operating in Spain and have your pension payments redirected there.
Access to healthcare post-Brexit
To access healthcare in Spain everyone must make sure they have registered.
There are a few ways for UK pensioners to access the Spanish healthcare system after Brexit, these include:
- Through entitlement to healthcare as a permanent resident if they’ve lived in Spain for 5 years.
- Registering a UK-issued S1 form with the social security office, which provides state healthcare paid for by the UK. Application forms are available from the Overseas Healthcare Services.
- Paying directly into the public health insurance scheme (Convenio Especial). If you use an S1 form, you can’t use join the insurance scheme.
- Using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for temporary stays.
These entitles you to free basic state services, but there may be additional costs involved for certain services such as prescriptions.
The new Brexit rules having certainly made it less straightforward for retired expats looking to retire to Spain, but so long as you are able to meet the income requirements, then it is still completely viable.