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Post As of Today, It's Harder for British Expats in Spain
Created by John Eipper on 01/01/21 9:03 AM

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As of Today, It's Harder for British Expats in Spain (Timothy Ashby, -Spain, 01/01/21 9:03 am)

John Eipper raised the question (December 30th):

"I assume that post-Brexit, it will be far more difficult for British citizens to retire in Spain. I hope Tim Ashby in Mallorca can give more details."

Yes--UK citizens will find it considerably more difficult to retire in Spain as of today, unless they are legal residents. At least 300,000 British subjects live in Spain, many of whom have been here for decades. But without legal residency permits they can only stay for 90 days within each 180-day period. They cannot simply fly to another country and return the next day to "start the clock ticking" again.

Rosemary (who is British) and I had the foresight to apply for our residencias months ago, but many of our UK expat friends have been frantically scrambling to apply these past few weeks as realisation has sunk in that Brexit has radically changed their status. It took several months for our lawyer (a Russian woman married to to Mallorcan) to secure Rosemary's residency. In November, when Rosemary actually collected her card from the Immigration office in Palma (which incidentally had a separate line under a "Brexit" sign), there were lines of people stretching around the block.

If the Spanish immigration authorities received an application before today, even if not yet processed, the applicant is considered "safe" until the application is is approved or denied. For new applicants from today, the process will be much more lengthy and difficult.

Although we have excellent and inexpensive private health insurance, as part of the agreement with the EU, British travellers can continue to use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) until it expires. This entitles travellers to state-provided medical treatment. From January 4 travellers will be able to apply for a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which includes a reciprocal health scheme akin to the EHIC. The UK government will pick up the costs of any healthcare needed for its citizens holidaying in an EU state. We understand that as residents we can use the excellent public health system if we choose to do so. Several of our expat friends use the state health system and report that it is better than the NHS in the UK. Due to Covid, waiting times for seeing specialists or having medical procedures performed are much longer than in previous years, which is not the case with our local private hospital (which a doctor told us last week has never had a Covid patient in its ICU, even though they were expected).

JE comments:  Tim, relieved to hear that you and Rosemary are safe in a foreign land!  When time permits, can you tell us about your experience with obtaining a residencia as a US citizen?  I ask somewhat out of personal interest...retirement may not be that far off.

Happy New Year!

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