Boris Johnson 'needs to step up for British expats' says expert
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Around 360,000 Britons are registered as permanent residents in Spain, but many more are estimated to have been living in the country without registering. Since the UK left the EU on January 1, Britons looking to move to Spain and other countries in bloc must meet certain conditions to gain resident status, including financial means and health cover.
Those living in the EU before January 1, 2021 need to submit a residence application to an immigration office to prove your residency.
If you registered as a resident before 6 July 2020, you will have a green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper from Extranjeria or the police.
This is still a valid document and proves your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Brits also must apply for a visa, valid for 90 days in any six month period, to visit the bloc.
Wendy Morton, Minister for Europe and the America’s, also recently flew to Spain to discuss British expats with Madrid’s government.
She said on Twitter: “Delighted to meet Europe Minister Juan Barba.
“We discussed foreign policy & the extensive United Kingdom & Spain bilateral links, especially between our people.
“We will continue to work together to ensure that Brits living in Spain can secure their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.”
Robert Barnhardt, property expert and real estate managing director, told Express.co.uk many Britons in Spain are now starting to sell their properties because of post-Brexit difficulty.
He said: “A lot of retired British people are starting to sell up.
“They used to come down here in September or October and then stay until April/May for the six months of better weather.
“But now they can only come for 90 days and also a lot of them used to drive down. The Spanish are now getting pretty strict on foreign plated cars and mainly British cars.
“Down on the rural roads, where I live out in the sticks, a lot of people have been driving around in the same English cars.
“I mean I’ve certainly seen them for 10-15 years with the same vehicle. And now it’s against the law and they’re being impounded.”
The RAC advice for driving in Spain is that your vehicle must display the UK letters and the letters must be visible regardless of what’s on the car’s number plate.
Robert also suggested health insurance is having an impact on British expats’ decision to sell up on the Costa del Sol.
He told Express.co.uk: “A lot of elderly people are choosing to go. Sometimes because of healthcare, or their health coverage.”
Expatica states that an expat can only access free healthcare in Spain now if they are a resident, or working and paying social security contributions.
Brits living in Spain and other EU countries have also been warned of complex processes if they want to move back to the UK with a European partner before March 2022.
From March 31st, 2022, the EU spouses of British nationals will have to apply for a full visa and go through a lengthy process if they want to move to the UK.
This includes fulfilling qualifications around language, skills and having sufficient financial resources.
Those who don’t meet the criteria may not be allowed to enter, even though they are married to a Brit.
Jane Golding, chair of the campaign group British in Europe, said: “We are worried that there are many families across the EU who do not understand the implications of stringent immigration rules now applying to UK citizens in the EU”.
“Many of us have older relatives in the UK who may need our care, or we had always planned to retire to the UK to be near family.
“The grace period given until the end of March 2022 is simply not long enough for families to make decisions to uproot and then arrange to return to the UK.
“We continue to lobby for a longer grace period.”
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