TEMPORARY REGULATION FOR BRITISH RESIDENTS BEFORE THE BREXIT

Despite the uncertainty in the United Kingdom about the effectiveness of Brexit and its effects, given the proximity of the 30th of March  2019 (which is the deadline to come to an agreement in order to separate from the European Union) and despite the fact that Spain has a government in office at the moment, last Saturday, the 2nd of March, the Official State Gazette published Royal Decree-law number 5/2019, of the 1st of March, regarding which provisional measures are adopted given the possibility that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland withdraw from the European Union without having previously reached the agreement included in Art. 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. This rule will only be applied if the Treaty of the European Union are no longer applied to the United Kingdom.

Given that it is a rule that has been widely discussed, even before its birth, because of the uncertainty created and the consequences it could have for the British citizens living in Spain, in response to the numerous inquiries of our clients, I want to express my point of view about the most important general aspects, taking for granted that they can consult the full text or obtain a personalized meeting for our clients, through a visit to our offices.

And the first thing I want to emphasize is that it is a rule that was born with a temporary limitation and designed with a base of reciprocity (which means that Spanish residents there receive the same treatment), pending further development by the Spanish authorities.

Out of the regulated aspects, the first thing that must be highlighted is the resident and employee status for UK nationals who work in Spain and for their family members. The aforesaid rule provided a special period to prove with written documents, before 21 months from the withdrawal of the UK, that they were already residents in Spain.  Article number 4 establishes the obligation to request the documentation for their new status during this period of 21 months, even if they do not have the residency card or EU certificate or EU citizen card or if it is expired, while the new documentation is processed, << it is confirmed that your residence in Spain will remain legal >>. Therefore, this is an important aspect, which will need a subsequent development which they should keep paying attention to, while collecting documentation that proves their legal residence in Spain.

The same rule also regulates the procedure for obtaining long-term residency, for those who have resided legally and continuously in Spanish territory, at least 5 years before the UK withdraws from the EU.

Regarding Social Security it regulates the situations created before the withdrawal of UK from the EU, guaranteeing the payment of Spanish pensions to UK nationals, regardless of the country of residence and, on the other hand, the validity of periods quoted in Spain , for the purposes of elderly pensions or unemployment (the UK nationals may receive the unemployment benefit, as long as they remain residents in Spain).

In relation to health care, it establishes a system based on the principles of continuity and reciprocity: for a period of 21 months Spain will continue to provide health care in the same conditions as it has been doing so far, provided that the UK guarantees that it will do the same for the Spanish citizens who reside there ( according to Article 13). Likewise, << the validity of the issued health cards is clarified in that rule, as well as those documents that must be handed in the absence of the aforesaid card in order to obtain healthcare in Spain >>. It also clarifies that in cases of temporary stay and scheduled medical treatments, people entitled to healthcare under the responsibility of the UK must prove it by means of a certificate, which will be accepted by all health centres. On the other hand, when these people become residents in Spain and do not have a health card, they must go to the Social Security with the aforementioned certificate, so that they can receive a health card. The dispensing of prescriptions for medicines issued by the UK will remain as currently, with the temporary and reciprocal limitations initially indicated.

Finally (within the questions that generally raise us, since the whole issue is much more extensive), we must highlight the new application for driving licenses. A period of 9 months is established so that residents in Spain can exchange the licences, with the same treatment of exchange of European cards. After this period, it will not be possible to do so and the regime for third countries will be applied, unless Spain and the UK sign a specific agreement on this matter.

I understand that it is a very important rule, that will be analysed and developed in the coming weeks, but that should start to be taken into consideration, due to the consequences that it could have, even though nowadays it is not known with certainty what will happen, not even if this rule will be enacted.

Despite the uncertainty in the United Kingdom about the effectiveness of Brexit and its effects, given the proximity of the 30th of March  2019 (which is the deadline to come to an agreement in order to separate from the European Union) and despite the fact that Spain has a government in office at the moment, last Saturday, the 2nd of March, the Official State Gazette published Royal Decree-law number 5/2019, of the 1st of March, regarding which provisional measures are adopted given the possibility that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland withdraw from the European Union without having previously reached the agreement included in Art. 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. This rule will only be applied if the Treaty of the European Union are no longer applied to the United Kingdom.

Given that it is a rule that has been widely discussed, even before its birth, because of the uncertainty created and the consequences it could have for the British citizens living in Spain, in response to the numerous inquiries of our clients, I want to express my point of view about the most important general aspects, taking for granted that they can consult the full text or obtain a personalized meeting for our clients, through a visit to our offices.

And the first thing I want to emphasize is that it is a rule that was born with a temporary limitation and designed with a base of reciprocity (which means that Spanish residents there receive the same treatment), pending further development by the Spanish authorities.

Out of the regulated aspects, the first thing that must be highlighted is the resident and employee status for UK nationals who work in Spain and for their family members. The aforesaid rule provided a special period to prove with written documents, before 21 months from the withdrawal of the UK, that they were already residents in Spain.  Article number 4 establishes the obligation to request the documentation for their new status during this period of 21 months, even if they do not have the residency card or EU certificate or EU citizen card or if it is expired, while the new documentation is processed, << it is confirmed that your residence in Spain will remain legal >>. Therefore, this is an important aspect, which will need a subsequent development which they should keep paying attention to, while collecting documentation that proves their legal residence in Spain.

The same rule also regulates the procedure for obtaining long-term residency, for those who have resided legally and continuously in Spanish territory, at least 5 years before the UK withdraws from the EU.

Regarding Social Security it regulates the situations created before the withdrawal of UK from the EU, guaranteeing the payment of Spanish pensions to UK nationals, regardless of the country of residence and, on the other hand, the validity of periods quoted in Spain , for the purposes of elderly pensions or unemployment (the UK nationals may receive the unemployment benefit, as long as they remain residents in Spain).

In relation to health care, it establishes a system based on the principles of continuity and reciprocity: for a period of 21 months Spain will continue to provide health care in the same conditions as it has been doing so far, provided that the UK guarantees that it will do the same for the Spanish citizens who reside there ( according to Article 13). Likewise, << the validity of the issued health cards is clarified in that rule, as well as those documents that must be handed in the absence of the aforesaid card in order to obtain healthcare in Spain >>. It also clarifies that in cases of temporary stay and scheduled medical treatments, people entitled to healthcare under the responsibility of the UK must prove it by means of a certificate, which will be accepted by all health centres. On the other hand, when these people become residents in Spain and do not have a health card, they must go to the Social Security with the aforementioned certificate, so that they can receive a health card. The dispensing of prescriptions for medicines issued by the UK will remain as currently, with the temporary and reciprocal limitations initially indicated.

Finally (within the questions that generally raise us, since the whole issue is much more extensive), we must highlight the new application for driving licenses. A period of 9 months is established so that residents in Spain can exchange the licences, with the same treatment of exchange of European cards. After this period, it will not be possible to do so and the regime for third countries will be applied, unless Spain and the UK sign a specific agreement on this matter.

I understand that it is a very important rule, that will be analyzed and developed in the coming weeks, but that should start to be taken into consideration, due to the consequences that it could have, even though nowadays it is not known with certainty what will happen, not even if this rule will be enacted.

Doctor in Law

Venancio Parra Torres