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Brexit latest: An open letter from the British ambassador to Spain

Simon Manley explains the situation for Britons living in the country after the approval of the United Kingdom’s Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union

British ambassador to Spain Simon Manley.
British ambassador to Spain Simon Manley.

I wanted to update you on the recent developments on our exit from the European Union. As many of you are no doubt aware, on Sunday November 25, there was a special European Council on Brexit. EU leaders agreed the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU.

Citizens’ rights is a key part of the agreement, so this represents a big step forward in providing certainty for UK nationals living in Spain. As the British prime minister said following the European Council: “If you are one of the over three  million EU citizens who has come and built your life in the UK – come to be our colleagues, our neighbors and our friends – you need a deal that guarantees your rights. If you are one of the almost one million UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU, you need the same. This deal delivers for you all.”

I and the team strongly recommend you ensure you are correctly registered as a resident, as is your current obligation

The next stage is for the UK Parliament to vote on the deal the government has negotiated, which is expected on December 11. The European Parliament will also vote on the agreement.

If approved, the Withdrawal Agreement will secure the rights of one million UK nationals living in the EU. It means that the 300,000 British people who have chosen to make Spain their home have a legal guarantee that they will be allowed to stay here after the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019.

The Agreement also defines the Implementation Period as running from March 30, 2019 and until December 31, 2020. All UK nationals lawfully residing in Spain on December 31, 2020 will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. Under the current rules, UK nationals living in Spain must register with the Spanish authorities (at the Oficina de Extranjeros or at a designated local police station) to be legally resident here. Therefore, I and the team strongly recommend you ensure you are correctly registered as a resident, as is your current obligation. For detailed advice on registering, please see gov.uk/living-in-spain. We will, of course, update our advice if the Spanish authorities announce any changes to the registration requirements linked to Brexit.

UK nationals and their families covered by the Agreement will continue to have broadly the same access to healthcare, pensions and other benefits as they currently do

During the Implementation Period, you will be able to visit, live and work in the EU broadly as you do now. If you want to move to a different Member State, you will be able to do so during the Implementation Period.

UK nationals and their families covered by the Agreement will continue to have broadly the same access to healthcare, pensions and other benefits as they currently do. And you will be able to leave Spain for up to five years without losing your right to return if you have acquired the relevant residency status. If you have any questions about who is covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, please see the UK nationals living in the EU pages on gov.uk.

Next steps

  • Make sure you are correctly registered with Extranjería here in Spain (please see gov.uk/living-in-spain)
  • Sign up for email alerts to stay up to date and find out about our outreach events, by visiting the Living in Spain guide on gov.uk.
  • Follow our “Brits in Spain” social media channels, including on Facebook.

Both the Embassy and our network of consulates will continue with outreach events across Spain to answer your questions about your rights and Brexit, with three events planned before Christmas and more planned for the new year. And we will continue to update you with key information in the months ahead. In the meantime, I would like to wish all British nationals living in Spain, a very merry Christmas.

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