Brexit Update

An open letter from British Ambassador, Simon Manley, to British citizens living in Spain

14th April 2019.

“I’m sure you have been following recent developments in the Brexit negotiations very closely, so I wanted to give you a quick update about what all of this means for British people living here in Spain.

The European Council has agreed what is being called a “flexible extension” to the process of our departure from the European Union, until 31 October. Flexible, because if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by both the UK and the European Parliaments before then, the UK will leave the EU on the first day of the month after that approval.

So for example, if we pass a deal in the first three weeks of May, the UK will leave the European Union on the first of June. That would also mean we won’t take part in elections to the European Parliament. If, however, a deal is not passed by that point, European Parliamentary elections will take place in the UK. And if you are registered to vote in European elections here in Spain, then you should be able to do so.

I understand all of this is unsettling and frustrating for many of you. You want to know on what terms we are going to leave the European Union and what that may mean for you as a UK national living in Spain. During this extension period, the UK remains a full member of the EU and consequently your existing rights will not change. So, for example, your rights to healthcare, to residency and to travel throughout the EU, remain exactly as they are today.

Nonetheless, during this extension period, as we prepare to leave the European Union, it remains really important to ensure that you are correctly registered. I understand, however, that many of you are finding it difficult to get appointments. Let me assure you that we are talking with the Spanish authorities about this. Meanwhile, the Spanish Government has advised that if you can’t get an appointment now, you should make sure that you’ve got proof that you were living here before we leave the European Union, whether that be a padrón certificate or utility bills. The Spanish Government also advises on their Moncloa website on Brexit contingency measures, to keep checking for new appointments to become available. Should we leave the EU with a deal, as we very much hope, you will have until the end of the Implementation Period, currently set at 31 December 2020, to register, if you have not done so already. Should we, however, leave without a deal, as could still happen, the Spanish Government has said you will have a 21-month grace period from the date of our departure to register.

You can also prepare by signing up for email alerts for our Living in Spain guide on or by joining our Brits in Spain Facebook community, where you can also find some videos on what you need to do to prepare for Brexit on issues such as registration, driving licences, healthcare and travel”.

Official government websites with the latest news

There is  a special British government web page specific to those living in Spain. You can also sign up for alerts to be sent to your email as the news changes. . 

The Spanish government will provide more information in English on contingency plans for Britons living in Spain during Brexit  on this link  (scroll down page) 

The British government also maintains an information page on the latest overall news about the process to leave the EU which can be seen by on clicking here

There is also a recommended useful British Embassy Madrid Facebook page to like

Further information

British nationals are encouraged to register as residents with their nearest National Police station or provincial Oficina de Extranjería and receive their green credit-card-sized (or A4) certificates if they have not already done so.

Negotiations are currently under way between Britain and the EU over the terms of that withdrawal (Brexit), but Britain for the moment is still inside the EU.

The most important piece of news for British nationals who are resident in Spain at the moment is that nothing has changed with regards to their rights and obligations while in Spain. UK nationals have exactly the same entitlements in all areas as before the vote to leave the EU.

This includes healthcare, employment, residency and all other areas of life in Spain. Nothing has changed.

As part of the negotiations to leave the EU, Britain and the EU will agree what happens to all the existing rights British nationals have in Spain, both for those that already live here and for new people coming from the UK to live, work or retire.

While nothing can be guaranteed until the long and complex negotiations are finished, the British government and the EU (and the Spanish government itself) have all said repeatedly that their aim is to protect those rights as far as possible for those already living in Spain when Britain finally leaves the EU and build a strong future collaborative relationship between the EU and Britain.

Ensure you are officially registered in Spain: If you are living in Spain already, British Government advice is to ensure that you have registered as an official resident in Spain to ensure your rights are best protected after Brexit whatever happens (the small green card or A4 sheet certificate). This process may take several weeks so plan early.

You can find out about this process here

Note: You have a right if you wish to, after being in Spain more than five years, to apply for the card to be reissued as permanent (marked Residente Permanente), although this is not a legal requirement nor obligatory.

For the moment Britain is still fully part of the European Union (EU) and a British national who is resident in Spain has the same rights and obligations in all areas as they always have done.

Useful links

The British government maintains an information page on the latest news about the process to leave the EU which can be seen by on clicking here

There is also a special British government web page specific to those living in Spain and you can sign up for email alerts too.

The Spanish government will provide more information on contingency plans for Brexit  on this link

The following independent groups can also provide additional information and support:

Last Reviewed: 3rd September 2019