‘Not welcome’ British expats criticised for failing to ‘comply with rules’ in Spain

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Since the UK left the EU, British expats have had to gain Spanish residency to live in Spain. Without residency, British citizens can spend 90 out of every 180 days in Spain.

Express.co.uk recently spoke to Diego Echavarria, a lawyer, about the situation for expats in Spain.

He said some elderly expats are leaving Spain due to the complicated rules while others have struggled to qualify for residency.

However, one Express.co.uk commenter said: “People have had three years to get an NIE, pardron, residency, health cover and switch their driving licence over.”

British citizens needed to apply for a Spanish driving licence during the transition period but many say they were not aware of the rules.

Others have struggled to prove that they lived in Spain before Brexit. Expats must have medical bills and receipts to prove they were residents.

Another Express commenter said: “When you see bargain loving Brits in the sun, you just know a lot are working under the radar and have never bothered taking residency.”

Expats that haven’t applied for residency and are living ‘under the radar’ in Spain will be considered illegal and could be deported or face sanctions.

They will not be able to work in Spain or access essential services such as healthcare.

Express.co.uk commenter ‘Bobsyeruncle2021’ claimed: “The fact is that the immigrants to Spain should have complied with the rules before Brexit day came upon us.

“It was clearly available what they had to do but the UK Government was always to blame for convincing people that everything was going to be the same for UK citizens as it was before Brexit.”

Many British expats have said they were unaware of the rules until it was too late.

A British citizen told Express.co.uk she was detained overnight after unknowingly overstaying in Spain.

Another commenter said: “Spain is going to be the biggest loser from this narrow and rather mean-minded approach to Brits who ‘over-winter’ or stay even longer in the country.

“The new rules will leave a massive hole in the residential tourism market that is unlikely to be filled by EU citizens.

“For those Brits who do not want to go the Spanish residency route, why not consider Croatia?

“The country is still relatively cheap, has a nice climate and is not a Schengen country even though it is in the EU.”

Several commenters felt that Spain was now too expensive for retired British expats due to new residency rules.

Another claimed: “You now need a lot more money to qualify for Spanish residency than you did before Brexit. So retirement in the sun is out of reach for most.”

‘JohnRawlins’ said: “Wealthy Brits are still welcome to live in Spain. But Brexit means that Brits on average incomes are not welcome to settle. Blackpool is nice.”

‘FinerstraFrank’ said: “The same residency rules and qualifications apply in all EU countries.

“Spain is no different. We applied for residency in 2002 when we emigrated from the UK to live permanently in Spain.

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