On 12th February 2018, at 14:00 Sarah-Jane Morris, British consul in Alicante, together with Fanny Serrano and Carmen Morate, held a meeting to discuss the issues surrounding Brexit.
Local British citizens, and those with an interest in the topic of Brexit, were invited to attend the meeting which was held in the Plenary Rooms of the Torrevieja Ayuntamiento building.
In attendance, alongside the town hall officials and the British consul, was Richard Hill, a representative of the Expats in Spain Association (brexpats.es).
The meeting began with a talk by Sarah-Jane Morris in which she explained that the details of a Brexit deal are unknown.
She asked that everybody present exercise caution in their quest for Brexit information and only seek advice from “the source” –that being trusted/official government sites such as gov.uk
Ms. Morris sought to reassure the audience that those citizens who are currently legally registered as residing in Spain would continue to have the same, or similar, rights post Brexit.
However it was not possible to say what circumstances future British citizens choosing to live in Spain post Brexit would find themselves in.
The biggest concern appeared to be with those British citizens who live in Spain under the radar.
People who take full advantage of the freedom of movement between European countries and choose not to register as Spanish residents, whether it is for reasons of avoiding paying tax in Spain, lack of knowledge on how to legalise their situation, or not being able to make up their mind on where to register!
Ms. Morris cited cases of elderly frail Brits who are put in touch with the British Consulate in Spain because they have not been contributing to the Spanish system and therefore are not entitled to state care.
Some of these unfortunate people have been living in Spain for decades and as such have no “foot print” in the UK so find themselves in a very uncomfortable situation.
The main message from Ms Morris regarding life in Spain for Brits post Brexit was that “being legal before 19th March 2019 would make life easier”.
She stated that all British citizens currently living in Spain should ensure that they are registered on the Padrón, and registered as residents.
It was acknowledged that Spain is a very Paper Based system and Bureaucratic, compared to the British system, so Ms. Morris recommended that Brits seek advice from Gestors if they have any doubt about how to tackle the Spanish system.
In her speech, Fanny Serrano, was keen to inform British citizens living in Torrevieja that their presence in the community was valued and appreciated.
As such the Town Hall authorities want to ensure that Brits receive as much help and information on how to legalise their status in Spain.
Ms. Serrano sought to clarify why registering on the Padrón is so important. In 2015 a new regulation came into force allowing the removal of names from the Padrón register.
If there has been no action on the registry for a period of 2 years the name can be struck off.
Ms. Serrano urged all attendees of the meeting to check that they are on the Padrón register because there is no requirement to inform an individual that they have been removed.
Official records show that the numbers of British citizens living in Spain has fallen.
However both Ms Morris and Ms Serrano cited anecdotal evidence for their beliefs that the number of Brits leaving the country is largely unchanged, and the fall in figures is instead due to the removal of names from the Padrón registers across the country following the new regulation.
Ms. Serrano informed that the amount of funding received by local governments is dependent on the number of people registered on the Padrón.
Therefore, if people are living in an area and they fail to register (or reregister after 2 years in the case of pensioners with little activity on the Padron register), the area receives less public funding for services than is actually required.
The topic of Spanish residence was addressed during the Questions and Answers session which followed the talk.
There were quite a few questions which touched on residence and whether individuals should apply for Spanish residency or not.
The general consensus was, if you are living in Spain you should become a resident and take advantage of the benefits of being a Spanish resident both now and the future following Brexit.
Obviously there were questions which related specifically to retired people, as well as people who had taken early retirement.
The main focus of those questions was healthcare.
If you have specific questions regarding how Brexit will affect you the following link might be of interest.
For questions regarding Padron and Residency, or help with any Gestion or Tax, please don´t hesitate to contact us.
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