As the deadline for Britain to leave the EU looms, we are all eagerly awaiting news on whether a deal will be reached. This is the first in a series of blog posts where we will be looking at the impact of Brexit on UK citizens who wish to study and work in Spain. Deal or no deal, here’s what we know to be true so far.
If you currently live and work in Spain, you must make sure you have a foreigners number, also known as the NIE, and are registered with your local town hall (empadronado) in order to protect your right to work, healthcare, pension and access to public services, etc. With these things in place before 31st December 2020, there won’t be many changes that affect your day-to-day life.
If you entered Spain after July 6th 2020, you may have been issued a foreigners identity card (TIE) when registering which expressly states your right to residency post-Brexit, but if you have one of the older green A4 NIE documents, this still stands as valid. You may wish to update this to a TIE card as they are more durable and might give you more peace of mind, but COVID measures have made these appointments difficult to come by so do bear in mind that this is not strictly necessary.
The most notable post-Brexit differences are that your UK driving license will no longer be valid in the EU, and if you intend to travel, your UK passport must have at least 6 months left on it. You can find more information about how to switch your driving license to a Spanish one here. UK citizens will no longer enjoy the same freedom of movement as before, even if you are a Spanish resident, so be prepared for different border checks when travelling to EU or Schengen area countries - your passport might need to be stamped, for example, and you may need to queue separately from EU citizens. It is also possible that UK citizens will be required to show a return or onward ticket when visiting countries in the EU.
At the time of writing, there are no definitive guidelines published which detail what the rights of UK citizens will be. While it is still possible that the UK & EU might come to an agreement that protects the status quo or some of the freedoms UK citizens have enjoyed in Spain thus far, we may find that no deal is reached - so what happens then?
In the event of no deal, the UK will default to 'third country' status in Spain, meaning it will be subject to the same rules as every other non-EU country. This means the UK will have a similar relationship to Spain as America and Australia for example, and the same rules for studying, working and living will apply.
Luckily, completing a TEFL course and finding work as an English teacher in Spain is still absolutely doable, it just means you'll have to get a student visa if you'd like to stay for more than 3 months. This might sound like a hassle, but at TEFL Iberia we've got years of experience working with non-EU students and processing long-term student visas, allowing our students to stay in Spain for a year and work up to 20 hours per week. This can be renewed annually and is the perfect option for teaching English on a long term basis. You can find more information here.
One major consideration for UK citizens moving to Spain will be travel insurance, as you will no longer be covered for medical care in EU countries, even if you are working. Good travel insurance will ensure that any trips to the doctor don’t end up breaking the bank. As is the case for those who already have Spanish residency, if you are planning to drive in Spain you will need to apply for a Spanish drivers license and you must ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months when entering Spain.
Thankfully, Brexit does not mean an end to UK citizens enjoying life in Spain. While it may mean more paperwork and a longer wait at passport control, your summer abroad, career change or Spanish adventure still await!
We will be keeping you up to date with the latest changes and Brexit news so be sure to check back soon. If you have any questions regarding student visas in Spain in the meantime, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.