The new year has barely begun and the Pound is plummeting again in reaction to Prime Minister Theresa May’s first 2017 interview. A break with the single market was predicted by her nixing keeping “bits of EU”. Whatever your hopes are for 2017, you can expect Brexit to have the upper hand in determining sterling’s value. 

There’s no telling how the Pound will react if Article 50 is triggered (as promised) before the end of March. Politics strengthened the US dollar after Trump’s election, but the results of several European elections could have the opposite effect on the Euro.

The market’s fluctuations make it essential that you use a currency expert to buy property abroad this year. You’ll need experts to take advantage of good exchange rates by using a spot contract. With a dealer who’s dedicated to helping you save your hard-earned money, you can lock in rates with a forward contract or regular payments, letting you plan with confidence.

Why you should know Spanish non-EU laws 

How life-changing will the negotiation results be for the approximately 370,000 British expats living in Spain (where the majority of Brits in Europe reside)? The UK government might craft a bilateral agreement with Spain, or we may see a blanket EU negotiation for Brits across the Eurozone. No one has an accurate prediction but several key points can be established.

It’s best to look at the rules for a specific country, not assume identical agreements will apply across Europe, although they will be similar. In a worst-case scenario-where no special allowances are made- you’d need to apply for permissions to live and work in Spain like other non-EU citizens. 

Buying property won’t change, though taxes might

You’ll be able to buy property and rent it out for short term holidays or long-term investment. As an EU citizen, you pay taxes of 19% on rental income but, after Brexit, the rate might be the same 24% non-EU citizens pay. If you’re living in the UK, you might be able to offset the tax paid against your UK tax bill for the income.

 If you’ve lived in Spain for 5 years at the point when the UK leaves the EU, you can apply for “permiso de residencia de larga duración”, indefinite permission to reside there.

You’d prove you:

Don’t have a criminal record.

Have health insurance.

Show a monthly income of at least €799 for a couple, with €266 per month for each additional family member.

Planning to Move to Spain? 

If you’re only going to stay in Spain for holidays of up to 3 months, relax - you won’t face any Brexit challenges. If you’re hoping to live in Spain and won’t have spent 5 years there at the point when the UK leaves the EU, you’ll need to reside for 5 years and then apply for your indefinite permission to live there. You’ll be allowed to work without a visa until Brexit is finalised.

Working abroad after Brexit 

If you’re employed, your company will make the necessary application allowing you to keep working in Spain. To apply for permission to work for yourself in Spain, you must be able to fund yourself and your business. You’ll need to prove your qualifications and show a business plan showing how you’ll develop your financial activity. You’ll need to make monthly social security payments of at least €260.

When you apply for a self-employment visa, you’ll need:

Health insurance

A clean criminal record

No serious illness  

All non-EU foreign nationals living in Spain need a residence card from the local immigration office.  If you have permission to work, but don’t register within three months of arriving, you risk losing permission to stay.  

Retiring in Spain after Brexit 

Getting your “permiso de residencia no lucrativa”, or permission to reside without the right to work, is costlier than the visa to live and work in Spain. For the first five years, you’ll need a monthly income of at least €2,130.00 and €532.00 for each dependent.  After five years, the amounts drop to those for indefinite permission to reside.

Planning to move to Spain after Brexit 

Apply at your nearest Spanish Consulate office which may be in London or Edinburgh. The consular staff sends your documents to the part of Spain in which you intend to live and work. In about a month, the consulate will contact you to collect your visa permitting you to reside with or without permission to work. The visa must be renewed annually and can be extended twice under current rules. 

Spanish Citizenship

Once you’re in the system, expect the same residency rights any EU citizen enjoys, including the same tax rate. Many Brits qualify for Spanish citizenship, but hadn’t considered applying until Brexit. You can apply for Spanish citizenship once you’ve lived in Spain (and have been legally registered) for at least 10 years. You’ll need to speak Spanish, have integrated into society and understand the culture to apply. 

Brexpats, a group of expats in Spain that have organised in effort to help expats navigate Brexit, are helping expats pass their citizenship exams. In the Mijas area, the Parnell Academy has a course to prepare expats for the culture, sport and language questions they’ll face on the test. 

Author Lisa Remick