What Brexit means for British expats in Spain

So the dust is settling after the UK’s referendum on the EU decision to leave. What will Brexit mean though for British people living in Spain.

For the short term, and more than likely until the UK leaves the European Union, very little will change, as the UK is still a member of the EU.

Certain conventions exist for current expatriates. Here we look at some of the published materials that show how life could be post Brexit. These are all however speculative, as a lot will depend on the deals negotiated in the run up to the departure.

Will expats require a visa to live in Spain

Existing expatriates should be OK. For new people planning on moving to Spain, the answer is less certain. A lot will depend on the negotiations with EU member states.

However Spanish caretaker PM Mariano Rajoy said that British people’s automatic right to live and work in Spain may not exist post departure from the EU.

Could Brexit see expats deported by EU members?

Almost certainly not. First, there are numerous political reasons for EU states not to do such a thing, including the treatment of their own, numerous, nationals living in the UK. Mass expulsions of citizens from another developed economy would also startle foreign investors and potentially cause economic turmoil in the expelling country.

Expats would also enjoy significant legal protections that would apply after Brexit. Many lawyers argue that British expats living elsewhere in the EU at the time of Brexit would have individual “acquired rights” under international law.

This is based on the Vienna Convention of 1969, which says that the termination of a treaty “does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination.” The House of Commons Library says that “withdrawing from a treaty releases the parties from any future obligations to each other, but does not affect any rights or obligations acquired under it before withdrawal.”

In other words, Brits who have already exercised their right to live in EU states can expect to keep that right after Brexit.

One important point though: this only applies to people who have started expat life in the EU before Brexit.

After Britain had left, Brits’ ability to live and work in EU nations would depend on new agreements the UK negotiated with those nations.

Could my second home in Spain be seized if Britain leaves?

No matter how hostile European nations become after Brexit, they still have to respect individual property rights. Both the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights make this clear.

What could they do to my property or finances?

It’s not all good news. The remaining EU nations could consider a variety of measures, depending how vindictive they feel towards Britain, like making foreigner homeowners pay more in tax.

The above  was originally posted English Radio News

However for today, tomorrow and for some time to come, we are all still EU Citizens.


For more info on Tenerife read the Red Queen Musings everyone’s favourite Tenerife Blog
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