New strict rules have come into play which will affected thousands of Brits living in Europe.
The post-Brexit measures have already seen a group of British expats kicked out of Spain just minutes after arriving there.
There are also fears for thousands of pensioners who are already living in Spain, but it’s not the only country that’s affected by the changes.
The rules are to do with the residency status of foreigners living in European countries and as the UK has left the EU that means the protection previously afforded to Brits no longer stand.
It has been claimed that some British expats have been ‘burying their heads in the sands’ despite being warned the changes were looming.
There have been unconfirmed reports police in the Costas are ready to boot out 500 ‘illegal’ UK citizens while in other EU countries Brits living there will also face challenges.
Here we look at the new rules and what it means for you.
Have you or someone you know been affected by the Brexit rules in Spain? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are some of the new rules affecting British ex-pats?
Brits overseas, including tourists and second-home owners, are no longer allowed to spend more than 90 days in the EU without residency, as of April 1.
Those who fail to apply for a residency or have it rejected needed to leave by March 31 or be deemed an illegal immigrant.
For any future ex-pats, each nation has a tailored requirement for residency that now applies to Brits as non-EU members and it can take months to get a decision.
But these aren’t the only rules that are causing problems for some Brits.
One of the other requirements in Spain means expats earning less than £21,000 a year could also face deportation.
This will potentially affect thousands of British pensioners living there, whose only source of income is the UK’s state pension of just over £6,500 a year.
Spain has also been rolling out a new system to register permanent foreign residents with biometric cards called TIE but due to so many requests the process has ground to a halt.
And in France, Brits have been told they must swap their UK driving licence for a French one in a few months time or they will be unable to drive legally.
The situation is further complicated by the travel restrictions placed on countries currently due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many European nations facing a third wave of infections.
Why is it happening now?
When the UK left the EU on January 31, 2020 a withdrawal agreement set the terms of the UK’s departure and the transition period ended on December 31, 2020.
This meant EU freedom of movement laws would no longer apply.
As such Brits are no longer entitled to the same treatment as when the UK was still part of the European Union, including the right to live and work overseas.
Wednesday, March 31 was the key date as it was 90 days after the end of transition and so the first time Brits would be affected by the new 90 day stay limit.
Referring to the situation in Spain, a spokesman for the British embassy in Madrid said: “When making plans to travel from the UK to Spain, a UK national must make sure that they meet both the requirements to leave the UK and those to enter Spain, bearing in mind that they are not the same.
“From March 31, entry to Spain will only be granted to those passengers who can demonstrate that their journey is essential, as well as those who are already legally resident in Spain.
“Ultimately, the decision on whether to grant entry into Spain is made by Spanish border officials.”
Can Brit expats still live overseas?
If a Brit became a legal resident of the EU before January 1, 2021, they will be allowed to stay.
Those with legal residence can continue to have broadly the same rights to work, study and access public services and benefits as before the UK left the EU.
If you have lived in an EU country for less than five years then will be able to stay for as long as you meet one of the residence conditions.
Each country has different requirements, and you can find out what they are on the UK Government website here.
You must spend at least 6 months in any 12 month period in your EU country to keep your residence rights.
Brits who want to move overseas and become expats in the EU post-Brexit can still do so but will find it a more complicated process than before.
How many Brits are affected and in what countries?
The new rules affect expats living in all 27 European Union countries.
There are approximately 1.3 million people born in the UK living in EU countries as of 2019 UN figures, though that may well have changed by now, especially since Brexit became law.
The largest number are in Spain, with 302,000 followed by Ireland, with 293,000; France has 177,000; Germany 99,000 and Italy 66,000.
The full list is as follows; Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Who can you speak to if you need advice?
For more information and to apply for residency in an EU country visit here.