Spain: British expats face threat of return to UK warns expert
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Expats throughout Europe have been hit by strict new rules after the UK cut all ties with the EU at the end of last year. Under Spain’s newly-implemented rules, pensioners must must now prove an annual salary of £21,000 – despite the UK state pension currently standing at just £6,500 a year. This is a move that threatens a huge exodus of UK residents from Spain and its surrounding islands, particularly after the country enforced 90-day stays on unregistered Brits living in the country.
Daniel Trigg, president of Lanzarote Business Association, made up of foreign businessmen residing on the Spanish island, insisted a Briton “can stay in the Schengen zone for 90 days and to be able to stay longer you have to apply for a visa, but it is not yet defined how to do it”.
He added: “When you ask for it, it is like a visa for a third country.
“You need to have between 25,000 or 27,000 euros in addition to a private health insurance to be able to get that long-term visa to be able to be in Spain or another European country.”
The British embassy has told UK nationals to treat Spain as their home and warned if they don’t, they should expect to return home immediately as British nationals living abroad can no longer stay in an EU country beyond 90 days without proper documentation.
Brexit news: British expats have been impacted by new rules in Spain (Image: GETTY)
But despite the threat of possible deportation, the British embassy has insisted those who had been living in Spain before the end if last year, have their rights secured under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU – even they do not have their paperwork secured as of yet.
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.
“Until 6pm on March 30 only those who are legally resident (or have sufficient documentation to prove residency) are allowed to enter Spain.
“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.
Brexit news: Soain is a popular destination for British expats (Image: GETTY)
“Ultimately, the decision on whether to grant entry into Spain is made by Spanish border officials.”
But with fury from British expats towards the strict rules implemented by Spain, the likes of Greece and Cyprus could be set to benefit.
The Greek Government has put in place a trio of tax incentives aimed exclusively at foreign tax residents who are considering moving to the country.
It is targeted at high earners, expats wishing to spend time in Greece, and the “work from anywhere” crowd.
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Brexit news: The Spanish rules state British pensioners must prove an annual salary of £21,000 (Image: GETTY)
Brexit news: The UK completed its departure from the EU at the end of last year (Image: GETTY)
These incentives replicate similar moves that have been applied successfully on several other European countries.
The High-Net-Worth Individual (HNWI) regime in Greece targets high-earners in order to relocate their tax domicile to Greece.
The legislation introduced a flat-tax rate of €100,000 annually on income earned worldwide for a period of 15 years for eligible candidates, a move that also helps to address fears around post-Brexit immigration issues.
Foreign retirees wishing to spend more time in Greece can now enjoy an attractive flat seven percent final tax for 15 years, following qualification.
Similar regimes in Portugal and Italy have also been warmly received but the added benefit of Greece is qualifying retirees may relocate freely there.
There is also a 50 percent income tax break on Greek-sourced salaries for qualifying executives, employees, freelancers and other entrepreneurs who relocate to – and work from – Greece.
This is aimed at attracting expats and experts in the digital world, cut payroll cost for foreign investors setting up new activities in the country and again solve post-Brexit immigration issues.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.