The Brexit negotiation process is finally getting under way, and over the next few months, attention will have to be paid to all those points which could affect either British citizens resident in Spain or Spanish citizens resident in the United Kingdom.
According to official data, nearly one million Britons live in Spain, many of them pensioners in search of a better climate. But what exactly is the current situation of British citizens resident in our country in relation to issues such as legal residence, access to healthcare and drawing their pensions? Could they find themselves affected by Brexit? What is the role of sworn translation in all this?
Temporary residence permit
At the moment, the conditions and requirements for access to legal residence, in the case of a British citizen, or in the case of a Spanish citizen resident in the United Kingdom, are in line with the protocol established for citizens of the European Union to allow them free circulation in the countries forming part of the Union. This situation will continue until some change in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union takes place.
In Spain, the Ministry of Employment and Social Security establishes certain requirements for British citizens for residence for a period of 3 months or more. In this case, it is necessary to register at the Foreigners’ Office (“Oficina de Extranjería”) or at stations of the National Police, where they will receive an identity document bearing their corresponding Foreigner Identification Number (“NIE”), name, address, nationality and the date of registration.
To obtain the temporary residence permit, they must submit a series of documents which prove:
- their economic solvency by means of title deeds, certified cheques, credit cards or bank certificates.
- they hold public or private medical insurance – although if they are in possession of the European Health Card, they will have health coverage for a period of up to 5 years.
- they possess a passport or national identity document which is in force.
- they have a work contract or duly accredit an occupational activity (in the case of freelance workers, these will need to present a certificate of registration at the Economic Activities Tax or at the Mercantile Registry).
In the case of students, the documents demanded are:
- proof of matriculation at a public or private institution
- certificate of possession of public or private medical insurance (the European Health Card is also accepted in this case)
- a sworn declaration accrediting that they possess sufficient resources to support themselves (although participants in European educational exchange programmes are automatically deemed to be solvent).
For both cases, it is necessary to register as a resident (“empadronarse”) with the municipal council of the place of residence, to be able to benefit from everything the autonomous regional and local governments may be able to offer.
And it is here, on foot of all these requirements, where sworn translation plays a leading role in the translation of documents such as birth certificates, passports, certificates of civil status, certificates of recognition of marriage to a foreigner, or certificates of no objection to the right to adoption, for British citizens resident in Spain. These latter three certificates may be applied for from the British Consulate in Spain, and as they are not supplied already translated, this step requires a sworn translation carried out by an accredited translator appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.
After 5 years’ residence, it is necessary to apply for a certificate of permanent residence or Spanish nationality. In our next article, we will offer information about how to access each of these two options.
Access to the Spanish healthcare system
In relation to healthcare, the situation today is that if a Briton is working and is legally resident, they are deemed to be “insured” and are therefore entitled to use the Spanish National Health System until there are some changes as a consequence of Brexit take place.
Those British citizens registered as resident before 24 April 2012, with annual income no higher than €100,000 and not covered by any other medical insurance, can register as users of the Spanish public health system at offices of the National Social Security Institute (INSS).
Nonetheless, and as we have already said in the preceding section, the European Health Card ought to be sufficient for short stays, or up to 5 years. That being said, it must be clearly understood that this does not cover the private treatments that some tourists undergo during their stay in Spain.
Drawing British pensions in Spain
With respect to pensions, it is necessary to ask for the S1 form from the British health authorities overseas, to complete this and have it translated by a sworn translator for subsequent registration at Social Security offices, prior to registering at the health centre and obtaining the healthcare card.
Similarly, British pensions can be drawn in Spain, always provided that the duties and obligations of the entitlement have been duly complied with. They can be drawn via a Spanish bank or a British bank, as may suit, every 4 or 13 weeks.
If, following 5 years of residence in our country, a Briton considers that the time has come to request Spanish nationality – a question many British residents are starting to mull over as a consequence of Brexit – they would have to go through another process we will give more details about in the next article. This being said, they should stay alert to all the latest news about the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom.