Updated 7 March: Most British passport holders will not have a problem but some will so it’s worth reminding travellers that Schengen rules require travellers from outside the Schengen area to have at least six months left on their passport. The UK is currently in the EU so there’s no problem even though the country is not a Schengen member, but in a No Deal Brexit, where the UK leaves the EU without a deal, anyone with less than six months left on their passport will not have a valid passport for travel to Spain, which is in both the EU and the Schengen area.

If one of the various possibilities for a deal succeeds in the next three weeks then after 29 March there will probably be no issue for travellers, at least as long as their passport is valid for the expected duration of their trip, but anyone planning now to travel after that date can’t wait to hope for a last minute deal to save them renewing their passport if it’s coming up to its expiry date. The UK’s Home Office has provided THIS website for British nationals holders to check if their passport will be valid for their intended visit, and if it needs to be renewed then it really needs to be done immediately because it can take three weeks to get a new one issued.

Updated 2 March:  At the end of January, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that Spain would be introducing a law for Spain’s Brexit contingency measures which included important provisions in regards to citizens’ rights and business (see updates on 14 and 30 January below). This has now been approved by the Consejo de Ministros (the Spanish Cabinet), and its details are HERE. In response, British Ambassador to Spain Simon Manley said:

The UK Government’s top priority remains securing a deal with the EU that wins the support of the UK parliament. However, like any responsible government, the UK Government is planning for every eventuality. It has already announced a series of no deal contingency measures, published extensive advice to business and citizens, and has guaranteed the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. I am pleased to see that the Spanish Government has today announced a series of detailed Brexit contingency measures, should the UK leave without a deal. The Royal Decree offers important assurances on issues like residency and access to healthcare for the more than 300,000 British nationals who have chosen to make Spain their home, and for the many millions more British tourists who visit Spain each year. I welcome too the announcement on customs procedures to avoid potential obstacles to the free movement of goods, which will be important to both British and Spanish businesses who trade in or between our two countries.  It is also welcome that the Spanish government has made clear that the measures will apply to Gibraltar, with special consideration for maintaining flows across the border. This will provide some certainty to citizens and businesses in Gibraltar and Spain, and helps to protect the close economic and social relationship between the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar.

Health Minister Stephen Hammond said:

This is a positive step forward in securing an agreement which will enable British expats to access Spanish healthcare in the same way they do now. This should also give reassurance to the millions of British tourists who travel to Spain every year using the EHIC scheme for free or reduced medical costs if they need to see a doctor or nurse. Our next priority will be to continue our work with other EU member states, so that healthcare access for all UK and EU nationals are protected in a no deal scenario.

The British Embassy in Madrid and its network of consulates have held over 100 outreach events all across Spain in the last two years, explaining the implications of Brexit to resident UK nationals  and answering their questions. Through these events and through the Embassy’s digital channels they have underlined the importance of British nationals living in Spain being correctly registered.

Being correctly registered means being registered with the National Police and in receipt of a green document, the Certificado de Registro. Its age and size – whether A4 or credit-card size – are irrelevant, and it does not need to bear the word “permanente”. Permanencia is something that happens automatically after five years legal residence, and those who like to see the word on their document can change it for one that says permanente but this it is not a requirement.

It has long been the case that that British nationals who live in Spain for more than 3 months of the year, should hold a certificate of registration from Extranjeria. Spain has announced today that, through the Royal Decree, UK nationals living in Spain will maintain their legal residence status after 29 March and that they, and their family members, will have until 31 December 2020 to get a Foreigner’s Identity Card. Further information on the process for obtaining this card will be released in due course. The key message – and NOW – is that it is essential for all British nationals living in Spain to check their residence status and ensure they are correctly registered.

On healthcare, the UK has offered to fund healthcare in Spain for UK nationals who would benefit from the S1 / EHIC schemes until 31 December 2020 on a reciprocal basis. The UK is also protecting healthcare for Spanish nationals in the UK. Through the Royal Decree, the Spanish Government has said that it will introduce measures that will protect healthcare for UK nationals in Spain, whether they be residents or visitors, under existing reimbursement mechanisms which have seen the UK Government providing £250m last year to Spain for the healthcare costs of British nationals in the country, and the Spanish government paid the £4 million for the healthcare costs of Spanish nationals in the UK.

The official Spanish “Brexit” website is part of the Interior Ministry’s site, and it is HERE. Spanish PM Sánchez said that his goal was to preserve the rights of Spanish and British citizens, as well as protecting a normal trade flow and Spanish economic interests in the event of a chaotic Brexit without a deal, and in this respect, Spain was acting unilaterally. In other words, this is Spain’s gift even though the UK has not yet guaranteed reciprocity; it’s almost certain to reciprocate, but it is thanks to Spain alone at present that we have these reassurances and I think it is important to recognize this.

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