Withdrawal Agreement eases healthcare concerns of British pensioners in Spain

Mijas Town Hall and consulate staff offer information.
Mijas Town Hall and consulate staff offer information. / I. G.
  • With the UK officially leaving the EU at midnight tonight, the embassy and consulate continue to answer residents' queries

After the British government approved the Withdrawal Agreement last Friday, the final step, ratification by the European Parliament was completed on Wednesday, meaning that the UK leaves the EU at midnight tonight, Friday.

This will be no more than a symbolic moment, however, in some cases a time for change of flags, while others either celebrate or commiserate.

From tomorrow, 1 February, Britain and the EU go into their agreed transition period which means that nothing is going to change until the end of this year in terms of citizens' rights or trade procedures.

Nevertheless the clock is now ticking once again towards the next, and final, deadline - 31 December 2020 - when this period of grace ends.

The British consul for Andalucía, Charmaine Arbouin, and the Ambassador in Madrid, Hugh Elliott, have both stressed how the deal ratified this week is good news for British residents in Spain.

"The approval of the Withdrawal Agreement is a very important step for UK nationals living here. It provides reassurance on key rights, such as being able to continue to live and work here, and for pensioners to have lifelong healthcare and uprated pensions," said the consul earlier this week.

These rights will be protected for British nationals for as long as they live in Spain, provided they are registered as resident in this country before the end of 2020.

The consul restressed that Britons must make sure they are registered with a green residency certificate.

"This remains a valid document after 31 January and we will communicate any details on future residency processes once we have them," added Arbouin.

The National Police confirmed this week that appointments were being given out by them to British residents wishing to register as EU citizens by means of the existing process until at least 15 February.

From then on, unless this period is extended again, said a police spokesperson, new residents, and those with non-permanent residency certificates, will be instructed to process their registration at the 'Extranjería' provincial immigration offices instead. Any necessary document change required of British residents who currently hold permanent EU resident certificates will still be dealt with at the National Police stations.

The need for Britons in Spain to be registered as residents in order to maintain their rights after Brexit is a message that the Embassy, the Consulate and numerous organisations have passed on through a variety of campaigns. Recent 'padrón' - local population census - figures showed that the message had been getting through, with the first increase in British nationals since 2013.