The Effect of Brexit on European residency


Britain’s exit, also known as ‘Brexit’, was the result of a referendum that took place on June 23rd, 2016, in which the British people chose to leave the European Union with the result of the vote being 52% leave and 48% remain. Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted to remain however, most of the votes from England and Wales meant that the decision was made to leave the EU. Shortly after the vote, the Prime Minister (PM) at the time, David Cameron, stepped down as PM and Theresa May took over on July 11th after winning the Conservative party leadership vote which meant she was the one to deliver Brexit with the best possible deal which would benefit the country the most. Although the original deadline for Brexit was March 29th 2019, this was not the case. After many failed votes to strike a suitable deal as well as Theresa May calling for a delay until October 31st 2019, Brexit did not end up officially happening until January 31st 2020 with a switch of leadership after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister on July 23rd 2019.

How does Brexit Impact Travel across the EU?

For brits wanting to travel to the EU, they won’t require a visa unless they are staying for more than 90 days or if they are travelling for Business related reasons or to study in a country that is part of the European Union like Spain for example. When the UK was in the EU before Brexit took place, this was not the case, and travellers could go to other EU countries without a visa however this has now changed. From 2023, non-EU citizens like those from the UK will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa waiver to travel within the EU. This will be linked to the traveller’s passport electronically and will have the information that is required to be able to travel across the EU. This will be made available in May 2023.

How does this effect Residency in Spain?

If individuals would like to have longer stays beyond 90 and/ or 180 days which are not business or study related reasons, they would need to apply for a regular residence permit. Another option is to apply for a tourist visa which would allow them to stay in the country for more than 90 days every 6 months however this can be a very long process. Before Brexit, UK citizens just had to obtain their EU registration certificate only. If one wants to move to Spain and live there, the process of residency can be different deepening on what the purpose of the stay is, whether it is to work or retire there.

  • Working in Spain:

If someone wants to obtain residency in Spain for work purposes, it is very likely that your employer will be the one to sort out your paperwork and guide you through the process which is the easiest option out of the ones I will be talking about in this article.

  • Residing in Spain in terms of lifestyle and Retirement

If someone wants to move to sprain without working and just for lifestyle purposes like studying for example, this process can be quite different. Whether it is just living in Spain or extending residency this is a longer process, especially if you have no permission to work for five years. Either you can apply for something called “permiso de residencia no lucrative” i.e., permission to reside without the right to work whether that is for oneself or someone else. Something else that a person can apply for is permission to reside in Spain as self-employed. These residency types can allow a person to move to Spain in a way that works for them. In terms of retiring in Spain, a permit to reside without the right to work could be obtained also. As those looking to retire in Spain are at a higher age than those just moving for lifestyle/ studying, they must show that they do not suffer from any illnesses which make them a high risk to society in terms of receiving or passing on infection. This has gotten a lot stricter especially with Covid 19. Aside from this, there is also a requirement to show a certain amount of monthly earnings in order to obtain indefinite permission to reside such as monthly earnings of more than €2,259.60 and for each dependant a further €564.90. this only applies for the first five years but after this time, the threshold lowers and decreases gradually.

Spanish Residents Wanting To Move To the UK

In terms of those in Spain wanting to move to the UK, there are some requirements to be fulfilled. For example, someone travelling for business purposes will need to achieve the governments requirements under the UK Governments new points-based immigration system. In some cases, there wouldn’t be a need to apply for a visa or permit if an individual meets these requirements and individuals can stay up to 6 months in the UK. For longer stays, this can be difficult at times. For example, with the new points-based immigration system, an EU passport alone is not enough, nor a national identity card. For employers looking to hire people outside of the UK, a sponsor licence is needed. If a Spanish citizen has been living in the UK for 5 years or more in the UK before Brexit and still want to remain there after Brexit, they will need to apply for an indefinite leave to remain and must stay for at least another 12 months once they receive this.

How Does the Points System work?

Essentially, the points system works as a checklist and for everything that has been checked off the list, the person looking to get entry into the country will earn points. Below is a table to demonstrate this.

Person APerson B
Has a job offer- 20 pointsHas a job offer- 20 points
Job at appropriate Skill level- 20 PointsJob at appropriate Skill level- 20 Points
Speaks English- 10 PointsSpeaks no English- 0 Points
Salary of £22,000- 0 PointsSalary of £22,000- 0 Points
Relevant PhD in a STEM Subject- 20 points   Total Points- 70No PhD- 20 points   Total Points- 60

In this case, person A would be more likely to get into the UK than person B based on their points score. If a person does not mee the appropriate number of points, there can be some exceptions made based on the purpose of their stay or how skilled and experienced they are at their job and what the purpose is of their stay as well as the duration.


In conclusion, Brexit has brought upon a lot of changes for UK residents but also affects those from EU member countries like Spain. The way that the UK has changed their policies and agreed certain delas and policies has made it harder for some and easier for others to enter into the UK but also Migrate and gain residency into EU member countries for those who are not part of the EU like the UK.

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