Expats in Spain face £1.6k cost for ‘golden visa’ – but UK hands EU citizens 6 months free

Spain: Expat on consequences for not registering under new law

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The newly enforced rules following the end of the Brexit transition period are causing a major headache for expats, with Britons now entering and leaving EU countries limited to stays of 90 days within every 180 day period. Brits wishing to register as a resident in Spain are having to battle their way through thick bureaucratic red tape, which includes proving earnings of £2,000 a month and £500 more for each dependent and acquiring Spanish driving licences.

Leon Fernando Del Canto, the founder of London-based international tax set Del Canto Chambers, has highlighted the huge financial costs Brits face when wanting to stay in Spain for a prolonged period of time.

He accused Spain of a “lack of reciprocity” when compared to the UK, which allows EU citizens up to six-month stays without visas, and has called on the Spanish Government to immediately resolve the problem.

Writing in The Times, the tax expert said: “British homeowners in Spain must now comply with rules that mean that non-EU nationals can stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days in every 180.

“They face potential deportation or a ban from the country should they outstay their welcome.

“There is zero leeway for emergencies, whether family crises, attending to property issues or any other urgent matter. Border control data systems mean nobody will go unnoticed.

“There is clearly a lack of reciprocity with Spain as the UK allows EU citizens up to six-month stays without visas.

“The so-called golden visa seems to be the only solution offered to those not wanting to become residents, but obtaining those documents in London incurs consulate fees of more than £1,600.

“It is imperative that the Spanish government resolves this problem.”

Mr Del Canto said those who bought property in Spain before the Brexit transition period ended on December 31 should be given a free residence permit, but warned failure to do so, “would lead to a breach of their human rights”.

Those owning a property in the popular holiday destination or receive income there have now been listed as non-resident taxpayers and must pay income tax of 24 percent compared with 19 percent for EU nationals.

Brits also renting out their properties cannot deduct any costs or expenses – a move that would see their overheads soaring.

Mr Del Canto warned if there are now changes to these tax rules, there could be an “onslaught” of Britons resorting to legal action to resolve their problems.

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He concluded: “As a result, it would be no surprise if there were soon an onslaught of UK residents litigating in Spain.

“And with EU freedom of movement laws no longer applying to Britons, this issue goes far beyond Spain as well: more than half a million Britons own second homes within the Schengen zone.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has explained: “On July 6 2020, the Spanish government introduced a new residence document for UK nationals living in Spain who have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement – the Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE).

“This biometric card explicitly states that it has been issued to the holder under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

“All UK nationals legally resident in Spain before January 1 2021 have the right to request this card.

“If you register as resident after July 6 2020 but were living in Spain before January 1 2021, you must follow a two-step process to obtain your TIE.

“If you meet the requirements and your application is approved you will be issued with the TIE.”

A Downing Street spokesman has also said: “The rights of UK nationals to continue living, working and studying in their EU Member State are protected by law. Anyone legally resident before January 1, 2021, can stay but should register their residence.

“The UK Government has been running a public information campaign across Europe to inform UK nationals about the actions they may need to take to secure their rights and access to services.

“This includes outreach events, adverts on social media and in newspapers, and support through our network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates.”

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