Contingency measures in case of Brexit with no deal

On Saturday, March 2, the Royal Decree Law 5/2019 was published in the BOE (Official Government Newsletter) to outline the measures to be applied to British residents in Spain in the case of Brexit with no deal scenario.

Who will be affected?

British citizens living in Spain up to the point the UK leaves the EU.


On January 15, the British Parliament voted against the proposed Withdrawal Agreement, and there is no guarantee that an agreed exit will be achieved before March 29, 2019. Royal Decree Law 5/2019 will be adopted on March 29, 2019 as the UK will no longer be a Member State of the European Union unless the UK withdraws Article 50 and remains a member of the EU or that the UK and the Union agree to an extension of the negotiation period.


British citizens resident in Spain on the basis of EU treaties will have to change their status based on the General Foreign law (L.O 4/2000, Ley Extranjeria).


  • This law will only come into effect in case of a ‘no deal’ Brexit (i.e. if the United Kingdom leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement in place). The Royal Decree is dependent on the UK government offering reciprocal arrangements for Spanish citizens residing in Spain and which the UK government has already promised.
  • The publication of further Instructions is expected in due course which will detail the required documentation and process to follow.


Next Steps (or) Actions Required

  • The Law allows a period of 21 months from the date of the UK’s departure from the EU for UK citizens residing in Spain to obtain the new ‘status’. During this period, EU certificates or Community family residence cards will continue to be valid.
  • After Brexit, British residents will be considered as third country nationals. Their previous years of residence in Spain will be the determining factor in the type of permit to apply for under the General Aliens Scheme.


Santa Fe Analysis

Santa Fe strongly recommends that all British citizens who do not have permanent residency in Spain but have lived in Spain for 5 years or more apply for a Permanent EU Certificate before the UK leaves the EU.


Should you have any questions, please contact the following:

Irene Martin
Immigration Manager
Santa Fe Relocation
D: +34 695 228 239


To read more immigration updates, click here

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