Brexit changes impacting Spain for travellers and UK residents

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Living in the EU

UK citizens who moved to an EU member state before 31 December 2020 can stay living and working there but must register as a resident within the country where they live by 30 June 2021.

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Permitted Travel Period

Britain and the EU have agreed on visa-free travel for brief visits. UK passport holders can spend up to 90 days within the Schengen zone during any 180-day period. This may be in a series of short visits or one long visit, and it applies to any or all EU countries with the exception of the non-Schengen countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you wish to remain in the EU for more than 90 days out of 180 then you must apply for a visa – that also applies to second homeowners. From 2022 (the exact date is yet to be confirmed), you must buy a visa waiver for holidays and short stays within the EU. This is often not a visa but permission to enter. It will cost €7 (£6.29) and can be issued under the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System, similar to the ESTA permit currently required to go to the US.

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Holiday Health care

European insurance Cards (EHIC), if issued before 31st December 2020, are valid up until their individual expiry date. After the tip of the year, the UK will instead be issuing the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The GHIC will cover the same as an EHIC, including maternity care, pre-existing conditions, chronic conditions, and emergencies. More details are in our previous blog on this topic.

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Passport Regulations

As of 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom government advised travellers visiting the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, must have a minimum of six months left on their passport. You will not be allowed to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes, meaning possible delays at some airports. Also, once you arrive in an EU country (except Ireland), be prepared to show your return ticket.

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Pet Passports

The EU has agreed that Great Britain will be “part two listed” status, allowing pets to travel within its borders providing the owners obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC). This confirms that your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. You must get a new certificate every time you travel up to 10 days before travel. The AHC will be valid for four months. AHCs are issued by certified vets. They are valid for one trip into the EU, onward travel within the EU and re-entry to Great Britain. If you have got a pet passport issued by an EU member state, you can use it to bring your pet into the UK.

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Travelling with Alcohol or Cigarettes

There are new limits on amounts of alcohol and tobacco products being brought back from the EU. Travellers arriving from the EU are restricted to 18 litres of wine (24 bottles), 42 litres of beer and 4 litres of spirits or liqueurs over 22% in alcohol – plus up to 200 cigarettes.

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Studying within the EU

For anyone who was already living or studying within the EU before 31 December 2020, nothing changes and you will pay the identical (EU) fees when the course ends. You will also still be eligible for the identical support – access to loans and then on – as students from the country you’re studying in.

However, as things stand, British students applying to study within the EU from September 2021 onwards face paying the much higher international fees paid by all non-EU nationals. They will also not have access to the loans and other help that their predecessors had access to.

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Cultural goods

EU law states certain cultural goods require a license to be exported. Some examples are furniture that is more than 50 years old; books that are more than 100 years old and have a value of more than €50,000; and printed maps that are more than 200 years old, with a value of more than €15,000. Even if you’re not an export company and these items belong only to you, you still need to get a license to export these types of items.

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UK pensioners (including EU citizens who have worked within the UK) who have retired to an EU country have already been guaranteed that they’ll be ready to receive the United Kingdom state pension. For folks that want to retire to a different EU nation in future, there are safeguards. The government guidance says: “You can still receive your UK state pension if you move to a place within the EU, EEA or Switzerland, and you’ll still claim your UK state pension from these countries. Your UK State Pension will be increased each year in the EU in line with the rate paid in the UK.” If you’re receiving a personal pension, like an annuity, from the United Kingdom but are resident abroad, the government says you ought to contact your provider. But it says, for most cases, “UK law allows for workplace pensions to be paid overseas. The government doesn’t expect this to vary because the United Kingdom has left the EU.” Just check with your provider to be sure.

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Plants and plant products

EU law prohibits the introduction into the Union of certain plants, plant products and other objects because of their phytosanitary* risk. Examples are grapevine or citrus plants for planting, seed potatoes or soil. These prohibitions also apply where plants, plant products and other objects accompany travellers.

*Defined as: concerning the health of plants; especially the freedom from pests requiring quarantine.

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