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The Spanish Government has recently approved the Royal Decree
Law 5/2019, of 1 March 2019 (hereinafter, "RDL
5/2019"), which contains contingency measures that
will only apply in the event that the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland exits the European Union without
reaching an agreement with the EU under Article 50.2 of the Treaty
of the European Union.
RDL 5/2019 sets out temporary rules regarding, among others,
residence, employment and social security rights for UK citizens in
Spain. These are minimum rules, which will be subject to further
development after March 29th 2019 (hereinafter,
"Brexit Date") and can be suspended if the UK does not
grant, in reciprocity, equivalent rights for Spanish companies in
the UK and Spanish citizens living or working in its territory,
within two months after the UK leaves the EU without an
From an employment and immigration perspective, the most
relevant measures introduced by RDL 5/2019 for UK companies and
citizens are the following:
Residence and work
- UK citizens and their family members living in Spain prior to
Brexit Date must request an "identification
document" regarding their new status within 21 months after
Brexit Date. The rights and conditions of this new status
are yet to be determined. While the "identification
document" is processed, they will continue to be legal
residents in Spain.
- If the UK citizen has lived in Spain for a continuous
period of at least 5 years, he/she can obtain a long-term residence
permit, allowing him/her to work and live in Spain for an
unlimited period time in the same conditions as a Spanish citizen.
The requirements for this long-term residence permit have been
adapted to facilitate and speed up the process for UK citizens that
comply with this requirement.
- Cross-border employees or self-employed individuals
that rendered services in Spain prior to Brexit Date can continue
to render services as they did before, provided that they
obtain a specific "identification document" recognizing
their condition as cross-border employees or self-employed
- UK citizens living in Spain prior to Brexit Date that rendered
services for which mandatory qualifications are required,
can continue to render such services even if their qualifications
were obtained in the UK.
- The recognition of professional qualifications obtained
in the UK will continue to be subject to the rules
applicable to the qualifications of EU countries, provided that the
study program began prior to Brexit Date and that the recognition
is requested within 5 years after Brexit Date.
- Spanish companies that have posted employees in the
UK can continue to apply Spanish employment law during the
period of posting, provided that they comply with the minimum
requirements applicable in the UK under Directive EC/96/71.
- European Works Councils of companies that have
their main location in Spanish territory will maintain the
representatives from the UK and UK companies if the Works Council
existed prior to Brexit Date.
- UK citizens working in Spain prior to the Brexit Date
will continue to contribute to the Spanish Social Security
and have the same benefits as Spanish citizens.
- Employees posted in Spain by UK companies prior to Brexit Date
will continue contribute to the UK Social Security until the
posting period expires in the terms provided by Regulation No.
Professional Services Firms
- Professional services firms that have their main domicile,
central management or main activity in the UK or Gibraltar can
continue to render services in Spain for a year after
Brexit Date, provided that they comply with the Spanish
regulations for professional service firms.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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