DUTCH authorities have issued an urgent warning to expats in the Netherlands as time runs out to claim a residence permit. Anyone living, working or studying in the Netherlands must apply for a residence permit by October 1.
ROAMING mobile charges in Europe were scrapped when the UK was part of the EU. However, most phone operators are reintroducing roaming charges as well as increasing phone bills. A British expat has told Express.co.uk how this post-Brexit change is massively affecting their life abroad.
Chris Lewis-Jones has lived in Spain since 2005 and claims before the historic 2016 referendum Spanish people always treated him with courtesy and respect. Sadly, the 73-year-old has claimed this has changed since the Brexit vote – and argued Spaniards no longer see the UK as the cash cow it was when it remained in the bloc.
The retired marketing consultant, who lives near Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, told Express.co.uk: “I think there is an underlying sense that the Brits don’t pay up anymore.
“The money roll will be going around the other 26 members (of the EU) asking them to pay.
“I think there is a lot of anxiety on the financial front in Spain which we are unfortunately getting the blame for.
“They’re also not getting the British tourists, the hotels are half-full and many won’t be reopening.”
Around 285,000 Britons currently live in Spain, having relocated into the sunshine. However, the impact of Brexit and COVID-19 has seen an influx of travel restrictions which may see some Britons hesitant about making the leap overseas.
According to one expat, though, these should not act as a barrier for those who are hoping to relocate.
Speaking on his podcast Moving to Spain with David Wright, the British expat turned podcast host reveals he thinks the “perfect time” to relocate is right now.
“There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment what with Brexit, travel restrictions and the virus and the uncertainty fit all,” he said.
While the expat says he appreciates and understands the current “fears and anxieties” some people may have, he does not believe this should put people off from following their dreams.
Currently, COVID-19 restrictions mean that only vaccinated Britons can enter Spain without quarantine.
Unvaccinated Britons must provide evidence of a negative PCR test if they are to sidestep the quarantine rule.
These tests can cost anywhere from £60 to £120, which is off-putting to some.
Meanwhile, new Brexit rules mean Britons no longer have freedom of movement throughout the European Union.
Instead, they must apply for a visa – a rule which often comes with its own costs.
Despite these rules, Mr Wright says the key thing is to remain “positive and organised”.
“Whatever you can dream you can do, and moving to Spain is no different,” he explained.
“It’s all about your mindset. The perfect time is always now.”
He continued: “There is going to be loads of paperwork. There are going to be rules and regulations to follow but you can learn how to get the solutions to all of these problems.
“Wishing it won’t work, you need to take daily action and even the smallest of actions can get you on the right path.
“All of the excuses you think you have are all in your head – money, kids, family commitments or work.
“We all have these same things to get over. Everyone who has ever moved to Spain has been through similar things and they found solutions for these problems.
“The internet is full of people posting and pointing out the difficulties and problems when moving to Spain. But you need to stay focussed and find positive people and the information that will help you push forward.”
New immigration rules for Britons relocating to Spain came into force as the UK left the European Union. Although it might be a bit trickier to move to the Mediterranean country, one expat has explained this year is a good time to do so anyway.
Nigel Ayres is a Briton who decided to relocate to the Mediterranean country years ago and is now happily living by the Valencian coast, in eastern Spain.
He toldExpress.co.ukthat although the new requirements – which include proof of a heightened household income – might make the process more difficult, now it is the perfect moment for Britons to relocate to Spain if they have the money to do so.
The reason is that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in fewer Britons moving to the country and consequently, house prices dropping dramatically.
He explained that at the moment, “the main potential difficulties when applying for residence is proving you have sufficient funds in a Spanish bank account and obtaining a private health insurance policy.”
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Nigel said: “The requirement is for an income of at least €27,115 for an individual or €33,894 for a couple when people get a Non-Lucrative Visa, which is the main visa for non-EU citizens wanting to retire to Spain.
“The other option is a Golden Visa which has a slightly lower income requirement but requires an investment of €500,000 in property in Spain.
“The income requirement means that anyone on a basic UK state pension cannot afford to retire to Spain anymore,” he explained.
Nigel predicted that “people planning to retire to Spain from the UK will be reduced as many will not be able to meet the more onerous financial requirements post-Brexit.”
He explained that another post-Brexit issue is health insurance, as “the requirement to have a private Spanish health insurance policy has been problematic for those with serious pre-existing conditions who may not be able to get cover.”
However, despite the new hiccups, he explained that the pandemic has resulted in a drop in property prices as people have not been able to get to Spain this last year.
“Many property agents I talk to have seen a major drop over the last year. The fall has been driven by COVID-19 more than Brexit.”
A recent study by Unión de Créditos Inmobiliarios (UCI) has reported property prices falling by 10 percent in Palma de Mallorca, Alicante and Malaga, and up to 30 percent in Costa del Sol, in Andalucia.
With a significant drop in house prices, this year might be the best time for Britons who can meet the financial requirements to move to the country.
The expat also predicted that “going forward the financial requirements will clearly have an impact on the market for even cheaper properties.”
What are the main tips for Britons planning to move to Spain this year?
Nigel explained: “Those who want to move to Spain this year should make sure that they can show that you have sufficient funds to support themselves if they plan to retire here.
“When it comes to property it is always best to rent before you buy as, even if you know the area you want to live in, once you are living here you will get to know the specific areas that are best for you,” he continued.
“You will also get to know the market better and be able to spot a bargain.
“If you do plan to buy it is worth choosing a property agent or property finder to work with you as they will be well placed to advise you on the best areas and ensure you get the most out of viewing trips.”
In terms of the residency, Nigel said it is relatively easy and “generally people who apply can qualify.”
However, the expat also pointed that “Spain’s requirements are significantly above the requirements for the equivalent visa in Portugal which only requires an income €7,980 for an individual and €11,970 for a couple.
“People seem unaware of this option to choose Portugal rather than Spain if they still want to retire to the sun. Portugal also has its Non-Habitual Residence Scheme which means that people can receive pension income at 10 percent tax for ten years (and some other foreign income tax free).
“We do not have any reason to move but if we were moving now given the new rules we would probably choose Portugal,” he said.
Not only will learning Spanish make the process easier to understand, it can also save expats vital money in the lead up to their big move.
“Learning Spanish really will help you more than you know,” he continued.
“I will say I spent several hundreds, if not thousands, when moving to Spain because I couldn’t speak Spanish properly.
“And I had to pay other people to help me with many things like my residency, buying a car here, bank accounts, doctors, dentists, setting up utility bills, reading letters that I had from banks and businesses and stuff like that.
“If you don’t speak Spanish or understand these things you’re going to have to pay somebody to help you out and do this.
“Use this time now before you even move to Spain if you can to learn some basic words and phrases.”
Spain: Benidorm bar owner praises UK vaccine rollout
And some have voiced their frustration at the labyrinthine bureaucracy they are required to negotiate in order to get their jabs. In accordance with the Social Security Coordination Protocol of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU, UK citizens who are legal residents of Spain are eligible for medical coverage provided they are similarly entitled to healthcare in the UK.
It is so frustrating
Wendy from Catalonia
However, the Local was contacted by expats who claimed they were nevertheless struggling to register with public health authorities, and had not yet received their vaccines, even though others in their age or priority group had already been contacted.
One, Wendy, who lives in Catalonia, said: “I am 64 and my husband is 61, we have private health insurance and do not qualify for public health care yet.
”We have heard nothing yet and not for want of trying. It is so frustrating.”
Expats in Spain have reported difficulties in getting their jabs (Image: GETTY)
Vaccinations in Spain (Image: GETTY)
Another, Lawrie, 50, who lives in Madrid, said he had private health insurance but was not in the public system.
He explained: “I phoned the 900 102 112 number and was told they put me in the system with my Sanitas number.
”That was weeks ago and I have not been contacted since, so I suspect I am actually not in the system at all.”
Deborah, who lives in Murcia, said: “My husband and I live in Campos del Rio, Murcia.
Spain has pledge to vaccine everyone, regardless of status (Image: GETTY)
Coronavirus vaccinations live (Image: Express)
“There’s nowhere for foreign legal residents to register.”
Speaking to the Telegraph last month, John McKenzie, 42, who suffers from diabetes and a heart condition, said since the beginning of the vaccine rollout, he had attempted on four occasions to register at his local health centre.
He added: “The first time they said they cannot register people on private insurance for the vaccine in the absence of any instruction from the Canarian government.”
On another occasion, Mr McKenzie claimed he was told: “Go away, we don’t vaccinate foreigners.”
Top 10 countries for UK expats (Image: Express)
Spain is home to an estimated 285,000 British expats.
Madrid has previously said that everyone living in the country will be vaccinated irrespective of their status.
In a note published on the Brits in Spain Facebook community last month, the British Embassy in Madrid said: “We know that some of you are concerned about how you will be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine in Spain – particularly those of you who don’t receive state healthcare.
“The Spanish government has been very clear that they will provide the vaccine to everyone in Spain as a matter of public health, regardless of nationality or how you access healthcare in Spain.
Covid variant names (Image: Express)
“If you are already registered for state healthcare you will be contacted by your regional health service to make an appointment when it is your turn to be vaccinated.
“Because Spain operates its health system regionally, the way people access the vaccine will differ depending on where you live.”
The FDCO has advised anyone with concerns to visit this site.
Pension income from UK schemes may not generate “sufficient income” for some EU countries and this could impact residence visas according to new analysis. Britons who wish to take up residence in an EU country must now demonstrate that they, and their dependents, have sufficient income and not be a “burden on the state”.
What constitutes sufficient income will vary from one country to another, making retirement planning difficult for many.
Jason Porter, a director of specialist expat financial advice firm Blevins Franks and head of its new European Emigration Advisory Service, broke down how these new parameters will impact UK citizens.
He said: “This raises a problem for many expats who have invested in EU-compliant, tax-efficient investment products.
“Many have placed their financial assets in life insurance bonds or UK pension schemes and intend to utilise the flexible and often tax-efficient withdrawal facilities associated with such structures.
Jason concluded by detailing expats will not be granted a residence visa unless they can demonstrate this income stream.
They will also need to be in receipt of a visa before they can spend more than 90 days in an EU country.
According to the DWP, current UK law allows for workplace pensions to be paid overseas and the Government did not expect this to change because the UK has left the EU.
The DWP notes that if a retiree has any questions on this, they should contact pension providers directly.
If a workplace scheme is paid into a UK bank account, the bank should contact the person involved if they need to change the way they receive the pension as a result of the UK leaving the EU.
The Government has also confirmed a person can carry on receiving a UK state pension if they move to live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim their state pension from these countries.
The state pension payments will still be increased each year in the EU in line with the rates paid in the UK.
Additionally, retirees will also be able to count relevant social security contributions made in EU countries to meet the qualifying conditions for a UK state pension.
It’s also possible to have pensions and benefits paid by an EU, EEA country or Switzerland and if this is the case, retirees will need to check the rules in the country they are living in or moving to with that country’s social security authority.
Pension providers themselves should make plans to ensure retirees can still get payments from an annuity or personal pension following the UK leaving the EU.
Where changes are needed, providers should contact the retirees involved to keep them informed.
Where people are unsure of their entitlement, they can head to the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) website where the regulator has published information on what pension providers need to do because the UK has left the EU.