LIFE will never be the same anymore after the changes which were caused by politicians (Brexit) and this virus which keeps limiting us in our day by day life as expats on the Costa del Sol.
A poorly redacted and worse executed exit treaty has had the consequence that Brits are considered to be ‘third country persons’. This means that as far as official paper work (such as residencies, health care, driving licences) is concerned, you will be treated the same as somebody from eg Singapore, USA or Zimbabwe.
You will in theory not need a visa to travel from the UK to Europe for short stays (meaning up to 90 days in a 180 day period). But you will need something called ETIAS. To become a resident however has become far more complicated and changing your driving licence takes forever and a day. All of this is changing on a weekly basis and in reality we can only advise you to get updated professional information if you have a specific need for any administrative procedure.
You should try to avoid the information in social media, internet forums and the likes because the information you will get there, although there will be always a ring of truth in them – hardly ever will give you the complete picture. Do not forget that horror stories always will have a bigger appeal. It is not always the administration which is at fault…
It is to be expected that with time new treaties will be developed and agreed upon and the likelihood that in a few years things will be back to business as usual is quite high. And although everything has become more complicated it is still possible to solve all of these problems. It is all about knowing how to go about it.
It is also worthwhile to check your situation as far as your tax obligations are concerned. All governments are in a desperate need of money and this applies equally to HM Revenue and Customs Service as to the Spanish Hacienda. Be careful not to be caught in the middle. Double tax treaties are still valid and you should take care of avoiding problems before they arise. Too often we see huge tax bills which could have been avoided. Spanish Hacienda can go back up to five years and will not hesitate to do so.
All of these changes also have had an effect on the real estate market: on top of the already very complicated legal situation just about all rural properties were in, UK buyers will have to be careful with the repercussion of Brexit.
Whilst the legal difficulties are on their way to being resolved, as you can read elsewhere in this paper, they will have to look into a new set of problems. They might find themselves in a situation where the use of their new property might be limited or would have major tax consequences. Once again getting the right professional advice will be absolutely necessary.
There has been a dramatic shift in the market since the beginning of last year. Where traditionally the majority of buyers were British, we noticed a surprising and very important increase in Spanish buyers (because of Covid) and for various reasons the French, Belgian and Dutch market had impressive growth figures. At the same time a lot of British owners, fed up with the Brexit complications decided to sell. This in turn resulted in that choosing the right real estate agent has become quite important: the traditional real estate agents concentrating on the British market have been doing a lot poorer than the ones who were already aiming at different segments of buyers.
Multilingual staff and publicity aimed at the growth markets have to be taken into account.
It is indeed all about adapting to the times we are living in, and we cannot insist enough on getting the right professionals to advise you. Companies such as ours which have one branch (todoserv) where up-to-date advice comes free and who handle all legal paper work in Spain, combined with the other branch which is a very active and modern real estate agency (Spanish Sun Properties) are doing very well and grow at an impressive pace.
A phone call will give you all the answers you are looking for.