The EU: In or Out?

Talk of the EU Referendum is heating up in the UK. The referendum will be held on the 23rd June and recent polls suggest a 50-50 split, even among MPs the split is fairly even. But the question on British expats’ minds is “What will happen to us?”

At the end of last year, the local organization Europeos por España held a public discussion to explore what could happen if the UK were to leave the EU. President of EporE Kate Mentink and local lawyer, Javier Blas, an acknowledged expert on European affairs, partnered up to lead the discussion and here is a summary.

Firstly, it’s important to note that this is a completely new situation. No member state has ever wanted to leave the EU, especially while there is a queue of nations wishing to join. With this in mind it's important to note that no one is 100% sure of what will happen and what it would mean for us. Below are likely scenarios and outcomes. 

Three possible outcomes

  1.  Join the European Economic Area (EEA) like Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. It would give access to the single market, with the exception of some financial services, but freeing it from EU rules on agriculture, fisheries, justice and home affairs. It would mean equal treatment between EU and citizens of these countries.
  2. The second alternative is a formalized agreement with the EU. Like with Russia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Andorra, San Marino and 79 states of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific, their citizens legally residing in the EU are entitled to the same working conditions as those in their host country.
  3. The last alternative is the ‘no agreement’ choice. This would mean that the right to reside and work in the member country is governed by the laws of the host country. In Spain, it means the Immigration Law of 2001.


What Would it Mean for Us?

Residence Card

You will not lose your identity card. If the UK were to join the EEA, the Residence Card would remain. If the UK should leave the EU, the card would be replaced with one issued under the Spanish Immigration Act.

Holiday Home Owners/Retirees

Whatever happens, if you can prove your financial means and health insurance, there should not be any problems with moving into your holiday home once you have retired.


No visa will be required to visit Spain and the maximum length of stay will be 90 days.


As a pensioner you would be able to receive your pension from the UK, just as you do now.


According to the Article 12 of the Organic Law 4/2000, foreigners legally established in Spain have full access to IB Salut.

Selling Property

Taxes made from selling your property would be the same and subject to Capital Gains text. Inheritance Tax would change if the UK left the EU – a non-EU citizen would be taxed under state law in Madrid and would no longer qualify for the regional tax deductions which are established by each Autonomous Community.

Self Employment

In principle it would be necessary to prove that the activity has a positive impact on job creation and the planned investment are met.


If your children are at school here, they will be able to continue their studies, without any doubt.


Register to Vote

Firstly, do it now, don’t wait until the last minute or you may miss your chance.

Just as in the UK, you need to register annually, so even if you voted in last year’s election, you still need to register for the EU referendum. If you were on the electoral roll in the last 15 years, you can register as an overseas voter.

Visit or if you were last registered in Ireland, and fill in your data. You will need NI, Passport number and date of birth.

Select how you wish to vote, by post, by proxy or in person if you happen to be there on the day.

There are 283,000 Britons officially resident in Spain, only 11,000 registered to vote in last year’s General Election. Take a stand and vote on this very important issue.