British Expats Thrive and Adapt in Spain Despite Brexit

In the wake of the UK’s decision to exit the European Union in 2016, British expatriates residing in Spain have faced a series of intricate challenges that have reshaped their lives. While surveys have consistently shown that a majority of British expats in Spain preferred to remain within the EU during the 2016 referendum, the post-Brexit landscape has presented both opportunities and obstacles for this community.

Living with new rules

One of the most significant hurdles for British expats has been adjusting to the evolving residency and immigration regulations. The stringent 90-day rule, limiting stays within the Schengen zone, has induced a population shift in certain regions, such as San Fulgencio, as Britons grapple with these new restrictions. The repercussions of this shift have rippled through local businesses, struggling to find the staff they once relied on.

Curiously, even in areas with relatively fewer expats, Spanish political parties are embracing British candidates in a bid to appeal to this diverse electorate. This phenomenon, exemplified by candidates like Richard Lewington in the Basque Country, illustrates the electoral significance of the British expat community, transcending traditional regional boundaries.

Furthermore, demographic trends among British expats set them apart from other non-European migrant groups, with an average median age of 54. This aging population has distinctive needs and preferences, contributing to the unique challenges faced by British expats in Spain.

In terms of residency documentation, a notable percentage of Britons have exchanged their old green certificates for TIE cards, but many still use their old green residency documents, both of which remain valid. However, those who arrived in Spain after Brexit or failed to register previously must navigate non-EU rules for Spanish residency.


the British expat community in Spain has defied initial Brexit-related expectations, demonstrating resilience and adaptability in the face of complex challenges. As they navigate the post-Brexit landscape, this community continues to evolve in unexpected ways, shaping the broader socio-political landscape of Spain.

The unexpected growth of British residents in Spain challenges initial Brexit-related assumptions, showing that the British expat community remains a significant and stable presence in the country— mainly in areas of Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, Mallorca and the Balearic Islands.

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