‘Zero leeway!’ British expats warned of deportation if they overstay in Spain crackdown

4 mins read

Under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, Britons living in Spain have had to apply for residency to stay there for prolonged periods. Before this under the EU’s Freedom of Movement rules, they were free to work, live or retire in Spain and other EU countries as they pleased.

That has all changed, and expats who have failed to register face being deported and banned from the country if they have overstayed the 90 days in every 180 days limit.

While many registered – thousands of the estimated 285,000 British expats living in Spain are thought to be living under the radar.

Spain launched its first crackdown after March 31 – when the first 90-day period ended.

And as the second 90-day limit fast approaches at the end of the month – Spanish authorities have been accused of exploiting Brexit to kick Brits out.

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The news emerged as furious expats reported being turned down for Covid vaccinations – even when it was their turn.

Others 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.

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.”

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.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the Foreign Office for comment.

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