Since the Brexit vote, the applications by British residents in Spain to become residents has increased by 431% and this figure is expected to climb now that Article 50 has been triggered.

Between January and March 2016 just 28 British citizens sought Spanish nationality for various reasons ranging from wanting to be able to cast their votes in National and local elections to not wanting Brexit to prosper.

But in the same period of 2017, a total of 111 have already filed applications and numerous others are considering doing so.

Brits living in Spain had no real need to take Spanish citizenship since, other than being barred from voting in national and regional elections or standing for Parliament, their rights as expatriates were identical to those of any Spaniard.

They are still, but this might well change by the end of March 2019 or earlier if negotiations are settled and the UK decides to formalise its exit.

And with a growing number of Brits wanting to apply for citizenship, the waiting lists are getting longer and a large number are not willing to wait and see what unfolds.

Citizenship requirements changed in 2015, but are relatively within reach – the language test is set at level A2 or a good GCSE grade and two years’ worth of classes or home study is normally enough to achieve this standard.

A sociocultural and constitutional knowledge test must also be passes – 25 multiple choice questions to be answered in 45 minutes, of which 15 must be correct or 60%.

Successful applicants then must agree to renounce their nationality of birth and swear allegiance to the Spanish Constitution.

In practice, the UK doesn’t allow its native-born subjects to give up their British citizenship, even though joint nationality is not available to Brits living in Spain.

But for those concerned about future restrictions on movement between Spain and the UK, Spanish nationality may, strangely enough, make this procedure easier; a British-born subject is unlikely to be denied the right to spend an indefinite time in the UK as a visitor to, for example, care for family members in need, and with a Spanish passport, re-entry to Spain is guaranteed however long they have been away.

Officially, Spain has 308,821 British residents registered, although the total is expected to be higher in reality when taking into account those who have not yet signed the padron, or municipal census, and those who have yet to get around applying for a ‘green certificate’ showing their NIE, or foreigners’ national ID number.

Another 110,373 Brits who are not resident in Spain own property there, either for investment, future retirement homes or holiday homes.  Spain is the number one European destination for Brits who have left the UK, followed by France.  Outside Europe, Australia and the US the number is slightly higher.

Of the nearly 309,000 Brits living in Spain, only 108,000 are retirees, who claim a State pension from the UK, and nearly 60,000 work, with two thirds employed by companies and the remainder self-employed or business owners.

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