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Barcelona City Council drives the creation of the Brexit Information Point in collaboration with the Government Sub-delegation in Barcelona and the British Consulate General in Barcelona, with the aim of providing information and support to the British community living in Barcelona as well as to businesses and organisations established in the city which have interests in the United Kingdom.
The Brexit Information Point makes two specific resources available to individuals and businesses: a set of practical digital contents with useful links and a face-to-face help desk in Barcelona city.
Brexit: what is it and where are we at?
The term Brexit refers to the process of the UK leaving the European Union (EU), which started in June 2016 following a referendum.
This process has been characterised by uncertainty and a number of delays in the dates announced for departure. The latest extension for the Brexit deadline is 31 January 2020.
Based on this new date, there are two possible scenarios:
- If a withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU is reached before the end of the extension period, there will almost certainly be a transitional period during which EU law will continue to apply in relation to the internal market, customs union and EU policies.
- If there is no deal, the UK will be considered a “third country”; i.e. a non-EU state with no free trade agreement between the two parties.
Barcelona Brexit Information Point
The aim of the Brexit Information Point driven by Barcelona City Council is to provide practical information to the following groups and answer their questions:
British nationals living in Barcelona
Barcelona's British community is one of the largest and most active communities in the city. According to data from the January 2019 municipal register of residents, there are over 8,500 UK nationals living in Barcelona, who until now have lived in accordance with all their rights as EU nationals.
The European Commission, the Government of Spain and the UK Government, as well as the other EU member states, have worked on preparing for the different Brexit scenarios: whether it is an ordered departure with an agreement or a no-deal Brexit. In anticipation of a no-deal Brexit, in March 2019 the Spanish Government approved a number of contingency measures covering citizenship, economic activities and transport, among others. The aim of these measures is to prevent British nationals currently living in Spain from being detrimentally affected, as well as to defend the interests of Spanish nationals living in the United Kingdon.
OFFICIAL REFERENCE PAGES
- Government of Spain: Prepared for the brexit: This site is aimed at providing information to both individuals and economic operators on how their interests will be affected by the changes resulting from the UK’s departure.
- UK Government: Living in Spain: This provides information to British nationals living in Spain or planning to move to Spain.
- European Commission: Brexit Preparedness: This includes a specific section on the rights of British nationals living in the European Union.
REGISTRATION IN THE MUNICIPAL REGISTER AND ELSEWHERE
While waiting for Brexit to take place so we can provide specific information, we would like to remind you of a few procedures that must be carried out by British nationals and their families living in Barcelona.
- Certificate of registration as an EU national (Spanish National Police procedure, Spanish government)
Nationals of countries in the European Union, the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland who are going to live in Spain for more than three months are required to apply for registration asn EU national. Until the UK leaves the EU, British nationals living in Barcelona are still EU citizens and, as such, must also appear in the register. You can find official information about this procedure in this website (only in Spanish). Also, for practical advice on how to complete this procedure, please click here.
Furthermore, once the person has resided legally in Spain for a continuous period of five years (generally speaking), they may request a permanent residence certificate (official information only available in Spanish). In order to deal with the documentation requirements resulting from Brexit, it is advisable for British nationals who meet the conditions for obtaining a permanent residence certificate to apply for one.
- Residence card for family members of EU nationals (Immigration Office and Spanish National Police procedure, Spanish government )
Relatives of nationals of EU or EEA (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) countries, or of Swiss nationals, who are not themselves nationals of any of those countries and are going to be living in Spain, accompanying their relative, for more than three months, must apply for a residence card for family members of EU nationals. Until the UK leaves the EU, British nationals living in Barcelona are still EU nationals, which means that the obligation to have this card will apply to their relatives living in Barcelona who are from countries other than those mentioned above. You can find information about this procedure in this website. Also, for practical advice on how to complete this procedure, please click here.
Furthermore, once the person has resided legally in Spain for a continuous period of five years (in general), they may apply for a permanent residence card for family members of EU nationals (official information only available in Spanish). In order to deal with the documentation requirements resulting from Brexit, it is advisable for British nationals who meet the conditions for obtaining the permanent residence card to apply for one.
- Registration in the municipal register (city council procedure)
The municipal register of residents is a list of all the people habitually living in a municipality and forming its population. The act of registering is referred to in Spanish as empadronarse. This is a mandatory formality for all persons living in Barcelona. For information on how to do this, click here.
OTHER PRACTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS
The British Government, through the Embassy and the Consulate General in Barcelona, provides other advice to British nationals already established here.
- Procedures for gaining access to the Spanish public health system: To find out how to do this, click here.
- Exchanging your British driving licence for a Spanish one: To find out how to do this, click here.
- Checking whether your British passport is valid for travel: You can do this here.
- List of lawyers in Catalonia, Aragon and Andorra. You can access here.
In addition, the British Embassy has provided the following channels to keep you up to date with all the news:
- To sign up for e-mail alerts, click here.
- Follow the Facebook (Brits in Spain) and Twitter (Brits living in Spain) channels.
- Information on events relating to Brexit in Spain
Businesses and organisations established in Barcelona
According to the Directory of foreign companies in Catalonia (ACCIÓ, 2018), there are currently around 660 companies with British capital established in Catalonia. British companies account for 8% of all the foreign companies established in Catalonia. This puts them in sixth place, behind Germany, France, the United States, Italy and the Netherlands.
The aim of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain is to promote business and investment between British and Spanish companies, and its members include both British companies established in Spain and Spanish companies with interests in the United Kingdom.
Since the referendum in June 2016, where the people voted in favour of leaving the EU, United Kingdom has invested 10,786 million euros in Spain, according to the 5th Barometer on Climate Outlook for British Investment in Spain (only in Spanish), prepared by this chamber of commerce. Data shows that British companies are still very committed and interested in Spain, despite the uncertainty generated by this phenomenon.
The British market is also one of the principal foreign trade markets for companies in the province of Barcelona and the main market for imports and exports of services in Spain as a whole.
In addition, many local companies have British people in their workforces, who could be affected by a no-deal Brexit.
A “hard brexit” scenario would render the UK a “third country” in its commercial relations with the European Union. This would lead not only to the establishment of customs and non-customs checks between the EU and the UK but would also have consequences on industry, services, VAT and the recognition of qualifications, among other matters.
On 10 October 2019, the Secretary of State for Commerce and ICEX organised the seminar “Businesses and Brexit” in Barcelona. This seminar offered practical information to help businesses to prepare for the consequences of Brexit. The presentations given at the seminar are available here (documents only available in Spanish):
- Practical effects of Brexit on Spain's commercial relations with the United Kingdom.
- Customs implications of Brexit for Spanish businesses.
Also, ICEX has launched “Entender el brexit y sus desafíos”, a 10 hour online course (in Spanish), aimed at executives and managers of SMEs and family business. The course covers topics in the field of international trade and it also makes an analysis of the elements that would be preventing a withdrawal agreement and the economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
Below is a list of business information resources relating to the effects of a potential no-deal Brexit for economic operators in Spain.
BREXIT-RELATED INFORMATION AND RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES
Official information of the European Commission
- Preparedness notices: This website provides access to communications from the European Commission’s services aimed at preparing individuals and interested parties for the UK’s withdrawal.
Brexit preparation tools
- Brexit preparedness checklist for companies doing business in the EU (European Commission document dated September 2019).
- Prepared for the Brexit (website of the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism).
- Brexit Thermometer (only available in Catalan): a self-diagnostic business tool for businesses to assess their degree of exposure to Brexit (ACCIÓ, Government of Catalonia).
Trade, taxation and customs
- Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU: a European Commission website with guidelines on Brexit for economic operators.
- Customs guide for businesses: This is a list of steps to be followed by operators (European Commission, April 2019).
Industry, energy and the environment
- Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism: Industria Brexit: a website with useful information on the automotive, pharmacy and chemical industries (Government of Spain).
- Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition: Questions about Brexit (contents only available in Spanish): a website with useful information in the fields of chemical products, emissions and waste (Government of Spain).
- Considerations for companies trading with United Kingdom (only available in Spanish): a website containing information and resources of the Spanish Ministry of Trade with useful documents on the fields of e-commerce, financial services, intellectual property, transport, telecommunications and the temporary posting of workers, among other matters (Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Government of Spain).
Value Added Tax (VAT)
In the event of no agreement being reached between the European Union and the United Kingdom, trade operations between the UK and the EU-27 would no longer be considered intra-community operations and would instead be treated as international trade operations. The UK would then have its own VAT.
Imports from the UK would be subject to VAT on imports, which means that VAT would have to be assessed in the customs declaration, while exports of goods to the United Kingdom would be exempt from VAT. In the case of imports (input VAT), Spanish companies would have to bear the financial cost associated with the time lag between the time of assessment and payment of VAT and its deduction. In order to mitigate this cost, businesses can use the VAT import deferment scheme, which involves including the import VAT payable in the return-assessment for the relevant period. In order to do this, you must be a VAT taxpayer with a monthly VAT assessment period and opt into the import VAT deferment scheme by applying in November of the year before that in which it is to take effect (before 20th November 2019 for the tax year 2020).
- Consequences of Brexit on VAT: an information website of the Spanish tax authority.
- Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules in the field of Value Added Tax: a notice from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union on the VAT consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
The Spanish government’s information website Prepared for the brexit contains information on the recognition of the professional qualifications of EU and UK nationals in each scenario (with and without a deal).
- Spanish nationals with qualifications gained in the United Kingdom:
It is important for Spanish or other EU nationals who have gained a qualification in the UK to have their degree recognised (or at least to have applied for it) in a Member State before the withdrawal date. In the event of a no-deal Brexit: If they have had their qualification recognised in any EU Member State, it will continue to be recognised, and they will be able to continue practising their profession in the EU. Otherwise, they will be subject to the laws governing the recognition of degrees applicable in each Member State.
- United Kingdom nationals:
Whenever there is equivalent treatment by UK authorities: In the event of a no-deal Brexit, if they have had their qualification recognised in any EU Member State, in the UK or in Gibraltar, they will be able to continue practising their profession or activity in Spain under the terms of the recognition of their professional qualification and provided that all other conditions for the practice of their profession are met.
BUSINESS SUPPORT RESOURCES
- Business Support Office (Barcelona Activa, Barcelona City Council). A place of reference for businesses and SMEs in Barcelona that brings together a permanent portfolio of value-added services for business growth. One of the services available, which is provided in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona, is the internationalisation and foreign trade procedures service.
- Glòries Centre for Entrepreneurial Initiative (Barcelona Activa, Barcelona City Council). A site providing support to people with business ideas who want to start up an entrepreneurial project.
- One-stop Brexit advice (ACCIÓ, Government of Catalonia). A personalised advice service to help businesses established in Catalonia prepare a contingency plan to deal with the consequences of Brexit. It includes discounts on the price of services provided by ACCIÓ offices abroad for the opening of new markets.
- Brexit voucher (ICEX, Government of Spain): A discount on the price of personalised services provided by ICEX through the Spanish Economic and Commercial Offices Abroad for Spanish businesses that will be facing the new terms of access to the British market or that wish to diversify their markets.
- Brexit information (CESCE, Spanish Export Credit Agency): Information line about defaults and payment conditions in the United Kingdom.
- Brexit Line for companies (Foment del Treball Nacional): An information and support service for businesses with interests in the UK which aims to raise awareness about the importance of being prepared for the impact of the different possible departure scenarios.
International talent and companies wishing to become established in Barcelona as a result of Brexit
As a result of Brexit, some businesses and professionals have decided to explore the possibility of relocating to cities in continental Europe. We have made the following resources available to those who are considering Barcelona:
- For businesses and investors
Barcelona City Council, through its local development agency Barcelona Activa, has made a Business landing service available to foreign investors and businesses wishing to move or expand their business to Barcelona. The service provides comprehensive support to foreign businesses in the process of becoming established in the city by providing them with information and resources on administrative procedures, how to incorporate a company, the search for premises, the recruitment of talent and contact with other agents of interest, among other matters.
- For individuals
Professionals wishing to pursue their career in the city, incorporate a company, study or carry out research - in other words, those people who are thinking of coming to live and work in Barcelona - have Barcelona International Welcome, which contains comprehensive information and useful resources relating to moving to the city.
Barcelona’s Brexit Information Point includes a face-to-face help desk. If you wish to use this, you must make an appointment.
Official information for UK nationals moving to or living in Spain, including guidance on Brexit.
Information and advice for citizens and economic operators to prepare for Brexit.
Office of the President of the Spanish government
A compilation of news items, information, legal initiatives and actions to prepare for Brexit.
Brexit-related events and activities
- The event "Preparar-se per al Brexit. Conseqüències i serveis" will take place on January 23rd 2020, from 12.45 pm to 2.00 pm, at Espai Barcelona, located at the Business Support Office (OAE) of Barcelona Activa. This session is organized by Barcelona City Council in collaboration with the Economic Development Agency of Barcelona Metropolitan Area (Barcelona Metropolitan Area). There will be an expert on internationalization from ACCIÓ (Catalonia Trade & Investment Agency of the Government of Catalonia), who will explain key elements that companies should keep in mind for Brexit. In addition to that, a new municipal service called “Brexit Information Point” will also be presented to businesses based in Barcelona and the greater metropolitan area. You can register here.
- 13th November 2019 saw the presentation of the 5th Barometer on Climate Outlook for British Investment in Spain, produced by the British Chamber of Commerce in Barcelona. The event was attended by the British ambassador, Hugh Elliot, and Deputy Mayor Jaume Collboni, among other representatives. Have a look at the summary of the presentation if you want to find out what businesses think of Brexit.
- A “Brexit outreach event with British Consul” was organized on November 13th 2019 to get an update on the latest Brexit developments for UK nationals living in the Barcelona area. For more information, click here.
- During the sixth edition of the Barcelona International Community Day, on 26th October 2019, an information session entitled “Brexit: how does it affect us? ”, featuring a talk by the British Consul General in Barcelona, Mr Lloyd Milen, was held as part of the programme of activities. An activity entitled “Preparing for Brexit: questions and answers”, in which interested persons were able to gain direct access to the most up-to-date information from the British Consulate’s team, was also held. For more information, click here.
- Barcelona city will be present with its own stand at London's Going Global fair, which will be held on 27 and 28 November 2019. Drop in for information about Barcelona and the opportunities that the city has to offer for British businesses.
- Barcelona and Catalunya participated from November 3 to 6 in the World Travel Market in London, one of the main fairs of the tourism sector and an opportunity to meet the destination of Barcelona.