The United Kingdom ceased to be a Member State of the European Union and became a third State on 31 January 2020, following the ratification of the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.
From that moment on, the United Kingdom ceased to enjoy the rights and obligations it had as a Member State of the European Union. This led to the emergence of barriers to trade in goods and services and to cross-border mobility and exchanges that had not previously existed.
With the aim of providing an adjustment period for the new situation for citizens, economic actors, and public administrations, as well as ensuring an orderly exit from the European Union, the Withdrawal Agreement provided for a transitional period from its entry into force until 31 December 2020. During this transition period, EU law continued to apply, with certain exceptions, within and to the United Kingdom. Amongst other measures, the Withdrawal Agreement has served to provide protection for EU citizens and UK nationals who had exercised their rights under EU law before 31 December 2020.
Removal of the flag of the United Kingdom from the European Parliament building in Brussels on 31 January 2020.
The Withdrawal Agreement also served to provide a framework of stability for the negotiation of an agreement on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. These negotiations culminated in the ratification of a Trade and Cooperation Agreement, an Agreement on Information Security and an Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between the European Union and the United Kingdom. All three agreements entered into force on 1 May 2021.
The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
is a comprehensive agreement covering many areas, including trade in goods and services, digital commerce, intellectual property, public procurement, transport, energy, fisheries, social security coordination, police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, thematic cooperation, and UK participation in EU programmes. It also contains provisions aimed at ensuring fair conditions of competition and respect for fundamental rights, as well as an institutional framework to guarantee the proper functioning and enforcement of the Agreement, with binding dispute settlement mechanisms.
Whilst these Treaties have limited the impact that the new situation would have had if no agreement had been reached, the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union has caused major changes in the lives of citizens, workers, businesses, and public administrations.
To adapt the Spanish legal system to this new situation, the government adopted Royal Decree-Law 38/2020, of 29 December 2020, with several adaptation measures (in Spanish):
The European Commission has also published a comprehensive guide and over 80 briefing notes on how best to address these changes:
Additional information on Brexit on the website of the Office of the President of the Government of Spain:
Visiting and residing in the United Kingdom after 1 January 2021
The new UK points-based immigration system came into force on 1 January 2021. Under this new system, citizens wishing to enter the United Kingdom to work, study or reside must apply for a visa, subject to exceptions.
EU citizens may continue to travel to the United Kingdom without a visa as tourists, for stays of up to 6 months. They may continue to use their passport, which must be valid for the duration of their stay in the United Kingdom.
From 1 October 2021, the Spanish National Identity Document (DNI) will no longer be valid as a travel document to the United Kingdom, except for those of people who are already UK residents and have a residence permit under the EU Settlement Scheme.