Get Brexit Ready – what if you’re a British freelancer working in an EU country?
In our final BrexitReady article from AudioUK we hear about how the UK’s departure from the EU might affect Alex Kirkland – a freelance broadcast journalist who lives and works in Spain.
AudioUK has produced a series of podcasts to help prepare you and your audio business for Brexit, whenever it might happen. Listen as Georgie Frost gets tips and advice from people with experience of everything from intellectual property and HR to business contracts and working with staff and companies in different countries.
In our final feature to help you prepare for the UK’s expected departure from the EU next year, we focus on the case study of a British audio producer and presenter based in Spain – who’s hoping to stay there after Brexit.
Alex Kirkland is a freelance sports journalist and presenter of The Spanish Football Podcast. He’s lived in Madrid since 2012.
Like many other Brits living in the EU, Alex is keen for more clarity about his legal status and rights in Spain after Brexit. “When I moved here I had no idea if I was going to be here for a few months or a few years,” says Alex. “But it’s turned out I’m here to stay and I consider it my home. I got married last year and we want to build a future here. We’ve got no plans to move, but of course all this uncertainty over Brexit doesn’t make that very easy.”
“My wife is Venezuelan, which is an additional complication actually. She’s a doctor and she’s able to live and work in Spain because she is a close family member of a European citizen (the European citizen being me!). But if that changes in the event of Brexit, that also presents complications for her. It’s one thing to manage and worry about your own situation but when you’ve got someone else whose professional future depends on you and your immigration status, that’s a whole other level of stress to be honest.”
As a freelancer, Alex is also looking for certainty that he will be able to continue to live and work in Madrid so that he can arrange contracts for the future. “When I’m talking to a client about doing some work with them the first thing they wants to know is what’s going on with Brexit. ‘Are you going to be able to work with us? What about after Brexit happens – what’s going to be your status?’ I can’t answer those questions so it makes forward planning difficult. And it makes building new relationships with clients difficult as well.”
One thing you are able to do if you’re in Alex’s situation is to get your paperwork in order in the EU country where you live. “I was already registered here as a resident in Spain,” he says. “But I went down to my local office for that kind of thing and I made sure that I was not only registered as a resident but as a permanent resident. Now my Spanish ID card has the little word ‘permanent’ on it. That may or may not make a difference, but it might. I made sure that my address on my ID card was up to date as well. I made sure that my tax records were all in order going back over the years so the Spanish government can see how long I’ve been here, how long I’ve been working, how long I’ve been paying taxes, and how much tax I’ve paid. All those things might well end up being irrelevant, we just don’t know. We presume that some sort of special regime is going to be brought in for British people who’re working here who’ll be treated as if we’re European citizens – even though we aren’t – or perhaps a separate, slightly different but somewhat comparable regime for Brits here in Spain.”
The worst-case scenario that Alex can foresee is not being given any automatic right to stay in Spain and having to apply for a work visa. “A work visa is all very well if you’re employed by a company who will go through that process for you,” he says. “But if you’re self employed – if you’re freelance like I am – you’d have to do that yourself. And I might not qualify for a work visa because I don’t know what the criteria would be in terms of whether there’ll be a minimum that you have to earn a year and that sort of thing.”
You can listen to more advice on the Brexit Ready podcast – and use the government’s online checker to see what you or your business should be doing to prepare for Brexit.