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Under new rules which came into effect on 10th July 2012, EU citizens applying for residency in Spain may be required to produce evidence of sufficient financial means to support themselves (and dependants).  This new residency requirement is for those planning on living in Spain for more than 3 months and applies to all EU citizens - including Brits.

Nearly half a million Brits live in Spain, either permanently or on a part time basis, as is the case with many pensioners who spend the cold Winter months here. This controversial decree was passed with the expectation of saving Spain's economy in the region of 1 billion euros by clamping down on economic migrants. The main "saving" will come from the health sector - currently Britons account for 25% of all medical procedures carried out on foreigners, which last year equated to roughly 74,000.

Although there IS freedom of movement between member states of the European Union, Spain has exercised its right under Article 7 of the 2004 EU directive on free movement to impose entry conditions for those wanting to stay for longer than 3 months. However, this is going to be hard to monitor as many do not register anyway - which has been officially required since 2007.

Any EU citizens planning on living in Spain are required to register at the "Officina de Extranjeros" (Foreigners Office) in the area where they plan to live. In order to make any large purchases you are required to produce your NIE number and it is here that this new requirement may come into effect. But it is still unclear quite how much qualifies as "adequate means to support oneself and dependants".

Spanish SIP & EHIC cards
Those that are retired and in receipt of a pension need not worry but it will affect early retirees and those that are not working... they will have to show that they have private health care insurance so as not to become a burden on on the State. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) only covers emergency treatment and they are really cracking down on that here. If for instance you break an arm or leg you will have it plastered but they will not remove it or offer any sort of physio that may be necessary on the state healthcare system. You will be required to either pay or return to your home country for that.

As of 1st September new requirements come into effect for those already here and registered on the health care system and in receipt of a SIP card, which entitles them to any care and treatment required. You will have to be registered on the Spanish Social Security system - and in order to do that you have to make a Spanish Tax return to show your income. Many ex-pats living here do not bother and it is those that will come unstuck come 1st September. They will find that their SIP cards are invalid when they go to make an appointment at the local health centre. They may also find that they have been placed in the 60% payment category for prescription charges!

David Cameron is being pressured to do similar in the UK with its boarder controls - with its soft touch for handing out money to almost anyone except its own citizens they would certainly stop being a magnet for benefit scroungers. Here in Spain there is no benefit culture - if you don't pay into the system you get nothing ... and rightly so in my opinion. One example is that unemployment benefit is only paid for a year, even to Spanish nationals. There are no extra housing benefits like in the UK or child benefits here - you rely on the family for help.

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