Brexit: situation of British nationals in Tenerife

Brexit: situation of British nationals in Tenerife

Updated 20 March: The British Government has announced that Theresa May will trigger Article 50 to start the Brexit process on Wednesday next week, 29 March.

As I said below last month, the official position is that the residence situation of British nationals currently remains the same as before the referendum, and there is no additional requirement for a work permit or extra documentation, nor anything else to enable British nationals to continue living and working in Spain. The current requirements HERE remain valid until further notice.

Having said that, triggering Article 50 sets a clear start date for the two-year Brexit procedure, and since everything will then be a matter of negotiation, today’s announcement makes the next nine days a very good time for anyone who needs to formalise their legal position in Spain to do so. If you are living here and have not registered with the police, or are not on your local Ayuntamiento’s padrón, I would urge you to do so before Wednesday 29 March in case that date becomes significant in any determination of a right to remain in Spain.

Original post 7 February: The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office has reminded British residents in Spain that their residence situation currently remains the same as before the referendum. The FCO’s page is HERE for general advice on residency requirements.

I myself am frequently asked about the situation of Brits in Tenerife now that the UK “has left the EU”, but the wording really should be “now that the UK has voted to leave the EU”. As of this moment, and until two years after article 50 has been triggered, the UK is still in the EU. The decision reached in the referendum is currently being taken through Parliament, and it seems that Theresa May intends to trigger Article 50 (a power that Parliament has now given her) by 9 March, which would then become the starting point of the two year negotiating period.

In the meantime, there is no additional requirement for a work permit or additional documentation, nor anything else to enable British nationals to continue living and working in Spain. The current requirements HERE remain valid until further notice.

Beyond that, absolutely everything else will have to wait for the two-year process of negotiations, and I will post any firm information as and when it becomes available throughout this period. In the meantime, I would urge anyone living here who is not registered with the police (and with a Certificado de Registro), or not on a council padrón, to do so immediately.

In this respect, it is worth clarifying one question I’m repeatedly asked by people who have or had plans to move over in the next few years, namely whether “following Brexit, would it be wise to apply for permanent residency now?” The answer is, of course, that as is clear from the link to the current requirements linked to above, those living here do not have a choice to “apply for residency” but are under a “requirement to register”. Anyone living here should already be registered with the police, and anyone who is planning to move over cannot guarantee anything by pre-emptively getting a Certificado de Registro now, which in any case would mean making a false declaration of residence in Spain.

In any case, everyone should bear in mind that the Certificado de Registro is a certificate for EU nationals, and so might be replaced by some other requirements once the Brexit procedure is complete and the immigration conditions for Brits as non-EU nationals are confirmed.

So to reiterate, the current situation will remain the case while Brexit negotiations continue, and everything will have to be determined by negotiations yet to come. Nothing firm can be said until those negotiations are completed. For my more general thoughts, please see the post I made HERE before the referendum took place. And for the UK Government’s advice for British nationals travelling and living in Europe in the wake of the Leave vote, please see THIS page.



  1. I realise you can’t comment on the future situation Janet, but in respect to “anyone resident legally in Spain for more than five years cannot have their rights of permanent residence removed”, would that currently sill hold for someone who has spent time away from Spain, but, for example, had previously held two 5 year residencias with a total of 15 years legal residency in Tenerife? What rights does this infer? TIA

  2. Author

    EU law (ironically) says that EU citizens (as we are at present) and their family members are entitled to permanent residence if they have lived legally in another EU country for a continuous period of 5 years. Spanish law itself (RD 240/07) then says that permanent residence can be lost if the person leaves Spain for more than two consecutive years.

    All I can say for certain right now is that anyone here for 5 years, demonstrably legally resident, and who has not left for more than 2 years, should be entitled under existing EU and Spanish law to the right to remain regardless of Brexit or any negotations. It is those who have not been demonstrably legal, or here for 5 years, who will, I imagine, be the main focus of the negotiations. Anyone else, I presume, will be subject to the final negotiated procedures for new residents.

  3. Having got our NIE numbers some 11 years ago as UK citizens we attended the police station yesterday to apply for our “residence certificates” as Irish citizens. Despite having filed the forms out correctly we initially received the certificates naming us as UK citizens. We explained our situation and pointed to our Irish Passports. We then were told that we must produce our UK passports which we said we no longer had, then we were told it was not possible to change your nationality and finally the passports drew close scrutiny. I think the real problem was the software which when written perhaps did not envision Brexit. But the moral of the story is that we stuck to our guns and eventually left with certificates as Irish citizens. (Sorry to those behind us in the queue). This situation will probably be repeated for a lot of UK citizens who have rights to other European Nationalities and wish to change their certificates. It can be achieved with a little persistence and may get easier as the volume of similar applicants increase.

  4. BillyD, that’s an interesting side to the story – where are you based? What borough?

  5. We are from County Down but now resident in Tenerife but I think our situation will be mirrored by many others – not just those with double nationality with Ireland but also other EU countries.

  6. In the Island connections paper edition 9 to 22 feb, the Free Advice Centre Tenerife are suggesting that anyone with a registro over 5 yrs old, and especially if its a paper one should renew to avoid any problems. Mine doesn’t have an expiry date butwas issued in sept 2008 and even if I renew it it would still be invalid 2 yrs after triggering article 50.
    Any comments on this welcomed

  7. Author

    With regard to whether “one should renew to avoid any problems”, the UK Government’s Foreign Office itself above says it “has reminded British residents in Spain that their residence situation currently remains the same as before the referendum.” I think that answers the question fully as to whether anything needs to be done right now.

    As to registros, renewal is entirely optional and unnecessary because once a permanent residence has been registered EU law requires Spain never to demand a resident re-registers (see HERE where I explain the specific and confirmed legal situation). Those Registros without an expiry date should have “de carácter permanente” or similar in the text of the Registro itself, and once they have a certificate with that wording it is permanent and never needs to be renewed.

    Many people choose to renew because they have an old A4 Registro and want the “card” (though I think it is flimsy and fades too easily). They have the right to renew, but in my opinion to renew because of Brexit is completely pointless. Indeed any further actions at all right now are unnecessary because we cannot know what is going to happen in the negotiations over the next two years, and whether we will need a Registro at all given that it is a certificate for registration of EU nationals.

    The best thing right now would be to attend the free FOCUS/Blevins Franks meeting this Wednesday in Adeje about what we can best do in this period to secure ourselves for whatever might be coming. See HERE for information about the meeting.

  8. Thanks Janet , we missed the meeting in Adeje last week , do you have any further meetings planned , many thanks Mike

  9. Author

    I’m not aware of any, but it’s quite possible once there is some firmer information to go on.

  10. Hi i am looking to move from the uk to tenerife in 2018 at the moment we are just looking at where is the best place is to buy a home . Now with all what is going on would that be a right move still to take coming out of the EU , thank you

  11. Author

    well I really don’t know what I can say other than what I said above.. What more can I say than “triggering Article 50 sets a clear start date for the two-year Brexit procedure, and since everything will then be a matter of negotiation”? Please do also read THIS post which I linked to above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *