This is an attempt to reply to what are now the very many times I’ve been asked about the situation of Brits in Tenerife now that the UK “has left the EU”.

What the question means is “now that the UK has voted to leave the UK”. As of this moment, and until two years after article 50 has been triggered, the UK has not yet left the EU. There has been a referendum which is non-binding on the government, which could, in theory, ignore or overturn it, or simply refuse to implement it. But even if it takes it as binding, nothing will change for at least the next two years.

In the meantime, there is no additional requirement for a work permit or additional documentation, or 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 result of the exit negotiations which have not yet started, and cannot start until the UK starts the exit process by triggering article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon which it has not yet done (see HERE). Obviously I will post any firm information as and when it becomes available, and I will post it here to keep it all together. 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, one question I’m now being asked repeatedly is “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”. Therefore 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. Above all, 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.

Postscript 11 July: The UK Government has now set up THIS page offering advice for British nationals travelling and living in Europe in the wake of the Leave vote. It says, as I say below, that nothing will change for at least two years, but it’s useful to have an official source for people to check up with.

Postcript 13 October: Two pieces of what will be considered good news by many have emerged today. First, Theresa May has been in Spain meeting Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy, who has confirmed that British residents in the country will have their rights protected. Rajoy said that Spain wanted to keep the impact of Brexit to a minimum, and that the Spanish Government – of which he is now de facto president – was above all concerned to protect the interests of Spaniards in the UK, and that the interests of Britons in Spain would be similarly assured.

Elsewhere, the Polish President of the European Council and ex-PM of Poland, Donald Tusk, has said that the “irrevocable” triggering of Article 50,which starts the two-year negotiating period of the UK’s departure from the EU is not irrevocable at all. There is a clear variation in legal opinion, but the bottom line seems to be that it is a matter of political will and expediency rather than legal determination. The end might be near, but it might not be the end we’re expecting, given Tusk’s comments today.


This article has 22 Comments

  1. Sound advice Janet. Here’s a list of what you need to register on the Adeje Padrón for anyone not already on it:
    Documents needed to register on the ‘padrón’

    1) Original valid identity documents

    • Spanish: DNI

    • European Community Citizens: Residency certificate (Certificado del Registro Central de Extranjero) as well as valid office identity documents from your country of origin or your passport.

    • Non-European Citizens: Residency/identity card or passport

    2) Proof of residency

    • Original deeds of your property in Adeje.


    • Your current rental contract which should be in your name. If you are not named on the deeds or rental contract you must have signed authorisation from the named owner or landlord (ask for the relevant form at the information desk), as well as a photocopy of his/her identity document and deed or rental contract, whichever is applicable.

    (For non-Spanish residents they will need to re-confirm their address and Padron status every two years)

    Office hours for registering on the Padrón
    Monday – Friday, 8am to 2pm. (Tip: Avoid the busiest hours which are between 10am and 12 midday).

  2. I have never signed onto the Padron because we only live here for half the year – ie we stick rigidly to the 183 days rule. Would there be any benefit on signing on, or not?

  3. Yes there’s a benefit because local authority funding – and so the services they can provide for residents – depends on the numbers of people on the padrón. It is in residents’ direct interests to be on the padron, and that’s without any consideration of needing to prove residence in a borough, because the more money a council gets, the more it can spend on local services. If you are not resident here, however, with a Certificado de Registro, and your visits here are just extended holidays, then it is possible that the council too will consider that you’re not resident in the borough. Do bear in mind that registering with the police as “living here” does not have any tax implications, and so those who live part time here and part time in the UK could register with the police and a council without violating the 183 day rule.

  4. Thanks Janet. Does that mean that the permanent residency entitlement of those who have been here legally more than 5 years could also be up for negotiation or are our rights sufficiently enshrined in Spanish law that the negotiations won’t affect us?

  5. As things stand, under Spanish and EU law, anyone resident legally in Spain for more than five years cannot have their rights of permanent residence removed. I do not see how that could possibly form part of negotiations, though I am reluctant to be definitive.

  6. Hi Janet don’t live he permitaly we come and go but we are planing to live here in a few years time we have a NIE number do we still have to register or sign pardon

  7. well as I say above we won’t know the long term position until the exit negotiations are finished.

  8. Very sound, practical advice as ever Janet, I wish people would read before they ask questions though. I bet you do too!

  9. It’s very brave of you to open a comments page on the subject as the same people who do not read the small print on forms they sign will ask the same questions over and over again and will listen to all their friends who think they are experts.We live in our home 6 winter months a year and nothing will change as there are Tenerife does not have enough manpower to check people from the uk who live and holiday on the island.The brexit vote hasn’t had time to let the paint dry and to second guess anything and panic at the moment is putting a stress on your body which quite frankly at the moment is totally unnecessary. Shares which were predicted to fall like a stone have recovered to normal levels and the currency which “the experts” said would drop down to £1.00 to 1.00€ hasn’t happened.No doubt people may agree or disagree with my comments but I guarantee they will keep asking you the same questions over and over again without reading your question and answers page beforehand.You really must have the patience of a saint Janet.!!

  10. Sterling is down more than 17% from its peak this year Nigel – hardly a blip…

  11. We have had a apartment in Tenerife for 10years for holidays . We have not got residency as we only go for 8 weeks at a time and 8 weeks in the UK.will we be ok or best sell

  12. As non-residents, you can still own property and come on holiday here, and now would probably not be the best time to sell in any case because uncertainty will always have a negative effect on an economy or currencies. There is no actual reason to sell.

  13. Andy Ward says:

    Sterling is down more than 17% from its peak this year Nigel – hardly a blip

    Andy this was the rate in early 2013 when we were still in the EU. There is no reason to sell,just enjoy the beautiful island and if the rates went down to 1 to 1 it is still considerably cheaper to winter over there as we do than to live in the UK . Try to be positive as like every other worry in life most things are never as bad as they seem.

  14. Thank you for the June 27th advice. I have my Certificado de Registro and empadronamiento based on a year-to-year rental and around 170 days per annum in Spain (recorded on spreadsheet) – such days being grouped into “trips” of 50-85 days each. (Sep-Dec,Jan-Mar,Apr-Jun)

    On another advice website it was suggested that I could be “sailing close to the wind” in that I have a
    Certificado without having my principal residence in Spain.

    Sadly I will not have completed five years since my registration before the likely EU exit date of UK. However the fact of my grandfather having been born in Ireland (then part of UK) in 1888 means that I am eligible to claim an Irish passport – which hopefully will enable me to complete the five year period of legal residence to claim the permanent right.

    One unknown is whether I will be able to return to the UK (where I have a permanent home) without hassle using a post-brexit EU (Irish) passport at a UK airport or whether I will need to return via Ireland in order to use the UK-Ireland CTA (Common Travel Area) provisions.

  15. A Certificado de Registro is issued when an EU national registers with the police as living in Spain. I don’t know that I’d call it “sailing close to the wind”, but your description of your stays in Spain doesn’t seem like “living” here, which you have formally declared to the police. As to the permutations for passports, you need to check with the various consulates.

  16. You will no doubt be aware that if you have been resident for 10 years, you are entitled to apply for Spanish nationality. That should negate any future problems that may arise-

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