Updated 25 January: There is seemingly enormous concern suddenly about the situation for “swallows”, those part-time residents who visit Tenerife for several months each winter. Clearly they are in a difficult position right now because they often visit Tenerife for more than three months and after 31 December 2020 will be restricted to 90 days in any 180 as are all other 3rd-country nationals (please see below).
The current legal situation is that when a part-time resident arrives in Spain they must register within three months and in reverse, deregister when they leave Spain. That way they can stay as long as they’re registered, and when they return to the UK will have access to the NHS. Without registering on arrival, they will not be legal in Spain – it’s one thing to be illegal as an EU national in an EU country but another thing entirely to be an illegal alien! – and without deregistering, they will be on record as living in Spain and so not entitled to the NHS when back in the UK because the right to use the NHS is a residence-based entitlement.
This could be problematic of course because of the tougher registration requirements for 3rd-country nationals but such is the system. The UK’s Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliot, has confirmed that the British and Spanish authorities are aware of “the swallow issue”, and the matter is firmly on their radar BUT he cannot confirm that special rules will be put in place or be able to be agreed in the bilateral negotiations which are ongoing throughout this year and naturally which are yet to be concluded. He also stressed, contrary to what many “swallows” think and allege, that the UK and Spanish authorities are not only planning to monitor and enforce these systems, they are already talking to each other and doing so.
Updated 24 January: The President of the European Council Charles Michel (Donald Tusk’s old post) and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (Jean-Claude Juncker’s old post) have just signed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU, opening the way for its ratification by the European Parliament. This was a formal event this morning. Pic from the EU.
Updated 23 January: The Withdrawal Agreement Bill has now received Royal Assent. The UK’s departure from the EU is now UK law. Now the Withdrawal Agreement goes to the EU Parliament to be debated next Wednesday, 29 January. The EU Parliament works in similar ways to the UK Parliament with committee analysis and oversight, and several EU Parliamentary committees have now recommended MEPs to vote for it. There is no chance now, in my opinion, that the EU Parliament will reject the Withdrawal Agreement, and so the UK will leave the EU at 11pm on Friday next week.
Updated 22 January: Local journalist Clio O’Flynn got an interview on Monday with Hugh Elliot, the UK’s new Ambassador to Spain on his first visit to the Canaries. Clio spoke to him at a lunch hosted by the FCO for those who work alongside the British Consulate as partners, as well as British-run charities and organisations. Obviously the main topic of conversation was Brexit, and you can listen to the full interview HERE.
Updated 20 January: To save any more questions about the 90/180 days rule, please see HERE. It is a calculator from the EU’s own Schengen website, and as it says:
Short-term visitors to the Schengen countries that do not need a visa and holders of multiple entry visas valid for at least six months and with 90 days of duration of stay, are not permitted to spend more than 90 days within 180 days in the territory of the Schengen Area.
Travelers often get confused by this rule, and fail to calculate how long they have stayed in Europe, and how long they are permitted to remain.
They need be confused no longer, and I will no longer answer questions on the 90/180 day ruling. Please use the calculator.
Updated 6pm: To some, it seems the 90 days in 180 rule is confusing. So to clarify, the period is not calculated by calendar year. This means that visitors cannot come for 90 days in October, November and December and then stay on for January, February and March as a separate 90 days in a separate year. This is because the 180-day period keeps rolling. As the Schengen Visa website HERE explains: anytime you wish to enter the Schengen, you just have to count backwards the last 180 days, and see if you have been present in the Schengen for more than 90 days throughout that period.
British nationals will not need a visa to enter the Schengen area after Brexit because we have been granted an exemption but the timings remain firm, and the Extranjería has said they will start stamping British passports on 1 February this year so they will be able to monitor … though as I’ve already said, the rule comes into force for us at the end of the implementation/transition period, i.e. at the end of 2020.
Updated 18 January: For anyone who is still concerned … thanks to the Withdrawal Agreement, and the EU, Commission President von der Leyen confirms that British nationals who are legally resident in Spain (or anywhere in the EU) and so registered with the police will be able “to stay where they live today under the same conditions, for as long as they want, and without any discrimination based on their nationality”.
Please note that this is not new news. It is only what we’ve been saying for a long time but this is from a source that couldn’t be more official so I hope it’s believed by those who still don’t know what Brexit is and believe or understand nothing they’re told!
Please also note that the President means the right to reside, nothing more. The UK is going through Brexit with only the exit agreed. It’s a Withdrawal Agreement nothing else. At the moment, businesses are completely in the dark as to what will happen, ditto service providers, because negotiations within and without the EU cannot start until after the exit, which is now 31 Jan.
Thereafter there are 11 months to negotiate everything, and it has to be decided by end June whether that will be long enough … and if it isn’t, a request for an extension must be made before July – that’s confirmed by EU lawyers. If there is insufficient time and no extension has been requested, the UK will be in the dark and on WTO terms, though the WTO is currently being undermined in terms of appeals procedures by President Trump.
BUT, the right to reside for those already legally resident at the point of exit is confirmed. As it always has been, but you can hear it here from the President of the EU Commission herself.
"Protecting citizens’ rights always comes first. There can be no watering down, no backsliding, no half-measures.
We will keep a close and vigilant eye on implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement both in spirit and in letter."
President @vonderleyen pic.twitter.com/2qJGUVjo3k
— EC in UK (@EUlondonrep) January 18, 2020
Updated 16 January: I am receiving increasing numbers of increasingly panicked emails looking for “the workaround”, i.e. the loophole, to “residencia” as it continues to be called. There isn’t one. The situation is:
- The UK leaves the EU in 16 days time.
- This means that those registered here will at some point over the next year have to change their police registration document (properly called a Certificado de Registro but also known as a green NIE, green card, residencia) to a third-country nationals’ card, the TIE (tarjeta ID extranjeros). We don’t yet know the system, and information will be published when we do.
- Those who are not yet registered will have until the end of the year to do so, but we cannot guarantee that the criteria (see HERE) will remain as they are currently after 31 January.
- It is therefore vital to register before 31 January if at all possible … BUT … those who register are those who are coming here to live, and the registration is itself a formal declaration that the person is living in Spain.
- British nationals who just want to retain EU advantages for free movement after Brexit when they just visit for a few months or so at a time sadly simply cannot do so. This is because they cannot register as residents unless they are prepared to make a fraudulent statement to the Spanish immigration authorities that they are living permanently in Spain.
- As things stand, the UK has a transition period which ends on 31 December this year. After this period, British nationals will become subject to the Schengen area restriction of 90 days in a rolling 180 day period. They will not need a visa. Those who are legally resident in Spain (ie registered with the police) will obviously not be considered “visitors” for these purposes.
- During this year, British nationals will continue to be able to arrive for more than 90 days but the Spanish authorities have confirmed that passports will be stamped from 1 February 2020, and readers should be aware that they remain required, technically, to register if coming for over three months – and then deregister when leaving. As said above, we cannot guarantee that the registration criteria will remain the same after the end of this month, but certainly after the end of this year they will become very much more stringent, as they currently are for all other third-country nationals.
Updated 11 January: Apart from the Adeje FOCUS group appointments for British nationals to register with the police and get a green Certificado de Registro before the UK leaves the EU at the end of this month, a south Tenerife translation agency newly founded by Rebbecca Hurley and Miranda Parsons has organized a bus to Santa Cruz to take registrants up and assist them in getting registered. They have also been instrumental in helping to organize the Consulate meetings I posted about yesterday which are taking place next Wednesday in Los Gigantes and Siam Mall, indeed Miranda will be translating for Daisy Figueira da Silva from the Extranjería.
With regard to the bus to Santa Cruz for registrations, Miranda says that they have “organised a bus to Santa Cruz for British Nationals living in Tenerife on the 23rd of Jan 2020, for those who wish to get their “green” Registration Certificate before Brexit. A quick message on facebook & the girls will meet you, make sure you have all the required documents and give you details of the pick-up point on the 23rd. No worries about directions, no worries about parking, door to door service, fast, efficient and worry free.”
TFS Translations have organized two previous buses over the past few months. They can be called on the number on the poster right (click to see full size) or by Facebook message on their page HERE.
Updated 10 January 2020: As part of the new Brexit information programme devised by the British Consulate’s Brexit officer in Tenerife, Deepika Harjani, there will be another two pop-up outreach events in south Tenerife next week. Both are on Wednesday 15 January, the first at 10.30am in Tipsy Terrace, Calle el Hibisco, Los Gigantes, and the latter at 2pm in the event area on the upper level of Siam Mall, Costa Adeje.
Updated 31 December 2019: The FCO says that the Spanish authorities have encouraged them to advise UK nationals in Tenerife that they can continue to get residency appointments by selecting the option POLICIA – CERTIFICADO UE (EXCLUSIVAMENTE PARA REINO UNIDO). There is good availability for appointments as they still have the extra resources that were provided. Alternatively, they have released another batch of appointments through the Adeje Focus group, the Adeje volunteer lobby group for international residents. Anyone, including minors, who has still not completed their legal residence in Spain, and who meets the criteria for registration, can email the Focus group at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put the words RESIDENCY APPOINTMENT as the subject, and explain your specific situation (working, self-employee or non-working) and contact details, and will be allocated an appointment. All the appointments available are in the Santa Cruz office. Please do encourage anyone who hasn’t yet applied for residency to do so and take advantage of these additional appointments.
Updated 20 December: The Prime Minister’s Office has issued the following statement about “getting Brexit wrapped up for Christmas”.