Updated 31 December 2020: I started this post in February 2017, just over a month before Theresa May triggered Article 50 to start the two year negotiation period that culminated yesterday with a deal signed by president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and president of the European Council Charles Michel, and subsequently ratified in the House of Commons. This brought to an end one phase of the withdrawal: the UK actually left the EU on 31 January this year, but the Transition Period ends tonight at 11pm our time (because that’s midnight in Brussels). Hereafter, while Brexit can be considered done, there is much more work to be done on the trade and future relationship negotiations over coming years.
From 11pm tonight, however, the UK will be a fully fledged third country, and thanks to the Withdrawal Treaty agreed when we left in January, our residence rights are protected. From now on, problems or restrictions arising will not be a direct part of the Brexit process even though they’ll be a direct result of it, and so, for me, the function of this post – of helping to explain the process, assisting in understanding the transition period, and advising British nationals on how to prepare for the future – is also done. There will be information periodically, of course, from the FCDO to assist British nationals in this new stage of the UK’s history, but I’ll post that separately as and when appropriate. From this point, however, the UK is now all on its own to make its own future, for good or ill.
Updated 3pm, 30/12: The FCDO says that many have had questions about driving licences. The situation for residents is clear: those who have exchanged a UK licence for a Spanish one, as has been consistently stressed as a requirement, will be able to use their new licence when visiting the UK without the need for an IDP. Any resident who has still not yet started the process to exchange their British licence should sign up for email alerts at gov.uk/livinginspain to get updates on the future exchange of driving licences. In the meantime, UK licences will be valid to drive in Spain until 30 June 2021. When it comes to visitors, the FCDO says that those who hold a UK driving licence will not need an IDP for driving in the EU after 1 January 2021 but may need a green card and GB sticker. Those visitors planning to drive in Spain after tomorrow should check www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021 for more information.
Updated 30 December: The FCDO has confirmed that after 1 January 2021, EHICs will remain valid for as long they remain in date. Thereafter, or those without one currently, will need to apply for a free Global Health Insurance Card which, I understand, the UK is still developing and is expected to be available shortly. The GHIC is intended to provide the right to access emergency state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in EU countries – as with the EHIC it is not for residents. The FCDO stressees that neither card is an alternative to travel insurance, and will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs like emergency rescue charges, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property, nor is it valid on cruises. As such, the Government says, it is imperative to make sure that you have travel insurance that fully covers your healthcare needs whether you have an EHIC, GHIC, or neither.
Updated 29 December: It’s 4pm, and so we have 55 hours of the Transition Period left before the UK becomes a fully-fledged third-country state outside of the EU, for good or ill. And as the end of the Transition Period approaches, and this post reaches its own conclusion, the FCDO has prepared a Q&A sheet to address some of the key questions they’ve identified – it can be downloaded HERE. As they say:
Please note that the information is accurate as of today. To keep up to date with the latest information, we recommend that UK Nationals sign up for email alerts to www.gov.uk/livinginspain and https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/britsinspain.
Updated 17 December: The British Government has announced that it will cover the cost of routine hospital treatment such as dialysis, oxygen therapy, and certain kinds of chemotherapy for British nationals on holiday through the whole of 2021 if the Transition Period ends without a trade deal agreement resulting in no reciprocal arrangements for healthcare, and so no replacement for the EHIC scheme. This has been confirmed by health minister Edward Argar in a written statement to Parliament that can be read HERE.
Updated 20 November: The FCDO has issued the following statement on registration – please also see HERE if you have any questions after reading it.
We know that many of you, who may have recently moved to Spain and are finding it difficult to get a residency appointment, are concerned that you will not manage to get your TIE before the end of the Transition Period. We understand that this is concerning, but wanted to reassure you on an important point: If you are unable to complete the registration process before 1 January, you will still be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, as long as you were legally living in Spain before the end of 2020.
When we say “legally living” we mean that you were living here and meeting the current EU free movement rules of working, being self-employed, or having sufficient income and comprehensive healthcare cover to support you during your retirement or studies. This document is helpful in explaining the citizens’ rights elements of the Agreement: https://www.gov.uk/…/withdrawal-agreement-explainer-for….
Your rights come from your living in Spain before 31 December, not from possessing the residency card itself. Therefore, we recommend you have as much documentation in place to demonstrate that you were legally living here before the end of the Transition Period as possible. That might include, but not be limited to, a padron certificate, utility bill, healthcare policy, work contract or flight ticket.
If you are having difficulties with your residency application, remember there are three organisations, who have received funding to support UK Nationals with this, so please do contact them for help. You can find their details HERE.
Updated 17 November: The FCDO has issued the following statement about driving licences and bank accounts:
Driving Licences –
As you know, exchanging your UK licence for a Spanish one is one of the key actions for UK Nationals living in Spain to carry out before the end of the Transition period. However, we know how difficult many people have found getting an appointment to do so in recent months. The Spanish Traffic office – the DGT – yesterday activated a new protocol to streamline the process for UK driving licence holders who have not yet exchanged their UK licence for a Spanish one. Further information is available on their website here. (Please note that you can change the language to English using the dropdown menu in the top right of the page).
The main points are:
- UK licence holders who wish to exchange must present an application to the DGT before 30 December, either via a form on their online portal (this requires a digital certificate or CLAVE), or by calling 060. It may also be possible to take the form into the DGT in person, but we would recommend people check with the office by telephone ahead of doing so, particularly due to ongoing COVID-restrictions in many parts of the country. We understand that for this part of the process you do not need to have a residency certificate or TIE but you will need a NIE.
- You can also engage a third party (eg a gestor) to do this part of the process on your behalf.
- If they have not been contacted by the DGT in the meantime, after three days of presenting the application the licence holder can request an appointment with the DGT. This should be booked on the DGT’s website.
- As long as the application has been submitted within the timeframe, and the licence has been verified by the end of the year, the appointment to exchange with the DGT can be after 1 January 2021. It must be within the first 6 months of next year. Please note that you will need a residency certificate/TIE to do final exchange, so if you are in the process of applying for residency you may want to choose a later date for your appointment.
- Irrespective of whether a UK licence has been verified for exchange by the end of the year, UK licence holders will be able to use the licence for 6 months to drive in Spain from 1 January 2021.
- The future rules for recognition and exchange of licences are still subject to negotiation. Our advice remains that UK nationals sign up for the email alerts on the Living in Spain guide to ensure they keep up to date with the latest.
- If a person already has an appointment booked with DGT, their website states that the person does not need to go through the process above and can attend their appointment as scheduled with all their supporting documentation.
Hopefully this process will allow those who have been struggling to get an appointment to start the exchange process before the end of the year and be reassured that they can still exchange their licence for a Spanish one as per the process for EU licences.
Whilst most UK nationals living in Spain will not see any change to their banking arrangements, some UK nationals living in the EU have been contacted by their UK banking provider as there will be changes to their accounts or financial products after 31 December.
For those UK nationals who have been affected and contacted by their banks, there is now further guidance available on the Money and Pensions Service which may help them in considering their options. We are now linking to this guidance from our Living in Spain guide.
If a UK national is not sure or is concerned about whether there will be any changes to their UK account or financial products, they should contact their bank or an independent financial advisor.
Updated 10 November: The FCO has announced a new EHIC for British nationals who are legally resident in Spain and who have a registered S1 – mainly those of state pension age but also some under that age receiving certain exportable benefits, frontier workers, and students. The card will be required for EHIC-covered travel outside of Spain including in the UK from 1 January 2021. There is full information HERE, where you can also apply for the new card: as the Government says:
For most people, EHIC may not be valid from 1 January 2021. Make sure you take out travel insurance with medical cover for your trip. You may not have access to free emergency medical treatment and could be charged for your healthcare if you do not get health cover with your travel insurance.
There’s no problem if you’re visiting here before the end of 2020 and staying into 2021 because your UK EHIC will remain valid until you leave Spain. The present issue is for those registered as living here and with an S1 registered to provide UK-covered healthcare.
You need to apply now for the new EHIC if you:
- have a registered S1 form or E121 because you receive a qualifying pension or benefit
- have a registered S1 form or E121 because you’re a family member of someone with a qualifying pension or benefit
- have a registered S1 form or E106 because you’re a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another) by 31 December 2020, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state
- have a registered S1 form or E109 because you’re a family member of someone considered to be a frontier worker
- are a UK student studying in the EU by 31 December 2020
Updated 3 November: As I posted on 1 October, the EU took the first steps of initiating legal action against the UK after Parliament approved the Internal Market Bill which intentionally broke international law, and the UK had a deadine of a month to respond to the formal notice of the initiation of legal action. That deadline passed at end October and the EU has said it is now considering taking that legal action because no reply has been received. Although the EU says it is still “committed to achieving full, timely, and effective implementation of the withdrawal agreement within the remaining time available” – the EU is not going to be accused of walking away from these talks – the bloc nonetheless says that the issue of the Internal Market Bill’s violation of international law and jeopardisation of the Good Friday Agreement will still have to be resolved. Downing Street has confirmed that no reply could have been received because none was actually sent despite facing a deadline for legal action against illegal clauses in its own legislation.
Updated 29 October: The FCDO has issued the following information for those who still need to secure their rights to residence in Spain in what are now the last nine weeks of the Transition Period.
Three organisations in Spain are being funded by the UK Government to provide practical support to at-risk UK nationals and their family members to complete their residency applications in Spain and secure their rights under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.
One of these, Age in Spain, is already helping UK Nationals in the Balearics and Catalonia and has now received additional funding to extend its support to UK Nationals in the Canaries, who need additional help to complete the paperwork required for residency applications. This may include pensioners, people with disabilities, those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties, and those who require help with language translation or interpretation.
Consul Charmaine Arbouin welcomed this additional support: “Supporting UK nationals is one of our highest priorities and the assistance available through this fund builds on the support we already provide through our consulates in Tenerife and Las Palmas. We are delighted that Age in Spain will be able to help the most vulnerable UK nationals get the support they need to protect their residency rights and continue to live safely here in the Canaries.”
Helen Weir of Age in Spain said: “This is a free and confidential information service available to all UK nationals, with additional one-to-one support for people who need help to resolve their residency questions. It might be you, it might be your neighbour, or a friend who cannot manage the process unaided. Thanks to the UK Government’s support we are extending this service to the Canary Islands, where we know there are many people who need our help, so get in touch!”
The services available for people who need this additional support include:
- answering questions about residency applications, such as the documents required and application procedure
- guiding individuals through the process, if necessary
- supporting people facing language barriers or difficulty accessing technology
This project is funded by the UK Government as part of the UK National Support Fund (UKNSF), which has made available a total of £3 million for charities and organisations to provide practical support for UK nationals living in the EU. Residents in countries including Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy and Poland will also benefit.
If you or someone you know in the Canaries is having difficulties completing their residency paperwork, you can contact Age in Spain using the details below to discuss how they may be able to help you.
Visit the Age in Spain website
Helpline: +34 932 20 97 41 available Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm
Further information for UK nationals on residency is available at:
Updated 21 October: Following PM Boris Johnson’s statement four days ago, THIS new statement has been issued today by the UK Government. In short, as we suspected, talks are back on and will resume tomorrow.
Updated 18 October: I’ve had a load of emails lately about the so-called non-lucrative residence visa, which some call the Golden Visa. I can only presume it’s being promoted somewhere as a way to solve the problem of being restricted to 90 days in any 180 after the end of the Transition Period … but it is not. My stock email reply is this:
There is no clarity at present that this system will be applicable to and for British nationals after the end of this year. At present it is in place for most countries outside the EU but we do not know what if anything might be put in place for British citizens. HERE is the info page from the Spanish Government, in English, for Romania, one country which currently must apply for such a visa if they want to stay more than 90 days. As you’ll see, apart from all other considerations, the basic financial requirement is an income (or money in the bank) of 400% of the national minimum wage … this amounts to just short of €26,000. My own recommendation is to wait to see what is put in place, if anything, over the next few months before applying for visas that may not be required, or whose criteria are not yet decided in any case.
Clearly Diana McGowan, a well-known and respected translator in Tenerife, has had similar enquiries because she has posted THIS on her website. Her response is similar to mine, and I would just say that right now there is no golden visa or silver bullet or anything of any other metal that can guarantee how non-resident British nationals will be able to acquire the right to spend more than 90 days in any 180 day period … or even if they can do so by any means. All we can do is wait to see what is arranged by the end of the Transition Period and, if nothing is resolved for “swallows”, what if anything they can do and what criteria will apply to their doing it.
Updated 17 October: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued the following statement.
We left the EU on January 31 and delivered on the largest democratic mandate in the history of this country.
And since then we have been in a transition period obeying EU law, paying our fees – as a non-voting member – working on the future relationship we hope to enjoy with our friends and partners from January.
And from the outset we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship, based on friendship and free trade.
To judge by the latest EU summit in Brussels that won’t work for our EU partners. They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is obviously unacceptable to an independent country.
And since we have only ten weeks until the end of the transition period on January 1, I have to make a judgment about the likely outcome and to get us all ready.
And given that they have refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months, and given that this summit appears explicitly to rule out a Canada-style deal, I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s based on simple principles of global free trade.
And we can do it, because we always knew that there would be change on January 1 whatever type of relationship we had.
And so now is the time for our businesses to get ready, and for hauliers to get ready, and for travellers to get ready.
And of course we are willing to discuss the practicalities with our friends where a lot of progress has already been made, by the way, on such issues as social security, and aviation, nuclear cooperation and so on.
But for whatever reason it is clear from the summit that after 45 years of membership they are not willing – unless there is some fundamental change of approach – to offer this country the same terms as Canada.
And so with high hearts and complete confidence we will prepare to embrace the alternative.
And we will prosper mightily as an independent free trading nation, controlling our own borders, our fisheries, and setting our own laws.
And in the meantime the government will be focussing on tackling COVID and building back better so that 2021 is a year of recovery and renewal.
Thank you very much.
Whether or not this will in fact turn out to be the crux it superficially appears to be, only time will tell, but as of yesterday the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost told the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier not to come to London as planned on Monday – there was no point, he said. Even if this is not the actual end, it is nonetheless fair to say that relations and talks are at an ebb that has rarely been lower.
Clearly this is in part crisis management for a domestic audience in the UK, but it is also likely still to contain a fair amount of grandstanding for negotiation purposes, and contact will continue in some form despite David Frost’s comments about Barnier’s visit because there’s a less showy agreement for the pair to speak again next week, albeit only by phone.
The PM’s comment about arrangements like Australia’s also contains a fair amount of disingenuity because Australia currently has no specific arrangements with the EU and, in fact, has as a result been trying to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU since mid-2018. Most of its trade with the EU is done according to WTO rules which would be exactly the position for the UK in the event of no trade deal, so the reference to Australia is entirely superflous and, one can only presume, is intended to disguise the failure of talks and the resulting lack of trading agreements.
This failure and lack would result in the imposition of tariffs on many goods traded between the UK and EU, quota restrictions and customs checks … not least in an Irish border which is now in the Irish Sea despite this apparently being something that the UK could never agree to but which was in the end created by the UK itself. Sanity would suggest, therefore, that Johnson’s statement must be grandstanding and not policy, but at this stage of Brexit, the best that can be hoped for would seem to be a thin trade deal that is likely to be indistinguishable from no trade deal but without the worst effects of a complete lack of any deal.
Winter is coming, as someone said somewhere, in a world hardly less insane than this one currently is. At least Westeros had dragons …
Updated 15 October: The British Embassy in Madrid has issued what it acknowledges is a mammoth update but which is information that their enquiries show is needed. They say:
We know that there are still many rumours around that green residency certificates must be exchanged for the TIE by 31 December. Please be assured that this is not the case. While the Spanish Government has highlighted that there may be some advantages to having the TIE – it is more durable, contains biometric data and may speed up administrative processes and border crossing – they make it clear that the green certificate remains valid evidence of your residency status and rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, even after the end of the Transition Period. See their Q&A document for more detail.
You may be aware that some UK Nationals have been issued with TIEs with incorrect wording. We continue to work with the Spanish authorities on this issue. The Spanish have emphasised that these cards remain valid documents, however, we appreciate the desire of UK nationals to obtain a card with the correct wording and are awaiting further information from the Spanish authorities on the process for doing this.
We know that it is still difficult to get residency appointments in many areas. Anyone who is struggling to obtain an appointment should make sure they have all the documentation necessary for their application and to prove that they are legally living in Spain by the end of this year.
We have published a series of videos on residency on our Brits in Spain Facebook channel: an FAQ video, a video specifically for first time applicants and a third on exchanging the green certificate for a TIE. In addition, we have updated our page on gov.uk on registering as a resident in Spain.
If people are particularly struggling with the residency process as first-time applications, some organisations have received funding from the UK Nationals Support Fund to assist them. The level of support may vary depending on where in Spain you are, but their helplines are open to people from across the country. You can find their details here.
As you know one of the key actions for UK Nationals living in Spain is to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one. However, recently it has been extremely difficult to get an appointment. We have a key update from the DGT:
The DGT is aware that UK and other licence holders are facing problems in obtaining an appointment. They will soon introduce a new process to streamline the current exchange process until the end of the year. UK licence holders will be asked to complete a form with the details the DGT needs in order to verify the driving licence with the UK authorities. This form must be submitted to the DGT by 25 December at the very latest. Once a person has presented their form, they will need to obtain an appointment with DGT to finalise the exchange process. However, as long as the form was submitted by the date above, and the licence verified by the DGT before the end of the year, the appointment to complete the process can be after 1 January 2021. We will share information on the new process as soon as we have it.
So, whilst further details are needed about the system and when it will come into effect, this should be welcome news to people who may be struggling to get through the exchange process. In addition, the UK continues to negotiate the rules on the recognition and exchange of UK driving licences from 1 January 2021 onwards with member states: you can sign up to email alerts on gov.uk/livinginspain to be kept informed of the latest information.
UK bank accounts:
We are aware that some UK nationals who hold UK-based bank accounts, but are resident in the EU, have received letters from their UK bank, informing them that these accounts are to be closed.
Most people living in Europe shouldn’t see any change to their banking at the end of the transition period (31 December 2020). Whether UK banks can service EEA-based customers is a matter of local law and regulation. Also banks are set up differently and may have taken different actions to continue to serve their customers. Your bank or finance provider should contact you if they need to make any changes to your product or the way they provide it. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, contact your provider or seek independent financial advice.
Meanwhile, please be assured that your UK state pension can be paid into your Spanish bank account. This link from gov.uk may be useful.
From 1 January, passport validity rules are changing for travel to European countries. You’ll need to have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).If you renewed your passport early last time, any extra months added to the normal 10-year validity will not count towards meeting this requirement, so we encourage everyone to doublecheck their passport validity online now at: gov.uk/checkpassport
We held a Facebook Live Q&A session with colleagues from DHSC on Tuesday. Anyone with health-related questions can click through to the video, which is now available to watch. Anyone who needs clarification on the system here can also visit the Embassy’s healthcare page on gov.uk.
We have a number of Q&A sessions coming up on our Facebook page. The current schedule is:
- 27 Oct: Travel and swallows
- 10 November: Education
- 1 December: Residency
- 10 December: General Q&A
Anyone with any questions about these issues should try to make these sessions, but the schedule is subject to change, so do keep an eye on the Embassy’s page for the latest dates and times.
Updated 1 October: The EU has initiated legal action against the UK after Parliament approved the Internal Market Bill which, as the British Government itself acknowledged, not only breaks international law but was drafted specifically to do so. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this morning that the UK had, as a result, now demonstrated that it was not acting in good faith, and so now had a month to respond to the formal notice of the initiation of legal action.
I can see that this might cause concern among British nationals resident in Spain but I would repeat my earlier comments that their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement are not intrinsically impacted by this. The whole reason that the EU is taking legal action against the UK is because the Withdrawal Agreement is now an international treaty to which the UK is a formal counter-signatory. As such, the treaty remains in place, and the Courts will provide the ultimate ruling on the breach: the UK’s Internal Market Bill and the EU’s legal action will ultimately be a matter for the European Court of Justice since this body has already been accepted for dispute resolution arbitration, an acceptance explicitly acknowledged in the Political Declaration already agreed in joint UK-EU negotiations.
The treaty, however, remains active while this continues and, we must hope, will remain inviolate after this has all been resolved and the Court has ruled. And, of course, there is much water to go under this bridge anyway before then. The UK’s breach of the Withdrawal Agreement Treaty and the EU’s legal action revolve around trading issues, the “level playing field” requirements whereby both sides respect reciprocal rules and standards to ensure fairness in trade, workers’ rights, environmental protections, etc. There are also issues relating to fishing, which the UK has now given concessions on anyway, and especially state aid rules intended to avoid uncompetitive advantages.
In none of this are citizens’ rights in question, and regardless of the stage at which this problem is resolved, these will remain unaffected.
Updated 4pm, 24/9: The withdrawal of bank services story continues to rumble on. The BBC has published THIS report today and confirm that, as I reported myself a few days ago, Santander and HSBC currently claim to have no plans to close the accounts of British nationals in the EU. Professor Sarah Hall from Nottingham University, one of the experts in one of the main academic think tanks on Brexit, UK in a Changing Europe, says that “Some UK banks decided the size and scale of the client base is small, not profitable enough to warrant a subsidiary, so they have determined they will exit that market. It’s a potential postcode lottery”.
Updated 3pm, 24/9: The FCDO has said that there will be a number of Facebook Live Q&A sessions over coming weeks, each looking at one or more specific topics and cover any actions you may need to take. They say that they know not everyone can take part live, but a post will be opened up for questions to be submitted in advance the week before each session and they will all be available to watch afterwards. Please note that the schedule is subject to change, and that the times listed below are CET (so Madrid time – one hour earlier in the Canaries and UK). The Facebook page for the Embassy is HERE.
The problem of wrongly worded plastic blanks being used to print some TIE cards issued to British citizens before the 11th September is widespread throughout the whole of Spain not just in Tenerife. If you have the “wrong” card it is important to understand that your registration is valid, your biometric information is correct and your cards will function when required.
I was advised by South Tenerife Comisaría staff today (24/9) that some cards printed before the anomaly was spotted may still carry the wrong pre-printed wording in the bottom right hand corner, but that these should be accepted when it is time to collect your card as they are perfectly valid for use.
What you should be looking for is the wording “PERMANENTE” (unless your application is a new one or an exchange of under 5 years residency) ARTICULO 50 TUE” and on the reverse “EMITIDO BAJO ART.18.4 ACUERDO RETIRADA”
Staff are trying to avoid an avalanche of people taking up slots which are need for those who have not yet registered or exchanged and need to do so before year end. However, if someone is adamant that they wish to have a new card printed, they can of course request one but would have to wait outside the Comisaría without an appointment (certainly in Tenerife south anyway), and it could be a lengthy process. The recommendation is that these cards are valid, do function when required and the biometric information contained in them and the registration of exercising article 50 rights is correct. If at all possible, people who already have a card should avoid attempting to replace it for the moment.
Updated 23 September: The British Embassy in Madrid has issued the following statement for British nationals living in Spain.
With 100 days until the end of the Transition Period on 31 December, HMA Hugh Elliott has recorded a video message for UK Nationals living in Spain. You can view the video here.
Speaking about the continuing negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, the Ambassador said: “I want to reassure you that your rights as UK nationals living in Spain are already protected under the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU. And that both the UK and Spanish Governments are fully committed to implementing the citizens’ rights provisions in the Agreement.”
The Ambassador reminds UK Nationals of the need to register as a resident as soon as possible, but acknowledges that there are difficulties with getting appointments in some places. UK Nationals will still be protected by the Agreement, as long as you can prove you were legally living in Spain before the end of 2020, so the Embassy’s advice is to make sure you have documentation (eg. padron certificate, rental agreement, utility bills) to demonstrate you were living here before the end of the year.
If you have difficulties completing your residency application, the UK Government has provided funding to three organisations – Age in Spain, Babelia and IOM – to answer questions and provide practical support. For details of the help they can provide and how to contact them visit gov.uk/livinginspain.
The Embassy and Consulates are also running a series of Facebook Live Q&As on different topics related to living in Spain and the actions UK Nationals may need to take. All sessions take place on www.facebook.com/britsinspain and are available to watch afterwards. The current schedule is as follows, although please note that this is subject to change. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for further details:
- 6 October: 18:00 Pensions, benefits, working and driving
- 13 October: 13:00 Healthcare
- 27 October: 13:00 Travel
- 10 November: 18:00 Education – studying and teaching
- 24 November: 18:00 Swallows
- 1 December: 18:00 Residency
- 8 December: 18:00 General Q&A
For further information for UK Nationals in Spain visit:
Updated 2pm, 22/9: The Department of Transport has said that with just 100 days left until the end of the UK’s transition period, those planning to travel to the EU should check the new rules from January 2021 and take action now. The place to do so is HERE.
Updated 22 September: The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (formerly the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) has issued the following statement concerning recent media coverage about some UK banks’ decision to close accounts belonging to EU/EEA residents. The FCDO says:
Whether UK banks can service EEA-based customers after the end of the UK Transition Period is a matter of local law and regulation in each country, and may be impacted by how firms are set up and what steps they have taken to continue to serve customers. We expect UK banks to comply with the law at all times.
If you are affected, your provider will contact you directly. As we are unable to provide any financial advice, you should contact your bank or an independent financial adviser if you have any questions. More information is available from the UK Financial Conduct Authority HERE.
Updated 20 September: A considerable amount of concern has been generated today by an announcement in the Sunday Times and picked up by other papers that British nationals living in the EU might have their UK bank accounts closed at the end of the Transition Period. The reason is that European banking rules will no longer apply and UK banks will need new licences for which, so far, they have failed to apply.
The reasons offered vary. Some consider it a simple failure of advice from the UK Government, while others blame the complication of the licensing process for extra-EU financial entities; yet others consider that the banks simply prefer not to deal with expensive and complex issues where they can’t increase their charges sufficiently to incentivise dealing with such bureaucracy. Whatever the reasoning, the simple fact is that some banks are pulling services for British nationals living in the EU from 11pm on the 31st December.
At present, Barclays, Lloyds and Coutts have confirmed that they have begun to contact current account holders telling them that their accounts will close at the end of the year and that they should make new arrangements. Some Barclaycard holders in Spain, including Tenerife, have said that they have been told that their cards will be cancelled. Lloyds, however, has not included Spain in the list of countries where it has British clients whom it will no longer service. Other banks, like Santander and online HSBC subsidiary First Direct say that they have “no plans at the present time” to close accounts. Evidently there is no coordinated stance amongst UK banks but with three making their position very clear already, others can easily be envisaged as following.
The UK Government has other things on its mind, admittedly, with failing trade negotiations and a covid outbreak, but it has seemingly washed its hands of the matter for British nationals resident in the EU. A Treasury statement said that the Government expected banks to behave fairly but that ultimately banking was a commercial matter and not one for Government intervention … unless it’s a matter of a failing bank, presumably.
Those with British state pensions can already ask for them to be paid into bank accounts in a foreign country of residence but some pensioners here do not maintain bank accounts in Spain and their situation might be complicated since opening a bank account here is no longer remotely as easy as it once was. Others with accounts here might find themselves at the mercy of an exchange rate they cannot influence as the Government will presumably pay their pension straight into a Spanish Euro account.
There is a huge IF here. Even with the current lamentable state of negotiations for trade and future relationship, talk still goes on behind the scenes, and neither side will want to see or have to deal with the potential chaos of British nationals living in the EU being in need because their money can’t be paid into accounts that have been closed.
Updated 17 September: There is something of an issue with some of the TIEs issued so far. As Simon Monckton identified on 31 August in the comments section below, some cards say at the bottom that they are a ‘tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano de la unión’ – in other words, the right of residence is not personal but by virtue of being a family member of someone with personal right of residence. This issue has been known about for some time and appears to be related to a few batches, an administrative error arising from the fact that those who were applying under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement should tick a particular box whether they were applying personally or as a family member.
Do check your own card to see if you have the “wrong” wording on it. I wish to stress, however, that it is just this wording that is “wrong”, and that both the Immigration Authorities and the FCO have confirmed, categorically, that the cards are correct, valid, and function properly. It is just the wording, and we are currently waiting for instructions on what we need to do when the Spanish authorities have decided how, and if, to correct the matter.
Meanwhile, the UK’s own deputy Consul for the Canaries, Helen Keating, yesterday issued this confirmation and reassurance herself.
There has been an administrative error that may cause the new TIE cards for British nationals to be labeled as EU Family cards.
This means that instead of UK-specific TIEs, at the bottom of the card it says you are the family member of an EU citizen.
The error has been reported and we are waiting for a response from the Spanish authorities.
Updated 12 September: UK PM Boris Johnson has issued THIS statement about the current furore in the trade negotiations.
Updated 10 September: For those who are interested in the detail, there is an EU and UK Joint Committee, mutually chaired, which was set up specifically to oversee both sides’ implementation, application and interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement. This has never met fully – until today, in response to the declaration by the UK Government that it intended to break international law by legislation in contravention of the Northern Ireland Protocol, an appendix to the Withdrawal Agreement. The Joint Committee met virtually, and the EU has now released the following statement.
Updated 9pm, 9/9: Spain has responded to the UK’s declared intention of passing legislation that would break international law through violating the Withdrawal Agreement in a way that might have a familiar ring to it. Instead of Brexit Means Brexit, Spain’s Foreign Secretary Arancha González Laya has said tonight that the EU as a whole will defend the principle that Agreement Means Agreement, and that “lo acordado es lo acordado” – what is agreed is what is agreed.
The minister said that Spain is committed to trying to find a positive agreement but is preparing for a No Deal result to the trade negotiations. I stress that this is not a No Deal Brexit because the UK has already left the EU with a deal – the Withdrawal Agreement. It is this agreement that became fixed as an international treaty on being approved by the UK and the EU, and it is parts of this agreement that the UK is now seeking to amend in ways that would violate its terms in respect of the Northern Ireland Protocol (an appendix to the WA), and which the Government openly acknowledges will break international law.
Clio and I discussed this in our CanaryCast on Monday, the 7 September podcast with links HERE. I would just repeat here what I said there to alleviate any concern that people might have: in no respect are residents’ rights implicated in all this. Moreover, constitutional and international treatises experts have been emphatic that no single party to a treaty can void it: any violation of a treaty becomes the subject of an appeal to the relevant legal authorities, in this case it would be the EU appealing to the ECJ. The treaty would remain in place – and its importance to us is that it is the source of UK citizens’ rights, after Brexit, to remain in Spain under the same terms as when we were EU nationals.
Meanwhile the EU is closing ranks, and France is mulling financial penalties while Spain is insisting it still has hopes for agreement – the country is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, is the message. Meanwhile, ripples of Brexit Means Brexit will be echoing González’ words around Europe tonight: Agreement Means Agreement.
Updated 9 September: The level of unwillingness to believe straight fact is quite incredible. I will just leave this here, it is from article 162.2e of Spanish law Real Decreto 557/2011.
La autorización de residencia temporal se extinguirá por resolución del órgano competente para su concesión, conforme a los trámites previstos en la normativa vigente para los procedimientos de otorgamiento, modificación y extinción de autorizaciones, cuando se constate la concurrencia de alguna de las siguientes circunstancias: …
e) Cuando se permanezca fuera de España durante más de seis meses en un periodo de un año.
(The temporary residence authorization (ie one that is issued to anyone here for under 5 years) will be annulled by ruling of the authority that granted it, in accordance with procedures provided for in regulations in force for the granting, modification and extinction of authorizations, when any of the following circumstances occurs: … e) When staying outside Spain for more than six months in a period of one year.)
You can register if you want but you must deregister when you leave, and re-register when you return if coming for more than 3 months, and if you can comply with the rules yet to be defined for registration next year. And if you do not deregister your registration will lapse anyway if you need to leave Spain because you have to be outside of the country for 6 months in order to retain your UK tax resident status.
This is all explained HERE, as it has been for some considerable time.
Updated 7pm, 8/9: Given my mailbag today I need to explain the position more clearly … or at least more clearly than some evidently understand it presently.
Let’s use the term “settled status”. We all know what that means because in the UK it is for foreigners who are living in the UK. Spain is the same. The requirement is to register when you come to settle in Spain, and you have three months in which to do so. There’s no “window” or “gap” between this three months and the tax residency limit of 183 days because if someone is not coming “to settle in Spain” they should not be registering at all!
I repeat, if you are not coming here to live you do not register! What you do is limit yourself to 3 months OR get a visa. You do not register as residents because you are not residents. If you do, you are making a false declaration to the Spanish immigration authorities – as a non-EU subject and a complete third-country national – that you are coming here to live when you know full well that you intend to leave before your tax residency status changes.
So, if you are coming here TO SETTLE, you register. If you just want EU residence advantages but also to retain UK tax resident status, you have two choices: get a visa, or restrict yourselves to 90 day visits in any 180 day period. Neither will give you EU residence advantages but that’s the reality of Brexit, whether or not it was falsely called Project Fear in its time. It really was true, and it really is not difficult.
Updated 8 September: The UK Government has updated its travel advice page HERE with the following information about entry requirements to Spain from January 2021. Their update is below but please do also see HERE for my own explanation of the rules and how they will apply.
Visas from 1 January 2021
The rules for travelling or working in Europe will change from 1 January 2021:
- You will be able to travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism. This is a rolling 180-day period.
- Therefore, if you’re travelling to Spain, previous visits to the Schengen area within the 180 days before your date of travel would count against the 90-day limit.
- If you are travelling visa-free to Spain and to other countries in the Schengen area, make sure your whole visit is within the limit.
- To stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel you will need to meet the entry requirements set out by Spain. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit. You should check with the Spanish Embassy what type of visa, if any, you will need.
- Periods of stay authorised under a visa or permit will not count against the 90-day limit.
The European Commission has not yet set out how the limit of 90 days in any 180-day period for visa-free travel will be implemented for those who are already travelling in the EU or Schengen Area on 31 December 2020.
If you are travelling to Spain before 31 December 2020 and will stay until 1 January 2021 or later, you should check with the Spanish Embassy for information on how the 90-day visa-free limit will apply to you. This also applies if your stay includes travel to other Schengen area countries.
At border control for Spain, you may need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
- use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing
Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit.
I just have two points to add that come from Spain, and they are that the 90 day period starts to be counted from 1.1.21 for those who are already in Spain, and that comings and goings will be digitally recorded whether or not passports are physically stamped.
Updated 27 August: It’s exactly a fortnight since my last update about submitting a request to transfer from the green Certificado de Registro to the new third-country nationals’ ID card, the TIE, and so it’s exactly a fortnight between application and collection! I was at the police station this morning in Playa de las Américas to get my new card, and the procedure is absolutely as simple and straightforward as it could be. One simply turns up, between 8.30am and 1.30pm, and waits outside the ramp up to the main doors where a police officer comes every five or so minutes and asks those waiting what they’re there for. You tell them you’re there to collect a TIE and you’re taken in in groups of around four at a time.
Inside, a police officer takes the white A4 receipt for the application and the passport, goes to get the card and then checks that the finger print machine recognizes you – to prove it’s you as well as to confirm that the card contains a recognizable scan of the print. And that’s it!
Applications are processed in batches in Madrid and then returned to the issuing police stations. The white A4 receipt for the application will contain a batch number, and Diana McGowan of The One Stop Problem Shop and Miranda Parsons of TFS Translations are both posting the latest batch numbers ready for collection so just check their social media or websites to see if the number quoted matches the one on your receipt.
Updated 13 August: Just to reassure anyone who’s been concerned about the transfer process from a Registro to a TIE, I did mine this morning. There was a very nice Extranjería officer, Rosa, who was down from Santa Cruz to the police station in Las Américas, and she took our documents*, chatted to us (through mascarilla and pantalla!), returned passports (remember to take a copy!) … and then place right index finger on the machine and then same finger back on the machine and roll left and right, change to left index finger and repeat … ya está!
*The documents were:
- proof of appointment (print yours off because some officers, like Rosa, want to keep a copy in their file)
- solicitud (EX23)
- modelo and payment receipt (you can most easily scan the modelo under the scanner in a Caixabank ATM)
- passports (remember the copy, which only needs to be of the page with your details and photo on!)
- original registros
- photo (carné size, not UK passport size)
- No empadronamiento was needed but Rosa did just check we were still at the same address as on the Registro, and so if your current address doesn’t match your Registro (it should but if it doesn’t), you’ll need a valid (ie no more than 3 months old) Certificado de Empadronamiento.
And so we no longer have a Registro and instead have a receipt with a batch number on it, and we go back to collect whenever it’s ready, in probably around a month! It really is that simple – when they said “virtually automatic” they weren’t wrong! – but bureaucracy does worry people, and with good reason when it’s out of their normal experience and comfort zone, so it might well be and certainly will feel easier with someone holding your hand! I would stress that even for someone speaking Spanish, that mask and perspex screen really make it difficult to hear and understand what’s being said, for me anyway. Options I’d recommend personally to help are Miranda Parsons of TFS Translations, Diana McGowan of The One Stop Problem Shop, and Sarah Knowles.
Updated 8 August: It was confirmed yesterday by the EU Commission during a Joint Specialised Committee discussing citizens’ rights that British nationals resident in Spain or another EU country will be able to move to a different EU country after 1.1.21 and won’t lose their right of onward movement under three clear conditions:
- they started to reside permanently in Spain (or other EU country) before 31.12.20,
- they have permanencia from being legally in the country for a minimum of five years, and
- they can demonstrate their permanencia with their biometric residence document.
This right will be enjoyed by all registrants from now on once they’ve been here for five years, but those who’ve already got Registros and who might need to benefit from this right might now consider it best to change to the TIE because the biometric residence document referred to is the new TIE, not just the old paper registration Certificado de Registro.
Updated 24 July: I’ve had a few enquiries about private medical insurance policies now, specifically for the purposes of registering for the TIE, and there seems some confusion, so let me clarify. We all know that if you’re not working, or self-employed, or (until 31 December) retired with an S1, you need private medical insurance. The most important thing when you are comparing policies and making your decision, however, is to be sure to find out how the policies you’re considering view pre-existing conditions.
Any private medical insurance policy taken out for registration purposes MUST provide at least the cover that you’d get from being registered in the state system. This means that a policy MUST NOT exclude any treatments, or require a co-payment. This also means that you absolutely categorically MUST declare pre-existing conditions to ensure the policy does what it has to do for your registration to be legal.
Sorry to be a “scaremonger” but if your registration is not legal, from 1 January 2021 we won’t have the protection we’ve enjoyed so far as EU nationals. So far we have been in clover, as EU nationals safe in Spain because we couldn’t be chucked out, couldn’t be refused entry. Those days are gone.
So be very sure which medical insurance you buy, not least to save money by avoiding signing up for a policy that’s all but useless, at least for registration purposes. And if you have doubts about whether your final choice of policy meets the requirements, check with the Tenerife Extranjería … specifically the one here because other regions may have different views, and the view that matters is that of the Comisario him/herself in the Extranjería you have to go to. Not another one in a different part of Spain.
HERE is the FCO’s own confirmation of the policy requirements.
Updated 14 July: This is wonderfully supportive and reassuring. Thank you Spain, and HMA Hugh Elliott and your team too.
“The Spanish Government is here to support you in this new phase and we want to send you a very clear message: this is, and will always be your home.” @jalloul_hana and @HughElliottUK send a joint message to UK Nationals in Spain.@inclusiongob @ukinspainhttps://t.co/7UGpLhY5ol pic.twitter.com/g0ZWFBMqvD
— Secretaría de Estado de Migraciones (@SEstadoMigr) July 14, 2020
Updated 8 July: Just a reminder of the Facebook Live session later today held by the UK’s Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, and Embassy and Consular members in Spain. Given the questions I’ve had since Saturday when I posted the explanation just below about the new TIE and the end of the Registro system, many will be well advised to listen in, and ask their questions direct to the British authorities. The webinar starts at 7pm, and I can now confirm that that’s Madrid time so anyone in the UK or Canaries should be online at 6pm – – for any questions about facebook.com/britsinspainresidency, healthcare, pensions, and the UK’s exit of the EU.
Updated 3pm, 4/7: This is an initial interpretation of the rules for the TIE which come into force on Monday 6 July. Please understand that clarification is still needed on various issues, and most importantly, that information from various parts of Spain will be different for the simple reason that decision-making power over applications is explicitly placed in the hands of the chief of an extranjería, so this will have some variance throughout the whole of the country. Whatever is reported to be happening in Barcelona, for example, or even Gran Canaria which is in a different province, may not be in line with what is happening in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, comprising Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro. It will be vital for everyone to check the rules in place in their own specific extranjería. In Tenerife, this will be Santa Cruz. Do bear in mind, too, that any decisions can be appealed to whichever is the relevant Government/sub delegation.
The new Resolution clearly states that UK nationals can enjoy the right of free movement in Spain until the end of 2020, i.e. the end of the Transition Period. Those who have exercised their right to reside or work in accordance with EU law before it ends, therefore, and who continue to do so after that, will have exactly the same rights under the Withdrawal Agreement as those who arrived before Brexit, being also subject to the same restrictions and limitations. Anyone who arrives after the end of the Transition Period will naturally be considered a third-country national and will be subject to the general provisions in place for third-country nationals unless special arrangements are put in place for future movement: there are negotiations ongoing throughout 2020 so there are just short of six months in which some may be agreed.
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, Spain did have the right to require British nationals to apply for an entirely new residence status or undergo a completely different documentation process, but is not doing so, and therefore in accordance with the provisions of EU Directive 2004/38 concerning citizens’ rights, British nationals will instead receive a residence document expressly stating their status as beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement.
As I understand it, although some applications for registration may not be able to be processed before the end of the year, they must actually have been submitted before the end of the year to be valid under Transition Period rules. These new TIEs will be valid for five or ten years depending on the applicant’s temporary or permanent residence status. Applications can be submitted from Monday 6 July. Those who arrive after the transition period must apply within three months of their arrival in Spain. TIEs will either bear the date of issue or, in the case of TIE replacements for Registros, the date of initial issue of the Registro not the TIE, so my understanding is that no rights of permanencia will be lost, in fact it appears that they will be explicitly protected.
The application procedure is different for those with Registros of under 5 years (called temporary), those with ones over 5 years (called permanent), or those without Registros at all. In each category application will require either one step (at authorized issuing police stations) or two steps (at an extranjeria first for application and then the issuing police station for collection). In all cases a modelo will need to be prepaid at the bank. It appears that anyone with a Registro will be able to apply to issuing police stations whereas those without must apply first to the extranjería and then collect the card when it’s ready from an issuing police station.
Those with Registros which are temporary/under 5 years:
- EX 23
- valid and current passport (or proof of reapplication for expired passports)
- modelo 790 (code 012)
- photo (ID card size – ie smaller than passport size).
- The TIE will be a temporary one valid for 5 years and will say Temporary”; it will be automatically renewed for a permanent one at the end of this period.
Those with Registros over 5 years but not bearing the word permanente:
- confirmation of the duration of residence (this is not defined but should be a simple confirmation of the date of issue of the Registro),
- valid and current passport (or proof of reapplication for expired passports)
- modelo 790 (code 012)
- photo (ID card size – ie smaller than passport size).
- The TIE issued will be a permanent one valid for 10 years and will say Permanent. It will be automatically renewed at the end of this period.
Those with Registros bearing the word permanente:
- valid and current passport (or proof of reapplication for expired passports)
- modelo 790 (code 012)
- photo (small size).
- The TIE issued will be a permanent one valid for 10 years and will say Permanente. It will be automatically renewed at the end of this period.
Those applying for the TIE before 31 December 2020 with no Registro:
- legally admissible documentation accrediting start of residence in Spain under qualifying criteria as per Article 3 of Order PRE/1490/2012. This means:
- employment contract or autonomo alta
- health insurance for non-workers
- pensioners’ document from own country showing entitlement to cover – the UK has indicated the S1 will continue to be accepted for registrants before 31 Dec
- proof of sufficient resources (undefined) but currently €5,200 in Tenerife
- in some circumstances (undefined) extranjerías may request a criminal record check.
- Once the application is received, a receipt will be issued immediately to prove its submission and this document will be sufficient to grant legal stay status until the TIE is issued, which will be within three months. It will be collected from an issuing police station. Any applicants failing to meet the criteria will be advised and have ten working days to correct; if they fail to do so they will be deemed to have withdrawn their application. On collection of the TIE from the issuing police station, applicants will need
- proof of payment of the modelo 790
Unlike the Registro, a system applicable to EU members which requires just one registration and no renewal, holders of the TIE must renew after 5 years (if they have a temporary TIE) or every 10 years (once they have a permanent TIE).
A final few points:
- it appears that existing applications for Registros will be processed as though the application were for a TIE
- the EX23 and EX20 application forms are HERE
- The transfer from Registro is optional but as I’ve already said, the situation of a British national who doesn’t change over to the TIE and whose Registro is subsequently lost or damaged is currently unclear. I’m hoping to get clarity on that in the near future.
Beyond this, I think we just have to wait for Monday to see how this pans out in practice, and to confirm what criteria are actually imposed in Santa Cruz or any other extranjería.
Updated 4 July: HERE is today’s publication of the Spanish Government’s regulation for the issue of residence documents for British nationals as stipulated in article 18.4 of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. I’ll come back to this later but thought some might be glad of the link to be getting on with.
Updated 3 July: The UK’s Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, and Embassy and Consular members in Spain are holding a Facebook live session next Wednesday 8 July. It starts at 7pm, but I imagine that’s Madrid time so best to be online at 6pm in case. They say “If you are a UK national living in Spain and have questions about residency, healthcare, pensions or any aspect of what EU Exit means for you, join us over on facebook.com/britsinspain for a live Q&A next Wednesday. See you there!”
Updated 3pm, 2/7: This will have to take the place of multiple email replies. No-one need, should, or even can do anything right now so the question “what do I have to do” is pointless. The system is mid-change, a change we always knew was coming, and we will be told next week, hopefully but not certainly on Monday, what the new system will be. Those who already have a Registro (Green NIE/residencia/whateveryoucallit) of any size or shape, as long as it’s green, will apparently not be required to exchange it for the new TIE – but I am awaiting final confirmation of that from the Spanish authorities along with confirmation of what happens to a British national who doesn’t change over to the TIE and whose Registro is subsequently lost or damaged. New registrations cannot start until Monday at the earliest and at present we have no details about what criteria they will have to fulfill. As such, none of us can do anything right now: when that situation changes we will be informed, I will post about it along with the FCO and other official and media sources, and so there is no need or point to email asking for information beyond this. There is none.
Updated 2 July: The FCO is holding a Facebook Live Q&A session with HMA Hugh Elliott on Wednesday next week, 8 July, at 7pm – I imagine that this will be Madrid time, and if so that will be 6pm Tenerife or UK time. Questions can be posted in advance HERE. The FCO does stress that this session will also deal with other issues of concern like healthcare access, pensions, driving and future travel.
Updated 1 July: And now I have multiple confirmations that existing appointments for this week are cancelled. Not all advisers are being told, so one poor person was up at 6am to go to Santa Cruz from south Tenerife this morning and was told the appointment had been cancelled without notification. Other, perhaps better known advisers, were informed directly to cancel all their appointments with their clients because they would not be honoured. Bottom line is forget Friday. The Registro system is now over. Monday for the TIEs … and we await confirmation of the criteria.
To repeat and reassure:
- if you have a Certificado de Registro already, this remains legal, it is indeed the only official proof of legal residence that exists
- it appears that the transfer to the TIE will be optional – I am awaiting incontrovertible official confirmation of that, along with the system for changing over to the TIE for those who do want to get a new card instead of the paper Registro
- the criteria imposed from Monday should be the same as they have been previously for the Registro even though the new TIE is not an EU nationals’ document. The Withdrawal Agreement means that through this year, a period known as the Transition Period, we are treated the same and have absolute rights to settle in Spain under the same conditions as always. It would not be the first time, however, that an Extranjería had imposed an incorrect interpretation on a system involving foreigners – anyone remember the farce over the instruction that we had “to renew our Registros every five years”? That took 18 months to challenge and overturn. We don’t have 18 months before the Transition Period ends on 31 December so let’s hope there is no issue with this. We will know soon enough, anyway.
Updated 3pm, 30/6: Unfortunately my advice to get an appointment this week to be sure of being subject to the old rules is no longer relevant. As I understand it as of this afternoon, there are no further appointments available for UK nationals to register under the old EU-nationals Certificado de Registro system. All we can do now, it seems, is await the confirmation of the criteria that will apply to new registrants when they start being processed for the TIE from Monday. I hope also soon to have confirmation about the transfer process for those who need to exchange an existing Certificado de Registro for the new TIE.
Updated 30 June: The Extranjería in Santa Cruz have said this morning that they are awaiting confirmation from Madrid as to which rules to apply to new registrations from next Monday. As I’ve been saying lately, the replacement for the Certificado de Registro (green NIE/residencia), the new TIE, will be issued from next Monday 6 July. From that date only the TIE will be issued, not the old Registro. The TIE is a third-country (non-EU) nationals’ identity card whereas the Registro is an EU nationals’ registration document, and when people apply for the TIE the qualifying criteria are considerably tougher than those for EU nationals. What we have never known for sure is whether British nationals would have to satisfy the same criteria as, say, Americans, or whether their unique status as third-country nationals who are also ex-EU nationals would mean that they would have individual criteria applied to them. We still don’t know yet but are soon to find out, clearly.
This should be irrelevant to British nationals seeking to register in what remains of 2020 because this is still the Brexit Transition Period wherein we are covered by the guarantee of our rights contained within the Withdrawal Agreement, signed off by both the EU and UK. As such, the original EU-national criteria that applied when people registered and got their green Registro should still apply even though the new TIE is a third-country nationals’ ID card. None the less, we are still awaiting confirmation of what rules will be in place and so I can only repeat the strongest advice I was able to give yesterday, namely that anyone who can should register this week to be absolutely certain that they only have to comply with the existing rules.
I’m sorry to give an “information update” that has no confirmed information but I know how concerned so many people are. As soon as there is clarity naturally I will update this.
Updated 29 June: The chief of the Extranjería in Santa Cruz has said today that anyone who is hoping to register and acquire their green Certificado de Registro before the TIE starts to be issued in the first week of July needs to do so this very week, before Friday, because the TIE will start to be issued next Monday, 6 July.
Before this morning, I would have reported this with the reassuring comment that under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, anyone who registers during the Transition Period will of course not need to be concerned because the same registration criteria will continue to apply as currently, but I cannot do that at present. Indeed, I am seeking clarification on the officially-sourced information that despite all assurances and legalities, new third-country criteria (the details of which I still have to get confirmed as they apply to British nationals) are nonetheless to be applied from Monday.
If you have put off registering but intend to do so, and have any means at all of doing so this week, then I most strongly recommend that you do so.
Updated 28 June: The Spanish Government has announced that British nationals resident in Spain can apply to exchange their Certificado de Registro for the new TIE – Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero – from the first week of next month. The uniform format card will specifically assert that their residence is subject to the rights established in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and will be issued by personal attendance at a prior appointment. At present these appointments, which I understand are currently only available in Santa Cruz, are as rare as hen’s teeth … so don’t worry about any need to hurry because a Certificado de Registro remains valid since it proves existing legal residence. At last, though, we now know that the card’s format is finalised, and that we will be able to return to the useful plastic credit-card style document we used to have before the residencia system was abolished in 2012 and replaced by the registration/Registro system and its paper document.
Updated 18 June: This might not apply to many but it could apply to some British nationals. The European Court of Justice has published today its ruling that a family member of a non-EU national who has permanent residence (so like a British citizen with a Registro/TIE) will not be required to have a visa to enter the EU. The ruling is HERE.
Updated 15 June: British PM Boris Johnson has said he wants a deal by the end of July at the latest, and that he doesn’t want negotiations carrying on until autumn. His comments come following a high level meeting with the EU Commission and Council, from which the following joint statement has been released:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson met the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, on 15 June by videoconference to take stock of progress with the aim of agreeing actions to move forward in negotiations on the future relationship.
The Parties noted the UK’s decision not to request any extension to the transition period. The transition period will therefore end on 31 December 2020, in line with the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Parties welcomed the constructive discussions on the future relationship that had taken place under the leadership of Chief Negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier, allowing both sides to clarify and further understand positions. They noted that four rounds had been completed and texts exchanged despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Parties agreed nevertheless that new momentum was required. They supported the plans agreed by Chief Negotiators to intensify the talks in July and to create the most conducive conditions for concluding and ratifying a deal before the end of 2020. This should include, if possible, finding an early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement.
The Parties underlined their intention to work hard to deliver a relationship, which would work in the interests of the citizens of the Union and of the United Kingdom. They also confirmed their commitment to the full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Updated 1 June: It seems like another world, another time! But the Transition Period continues and this is the last month in which the UK could request an extension to it but of course it has consistently said that no such request will be made. If it is not, then the Transition Period will end on 31 December, with whatever agreements, if any, have been made by that point. Meanwhile, the FCO has issued the following update:
As you may be aware, negotiations are continuing on the UK’s exit from the EU and some of you have asked what that means for you as UK nationals living in Spain. Please remember that citizens’ rights are already protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, which was ratified by the UK and the EU in January. This guarantees your rights and means that as long as you are legally resident here by the end of 2020:
- you will be able to continue to live and work in Spain
- UK state pensioners will continue to have lifelong healthcare access as long as they remain living in Spain (this also applies to residents who claim a UK state pension in the future)
- and your UK state pension will continue to be uprated.
Therefore, our key message remains to register as a resident as soon as you are able. Many of you have contacted us to ask when residency appointments will be available again, given the recent coronavirus lockdown. We understand that in those provinces that have now moved into phase 2 or 3 of the Spanish Government’s de-escalation plan, some offices are opening a limited number of appointments. However, many may not have their appointment systems back up and running yet. You should keep checking the Spanish Public Administration portal (https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/index.html) to see if appointments are available in your area. You may need to be patient as provinces are lifting restrictions at different rates.
Some of you have also asked us about the introduction of the TIE (Foreigner Identity Card), the residence document that will explicitly show you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. The Spanish authorities have not yet announced when this will be introduced. In the meantime, those registering for the first time will be issued with the green residency certificate.
HMA Hugh Elliott said: I know that because of the suspension of residency appointments during the state of emergency, many UK nationals are concerned about their ability to obtain the correct documentation before 31 December. I want to reassure people on two points. If you already have the green residency certificate, your core rights are protected and it remains a valid document, even after the end of the transition period.
If you don’t yet have your green residency certificate there is, likewise, no need for alarm. We continue to advise people to get an appointment as soon as you can. However, as long as you are living in Spain and can prove that you satisfy the legal conditions of residence (ie. sufficient income and access to healthcare) by 31 December 2020, your rights are assured even if you are not able to get the physical document before the end of the year.’
Another of our key messages continues to be to exchange your UK driving licence for a Spanish one. For those who are yet to do so, the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) has provided information on their website about the Jefaturas Provinciales opening for appointments in those areas that have moved to phase 2 or 3. The page also provides instructions on the measures citizens must take when attending their appointment. Further information is available here: http://www.dgt.es/es/prensa/notas-de-prensa/2020/Las_Jefaturas_Provinciales_de_Trafico_reabriran.shtml. Remember, you will be able to exchange your driving licence until the end of 2020 without taking a test, so please do make an appointment as soon as you are able to.
For further information for UK nationals visit:
Updated 12 March: A reminder in case you missed it that the Brexit information meeting today in Siam Mall was cancelled the other day because of the evolving Covid-19 situation. The Embassy has indeed now cancelled all outreach meetings throughout Spain. The FCO reminds the public that there is information available at https://gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain and you can also register for updates, and anyone with a specific question can send it to www.gov.uk/contact-consulate-santa-cruz-tenerife. The Embassy will also hold a Facebook Live event to respond to questions from UK Nationals before the end of March. They, and FOCUS, apologise for any inconvenience caused but this is for the safety of all.
Updated 4pm: The Siam Mall meeting on Thursday has been cancelled. As I explained previously, FOCUS had been concerned about it going ahead but the FCO were enthusiastic. Now, however, the FCO has issued this statement:
Given the fast-moving situation with regard to Coronavirus in Spain, we have decided to err on the side of caution and postpone all our physical outreach events until further notice. This follows the advice from Spanish health authorities to avoid unnecessary journeys and limit meetings in the region of Madrid and Alava in the Basque Country. We will aim to reschedule these events as soon as we can, once the situation becomes clearer. We will set up a Facebook Live event to respond to questions from UK Nationals before the end of March. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Updated 10 March: There is confirmation this morning from the FCO that there will be no change to EHIC use during the transition period. Moreover, the EHICs of those in the following categories who are legally resident in Spain before 31 December will continue to be valid for as long as they live in Spain:
- UK state pensioners living in Spain at the end of Transition Period,
- UK students studying in Spain at the end of Transition Period,
- Individuals who are frontier workers at the end of the Transition Period, for as long as you continue to be covered by the Agreement
UK Nationals who are resident in Spain and hold a member state EHIC (Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea), will be able to continue to use this to access healthcare within the EU and the UK both before and after the Transition Period, for as long as you remain legally resident in Spain.
Updated 4.15pm: Just a reminder that there is an open meeting next Thursday 12 March upstairs in Siam Mall for everyone with questions about how Brexit will affect their status as swallows or residents in Tenerife now that the UK has left the EU and is in the Transition Period which lasts until 31 December this year. The meeting will be from 11.30am to 1pm and has been arranged by the Adeje FOCUS group and although we were wondering whether or not it should still go ahead because of the virus outbreak, the FCO is enthusiastic about it continuing as planned.
As I said in the 21 Feb update below, the British Consulate has been excellent in liaising and cooperating fully with us to host the meeting for everyone with questions about how Brexit will affect their status as swallows or residents in Tenerife. The Consul for South Spain and the Canaries, Charmaine Arbouin, will be present along with the Canaries’ Vice Consul Helen Keating, and Clio O’Flynn and myself.
Updated 4pm: The UK Government has allocated £3m to support UK nationals in the EU. The monies will assist British nationals to apply to protect their residency rights in Spain along with several other EU countries, with charities and organisations receiving funding to provide practical support for UK nationals living in the EU with their residency applications. This includes groups who are potentially at higher risk and who may find it harder to complete all the paperwork required for residency applications, including pensioners, disabled people, those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties, and those who require help with language translation or interpretation.
One of the beneficiaries of the fund is Age in Spain – a charity that helps older British expatriates. They will be working across Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, while Asociación Babelia will be providing support in Alicante. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that “These organisations are doing vital work to support UK Nationals in the EU and this funding will help secure their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, so that they are given the security and stability they need.”
British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott said that the “fund will be a valuable complement to the extensive work that our consulates have been doing over the past three years to prepare UK nationals for our departure from the EU. The chosen organisations will be able to provide one-to-one, specialist support to those citizens that need it most; helping them to register as a resident and secure their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.”
Now that the UK has left the EU, some UK nationals living in certain EU member states will need to take actions to secure their residency rights, so that they can continue to live and work in their host country as now. Over a million UK nationals live in EU and EFTA countries, more than 350,000 of them in Spain. Charities and organisations based in Spain, who are receiving funding from the ‘UK Nationals Support Fund’ include Age in Spain, Asociación Babelia, and the International Organisation for Migration.
Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, UK nationals living in the EU at the end of the transition period can continue to live and work in their host country. Anyone who is legally residing in Spain by 31 December 2020 will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. As part of the ongoing information campaign, the government is encouraging all UK nationals in the EU to visit the Living in Guide on gov.uk for the country they live in and sign up for tailored alerts to receive the latest information about what actions they may need to take. Further details on how to contact implementing organisations will be available soon; UK nationals in Spain should subscribe to gov.uk/livinginspain for updates.
Updated 6 March: There’s a good article HERE about research done throughout Spain, including with some of us here in Tenerife, by Karen O’Reilly, sociology professor at Loughborough University, and part of the thinktank of Anand Menon, called the “rockstar professor” because he’s become famous for sometimes being the sole sane voice on TV discussion programmes or news slots about Brexit. Karen’s actual report can be read HERE,
Updated 27 February: TFS Translations, an agency which organizes buses of people to register in Santa Cruz, has said today that appointments to register have been extended until 13 March. TFS Translations say that they will continue to assist both with paperwork and transport to Santa Cruz for foreigners living in Spain to register with the police and acquire the Certificado de Registro (residencia/green NIE) which is the only proof of legal residence in Spain unti we are transferred to the new TIE system which has still not been unveiled.
Updated 21 February: Adeje FOCUS group is very grateful to the British Consulate for liaising and cooperating so fully with us to host an open meeting for everyone with questions about how Brexit will affect their status as swallows or residents in Tenerife now that the UK has left the EU and is in the Transition Period which lasts until 31 December this year.
The Consul for South Spain and the Canaries, Charmaine Arbouin, will be at the meeting along with the Canaries’ Vice Consul Helen Keating, and Clio O’Flynn and myself. The meeting is on Thursday 12 March from 11.30am to 1pm upstairs in the open meeting area in Siam Mall. We have an event page on Facebook HERE, and hope to see you there!
Updated 16 February: Good news tonight for British residents in Spain with regard to the ETIAS scheme that is coming into force through the EU from next year. The EU has confirmed the following to Debbie Jayne, Admin of the Brexpats Spain group run by Anne Hernandez, in respect of the scope of application of the new regulation which will require all third country nationals to get an ETIAS permit before travelling into the EU if they have a Schengen visa exemption, as will British nationals. The EU has confirmed that this will not apply to British nationals who are legally registered as resident in Spain, though it is now formally confirmed as applying to British nationals who are not. The EU says:
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. The European Union has created this visa waiver program to protect and strengthen its borders. The main goal of the ETIAS visa waiver for Europe is to identify possible threats or risks associated with visitors traveling to any of the Schengen Area countries. The ETIAS visa waiver program will be needed to enter a Schengen member country. In 2021, all visitors that currently do not need a visa to enter Europe will be expected to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization.
The ETIAS for Europe will grant travelers authorization to visit the ETIAS countries, which are the 26 members that compose the Schengen Zone. The countries that make up this specific region acknowledge the abolishment of internal borders with other member countries.
Currently there are 60 countries that will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver when visiting the Schengen Zone. It is likely that ETIAS will be available to more countries in the future.
The ETIAS visa waiver has been designed for short-term stays of up to 90 days. Tourism and business travelers will be expected to have an approved ETIAS when traveling to any of the Schengen member countries.
Clearly, in the wake of Brexit, UK citizens will be required to process and obtain an ETIAS document prior to embarking on their trip to the Schengen member states.
However, your query raises whether this new requirement will also apply to UK citizens who are already residents in the EU, and who hold a residence permit issued by a member states. In other words, will UK citizens, holders of a residence permit issued by a member state of the EU be exempt from obtaining an ETIAS?
In short the answer is yes.
The answer to this question is provided under article 2 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 September 2018 establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2018/1240/oj
When travelling within the Schengen territory, e.g. from Spain to Portugal, you are travelling through an internal border, thus no border checks normally apply. When travelling through an external border, e.g. when travelling between the UK and Spain in the future, as a Spanish resident, and holder of a Spanish residence permit, you are currently outside the scope of application of the ETIAS Regulation and not required to process and obtain an ETIAS.
Updated 14 February: I have become aware that at least one “gestor” in Tenerife is telling people that British residents will have to change to the TIE in March, and that anyone not registered by 28 February cannot make the change or register. This is not true.
I have got confirmed information this morning from the FCO that during the transition period which is the whole of this year, British nationals will be able to move to Spain and register as resident according to the same criteria as before 31 January. Any British national legally resident in Spain by the end of the year will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and enjoy the rights that it protects for as long as they remain living in Spain.
Anyone who already has a Certificado de Registro (green residency document, whether A4 or credit card sized) will have a document that remains valid and proves not only legal residence but that they are a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement … and this will remain true even after the end of the transition period. No action needs to be taken at present.
For those who still need to register their residence and who do not yet have a green residence document, more appointments will be made available to enable registration under the current process until at least 28 February. The Spanish authorities are currently working with the European Commission to introduce a new document for British nationals who fall under the Withdrawal Agreement – the Foreigners’ Identity Card, or TIE to use its Spanish initials. This card will explicitly say that the holder is a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement.
And so anyone who says they already have a British TIE is either wrong or being untruthful. And anyone who says that 28 February is the limit for registrations is either wrong or being untruthful. To be explicit: we do not yet know when the new TIE will be introduced. Once it is in circulation, anyone who applies for residency before 31 December will be issued with the TIE rather than a Registro. Anyone who has a green certificate will have the right to request a TIE.
The FCO also confirms that there will be no deadline by which time those UK nationals already in possession of a green certificate must have a TIE, so there is no need to panic.
Updated 11 February: New appointments for up to 28 February have been made available on the Extranjería website HERE for the old EU green Certificado de Registro, which will continue to be issued to British nationals who are resident in Tenerife for at least three months.As far as I am aware the existing criteria will still be applied until the end of the month. Beyond this, we await further information.
One important further thing. I’ve had enough enquiries now to make me understand that I need to be explicit in saying that anyone living here is by definition “resident”: the fact that someone might be planning only to live here for a while, or return to the UK, or doesn’t consider themselves resident, or doesn’t want to be resident … none of this signifies. There are people here saying they’ve been here thirty years but aren’t “resident”. The logic escapes me but the fact is that if you live here, you are resident. And as such, you are required by law to register with the police. Anyone not doing so is an illegal immigrant. It really is that simple.
Updated 5 Feb 2pm: As I posted on Monday, all we have confirmed at the moment is that the current criteria for registration will apply until 14 February. Today, we have been advised that the Extranjería in Santa Cruz has put registration appointments on hold from 14 February. Whether this pause is to introduce the new criteria that will be put in place at some point, or whether it’s connected to the TIE, at the moment we don’t know.
While I’m here, the photo below is one that was taken of a meeting of advisers, charities, etc and the Consulate team with the UK’s Ambassador to Spain (the very tall man in the middle behind me) who visited the Canaries with his wife last month.
Updated 5 February: A reminder of the website for people to check the 90/180 days rule: please see the information and calculator HERE. 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.
Please note: 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.
British nationals will not need a visa to enter the Schengen area after the Transition Period which ends 31 December this year. Extranjería has said they will start stamping British passports on 1 February this year so they will be able to monitor the system.
British visitors are expected, however, to need an ETIAS to enter the EU/Schengen Area, as will British nationals resident in Spain who are going to another EU/Schengen area country. Resident British nationals will not need an ETIAS to return “home” to Spain from the UK. There is full information on ETIAS in the post HERE.
Updated 3 February: The Consulate has confirmed this morning that the criteria for registering with the police and obtaining the Certificado de Registro – the only document that proves legal residence in Spain – will remain the same as previously until 14 February. Beyond that we have no confirmation presently as to whether criteria will remain the same, change a little, or a lot. Once there is an update I’ll clarify, of course.
With regard to registrations themselves, they are still exclusively at present in the Extranjería in Santa Cruz, but from now appointments are strongly recommended. Those who turn up will probably be seen at some point but the only sensible advice right now is to make an appointment. That must be done online: as before the website to do so is HERE. There are no more block bookings or accompanied visits by the Adeje FOCUS group which has helped British nationals register before the UK left the EU. From now, registrants who do not speak Spanish will need to engage a translator privately to accompany them.
As and when there’s more information, of course I’ll publish it here.
Updated 31 January, 11.05pm: As I publish this update at just past 11pm in the UK and Canaries, midnight CET, the United Kingdom has now left the European Union. To the casual observer living in or visiting Spain for the rest of 2020, little will appear to have changed: this is not because concerns about Brexit were “Project Fear” but because the UK is leaving with a deal which establishes an Implementation Period until 31 December 2020. This period is intended to smooth the disruption caused by the rupture of a political union that has lasted just three years short of half a century, but although the transition was originally intended to last two years, it is now just 11 months because the extensions to Brexit negotiations prior to the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement have eaten into the time.
The Implementation Period means that the abrupt No Deal cliff edge has been avoided, and so British nationals who want to live in Spain have until the end of this year to register as residents in the country. Those who do so will be able to live their lives here under the same conditions as currently for as long as they remain in the country. British visitors to Spain, too, will still be able to stay within the EU for as long as they want this year because the restriction of 90 visa-free days in any 180-day period, which applies to all third-country nationals, does not apply until after the Implementation Period ends on 31 December. None the less, monitoring and liaising systems between Spain and the UK are already being put in place and Immigration Control says it intends to start stamping British passports, as it does to other non-EU passports, from tomorrow.
With regard to British driving licences, visiting British drivers will continue to be able to drive here on their UK licences through the Implementation Period but will need an International Driving Permit from 1 January 2021. Residents are required to exchange their licences either after registered residence of two years or at the point their licence expires, and they are now advised very strongly by every British and Spanish authority to do this as quickly as possible to ensure this is achieved before 31 December. Failure to exchange when required will result in the driver needing to take a Spanish driving test to be in possession of a valid licence, and possibly other conditions which might come to be imposed on British drivers who will of course be non-EU nationals. The UK authorities and Tráfico (as of today) have confirmed that applications for exchange can be submitted throughout this year. Please note that the UK has formally confirmed that Spanish driving licences will always be accepted in the UK.
Beyond these relative certainties, virtually everything else is unclear. We don’t even have confirmation that the criteria for registration will remain the same after tomorrow. After 31 December British nationals who wish to register will have to meet new criteria, whether those that are currently in force for third-country nationals or new criteria yet to be specifically composed for British nationals. What we do not know for sure is whether the current registration criteria will change before the end of the year nor what the new requirements will be when they do come into force. Clarification is also lacking in one respect for those who are already registered and legally resident in Spain: they will have to exchange their registration certificate, the Certificado de Registro, for a new third-country nationals’ ID card, the Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero, but neither detail nor timescale for the exchange is yet available.
These are the sorts of details we can hope will become clearer throughout the coming months while negotiations now start on the second half of Brexit. Because all that has been achieved so far is that we’ve left the EU with an agreement to leave. Trade, services, financial markets, business affairs, movement of people and goods, licences, the S1 system, the Irish border, mobile phone roaming charges, the Erasmus and other coordinated educational schemes, nuclear accords, security systems like the European Arrest Warrant from which the UK is excluded from tomorrow by Germany, Austria and Slovenia, with others expected to follow in short order … all these are to be determined in what remains of the original two-year Implementation Period, now reduced to just 11 months and ending with the close of this year. Nothing, however, is even likely to start until March because it is only now that Brexit has actually happened that the EU can put in place for the next stage its own negotiating mandates and teams to be formed by elected national leaders, a process in which the UK will, naturally, have no input.
And in this coming 11 months, which can be extended but only if a request – which Boris Johnson has refused to make – is submitted to the EU by the end of June, everything else must be agreed. Many say it is impossible. And the negotiations will be done very secretly compared with the tortuous process of the Withdrawal Agreement’s ratification because this time a 40-strong team codenamed Taskforce Europe answerable to no-one but Number 10 will negotiate without any oversight by Parliament. What we will know of the process, therefore, is debatable since scrutiny will be limited to what we are allowed to be told with no obvious means of verification. What is clear, however, is that if the year ends with no agreement, the UK will once again be facing a cliff edge, an economic, commercial and security one this time rather than a political one.
The UK has leapt into the dark and a new era has now started. The United Kingdom is no longer in the European Union. Whether its own Union will survive the upheaval, with much talk of a united Ireland and the Scottish Parliament voting to keep the EU flag flying over Hollyrood and insisting on another independence referendum, is another matter.
Updated 6pm: And the EU Parliament has approved the Withdrawal Agreement. If anyone had any remnants of any doubt, they can no longer maintain them. The UK leaves the EU at 11pm this Friday, in 53 hours time.
Updated 5pm: The UK Government has issued THIS advice on travel to the EU from January next year. Of course the page will be updated with further information as negotiations continue and agreements might be reached throughout this year, and anyone who wishes can register for email updates.
Updated 4pm: To add to this morning’s update from the FCO about driving licences, that is the official UK stance. Nothing changes until the end of the year. BUT as of this morning, Tráfico is saying that they will not accept exchanges after Friday. They say they will advise if they are told anything different. DVLA meanwhile is not replying to any requests, and has not been for the last fortnight.
I know this will be seen as confusing, and I and others are already said to be making a fortune from “scaremongering”, but I give you the facts and you decide what to do with them. For the record, it is officially released info so if it’s “scaremongering” I am at worst a conduit rather than source, and for the absolute record, I do NO work in this field and so have not earned a single cent from anything related to Brexit. Nor intend to.
Updated 29 January: The FCO in Madrid has clarified about driving licence exchange applications. The 31 Jan deadline only applied to a No Deal situation and there is now a deal, already passed by the UK Parliament and to be passed by the EU Parliament later today. This means that the 31 deadline does not exist, and exchanges can be made throughout this year … and can be applied for at any time, but obviously the sooner the better. The FCO says:
We know there has been some confusion around the exchange of UK driving licences and whether you need to start the process by 31 January. The information currently on the DGT website referring to the need to register your details by 31 January would apply only to a no-deal scenario. The UK is set to leave the EU with a deal under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. In practice this means that the rules around the exchange of UK licences will remain the same during the transition period. You will have until 31 December to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one under the current rules, so there is no need to worry if you are unable to start the process before 31 January. But don’t leave it til the last minute – book an appointment on dgt.es as soon as you can. Remember you can exchange your licence anywhere in Spain – it doesn’t have to be where you are officially resident. Once you have made the exchange, your Spanish licence will be accepted in the UK when you visit and you can exchange it for a UK licence again should you return to the UK permanently.
Updated 28 January: British Consul Charmaine Arbouin has sent the following message to British nationals in Spain.
The Withdrawal Agreement which sets out how the UK leaves the EU has now passed into UK law, which, once the European Parliament has ratified it this week, means that the UK is leaving the EU with a deal on 31 January.
This is very positive news for UK nationals who are resident in Spain, as the Withdrawal Agreement contains some really important protections for your rights:
- You will be able to continue to live and work in Spain
- UK state pensioners will continue to have lifelong healthcare as long as they remain living in Spain. This also applies to residents who claim a UK state pension in the future
- Your UK state pension will continue to be uprated
- You will be able to exchange your driving licence until the end of 2020 without taking a driving test and your Spanish licence will be accepted in the UK when you visit
Those rights will be protected for as long as you live in Spain, provided you are legally resident here by the end of 2020.
The Withdrawal Agreement also provides an Transition Period (from 31 January until 31 December) during which time nothing will change for UK Nationals in Spain.
Charmaine Arbouin said: “The approval of the Withdrawal Agreement is a very important step for UK nationals living here. It provides reassurance on key rights, such as being able to continue to live and work here, and for pensioners to have lifelong healthcare and uprated pensions. Alongside those rights, you have obligations – the main one being to make sure you are registered with a green residency certificate. This remains a valid document after 31 January and we will communicate any details on future residency processes once we have them. For further information visit the Living in Spain Guide on gov.uk”.
To view the latest video message from HMA Hugh Elliott to UK nationals visit HERE.
To put your questions to HMA Hugh Elliott and Regional Consular Policy Adviser Lorna Geddie join our Facebook Live Q&A on Friday 31 January at midday (CET) HERE.
Information for UK nationals can be found at gov.uk/livinginspain
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, especially 20 January update).
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
— EU Delegation UK (@EUdelegationUK) 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”.