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  • Writer's picture Maura Hillen


Maura Hillen, Hillen Real Estate and Emma Randle, Spanish Residency and Legal Advice

The period of transition to implement the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union is due to end on 31st December 2020.

Those who have been given permission to reside permanently in Spain before this deadline will have the rights of residence, free movement and social security recognised in the Withdrawal Agreement. These UK nationals will be classified as “beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement”.

Those who arrive after that date will have different, and as yet unknown, rights based on a bi-lateral agreement between the UK and the EU, or, in its absence, those rights recognised by Spanish Law.

Until 31st December 2020, the residency requirements for UK nationals remain the same and, based on practical experience in Almeria, the requirements are:

  1. Pensioners: Proof of state pension (normally letter from DWP) and S1 letter for healthcare

  2. Own means: Proof of income or capital of around 6,000 euros per person or 10,000 euros per couple, best proved by funds in a Spanish bank account. Private health insurance paid up and fully comprehensive.

  3. Working: contract of employment or registration as self-employed along with confirmation of being active in the social security system.

These requirements are a guide and not exhaustive. Any non-Spanish documents must be officially translated (except the S1 letter which is an approved EU document).

The TIE card

As from 6th July all UK citizens applying for the right to remain permanently in Spain are now issued with the residencia document normally issued to applicants from non-EU member states. It is called a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjeros (TIE) and comes in the form of a handy credit card sized plastic photo ID. If you apply prior to 31st December 2020 your TIE will explicitly mention your status as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you already have the EU green residency document, you are also covered under the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, if you do not yet have residency, the important point to note is that you should, if you can do so, sort out your residencia before 31st December 2020. After that date the requirements for you to obtain residencia and your rights are, for the moment, an unknown quantity.

Your Questions answered

The information presented here has been collated from information provided by the British Embassy in Madrid, the Government of Spain and practical experience in Almeria.

I currently live here but I DO NOT have residencia

All UK nationals who have resided in Spain for more than 3 months are required to apply for residencia or to return to their country of origin. If you wish to continue to live here apply for your residencia NOW. Time is running out.

I have the green A4 size residencia document. Do I need to exchange it for a TIE card?

You can continue to reside in Spain with this document but you and your family can now also apply for a TIE which explicitly mentions your status as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement. Whilst this is not obligatory the Spanish Government indicates that it will facilitate administrative procedures and the crossing of external borders.

There is no deadline for exchanging your existing residency documents for a TIE.

The procedure to exchange your residence document for a TIE is as follows in Almeria:

  1. You have to request an appointment at Extranjería and attend in person to apply for the TIE. You need the completed application form EX23, your passport, small photo and the fee of 12 euros paid in advance.

  2. Once the application is processed, including giving your fingerprint, you are given a date and time to return, also in person, to collect the card.

My green residencia document does not have the word “permanente” on it. Is it still valid?

Yes. It is still valid. But, as above, you may find it more convenient to have a TIE card as time moves on.

Will I need a work permit to continue to work in Spain?

No. If you have residencia prior to 31st December you may continue to live, work or study in Spain under the same essential conditions as under EU law.

If I have residence in Spain can I move to live in another EU country?

Your residencia permits you to reside in Spain. Future mobility will be subject to negotiations within the framework of the future relationship between the UK and the EU. In the absence of such an agreement you will need to satisfy the residency requirements of the country you wish to move to.

My residencia states that I am a UK citizen, but I also have an Irish passport. As Ireland continues to be an EU member state, what should I do?

If you have residency as a UK citizen, that will continue, you will have the citizens’ rights awarded under the Withdrawal Agreement and you can change to a TIE as above if you wish to.

If you wish to change your status in Spain to an Irish national, you will need to apply again for EU residency using your Irish passport.

I only live here part time. Do I need residencia?

After you have lived here for a consecutive period of three months you are required to apply for residency.

If you do not have residency the periods of time you can spend in Spain will be limited to less than three months.

If you come and go but are here for a total of 183 days in any one year, you are classed as being tax resident in Spain and should get your residencia.

If you live here permanently but do not have residencia and still drive a UK registered car and go back to the UK for hospital treatments etc, you are likely to encounter difficulties as time moves on.

What happens if my residencia application is refused?

If your application is rejected, your rejection notice will tell you the formalities relating to an appeal, the deadlines and to whom you must submit it. If your appeal procedure fails you may then take the matter to court.

What happens if I apply for residencia after 31st December 2020?

United Kingdom nationals entering Spain after 1st January 2021 will be considered as third country nationals. Therefore, you will be subject to general immigration regime of Spain, unless there is some specific agreement between the UK and the EU. Currently no such agreement exists.

Other reliable sources of information

Need Help?

Contact Emma via email

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