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New rules on Spanish residency permits are good news for Brits in Spain

The British exit from the EU on January the 31st seems like a lifetime ago, as the events of recent months have been so tumultuous. But Brexit hasn’t gone away, just disappeared from view, and the uncertainty it creates still affects us in many ways, both big and small.

British residents in Spain, in particular, must be wondering what their rights will be when the UK’s definitive break with Europe comes at the end of the transition period, which happens when 2020 draws to a close. In this case, we have good news for you.

From July 6th onwards, all United Kingdom nationals, their family members, and any other resident in Spain, can request a residence document, called an Expat/Foreigner Identity Card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero in Spanish, or TIE for short) which explicitly sets their status as beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement of the United Kingdom from the European Union (article 18.4) that entered into force on February 1st, and means the implementation of the European Union law in terms of free movement with applicable specifications. Therefore, there will be no obligation for them to request a new residence status, or even undergoing a new evaluation process, with all the consequences that entails.

In the case of those whose right of residence starts after the end of the transitional period, the deadline for submitting the residence card application will be three months from the moment they arrived, or birth took place. Once this period expires, immigration officials will evaluate the circumstances, and the reasons why the deadline was missed, with a view to giving an additional period to the person concerned in order to re-apply.

The format of this residency document will be the same as the residence permit for third country nationals, and it will be valid for 5 to 10 years. After that, the document will be renewed automatically every ten years, with different requirements depending on the starting temporary or permanent status.

It is also important to bear in mind that the above mentioned Withdrawal Agreement does not demand a physical presence in Spain at the time when the transitional period ends, so in this sense, temporary absences must be accepted, as well as longer absences not affecting the right to a permanent residence.

For help with Spanish residency procedures, tax solutions, cross-border financial optimisation, and conveyancing services please get in touch.

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13 thoughts on “New rules on Spanish residency permits are good news for Brits in Spain

  • I have a question for Claudio Rodriguez.

    You state that a U.K. National or any other resident in Spain CAN request a T.I.E. Does that mean he or she MUST request one?
    My wife and I are British nationals, we have green N.I.E. documents (size A4), we have a property here in which we have lived full time for 19 years, we declare taxes here, we are “empadronados” here and we have Catalan CatSalut healthcare cards. So do we really NEED a T.I.E. as well?

    Thanks in advance for your reply, which I think would also interest many other readers of this bulletin.

    • Julio Prieto says:

      Hi my name is Julio Prieto, from Del Canto Chambers. Yes, you will need to request the new residence card document that Brits can request now in Spain that covers you as British resident in Spain by the terms of Article 18.4 of the Withdrawal Agreement between UK and Spain. This card substitute the TIE only for British people residence in Spain. It is not sufficient with the A4 NIE and the padrón or being registered in the health system. All British citizens have 3 months to obtain this card from his arrival to Spain and since the 6th July. We will be happy to assist you in here clerk@delcantochambers.com

  • I have a question for Claudio,

    We are in the process of trying to obtain a Spanish residency before Brexit. We have our NIE number, Spanish bank account, S1 health card, and a 6-month Spanish tenancy agreement starting in September
    and looking to purchase a Villa in the near future with a permanent move, slightly confused what is required as TIE is not citizenship?

  • Hi MarkDavid
    My understanding is, that there is no REQUIREMENT to apply for a TIE, if you’re in possession of a current and valid residency document (green card or green A4 sheet). However, the TIE will specifically state that the holder benefits from the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. And (to my knowledge) it will also act as a valid means of ID, when travelling through Spain. Don’t forget, that officially, us Brits have to carry our passports at all times: the TIE will be far more convenient to carry in a wallet or purse. I am not an abogado, or legally qualified and hopefully, Claudio Rodriguez, will respond to the point you’ve raised.

    • Julio Prieto says:

      Thank you Garrys, you are right but now from 6th of July The Green card (NIE) is substituted by the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. So it is a simple card replacement for those who obtained the green NIE but for those that are not registered as residents in Spain. They will have to prove their residence with the padrón and tenancy or proof of purchase as well as their working or pension status in Spain. Thanks. Julio

  • Hi,
    After Dec 31, its going to be near impossible to retire to Spain. Our dream lays shattered!
    I will be 65 with 2 good pensions, will buy house outright and we both hold savings. Yes we will have have Private Health Care but have also read you to have income of £32,000…

    • Julio Prieto says:

      Hi keithtoon

      I am afraid that we will need to wait for the terms of negotiations between the UK and the EU which still debating the terms of the Withdrawal, so we don’t know yet the future relationship. In this scenario it will be applied by the terms of reciprocity so also it much depends on what the UK government will do with the EU people that wants to retire in the UK. The good thing is that the UK and Spain have already an agreement on social security for pensioners that is even before (1975) the entrance of Spain in the EU and I am confident that both countries will work in a reasonable way to facilitate that British pensioners can move to Spain to live. All the best. Julio

  • SpanishFly2007 says:

    Hi good evening,

    We all have different circumstances, but Brexit has caused collateral damage I guess to a lot of existing residents and aspiring owners.

    I sympathise with Keith Toon. I am 65, but will be 66 in December. I have owned a house in Spain since 2007 with a view to my wife and I retiring there. Thanks to Brexit, I now have to do the following:

    1. Apply for my S1 in mid November, which I can do one month before my 66th birthday. I am told the S1 is sent out pretty quickly to my registered address in Spain, but they tell you it will take a lot longer than it probably does in practical terms.

    2. I then have to plan to go out to Spain in mid December around my birthday and get the appointment for residency and register the S1 before 31 December.

    3. I really needed to work for another 18-24 months for going out there for good. I am now aced with having to go out earlier than originally planned, just to preserve the S1 entitlement to Spanish health service.

    It seems to me that the UK and Spain just picked the nice easy beneficiaries of reciprocal arrangements after Brexit to finalise the withdrawal agreement and those of us who have invested in Spain for years can get lost as usual. Maybe time to forget about our dream as well and find another country that welcomes people who support their economy.

    As a lawyer myself (a paralegal), I cannot agree with Claudio that all this is good news. It simply confirms in written terms what reciprocal arrangements were agreed. The Spanish are not giving UK anything we are not giving Spain and if I remember rightly, UK were quick to assure EU national that their existing status would not be affected by Brexit.

    • Julio Prieto says:

      I agree with Claudio in the sense that these are good news from the point of view that it does not change the status of the British People that are already resident in Spain. It is just an administrative arrangement. Hopefully both countries will be working together in this special relationship. It obeys to the principle of reciprocity in international law between the EU States, same as the UK is doing with the Settled and Pre-settled status. The problem is that previously to Brexit the countries did not check very hard who or not stayed in the country more than 3 months and the rules were clear so they were in a limb of residence. So although Brexit is altering much the socioeconomic aspects of our lives. From that point of view, I think is a good thing that people register to regularise their residence status in any country and having access to public services.

  • Can someone please help me, I’m very confused. I’m 56 and my wife and I want to retire to Spain in the next few months. My works pension will only be about £450 a month and we’ll have about £450 a month as well from a house we rent out in the UK. We’ll be buying a house ( cash ) and will probably be left with about £30,000 to put in a Spanish bank. Reading recent posts, am I living in cloud cuckooland and what is the criteria for moving to Spain and gaining residency. We would take out private health cover so wouldn’t be a burden on their health service. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Having returned to London 10 years ago after 8 years living in Spain, I’d like to return there to live but am unable to do so in the short-term. Ideally, I’d like to get my TIE card this year, ready for my move back at a later stage. But would I be able to do this without having to actuallylive there permanently. For example, could I go over this September, get the card and then come home again? Or would I have to stay? And – importantly – would I have to go through the rigmarole of being registered with the Hacienda etc? Does anyone know please? Many thanks!

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