Spanish Residency for British nationals, used to be a basic paperwork exercise. It is now a necessity due to Brexit, and the uncertainty of the last few months has made it quite difficult for Brits to get their residency certificates.
Earlier this year, the Spanish Government published its ‘No Deal Brexit’ Contingency Plan. The Contingency Plan was approved by Royal Decree 1st March, and affirms that the Spanish residency certificate will be needed to confirm legal residence in Spain. The plan makes provision for those residing in Spain who’ve not obtained their Spanish residency EU registration certificate before Brexit, to obtain residency documentation. However, it makes clear that British nationals in this situation will be treated differently to to those who have obtained their certificate BEFORE the UK leaves the EU.
Spanish Residency for British Nationals after Brexit
Having reviewed the plan, as far as we can see, post Brexit, all British Nationals residing in Spain will have a grace period. During this period they will need get to a new non EU national Spanish resident identification card. This card is know as a TIE, Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero, and will be needed whether the UK leaves the EU with a deal or not. British nationals applying for this card will fall into four categories.
Category 1 – Holder of a Permanent Spanish residency certificate
This category are those that have a permanent residency certificate. This certificate can be obtained after 5 years of continuous residency in Spain. Having this certificate will entitle the holder to apply for the Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero, WITHOUT having to get residency authorisation. British nationals in this category will have the simplest TIE application process after Brexit.
Category 2 – Holder of a Spanish residency certificate resident in Spain more than 5 years
These are people who have been legally resident in Spain continuously for 5 years or more, but haven’t obtained a permanent residency certificate. For example someone who got their residency certificate 8 years ago, but didn’t apply for a permanent one after they’d had it for 5 years.
If you are in this category, you will be eligible to apply for authorisation for long term residency. Continuous residency has to be proven as part of the application process. If authorisation is given, you can then apply for a long term Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero. At the moment long term TIE’s are issued with a 5 year validity.
Category 3 – Holder of a Spanish residency Certificate resident in Spain less than 5 years
A British national who resides in Spain having obtained a residency certificate within the last 5 years, will be deemed to have non-permanent residency. As such they will be able to apply for temporary Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero. The temporary TIE will be valid for up to five years depending on when the holder first got their residency certificate. For example, someone who has had their Spanish residency certificate for 3 years already, will get a TIE valid for 2 years. They then need to apply for long term residency, and if that is given, get a long term TIE.
Category 4 – Unregistered British Nationals Residing in Spain
All Brits who haven’t obtained a Spanish residency certificate before Brexit, will fall into this category.
Everyone in this category will first have to get authorisation to reside, before applying for a temporary residency card.
The application for residency authorisation will have similar requirements to the existing residency certificate application. I.e. proof of, permanent address, financial means, and access to healthcare. A criminal record check may also be carried out, and the amount of ‘financial means’ required could well be increased.
If the residency authorisation application is rejected, the applicant WILL NOT be able to obtain a residency card, and will therefore no longer be able to legally reside full time in Spain.
Non-EU nationals without visa’s or residency cards, are allowed to stay in Spain for up to 3 months in any 6 month period. This is the default position for UK nationals in Spain, after Brexit and the ‘grace’ or transition period, if they do not have any residency documentation. I.e. in the same category as any other non EU citizens, e.g. USA, China, Russia etc.
Spanish Residency for British Nationals Before Brexit
The categories above show that the more a British national does now to secure their Spanish residency status, the less they will have to do after Brexit. In fact failing to get a residency certificate now, before Brexit, could actually cost many their Spanish residency after Brexit.
The recently agreed ‘flextension’ gives British nationals, more time to get their residency. However it also allows the UK to leave at any time between now and the 31st January. Therefore any Brit living in Spain, or planning to, who has not yet obtained their Spanish residency certificate, is well advised to waste no time and get it now. Likewise, Brits who already have a residency certificate, and have held it for 5 years or more, should apply for their permanent one.