Getting residency in Spain during the Transition Period?

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For UK passport holders, getting residency in Spain during the Transition Period as an EU citizen is still possible.  Currently, you can still get Spanish residency under the same conditions as before Brexit and there’s little doubt that it will be harder to get residency in Spain after the end of this year.

We are currently in the Transition Period which lasts until the 31st December 2020 and it is still possible to get residency as an EU citizen in Spain if you are British until the end of this period. This is important because it means that UK passport holders who successful regularize their residency status will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. But things are already changing. 

Although the British consulate in Spain is constantly publishing updates about getting residency in Spain during the Transition Period, to get a better idea of what’s currently happening and what’s going to happen, we need to take a look at the latest information published by the Spanish government. 

But how does the information published on the Spanish government website compare to what is happening in and around the National Police stations when British citizens are applying for residency during the transition period?

Firstly, the availability of appointments varies widely between the different regions and autonomous communities. Although there is an online portal to book, the appointment availability is managed locally by individual offices and some, like in the province of Cadiz, are still not available online. 

During the Transition Period, we were informed that the current small green card style ‘Certificado de registro de ciudadano de la Unión’ would be available for UK citizens until the 31st January, then it was extended 15 days until the 14th February and subsequently been extended by 15 day periods until the state of emergency was declared. 

The Spanish government stated in the information:

 “Until the Spanish government has available the issuance of a Foreign Identity Card that explicitly mentions your condition as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement, you may request your certificate of registration – green certificate – and/or cards of relatives of EU citizens to the Offices of Foreign Affairs and Police Stations.”

So we assume that once the State of Alarm is lifted, we will go back to being able to book appointments and that the green cards will continue to be issued until the authorities switch to issuing the new “Foreign Identity Card that explicitly mentions your condition”.
Once these new cards are issued, the requirements to get it should be the same up until the 31st December 2020. The Spanish government website states this saying “The Withdrawal Agreement establishes a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which the Withdrawal Agreement will apply, and therefore your rights will be derived from the application of EU law”

Back in March 2019, Spain published a contingency plan for a No Deal Brexit. In the plan, which makes reference to what paperwork Brits will need, they explain the various situations in which a British citizen could find themselves and what they will need to do. They state:

“Si el nacional del Reino Unido, o su familiar, ya contase con un certificado de registro previo o con una tarjeta de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión, la solicitud se dirigirá a la unidad que se determine en las instrucciones mencionadas en el apartado 1 de este artículo, que sustituirá dicho certificado o tarjeta por una tarjeta de identidad de extranjero.

Here they make reference to the TIE card  (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero). This style of card is what non-Europeans currently receive when they apply for residency. It is assumed that this is what British citizens who have registered in Spain before the end of the Transition Period will eventually need to switch to. 

We also assume that during the Transition Period, the Authorities will transition to issuing this card, but with a statement printed on the card which matches what they state on the government’s website i.e. “beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement”.

So to summarise, yes you can still get residency under the same conditions that applied before Brexit until the end of the Transition Period (which may now be extended due to Covid 19 ) but during this period the style of residency card and application process may change. 

During the Transition Period, if you are in receipt of (or already have) a green style EU ´Certificado de registro de ciudadano de la Unión´ then eventually you will need to switch this for the new style TIE card once they start to issue it. But the timescale to do so will go beyond the end of the Transition Period because you have already declared your residency in Spain. 

One thing is for sure, getting your residency in Spain is going to be easier now than after the end of the Transition Period. The Spanish government state that:

“The rights of British citizens and their family members who begin their legal residence in Spain after the Transition Period will be those established by the agreement regulating future relations; if there is none, the general arrangements governing foreign residents in Spain will be applicable.”

We don’t yet know what the “agreement regulating future relations” will be, and if it’s expected to be reciprocal to whatever the UK government puts in place. With the hard stance the UK government are taking on immigration, it will most certainly be more difficult post Brexit, so getting residency in Spain during the Transition Period is advisable. 

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The information in this article was correct on the date published.
Article last reviewed 1.8.2022

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