It has always been a requirement by law (Real Decreto 240/2007), that if you wish to reside in Spain for more than 90 days you need to register as a resident. Every member of the family that lives with you in Spain must also register – if they don’t meet the requirements individually they can be registered as beneficiaries, if you have sufficient resources to support them and yourself.
Before Brexit, British citizens followed the same process as any other citizen from an EU country when registering as Spanish residents. As long as they met the requirements stipulated by the government, they would be able to register as a European resident on the Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión and receive their residency card known as a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión, then after 5 years, the temporary Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión can be changed for a permanent one. Unless you lost your card or changed your address or any other personal details (like a surname for example), after receiving a permanent residency card as an EU citizen there was no need to update it further.
With Brexit, this has all changed. Up to the point where the Transition Period was agreed, British citizens have found themselves rushing to get Residency before expected cut-off dates, only to find that it has been extended on multiple occasions.
We entered a period of uncertainty which has thrown some real curveballs at British citizens who want to live in Spain. But In theory, as it stands now, until the 31st December 2020, nothing has yet changed in terms of the requirements to get residency in Spain.
Regions like Málaga have made a significant effort assisting British citizens in gaining Residency, by opening extra appointments and taking on extra staff, whilst others like Granada have closed down appointments until they have a clear indication from the central government of what will happen.
The ambiguous manner in which some National Police stations requested paperwork has been called into question, with different stations following slightly different protocols.
The principal part of any application is to prove you have healthcare and can support yourself. But even if you meet these requirements, knowing the paperwork you need to present isn’t always the easiest matter to get your head around. If you don’t know the nuances of your local National Police station in regards to the paperwork they request, you could come unstuck. So forewarned is forearmed and therefore as a company, we have protocols for each individual National Police station where we present residency applications. These protocols adapt the application to the requirements of each Police station.
We do know that during the Transition Period, a switch to a different non-EU style residency card will be implemented for British citizens. This is also the card that current holders of the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión will need to change to eventually.
From 1st January 2021 we just don’t know what the requirements for British citizens will be. Currently, for non-EU citizens, the residency process in Spain is a lot more complicated. EU citizens make their applications directly with the Foreigner’s Department at their local National Police station.
Non-EU citizen residency applications have to start in the country of origin, whether it be applying for a student visa, retired, non-lucrative residency or joining a member of the family already in Spain.
The financial requirements for non-EU citizens are normally much higher. With an EU residency application you would need to prove an annual income of around €5300, with non-EU residency applications the requirement could be closer to €30,000.
No one knows the future, but one thing is for sure, if you plan to live in Spain and can get Residency before the end of the Brexit transition period, then it looks like it’s going to be a much simpler climb and less stress for you, than after the UK has left.
The information in this article was correct on the date published. Last reviewed 17.6.22