Residency in Spain for British Citizens and that little green card

Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión for British Citizens

Another day, another residency this morning in Malaga. After visiting ‘Extranjeria’  (foreigners department), who issue the Residency in Spain for British Citizens and that little green card called a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión. It feels like one of those absurd Facebook posts with a futuristic image and the caption  “The year is 2159 – the Brexit transition period is in its ……..”

Yet again there is an extension on the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión for British citizens, this time until mid-March. There is also mass confusion as to what position us Brits will be in once the card is no longer issued.

If you´re reading this blog and you already confused, it’s probably a good idea for me to begin from the beginning and explain.. ….

The Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión, commonly known as a Residency card, is what all British citizens should apply and have,  if they are spending more than 90 days in Spain. Of course, with the UK now out of the EU, British citizens  no longer have the right to this card, as it is a ‘Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión’ a registration of an EU citizen.

During the pre-Brexit period, we had numerous  deadlines for when this card would be available and it was  widely publicised by the authorities on both sides, that you need this card before the deadline to be able to facilitate a switch to the new TIE card  ‘Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero’.

Back when Teresa May was at the helm in the UK, the first panic date to get your Residency card was the end of March 2019, until a stumbling few days where all British applicants were sent to the Interior minister to apply for Residency because no one knew what they were actually going to get, until normal play was resumed. Then, it was back to your local ‘Extranjeria’ when the UK parliament voted for a further Brexit extension until the end of October 2019, thus setting a new panic date for the end of October, which was then   extended again due to the UK general election.,

Following the Conservative win, this was then extended until the 31st of January 2020 when the UK officially left the EU and we entered the transition period.

So, in total we’ve had about 5 panic ridden deadlines in which people had to rush to get there Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano.

Since the 31st of January 2020, the issuing of the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano for British citizens has been extended by a further two weeks at a time when no one has a clue when the new TIE card will be implemented.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government have published on their website –

” You have to bear in mind that the registration certificates (the green certificate) and ID cards of family members of the EU citizen obtained before the end of the transition period will subsequently serve to accredit their legal residence in Spain and benefit from the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement. However, the Spanish government is working together with the European Commission to have a Foreign Identity Card that explicitly mentions your condition as beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement. The procedure for processing this card in the coming months will be completed soon ”

So, we expect at some point there to be a switch to the new TIE card, but we have no clue, when and how they will implement it. During the withdrawal agreement period you would imagine that when they do implement the new card , the requirements will be the same as the ‘Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano’  but the card will state the condition under which you got it, i,e within/during  the withdrawal period.

The government website also states –

‘’The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period to be established lasting from the withdrawal date to 31 December 2020. This period may be extended’’

One thing is clear, it will be a different process for UK citizens that do not have the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano’  or the new, TIE card in place by any absolute deadline as they will more than likely have to register like any other non-EU member –  starting at the Interior ministry.

If you already have your Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano, or you have a family member who is Non EU but is residing in Spain through your EU status, the Spanish government insure:

“Registration certificates (the green certificate) and ID cards of family members of the EU citizen obtained before the end of the transition period will subsequently serve to accredit their legal residence in Spain”

But if you are holder of one of these cards then you will need to switch it for a TIE card at some point in the future. Again, we don’t know the date, process and requirements yet.

A UK Foreign Office representative  in Malaga, I spoke to, mentioned that they imagined it would be a direct switch to a 10 year TIE card for UK citizens with the permanent Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano .For people who have had the card less than 5 years, there’s a possibility that they will switch to a 5 year TIE, which takes into account the time they have already spent here.

What shocked me is that the representative said people who have had a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano´ for more than 5 years and haven’t switched to a permanent one, could find themselves at the back of the queue and be considered to have nothing. Although British government have recently published that the certificates without permanent on them won’t have a problem? But my advice would be if you have a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano which is 5 years older or more – switch it quickly for a permanent one.

One thing is for sure, if you haven’t got your ducks in a row and your Residency sorted out its time to get your skates on….

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. This residency in Spain for British Citizens also extended to members of your family as long as they qualify as beneficiaries and you have sufficient recourse to support them and yourself. 

Before Brexit, British citizens would follow the same process as any other citizen from an EU  country when registering as Spanish residents. As long as they meet the requirements stipulated by the government and implemented by the national policies stations with foreigners departments up and down Spain, they would receive there Certificado de registro de ciudadano de la Unión and happily go about the life in Spain as residents. Then after 5 years would switch this card for a permanent one, which then means you would never have to go to the police station again. Unless of course you lost your card or changed your address. 

Then on the 26th of June 2016, with the Brexit vote suddenly this all changed. We then entered a period of uncertainty which has thrown some real curveballs at British citizens who want to live in Spain. In theory, nothing has changed yet,  the requirements to get residency in Spain during the Brexit process shouldn´t change until the UK leaves the EU on the 31st of December 2020. But in practice, it has been a roller coaster ride. 

The ambiguous manner in which some national police stations requested paperwork has often been bright into questions with different places requesting different things. The principal part of the application is to prove you have healthcare and can support yourself. But even if you meet the requirements knowing the paperwork you have to present isn’t always the easiest thing 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 become unstuck. As a company we have slightly different protocols with the paperwork we request from our clients depending on the police station in which we need to present their application when we assist them.

During this period, in which we have had endless delays, British citizens have found themselves rushing to get residency before the cut-off date only to find that it has been extended even further. Regions like Malaga have made a significant effort assisting British citizens in gaining residency but opening extra appointments and taking on extra staff while other like Granada have closed down appointments until they have a clear indication from the central government of what will happen. 

The Spanish government when it looked like we may leave without a deal did pass a law which outlined the process for British citizens who wished to stay in Spain. Although in the end, this didn’t happen. The law did put a framework in place for things to come. Up until 31st of January 2020, British citizens could still get the EU style residency card the Certificado de Registro de ciudadano de la Unión. Since the 31st of January, we have encountered bi-weekly extensions from the national police stations on the release of this card until they finally put in place the new non-EU model TIE card which all British citizens will finally have. What we do know now, is that during the transition period the requirements for British citizens who would like to obtain residency in Spain should stay the same. But after the 31st of December 2020, because negotiations are still taking place, post Brexit requirements to gain residency in Spain is still unclear but is likely to be reciprocal to what the UK puts in place for EU nationals who wish to reside there. 

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 there local national police station. Non-EU citizens have to start their application with the interior ministry and normally have to wait for approval before they can get their residency. A lot of the time a residency application has to start in the country of origin, whether it be applying for a student visa, non-lucrative residency or joining a member of the family already in Spain. 

The financial requirements are normally a lot 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 above 30,000€

No one knows the future for residency in Spain for British Citizens post-Brexit, but one thing is for sure, if you plan to live in Spain and can get residency before the end of the transition period then it looks like it’s going to be a lot easier then once the UK has left the EU. 

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