Brexit warning as British expats in Spain told to ‘get a move on’ with key document

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From January 1 last year, after the Brexit transition period ended, British nationals were considered non-EU citizens. In Spain, the transition period allowed the more than 350,000 Britons living in the country to make arrangements for their residency post-Brexit. Expats already resident in Spain before last year were able to simply exchange their original residency documents for a TIE – a new biometric ID card.

This was not obligatory, but was strongly encouraged by the British and Spanish governments.

However, for Britons starting their residency application from scratch from 2021, the process is more difficult.

People who fall into this category include those looking to move from the UK to Spain and those already living in the country, but who have never obtained Spanish residency.

Darren Parmenter, a British councillor in Spain, told that British expats without Spanish residency urgently need to complete the process.

He said: “Basically, get a move on, get that residency process carried out.

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“The longer it goes on, the harder it might be to actually be accepted for residency.”

Mr Parmenter serves the town of San Fulgencio on Spain’s Costa Blanca – an area with a high proportion of British expats.

The Londoner, who has lived in Spain for 32 years, issued his warning after his recent residency talks with the British consul and vice consul.

Their meeting was also attended by residency advisers from Association Babelia, a group awarded UK Government funding to help Britons apply for Spanish residency under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

Speaking about the meeting, Mr Parmenter said: “It emphasised the situation of people that have been living here for some years without residency and those that do come under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

The large number of long-term British expats residing in Spain without residency has raised eyebrows among officials, according to Mr Parmenter.

He said: “My understanding is that the Spanish authorities have actually been quite surprised at the amount of people that have waited until 2021 to apply for residency.

“But have actually been living here and are proving they are living here for sometimes, five, 10, 15 years.

“And they’re questioning, ‘Well, why have you left it so long?’

“Because the rules have always been, since 2007, anyone of any non-Spanish nationality that wants to live in Spain for more than three months was required to apply for a Spanish residency.”

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New data suggests that there are still as many as 250,000 British nationals in Spain who have not applied for a TIE card post-Brexit.

Since the Spanish government began issuing the new documents in late 2020, only 180,000 Britons out of the 430,000 estimated to be living in Spain, have successfully received the new document.

The figures were revealed in a report published last week by the Specialised Committee on Citizens’ Rights, which was set up under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Mr Parmenter said that post-Brexit the Spanish authorities appeared to be enforcing the rules on residing in Spain, including the three-month limit on stays for those without residency.

He said: “Okay, people can say that it wasn’t monitored or it wasn’t controlled before Brexit.

“Now it is being controlled because of a passport being stamped or not stamped.

“That’s when people now are sticking to the limits of the three months that they’re allowed, whereas beforehand, the laws weren’t being enforced for whatever reason.”

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