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Brexit: What to do if you haven’t got your Spain residency papers in order yet

The Local Spain
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Brexit: What to do if you haven’t got your Spain residency papers in order yet
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Brits who failed to legally register in Spain before the original Brexit day of March 29th have reported difficulties getting their papers in order. Here’s what you need to know:


In the months and weeks leading up to March 29th - the original Brexit date – we urged readers to make sure that they had registered properly with the Spanish authorities to ensure that they could legally stay in the country in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Well that date has been and gone but we are still no closer to knowing whether or not the UK will ratify a withdrawal agreement or crash out of the European Union with a no-deal Brexit. Or when that might happen.

But there are reasons to be calm in Spain. Last month, in a move that was hugely welcomed by Brits living in Spain, the Spanish government signed a Royal Decree to set out contingency plans covering a No-Deal Brexit that would “assure the continued rights of those British living in Spain”.


The measures, which were formally announced on March 1st, included the guarantee that those Britons legally resident in Spain on March 29th would be offered new permanent residency papers

Yes, there will be some more bureaucracy to navigate as British residence in Spain will have to apply for a new foreigner identity card, sometime before December 31th 2020.

“The process will be nearly automatic,” for those who already have permanent residency, said the text.

In order to make sure that, whatever happens, Brits in Spain are in the best place to secure their rights, they need to ensure that they are indeed a legal resident.

British Embassy officials had emphasised that Brits living in Spain should ensure that they were properly registered before March 29th.

If you don't have either of the two documents above then you are NOT registered as a resident in Spain.

“Please make sure you are registered correctly and that means that you should have either an A4 size green piece of paper or a small credit card size piece of green paper,” explained Sarah-Jane Morris, the Consul General, at various outreach events held across Spain.

Spanish authorities estimated that more than 300,000 Brits are officially registered but suspect that there are tens of thousands more entitled to do so.

Registering is essential for anyone who has spent more than three months in Spain and involves making an appointment at your local foreigners office (Extranjeria) or if there isn't one then your local National Police station.

But because of the sudden rush to register before Brexit happened, appointments are scarce and some people have even been turned away and told it is no longer possible.

But don’t despair, the Spanish government guaranteed that those who have proof that they lived her before the UK leaves the EU will have their rights guaranteed.

Here’s what you need to do:

Securing a ‘cita previa' – private appointment - is notoriously difficult and can require dozens of attempts as they are only released a certain number of weeks in advance and there is currently quite a backlog.

You need to keep checking the online appointment system for new residency appointments on a weekly basis.

The British consulate in Malaga advises “to keep (print out) any documentation that you receive, even the rejection notification of no appointments available and keep these for proof that you have been trying to get an appointment, to start the residency application process just in case to show later on when you do eventually get an appointment.”

For the step by step guide in how to get residency READ MORE

Register on the padron:

If  you haven’t done this yet, you should. And it’s fairly straightforward although you will need a “cita previa” at the town hall.

This provides proof that you were living in Spain. The certificate itself is only valid for three months at a time. But once you are registered you do not need to re-register every 3 months but you do need to return to the town hall every three months to request another copy of the certificate (currently it is free of charge) – useful if going forward you need to prove how long you have been living here.  

All you need is proof that you live where you live -  a utility bill will do.

Don’t Panic!

The British Embassy have put this reassuring message on their website:

“We know many of you are worried that you haven’t got your residency certificate yet and are unable to get an appointment, but the message is: don’t panic! Even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Spanish Government has given a 21-month grace period when you will be legally resident, whether you have your document or not.  

More information:

FCO website 'Living in Spain' HERE and their Facebook page HERE

Spanish government dedicated Brexit information page HERE

List of provincial Extranjerias - foreigner offices - HERE 

READ ALSO: How to exchanging your British driving licence for a Spanish one 







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