For members


Brexit: How to register as an EU resident in Spain

There is one thing that Brits living in Spain need to make sure they are in the best position ahead of Brexit and the end of the transition period - currently set for December 31st, 2020 - when new rules will come into force.

Brexit: How to register as an EU resident in Spain
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
In order to make sure that, whatever happens, you are in the best place to secure your rights, Brits in Spain need to ensure that they are indeed a legal resident.

All EU/EEA nationals staying in Spain longer than three months should have the residence certificate called Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión (also known as Certificado de Registro Comunitario). 

Around 350,000 Brits are officially registered as living in Spain but estimates suggest there could be as many as 500.000 to 700,000 people who should be registered but aren't.

For those Brits in Spain who have not yet registered and those who will arrive after the 31st January, there is a transition period where it will still be possible to register as a resident under the current EU rules.


Just to be clear, having a NIE .(Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is not a guarantee that you are registered as a resident. This identification number in Spain for everyone who is not a Spanish citizen and can be issued to those who have bought property but don't necessarily live here.

It is also not the same as being registered on the Padron – which is when you register at your local town hall.

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.

“Both of which will say that you are registered with the central register of citizens here in Spain,” she said during a recent Q and A session on the FCO’s Brits in Spain Facebook page.

“If you don’t have one of those then make an appointment ASAP with your local foreigners office (Extranjeria) or if there isn’t one then your local National Police station.”

So, if you have only been here three months, or just never got around to officially registering, here’s the step by step guide to doing it.

READ MORE:  Can Brits still move to Spain after Brexit day?

Make an appointment

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.

INSIDER TIP: Many of the appointments are block booked by Gestors so if you are willing to pay, you can bypass the process and employ someone to do it for you. You do not need to be there in person.

But if you do decide to do it yourself appointments are only available between 8.30am and 2pm and can be made HERE.

– Select your province and click ACCEPTAR and then choose: POLICIA-CERTIFICADOS UE  from the drop down menu.

– You will now see a list in Spanish of documents you need to take with you. This is just for information purposes so scroll down to the end and click on the red ENTRAR button to ask for an appointment.

– On the next page under ‘Tipo de documento’, and select the passport option and enter your passport number and name very carefully to match your passport.

– You will be asked to quickly “prove you are not a robot”, by clicking on some random photos of some items. If your Spanish isn’t good then have a dictionary read to follow the short instructions. There is no rush as you get as many chances as you need to get it right.

– Now press the red SOLICITAR CITA (Request appointment) button at the base.

– A drop-down menu of local National Police stations and their addresses in your province should appear. Choose the one closest to you and then click on the red button that says “Siguiente” (Next).

– You should now enter a phone number and a valid email address twice (to check it is correct). They recommend not to use Hotmail as emails may not arrive. Click on “Siguiente” again.

– Choose the date and time you want.

– Click on “Siguiente” and also Accept (if your browser asks you to).

– The next screen is a summary of what you are reserving. At the end tick the two boxes that say:-

Estoy conforme con la información mostrada en pantalla – I agree with the information on screen.

Deseo recibir un correo electrónico con los datos de mi cita en la dirección que he proporcionado. I wish an email with the appointment information to be sent to me.

INSIDER TIP: Avoid using Hotmail addresses as these can often get lost somehow. Also check your spam mail box. But you don’t need this email confirmation to get through the door. Just makes sure to write down the details and reference number before you close your browser.

A view of the Extranjeria in Jaen. Photo by TrevorHuxham/Flickr 

UPDATE: In the run-up to Brexit becuase so many Brits were applying for residency the Spanish authorities boosted the number of appointments available and in some police stations and foreigners office have dedicated appointment slots specifically for Brits. 

Choose POLICIA-CERTIFICADOS UE (EXCLUSIVAMENTE PARA REINO UNIDO) in the drop down menu for appointments. 

What do I need to apply for residency?

– You will need to fill out the application form called EX 20 (previously EX 18) DOWNLOAD HERE

– You need to show a work contract or show you have enough money in your bank account so you won’t be asking social aids upon your arrival and that you have health care. (More on both later)

– Present the original and a copy of this form and the original and a copy of your ID document (passport for Brits);

INSIDER TIP: Always have two photocopies of each required document, just in case!

– You will need one passport photograph (take two just in case). 

– You need to pay the application fee (approx €12) at a bank (any bank, it doesn’t have to be your own bank) before you go to the police station/ extranjeria. To do so fill out form 790-012) Get it here and print it off. The bank will stamp the form as proof of payment

– In some places your registration on the padron has also been demanded and the certificate issued within the last three months, but this isn't always the case.

REMEMBER: Requirements can change from station to station (and even person to person at the station) so always take all paperwork conceivable – just in case!

What do I need to prove?

In order to become a legal resident you have to have lived in Spain for more than three months and depending on your circumstances here, you will need to provide:

– A work contract OR if self-employed  then evidence to the effect that you are self-employed. Registration on the Economic Activities List “Censo de Actividades Económicos” or proof of their establishment by means of registration in the Mercantile Registry “Registro Mercantil”.

For those who are do not work in Spain you must produce documentation to show:

– Public or private health insurance contracted in Spain or in another country, provided that it ensures cover in Spain during their period of residence.

Pensioners will be considered to meet this condition if they can prove, by means of the corresponding certificate (S1), that they are entitled to health care paid for by the State from which they receive their pension.

– You must also prove you have sufficient resources, for yourself and any family members, not to become a burden on Spain’s social assistance system during their period of residence. Proof of the possession of sufficient resources, whether from regular income, including work income, pension or income of another kind, or from ownership of assets, will be given by any legally admissible evidence, such as property deeds or a bank certificate.

If you are a UK pensioner and get pension money paid into a Spanish bank account, a bank certificate is enough. Otherwise you will have to get a letter from the UK pensions office and have it translated by an official legal translator.

Further Information:

Guidelines (in Spanish) can be found  on Spain's government website HERE

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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For members


Why Spain’s new citizenship law is running into problems

Spain's 'Grandchildren's Law' made hundreds of thousands of people around the world eligible for Spanish citizenship, but now it's running into a few problems and drawing criticism.

Why Spain’s new citizenship law is running into problems

Spain’s Democratic Memory Law passed the Spanish Senate on October 5th 2022 and officially became law on October 21st. The wide-ranging legislation is an update to the 2007 law passed by the Zapatero government and aims to “settle Spanish democracy’s debt to its past” and deal with the legacy of its Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship.

It includes, among many other things, the establishment of a DNA register to help families identify the remains of the tens of thousands of Spaniards who were buried in unmarked graves; the repurposing of the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum, where Francisco Franco was buried until his exhumation in 2019; and a ban on groups that glorify the Franco regime.

READ ALSO: Spain’s lawmakers pass bill honouring Franco-era victims

Another part of the legislation includes the Ley de Nietos, ‘Grandchildren’s Law’ in English, which allows for descendants of Spaniards who fled Spain during the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship to claim Spanish citizenship without ever having lived there.

It is an extension of the law that also made citizenship available to the descendants of International Brigade (IB) fighters who fought during the Civil War.

READ ALSO: Descendants of International Brigades can get fast-track Spanish nationality

But whereas this was more of a symbolic gesture and there are, according to the Asociación de Amigos de las Brigadas Internacionales (AABI), only around 100 IB descendants eligible and still alive, according to estimates as many as 700,000 people, the majority in Latin America, could be eligible for Spanish citizenship through the Ley de Nietos.


This presents a whole different administrative operation and now it seems that the law has run into some problems, particularly when applications are being done abroad, with the sheer number of applicants meaning that procedures have been ‘relaxed’.

This, in turn, has led to concerns that there might have been possible document falsification.

The surge for citizenship in South America, termed “massive nationalisations” in the Spanish press, has led to alleged ‘procedural relaxation” that could “open the door to a lawsuit for alleged prevarication and false documentation” and even “provoke a question of unconstitutionality,” according to la Asociación por la Reconciliación y la Verdad Histórica, a group that has been opposed to Historical Memory legislation since the original law back in 2007.

The association, which has called for the suspension of the Democratic Memory before a Madrid court, has warned of “serious doubts about the legality of the mass and express nationalisation process” the law has created.

Doubts about the process have also been raised by the General Council of Spanish Citizenship Abroad (CGCEE).

Potential applicants can apply via the Civil Registry at the Spanish Consulate in their home country and need several documents to not only prove the Spanish nationality of their ancestor, but also to prove their descendent was exiled. 

For those applying for citizenship via a grandparent, it will also be necessary to provide the birth certificate of the father or mother that corresponds to the family line with Spanish blood.

However, there are fears that the alleged relaxing of the rules in consulates in South American countries means that some applicants may have been able to falsify documents or continue with their application without satisfying all of the criteria.

Political exile?

Another issue the application of the law has experienced is defining what exactly ‘political exile’ means.

According to the Democratic Memory Law, victims of Francoism and those eligible are vaguely defined as “anyone who suffered physical, moral or psychological damage, economic damage or the loss of fundamental rights”. 

Yet there seems to be some confusion about what exactly is required to qualify for Spanish citizenship through being a descendant of a political exile. Though the text of the law is vague, doubts have been raised as to whether consulates in Latin America have been accepting, or assuming, that all Spanish emigres who travelled to the Americas during the dictatorship were political exiles.

La Asociación por la Reconciliación y la Verdad Histórica has pointed out that “the eighth provision of the Law of Memory… only gives the right to nationality to the children and grandchildren of political, ideological, belief or sexual orientation exiles, but not to economic exiles, who are not in any way in any of the aforementioned circumstances”. 

Proving exile status

There are millions of people around the world with Spanish heritage, particularly in Latin America. That’s why the law, in theory, requires proof that descendants left Spain in the face of persecution and were exiled, and that they left Spain between January 1st, 1956 and December 28th, 1978. In order to prove this, applicants need to provide one of the following:

  • Documentation proving that they or the descendant have been a beneficiary of the pensions granted by the Spanish state.
  • Documentation from the United Nations International Refugee Office and the Refugee Offices of the host States that assisted Spanish refugees and their families.
  • Certifications or reports issued by political parties, unions or any other entity or institution (whether public or private), recognised by the Spanish state or the host state of the exiles and their descendants that are related to exile or political persecution. 

Deadline extension

Spain’s Director General of Consular Affairs, Xavier Martí, has tried to soothe some of the concerns of the CGCEE and other groups about the process abroad, and how exactly the law should be applied in terms of obtaining Spanish citizenship.

Owing to both the confusion and the sheer number of applications, the deadline has been extended: “when for justified reasons, alleged by the applicant or assessed directly by the person in charge [of the application] and there are certain circumstances that make it difficult to obtain the required documentation, the deadline may be extended,” the department said.

Who is eligible for the grandchildren’s law?

Who is eligible for Spanish citizenship under the new law? There are a number of groups included.

  • Children or grandchildren born outside Spain to a Spanish father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother who was exiled and left Spain due to ‘physical, moral or psychological damage, economic damage or the loss of fundamental rights’, or renounced their Spanish nationality. 
  • People born outside Spain to Spanish women who lost their nationality by marrying foreigners before the 1978 Constitution was established.
  • The adult sons and daughters of Spaniards who gained nationality due to the 2007 Democratic Memory law.