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BREXIT

BREXIT: ‘Health cover and income will guarantee residency for Brits in Spain more than any document’

The British Ambassador to Spain has reminded Brits in Spain who are worried about getting an appointment for a NIE or a TIE card before the end of 2020 that it’s more important to meet the legal residency requirements of healthcare cover and sufficient income.

BREXIT: 'Health cover and income will guarantee residency for Brits in Spain more than any document'
Screenshot: Brits in Spain/Facebook

HMA Hugh Elliott made the announcement on a social media video posted to the Brits in Spain group in which he addressed questions that the British Embassy has received recently regarding residency in Spain post-Brexit.

“Your rights as UK nationals in Spain will be guaranteed, not by possession of the Residence document itself, but by your being legally resident in Spain before the end of the Transition Period,” Hugh Elliott explained.

“That means living in Spain and satisfying the current residency requirements of sufficient income and healthcare cover by December 31st.”

The British Ambassador acknowledged that there was a “backlog due to Covid” for residency appointments at Spain’s public administrations but reminded Brits in Spain that they do still have six months, that “appointments are opening up” and urged anyone who doesn’t have a green residency document already to register as soon as they can.

However, Hugh Elliott also announced that the new Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero or TIE card for British residents in Spain is likely to be introduced very soon.

“We understand this will be introduced from July,” he said.

“This will be a photo card which explicitly mentions your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement,” suggesting that it may slightly differ from other TIE cards issued to non-EU residents in Spain.

There still appears to be a lack of clarity over whether the TIE card will permanently replace the previous green residency documents, as Elliott explained: “You may choose to exchange your current green certificate for a TIE in due course, but that’s not obligatory”.

“Whether you have the green A4 certificate, the green credit card-sized version, and whether they say permanente or not, or whether you get a TIE in the future, all remain equally valid in demonstrating your rights as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement, even after the end of the transition period.”

Overall, HMA Hugh Elliott’s message to his fellow Brits in Spain was one of reassurance at a time when worries over the looming Brexit date have been further aggravated by the uncertainty caused by the global Covid crisis.

“Please remember that citizens’ rights are already protected by the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU, which came into force at the end of January.

“This guarantees your rights. As long as you’re legally resident here by the end of 2020 you can continue to live your lives broadly as before. 

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BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

READ MORE: 

Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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