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BREXIT

BREXIT: The two mistakes to look out for on your TIE Spanish residency card

Many Britons who have received their new TIE residency cards in Spain have noticed that they contain information which isn’t accurate. Here’s what we know so far.

BREXIT: The two mistakes to look out for on your TIE Spanish residency card
Photo: British Embassy in Spain
 

What are the mistakes?

“Some of the new TIEs obtained via the EX23 route (those who already had a green residency and just wanted – it is optional – to exchange them for the TIE) have picked their cards up from several different areas of Spain but they are wrongly worded,” Anne Hernandez, head of the Brexpats in Spain organisation, told The Local.

These biometric cards, which should have the wording at the bottom saying “Residence Permit/Titre de Sejour” instead state “family member of a Union citizen”.

“Although they say ‘issued in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement’ they also say a family member of an EU citizen,” Hernández said.

In theory, this would suggest that the residency card was obtained by being a spouse or a family member of a Spanish or other EU citizen, rather than it being a British person who has obtained the card in their own right by residing in Spain before December 31st 2020.

“Some of the TIEs are also wrongly dated,” Hernandez adds.

“A permanent TIE card should be 10 years but it seems they are being dated to expire in 5 years”.

READ ALSO:

What’s being done about it?

The British Embassy published a post on Facebook on September 18th informing Brits in Spain about the wrong wording on the TIEs, adding that they had “raised this with the Spanish authorities who confirm that this was an administrative error”.

“Although this has now been corrected, cards with the incorrect wording may still arrive at police stations in the next few days,” the British Embassy added.

However, there are still comments being posted by Brits on groups such as the Citizens Advice Bureau Spain in late September, suggesting that some of the wrongly worded and dated TIEs are still being issued.

No mention has officially been made yet about the fact that permanent TIEs are being wrongly dated to expire in 5 years rather than 10. 

“We have been given to understand that these erroneous TIEs will be replaced by ones with the correct wording in due course,” John Carrivick, Vice President of Eurocitizens group, told The Local.

“This appears to be an error in production of the cards and not fundamentally one in the actual process of issuing TIEs themselves”.

Many TIE applicants have also pointed out that they have received the cards with the correct information on them.

But there are reports of the wrongly worded or dated cards being sent to police stations all over Spain, from the Canary Islands to the Balearics, Andalusia and the Valencia region.

Are the cards valid?

“The Spanish authorities have confirmed that, despite the inscription, these TIEs remain valid and we are waiting for instructions on how you should exchange this card for the correct one,” The British Embassy explained.

“We will post this information as soon as we have it.”

“In the meantime, there should be no question of the validity of the ones issued so far,” Carrivick reiterated, whose group Eurocitizens defends the EU citizenship rights to live, work and study for UK nationals in Spain and Spanish nationals in the UK.

“Even though the wording is erroneous, it doesn't affect the applicants' rights in Spain.”

But despite reassurances, many Brits in Spain who have received inaccurate TIEs do not feel at ease with having a document that doesn’t correspond to their status as the end of the Brexit transition period fast approaches.

The British Embassy and different rights group are in contact with Spanish authorities to find out when the cards can be replaced.

In some cases, police stations are sending the cards back when applicants immediately notify them of the wrong wording and dating upon collection.

Spanish authorities do require foreigners in Spain, especially third-country nationals, to apply for a different residency document if their status changes ie divorce from EU national, temporary to permanent residency after 5 years etc

This suggests that sooner or later, the issue of wrong wording on the TIEs for UK nationals will have to be addressed.  

UPDATE: 

On October 23rd the British Embassy posted an update on the issue stating that the cards issued with wrong information could be replaced for free at any police station.

Many of you who were issued with TIEs which wrongly state that you are an EU family member, have been asking us how to…

Posted by Brits in Spain on Friday, 23 October 2020

 

 

 

 

 

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BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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