How Britons can prove they are resident in Spain when entering the country

After recent reports of some British residents in Spain being denied boarding when returning home from the UK, how exactly can you prove Spanish residency?

How Britons can prove they are resident in Spain when entering the country
Image: Niklas HALLE'N / AFP

On December 22, 2020 Spain banned travellers flying in from the UK except nationals and those who are resident in Spain, due to fears over the new Covid-19 strain that has spread rapidly in Britain.

This travel ban has now been extended to January 19. 

The situation, combined with the fact that Brexit has now become a reality, has left many travellers, airline staff and indeed Spanish authorities confused.

Spain recently moved to clear up the confusion for returning British residents after it emerged that several had been denied boarding at UK airports amid confusion over what residency documents they needed to prove they lived in Spain.

Here's a quick look at what you need to proof you are a resident in Spain just in case you run into problems, and also what won't work as proof.


TIE card

You can prove residency in Spain by presenting your TIE card (the new biometric cards issued to British residents in Spain since July).

These are the post-Brexit residency cards that show that British residents in Spain, living in the country before the end of 2020 were covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. 

However not all Britons living in Spain have their TIE card because appointments have been hard to come by in certain areas. Many have been waiting for months.

Also, the Spanish authorities have said many times that it isn't necessary for those already living in Spain to change their green residency ‘Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de Union Europea’ (commonly referred to as a NIE) for a TIE. 

Green certificate  

The ‘Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de Union Europea’ (although many refer to it as a NIE) is a green residency certificate, either A4 size or credit card size, which features your NIE (Numero de Identidad Extranjero) number can also be used. 

Britons carrying the green residency certificate have been wrongly refused entry but Spain has since made it clear the cards are valid. However whether that information gets to all immigration officials on the ground is another question.

The Spanish authorities have created a downloadable pdf, which states which documents are valid for proof of residency and shows a picture of each. Travellers are being advised to print a copy (see below) and take this along with them to the airport to show airlines in the case of being denied boarding.

This is to show the airlines that you have the correct documents and which are accepted. Along with your certificate, you must show a valid passport when you travel.

'Proof of application'

Those who do not have the green residency certificates (NIE), but have applied for and are still waiting for their new TIE cards, are also allowed to travel to Spain and have been given a seven-day grace period until January 10 to be able to get it.

They just need to print off their proof of application, which they will get after they've handed in their documents to get the TIE.

The Spanish authorities said in statement on January 3rd: “We can also confirm that those UK nationals who can prove that they have started their registration process, but who do not yet have their new TIE card, should be allowed to board flights to return to Spain.

“The Government of Spain will put in place this measure for a grace period of seven days from January 4 2021. The document ‘resguardo de solicitud o renovación de tarjeta de extranjero' can be considered as acceptable evidence'.”

This is normally sent out after you have booked an appointment along with a reference number but there was some confusion among Britons about how to get hold of this document.

But what can't be used?

The British government website also warns that “padron certificates, utility bills and property deeds will not be accepted by Spanish authorities as proof of residency.”


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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.


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