For members


Why some residency applications by Britons in Spain are rejected (and how to appeal)

Some UK nationals applying for residency in Spain for the first time are having their applications rejected. We spoke to some of the groups helping Britons register to find out where the main problems are and how the appeal process works. 

Why some residency applications by Britons in Spain are rejected (and how to appeal)
Have you had problems getting your Spanish TIE residency card (seen here in background)? Photo: Yan Krukov/Pexels

Why are some residency applications getting rejected?

“Proofs of residency by the 31/12/2020 are key to the success of the application process,” Alicia Gárate, the International Organization for Migration’s coordinator for the UK Nationals Support Fund Project in Spain, told The Local Spain. 

“It is important to gather as much information as possible to prove that you were a legal resident in Spain before the end of the transition period. 

“In addition, there can be challenges that are very specific to each situation and are complex, therefore they need to be analysed and addressed in detail from a legal perspective and according to the Withdrawal Agreement.

IOM is able to provide individual support to UK nationals who are struggling in these cases.”

It’s worth noting that Britons who are already holders of a green residency certificate and wish to exchange it for the new biometric TIE card do not have to provide as much documentation and the process is fairly straightforward.

However, for UK nationals who have not been previously issued a green residency document, the requirements from Spanish extranjería authorities are stricter and require more paperwork as they have to prove they lived in Spain before Brexit and that they have the financial means and health cover to not be a burden to the system. 

The differences between the different processes are detailed in this document by the Spanish government.

“In our experience, rejection of residency applications is actually quite unusual,” a spokesperson for Age in Spain, one of the other groups currently helping Britons with residency applications, told The Local Spain. 

“Most of the time it comes down to a relatively small problem in the application – a mistake on a form, a section that has not been completed or a missing or out-of-date document, for example. 

“Whenever people need support with the residency process we work with them to make sure that these things are sorted before an application is submitted. 

“If a residency application is rejected then Age in Spain works with that person to help them resolve the problem.”


Anne Hernández, head of Brexpats in Spain, told The Local that several Britons had contacted her to inform her that their residency applications had been rejected because the private health insurance policy they had taken out didn’t start before January 1st 2021.

“Setting up a private medical insurance policy can take several weeks,” Hernández said. 

“Legally they can’t backdate it, even if they took out the policy in December 2020.”

“These are isolated cases, so far I’ve heard of it happening in Alicante and Málaga, but I’ve also been told that some immigration officials are not accepting a padrón (town hall registration certificate) that wasn’t issued before December 31st 2020.  

Photo: Jose Miguel Guardeño/Pixabay

“I’ve also been told that on other occasions applicants are being asked to provide translations or legislations of their documents having not done so initially. 

“Or to provide a more current bank statement which shows that they were living and spending in Spain before the end of the transition period.”

In a recent Facebook post, Citizens Advice Bureau Spain wrote that “some companies present applications with incorrect documentation”, in reference to gestorías and other legal companies (not the ones quoted in this article) that are now offering Britons help with the residency process for a fee. 

“Please be diligent,” they stressed, which is a reminder that it’s always worth double-checking the requirements and paperwork yourself even if you’ve enlisted the help of an agent.  

Can Britons appeal if their residency application is rejected?

“If a UK National’s residency application is rejected they can appeal the decision,”  Alicia Gárate of the IOM stated.

“It’s important for them to know that if it is rejected and they appeal, then they have the right to remain in Spain during the appeal process.

“Information on how to appeal is included in the ‘resolución’, the letter that UK nationals receive from the Spanish authorities as a result of their application. 

“While the appeal is considered, there is no loss of rights for the UK nationals and they are able to remain in Spain”. 

UK nationals who are struggling with the procedure or are not sure about what to do next can contact the IOM’s UK Nationals Support Fund as they have been supporting those who are facing specific challenges with their applications. They can also provide support and advice on the appeal process as needed. 

“We have a dedicated team of caseworkers to support UK nationals who are struggling. We encourage UK nationals who are facing difficulties to get in touch with us at IOM Spain, Madrid (0034) 699 581 855, Murcia (0034) 648 642  543, Andalucia (0034) 650 339 754/ 616 825 704 or they can email us at: [email protected] and visit our website.”

Age in Spain also gave more details on the appeal system:An appeal is a formal written document you can prepare and present to the Spanish administration in case you disagree with their resolution about your residency process. 

“You will have one month to present the appeal to the office that issued the resolution of your residency process, counting from the day after you received and signed that resolution.Your appeal will be issued to a judge that will then send the judgement to the Immigration Office.

“If the appeal is finally accepted by the Immigration Office, you will receive a document called “Carta de estimación favorable“, which is equivalent to the “resolución favorable” and therefore allows you to proceed to get your fingerprints taken and issue your residency card.

Photo:Startup Stock Photos/Pexels

What do I need to start an appeal?

“It is important to note that rejected processes usually happen due to the nuances in each residency application, and therefore the documents needed to proceed with the appeal may vary from case to case,” Age in Spain stressed.

Some of the requirements for the appeal are:

  •         Name and surname
  •         NIE or ID number (passport)
  •         The resolution which is being appealed and the reason that justifies the appeal
  •         Institution where the appeal will be sent. In this case the Immigration Office of your province (Oficina de Extranjería)
  •         Details and particularities that justify our appeal, explained thoroughly and based on legal assumptions
  •         Date, signature and place where the appeal was made

Can I present an appeal by myself?

According to Age in Spain, “if you decide to start an appeal by yourself, you will need to present all the previous documents at a general registry that will send your appeal to the proper administration.

“You can also present the documents electronically if you have a Digital Certificate. 

“In that case, you will have to start the process through this website and choose the option Tramitación on-line con certificado digital.

“In the section Datos de la Solicitud, you will have to choose the type of procedure. Choose the option Recurso potestativo de reposición from the dropdown menu.

“Finally, you will have to write down your case and attach all documents listed above to support your claim. It is very important that the case you exposé is well worded, and therefore we recommend seeking advice from a professional lawyer to ensure the success of this step. Finally you will need to press Siguiente at the bottom of the website to proceed and send your appeal. The resolution of the procedure will be notified through email and at your site in the Sede Electrónica – Mis Expedientes.”

Age in Spain assists UK passport holders in Spain with residency matters and appeals to residency queries. 

Residency Helpline and General Enquiries:
+34 932 20 97 41

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


What is the latest on Gibraltar’s Brexit status?

With 2023 approaching and negotiations between Gibraltar, the UK, EU and Spain dragging on for yet another year, what is the latest on Gibraltar and Brexit? Will they reach a deal before New Year and how could it affect life in Gibraltar and Spain?

What is the latest on Gibraltar's Brexit status?

As British politics tries to move on from Brexit, the tiny British territory at the southern tip of Spain, Gibraltar, has been stuck in political limbo since the referendum all the way back in 2016.

Gibraltar, which voted in favour of Remain during the referendum by a whopping 96 percent, was not included in the Brexit deal and has instead relied on a framework agreement made between the UK and Spain on New Year’s Eve in 2020.

After that framework was laid out, it was hoped that the various parties – that is, the Gibraltarian government, Spain, the EU, and the UK – would build on it and quickly find a wider treaty agreement establishing Gibraltar’s place on the European mainland in the post-Brexit world.

It was thought that Gibraltar could enter into a common travel area with the Schengen zone, limiting border controls and essentially creating a custom-made customs arrangement with the EU.

But since then, the negotiation process has stopped and started, with no deal being made and uncertainty dragging on through 2021.

Despite all parties still being relatively optimistic in the spring of 2022, no resolution has been found and 2023 is approaching.

Relying on the framework agreement alone, uncertainty about what exactly the rules are and how they should be implemented have caused confusion and long delays on the border.

The roadblocks

Progress in the multi-faceted negotiations to bash out a treaty and determine Gibraltar’s place in the post-Brexit world have repeatedly stumbled over the same roadblocks.

The main one is the issue of the border. Known in Spain and Gibraltar as La Línea – meaning ‘the line’ in reference to the Spanish town directly across the border, La Línea de la Concepción – the subject of the border and who exactly will patrol it (and on which side) has been a constant sticking point in negotiations.

Madrid and Brussels have approached the British government with a proposal for removing the border fence between Spain and Gibraltar in order to ease freedom of movement, Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said in late November 2022. There has been no immediate response from London.

The Gibraltarians refuse to accept Spanish boots on the ground and would prefer the European-wide Frontex border force. The British government feel this would be an impingement on British sovereignty. There’s also been the persistent issues of VAT and corporation tax considerations, as well as the British Navy base and how to police the waters around it.

Though there had been reports that the ongoing British driving license in Spain fiasco had been one of the reasons negotiations had stalled, the British ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliot categorically denied any connection between the issue of Gibraltar’s Brexit deal and British driving licence recognition earlier in November.

READ ALSO: CONFIRMED: Deal on UK licences in Spain agreed but still no exchange date

On different pages?

Not only do the long-standing sticking points remain, but it also seems that the various negotiating parties are on slightly different pages with regards to how exactly each seems to think the negotiations are going.

Judging by reports in the Spanish press in recent weeks, it appears that many in Spain may believe the negotiations are wrapping up and a conclusion could be found by New Year. This perception comes largely from comments made by Pascual Navarro, Spain’s State Secretary to the EU. Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Navarro claimed that negotiations have advanced so well that they were now only working ‘on the commas’ of the text – that is to say, tidying it up.

According to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, though negotiations are ongoing, “we’re not there yet”. (Photo: JORGE GUERRERO/AFP)

“No issue that is blocked,” he said. “All of the text is on the table.” A full treaty, he suggested, could be signed “before the end of the year.”

Yet it seems the Gibraltarians don’t quite see the progress as positively as their neighbours. Last week the Gibraltar government, known as No.6, acknowledged Navarro’s optimism.

According to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo however, though negotiations are ongoing, “we’re not there yet”.

No.6 remains positive and hopes for a deal, but in recent weeks has also published technical contingency plans for businesses to prepare for what they are calling a ‘Non-Negotiated Outcome’ – effectively a ‘no-deal’ in normal Brexit jargon.

The UK, however, seem to be somewhere in the middle. Like Navarro, the British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly recently suggested at a House of Commons select committee that only “a relatively small number” of issues remain to be resolved.

However, he also acknowledged the possibility of a non-negotiated outcome. “I think it’s legitimate to look at that [planning for a non-negotiated outcome] as part of our thinking,” Mr Cleverly said. “But obviously we are trying to avoid an NNO.”

Election year

If no deal is found by New Year, that would mean that negotiations drag into 2023 – election years for both Picardo and Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s Prime Minister.

Gibraltar is expected to have elections sometime in the second-half of the year, and Sánchez has to call an election by the end of 2023.

In many ways, Spanish domestic politics has the potential to play a far greater role in Gibraltar’s fate than British politics. In fact, the shadow of Spanish politics looms over these negotiations and the future relationship between Spain and Gibraltar, the UK and Spain, and the UK and EU.

If Sánchez’s PSOE were to lose the election, which according to the latest polling data is the most probable outcome, then it would be likely that Spain’s centre-right party PP would seek to renegotiate, if not outright reject, any deal made.

READ ALSO: Who will win Spain’s 2023 election – Sánchez or Feijóo?

If PP are unable to secure a ruling majority, however, they may well be forced to rely on the far-right party Vox, who have often used nationalist anti-Gibraltar rhetoric as a political weapon. If Vox were to enter into government, which is unlikely but a possibility, it’s safe to say any agreement – if one is even reached before then – would be torn up and the Spanish government would take a much harder line in negotiations.

As the consequences of Brexit churn on in Britain, in Gibraltar uncertainty looms.