'Get the TIE now': Brits in Spain urged to exchange residency document

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
'Get the TIE now': Brits in Spain urged to exchange residency document
The British Embassy in Madrid is urging UK nationals who still have a green residency certificate exchange for a TIE card "as soon as possible".

The British Embassy in Madrid says it's “really important” that the 200,000+ UK nationals in Spain with a green residency certificate exchange it for a TIE card "as soon as possible" to avoid issues with the EU’s new Entry Exit System.


British authorities in Spain have urged thousands of Brits in Spain who have held onto their old green Spanish residency certificates since Brexit "to follow suit and get a TIE as soon as possible, ahead of the introduction of the EU’s new Entry Exit System (EES), expected in autumn this year".

"It’s really important that any British person who lives in Spain gets the TIE - not only because it is the most durable and dependable way to prove your rights in Spain, but also to avoid disruption at the border when the EU’s Entry Exit Scheme comes into force," outgoing British Ambassador Hugh Elliott said in the statement to the press.  


"We are working with the Spanish Government and the EU to prepare for the implementation of this new scheme and we have requested that more TIE appointments are made available."

READ MORE: How Brits in Spain can exchange their green residency document for a TIE in 2024

The green certificate - issued in either card or A4 sheet size - is the residency document of EU nationals and is officially called Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión. They do not contain a photo, nor do they have an expiry date, and they’re sometimes wrongly called NIEs. 

Example of a smaller green residency certificate, which used to be issued to UK nationals residing in Spain before Brexit took place.

The British Embassy has encouraged Brits with these green certificates to exchange them since the Spanish government began issuing Withdrawal Agreement TIEs to Brits in July 2020.

However, the exchange has never been made compulsory, just strongly encouraged.

The TIE, which stands for Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero, is the biometric residence card that non-EU residents in Spain get, so this corresponds to the new status of UK nationals. 

A 2023 study by Spain's Immigration Observatory revealed that more than half of UK nationals living in Spain last year hadn’t exchanged their green residency documents for TIEs following Brexit. 

This amounted to 211,274 UK nationals residing in Spain who preferred to keep their green certificates rather than follow the advice of British authorities.

However in their latest announcement, the British Embassy says "most British people living in Spain already have the TIE, having abandoned the formerly issued paper Green Certificate following Brexit".  


The justification for encouraging the exchange up to now has been mainly to avoid problems with border and airport officials, as there have been some British travellers whose green certificates were not recognised as valid residency documents and weren’t allowed to board their flights.

"The biometric TIE proves that the holder is a Withdrawal Agreement beneficiary with the right to reside and work in Spain," the embassy writes. 

So what’s changed now to increase the urgency of British authorities? 

The EU’s new Entry Exit system, which has been marred with problems and delays since its announcement.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about Spain and the EU's new Entry Exit System

"The EES will require all non-EU short stay travellers to register via an automated system at the border. They will need to provide their name, passport details, biometric data (fingerprints and captured facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit upon entering Spain," wrote the British Embassy in Madrid on Monday. 

"This will replace the current passport stamping at the border. These details will be held on file for three years, meaning Britons making repeat visits to Spain within a three-year period will not have to go through the same registration process each time.  

"To be exempt from registering with the EES, British residents in the EU will need to show a valid uniform-format biometric card, which in Spain is the TIE." 

In essence, as the EU’s travel system is going fully digital and biometric, the green certificates will no longer be accepted. 

As the UK Embassy writes: "The non-biometric Green Certificate, though a valid residency document in Spain, was issued prior to EU Exit and does not feature in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement or in Annex 22 of the Schengen Border Guard Handbook. 

"Therefore, it is expected that Green Certificate holders may lose out on the chance to be exempt from registering. 

"As a result, they may encounter difficulties and delays at the border, especially when entering other EU countries where the Green Certificate may not be recognised."

It's important to note that the British Embassy has not stated that is now compulsory for Brits to exchange their green certificates for TIEs, but they are strongly advised to do so.


Comments (1)

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kq 2024/05/13 17:19
So people with NIE’s from post-Brexit need not worry?
  • alex.dunham 2024/05/14 09:20
    Hola, the UK Embassy message is aimed at all UK nationals who still have a green residency certificate, regardless of whether they were issued before or after the Brexit vote.

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