With a post-Brexit trade agreement now reached between the UK and the EU, and with the Transition Period set to end after midnight on 31 December, the British Embassy in Spain has prepared a Q&A to address some of the key questions that many UK Nationals living in Spain might have.
The Embassy has said that the information is ‘accurate as of today’ [Tuesday 29 December]. UK Nationals are also advised to sign up for email alerts to www.gov.uk/livinginspain and https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain. We will also publish important updates on Spain in English and you can also sign up here for our own free weekly newsletter.
What happens if I am not registered as resident by 31 Dec?
If you are unable to complete the registration process before 1 January, you will still be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, as long as you were legally living in Spain before the end of 2020.
That means that you were living here and meeting the EU free movement conditions of working, being self-employed, or having sufficient income and comprehensive healthcare cover to support you during your retirement or studies. For information on the citizens’ rights elements of the Agreement visit: https://www.gov.uk/…/withdrawal-agreement-explainer-for….
Your rights come from your living legally in Spain before 31 December, not from possessing the residency card itself. We recommend you have as much documentation in place to demonstrate that you were legally living here before the end of the Transition Period as possible. That might include, but not be limited to, a padrón certificate, utility bill, healthcare policy, work contract or flight ticket.
If you are having difficulties with your residency application, there are three organisations, who have received funding to support UK Nationals with this, so please do contact them for help. You can find their details here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain#visas-and-residency
What should I do if I can’t get an appointment?
Covid-19 restrictions have meant that there are fewer appointments available in some areas, but you should keep trying. You should also remember that you can complete the first stage of the residency process by submitting your documents electronically if you have a digital certificate.
You can find out how to get your digital certificate here: https://www.sede.fnmt.gob.es/en/certificados/persona-fisica. If you do not have a digital certificate you can also use a third-party representative to submit your documents for you.
Meanwhile, you should make sure you have as much documentation in place to demonstrate that you were legally living here before the end of the Transition Period as possible. That might include, but not be limited to, a padrón certificate, utility bill, healthcare policy, work contract or flight ticket.
Is my green certificate still valid or does it need to be exchanged for a TIE?
The green residency certificate – both A4 and credit card-sized – remain valid documents to demonstrate your status as a resident and your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Spanish government emphasises that the biometric TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) is more durable and may simplify some administrative processes and border crossing. If you decide to exchange your green certificate for the TIE, there is no deadline for doing so. See https://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/lang/en/brexit/howtoprepare/Paginas/190108residence.aspx
Will I still be able to access healthcare in Spain?
People who have settled in the UK or EU before 31 December 2020, will continue to have life-long reciprocal healthcare rights provided they remain covered under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. That means if you live in Spain or moved there before the end of 2020, your rights to access healthcare in Spain will stay the same for as long as you remain resident. Click here for more information.
Is my EHIC valid after 31 December?
A new EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) has been developed for those eligible under the Withdrawal Agreement to protect the existing healthcare rights of people living, working and studying in the EU prior to the end of the transition period.
Residents who have a registered S1 form and students will need to get the new UK-issued EHIC which will be valid from when they receive it and for travel from 1 January 2021. They can apply on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-ehic-european-health-insurance-card/
The Withdrawal Agreement also protects UK and EU nationals who find themselves in a ‘cross-border situation’ over 31 December 2020 (for example, someone whose holiday begins before but ended after the 31 December 2020). These people will be able to continue to access ‘needs-arising treatment’ until they leave that country by travelling to another EU Member State or returning to the UK. If treatment is needed, people will need to contact NHS BSA (https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/contact-us) for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) which shows that they are entitled to treatment in the EU. They may need to provide evidence that they travelled to the Member State before 31 December 2020 and did not leave the country before they required treatment.
The government always advises that anyone travelling overseas, whether to the EU or elsewhere in the world, should take out comprehensive travel insurance. This remains our advice.
UK residents visiting Spain should visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-for-uk-nationals-visiting-spain for the latest information.
Can I still exchange my driving licence from 1 January?
All valid UK driving licences will be recognised for driving in Spain until 30 June 2021. We have consistently advised UK nationals to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one. As long as you registered the details of your licence with the Spanish traffic office and the licence was verified by 30 December 2020, you have until 30 June 2021 to complete the exchange.
If you were not able to start the process before 30 December you should sign up to email alerts on gov.uk/livinginspain to be informed of the latest developments on the future exchange of driving licences. In the meantime, you can use your valid UK licence until 30 June 2021.
If you have exchanged your UK licence for a Spanish one you will not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the UK. If you move to live in the UK, you can exchange your UK licence without having to take a test.
Can I continue to claim my pension in Spain?
If you are legally living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 you will get your UK State Pension uprated every year for as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions explained in the new State Pension guidance. For more information, also visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain#pensions
I have a second home in Spain. Can I still come and stay there in the same way?
UK business visitors and tourists will still be able to travel to the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in every 180-day period. From 1 January you will require permission from Spain for any stay longer than that and this may require applying for a visa or permit. You should contact the Consulate General in the UK for further information. This will limit the time you can spend in your property, but your property rights will not change.
Can I still travel back to the UK with my dog?
There will be no change to the current health preparations or documents for pets entering Great Britain from the EU from 1 January 2021.
From 1 January 2021 onwards, the UK will have Part 2 listed status under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, meaning that people travelling from England, Wales or Scotland with their pets and assistance dogs will need to follow new requirements in order to travel to Spain.
For further information visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-from-1-january-2021, where you will also find contact details for the pet travel hotline.
Will there be changes at the border when I come into Spain? Do I need to do anything differently?
If you live in Spain, you should always travel with both your valid passport and proof of your residence status (TIE or green EU residence certificate). From 1 January, UK Nationals will not be able to use the passport lanes for EU/EEA/EFTA/Swiss citizens and should use the lanes for Third Country Nationals (TCNs).
The Covid-19 situation is evolving and travel restrictions can change quickly, so you should sign up for alerts to https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain, so that you are kept up to date with the latest information.
Can students continue their studies in Spain?
UK nationals who are resident in Spain by the end of the transition period will continue to be treated on an equal basis to Spanish students in terms of eligibility for student support if they wish to go to a Spanish university, even if that is after the end of the transition period. UK nationals who move to Spain to study a full degree from 1 January 2021 must apply for the relevant visa before travelling and may have to pay the fees applicable to non-EU citizens.
Are there any changes to mobile phone roaming?
If you have a UK mobile phone, you should be aware that there may be new roaming charges from 1 January 2021. You should check with your provider for details.
Where can I find more information?
For the latest information on living in Spain, including on residency, driving and pensions visit: gov.uk/livinginspain. For the latest information on healthcare visit: gov.uk/healthcareinspain. For the latest travel advice for Spain visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain
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I am a UK born citizen, but given that I have been resident in Spain for 15 years and have a green residency certificate, pay my taxes here, receive state health benefits and have I registered TIE/DNI number, am I still at liberty to travel throughout the EU either by road or air, or do I come under the new restrictions of any other UK citizen regarding travel throughout the EU?