I'm british: Brexit and the right to reside in Spain

Residing in Spain

Residing in United Kingdom

Information for United Kingdom nationals residing in Spain and their families

The Withdrawal Agreement provides for the establishment of a transitional period from 1 February 2020, the date on which the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU took effect, until 31 December 2020.

Under its terms, all UK nationals and their families, third-country nationals, residing in Spain before the end of that transitional period, will maintain their rights arising from the application of Union law (except for the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament and the exercise of the EU Citizens’ Legislative Initiative).

The Withdrawal Agreement offers two possibilities to address the documentation process: (1) lay down a procedure of a constituent nature, in which a new residence status must be applied for in the host State (Article 18.1); (2) Do not set down this procedure and issue, if citizens so request, a residence document expressly identifying them as beneficiaries of the Agreement (18.4).

Spain has opted for this second option, and based on this, and on the Commission Implementing Decision of 21.2.2020 on documents to be issued by Member States pursuant to Article 18(1) and (4) and Article 26 of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Instruction (also available in English ) signed by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration and the Ministry of Interior, was published on July 4.

This new procedure, which has been in place since July 6, 2020, distinguishes between those who already had a registration certificate or family member card of an EU citizen, and those who were not in possession of them.

Applying for this new residence document is not compulsory for those who already have the registration certificates and family cards of EU citizens, as these documents will serve to prove legal residence in Spain once the transitional period has ended, and to benefit from the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, obtaining this residence document is highly recommended. It follows a model established at European level and explicitly mentions the status as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement. Hence, it is very useful for the holder because it is a physical card containing biometric elements which, inter alia, will facilitate handling administrative formalities and also crossing the European Union’s external borders.

For those arriving in Spain after 6 July and in order to avoid double requests (registration certificate and residence document) there is a new procedure in place for issuing residence documents under the Withdrawal Agreement during the transitional period. Therefore, as from 6 July, applications for registration certificates or residence cards for the family member of an EU citizen submitted by the beneficiaries of the Agreement shall be processed as applications for the residence document referred to in Article 18.4 of the Agreement.

Those arriving after the transitional period, i.e. from 1 January 2021, and which are not included in the application of the Withdrawal Agreement, will fall under the general immigration regulations, unless a future mobility scheme is agreed between the UK and the EU.

For more information, see this guide to possible questions and answers on the situation of UK nationals residing in Spain and their families on the occasion of BREXIT. Also available in English.

In addition, more information on who benefits from the Withdrawal Agreement and their rights can be found in the following links: