Information for UK nationals residing in Spain on 31 December 2020 and their families

The Withdrawal Agreement established 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 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 Member States two possibilities to address the documentation process:

  • 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);
  • 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, 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 registration certificates or family member cards of EU citizens, as these documents will serve to prove legal residence in Spain once the transitional period ends, and to benefit from the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, obtaining this residence document is highly recommended also for them, as it is issued in the same format at European level and explicitly identifies its holder 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 crossing the European Union’s external borders.

Here you can download a document that clarifies the different residence documents that a UK citizen benefiting from the Withdrawal Agreement may use to prove this condition.

Those arriving after the transitional period, i.e. from 1 January 2021, will fall under the general immigration regulations.

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

More information can also be obtained through:

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