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  • Writer's pictureOlga Pavlovsky

UK citizens rights guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Age in Spain recently took part in a webinar hosted by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The focus of this webinar was citizens rights after the end of the transition period and the Withdrawal Agreement.

The main points highlighted were:

  • UK Nationals’ rights in Spain are guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement.

  • It is important to get your residency documentation sorted before the 31st of December, 2020.

  • They explained the different residence systems that the Spanish and UK governments are using.

  • They confirmed that as of the 6th of July a new type of TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero / Foreigners Identity Card) card will be issued for UK citizens applying for residency in Spain. All current residency documents will remain valid.

The two different residence systems

In Spain the residence system allows UK citizens who are not able to get an appointment for their residence certificate (certificado residencia) before December 31st to remain in the country. But UK citizens will need to prove that they have been living in Spain before December 31st, 2020. This is called the ‘declaratory system’.

We are still yet to receive guidance from the Spanish government as to what constitutes sufficient proof of living in Spain but we were told that under the Withdrawal Agreement rights of UK citizens in Spain are still guaranteed.

Therefore official advice still remains the same - make sure you have all appropriate residency documentation or at the very least an appointment to get the residency certificate (certificado residencia) before the 31st of December, 2020. But if you can’t get an appointment before that date don’t worry and keep trying.

The UK system requires all EU citizens living in the UK to seek ‘settled status’ so that they can legally remain in the country. The UK government is allowing a 6 month grace period to apply for this status after the end of the transition period. This is a different system to the Spanish ‘declaratory system’ for UK nationals who want to apply for residency in Spain.

Spanish residency cards

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office also confirmed that as of July 6th the Spanish government will be issuing special residency cards to UK Nationals applying for residency.

Don’t worry, all current residence documents will still be valid and will entitle the holder to the same rights. We expect updated information on this process in the coming days.

The importance of the having the proper residency documents

Some of you will remember the Windrush scandal. It involved thousands of undocumented people living in the UK from the former British colonies. Many people were denied access to the NHS and other services even though they had been living in the UK legally.

This was because the UK government used the same residence system that Spain has opted for now when dealing with these migrants (the ‘declaratory system’). This is part of the reason why the UK has chosen to require all EU Nationals to seek ‘settled status’. This example highlights the importance of having proper documentation to secure your rights.

In summary

The best way to make sure that your rights are secure in Spain is to get the proper residency documentation as soon as possible! If you need help with this please contact our Residency Helpline on +34 932 20 97 41

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