Spain’s Secretary of State for Migration Hana Jalloul and British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott on Wednesday shared a video with words of reassurance and advice for Britons in Spain, with just a week left until Brexit.
“I know that many of you have built your homes here and we want you to stay. You are part of the Spanish family. You are part of us,” Jalloul said.
“As I said in July, this is, and will always be, your home… my key message is, as long as you were legally living here before December 31st your rights will be protected, and recognised in Spain”.
The video message also touched on the matter of the ‘Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero’ (TIE), the new biometric residency card which Brits who haven’t registered in Spain before July 6th 2020 have to apply for before December 31st 2020, a card for whom holders of the two old green residency documents (A4 sheet or card-sized) is currently optional.
“More than 50,000 British citizens have applied for the new TIE card,” Jalloul stated.
“The Spanish Government would like to keep on encouraging British Nationals to exchange their green residency document for the new biometric TIE card as it may speed up administrative processes and, especially in the current situation regarding border crossings.”
Previously the emphasis on the advantages of exchanging the documents had been primarily its practicality: a hard, laminated, credit card-sized biometric document which is more robust than the green ‘residencia’ paper certificates that used to be issued.
Earlier messages by the British Embassy had discouraged green certificate holders from applying for the new TIE in order to allow more application spots for Britons who hadn’t registered before, especially at times and in places where there were holdups.
But with travel between the UK and Europe now seeming more difficult than ever, Spanish and British authorities have wanted to highlight how a biometric document that’s scannable by border officials and serves as photo ID could save time and trouble, especially as not all authorities outside of Spain are necessarily familiar with the old, green residency documents.
The UK is after all having to juggle two travel bans from Europe: one due to the new Covid strain that’s developed in the British Isles and the next one once 2021 comes along and under EU Covid restrictions non-resident UK nationals cease to be allowed easy entry as third-country nationals.
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It’s not the first time British consular authorities point out the advantages of the TIE, but with the bulk of the applications by previously non-residents presumably now registered, the shift seems to be to get as much protection as possible for Brits in Spain during these uncertain times.
“It’s important to be very clear – if you already have a green residency certificate this document remains valid proof of your residency and of your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement,” British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott stressed.
“It is not obligatory to exchange it. There is no hard deadline to exchange it either”.
“I know that some people have had challenges using their green certificate, for example when going to the bank. So, the Spanish government are creating a document that they will share with the relevant authorities and that UK nationals will be able to download.
This is clearly good news for green certificate holders, with one person commenting below the video that even immigration staff at their local extranjería office had wrongly told them the green document would no longer be valid come 2021.
Receiving different information and requirements depending on the immigration office that you deal with in Spain is a recurring problem according to the large number of Britons who highlight this issue on forums.
“This will clarify the continued validity of the green residency document,” Elliott stated.
- BREXIT: How to apply for a TIE residency card in Spain
- BREXIT: Where can Brits in Spain get help with residency applications?
- BREXIT: When should British residents in Spain get a TIE?