Now that the Spanish government has confirmed the issuing of the new TIE card for UK citizens in Spain, we answer some of the most pertinent questions relating to this new residency document.
In its latest government bulletin, the Spanish government has addressed the matter of rights and documentation for Brits living in Spain that are intending to carry on residing there after Brexit.
The standout point is that from July 6th, UK citizens registering as residents in Spain will be issued with the highly anticipated TIE residence card, with the measure now approved in conjunction with Spanish migration and police authorities.
“Spain appears to be faithfully reflecting the requirements of the Withdrawal Agreement,” Nigel Aston, head of Eurocitizens group, told The Local.
But the government document also covers other important matters such as officially stating that Brits registered in Spain will hold onto the same rights relating to residency, free movement and social security.
These rights will be guaranteed for their family members, even those from non-EU countries, as long as they are already registered or do so before December 31st 2020.
What is a TIE and what will it include?
A TIE is a “Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero”, an identity card for foreigners which is issued to non-EU residents in Spain.
The following image shows what the one currently issued to third-country nationals in Spain looks like, with a photo, cardholder’s fingerprint and information such as the NIE (foreigner ID number), whether it’s temporary (5 years) or permanent (10 years), home address and if it’s obtained through work, study or family reasons.
However, the Spanish government has stated that the TIE card issued to UK citizens in Spain will contain distinctive points such as their status as a beneficiary under the Withdrawal Agreement and whether they were a holder of a previous green residence document before.
Do I need to get a TIE?
For UK citizens who have registered as residents in Spain and are already in possession of a green A4 residency certificate or a small green residency card, the TIE card is optional.
“While you may choose to change your current certificate for a TIE at some point in the future, there’s no requirement to do so,” British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott clarified.
This latest BOE bulletin by the Spanish government also confirms this by stating that Brits who are already registered in Spain “will not have the obligation to apply for a new resident status nor, therefore, undergo a new documentation process, but they will have the right to receive a residence document that expressly reflects their status as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement”.
UK citizens who have not registered as residents in Spain but intend to carry on living in the country after December 31st (for more than 90 days over a 180-day period) will have to get a TIE.
After July 6th 2020, any UK citizen registering for residence in Spain will be issued this biometric TIE card.
Is a TIE card better than the old, green residency certificate?
“I think it is worth emphasising that the advantage of the TIE as envisaged in the BOE is that it clearly states that the holder is entitled to the rights set out in the Withdrawal Agreement and distinguishes between initial residency and permanent,” Aston told The Local.
From a practical standpoint, the TIE is likely to be a hard, laminated card that is certainly more durable than the old A4 residence paper certificate (seen below on the left).
It will also be small enough to fit in a wallet and will serve as photo ID, something that the smaller credit-card sized green residence card can’t offer.
However, if the thought of a long wait for a TIE appointment puts you off, remember that ”the green residency document gives you the same rights as the new TIE card,” UK Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott reiterated.
What is the process for applying for a TIE?
Given the different elements and requirements to keep in mind for each application, we have dedicated this separate article to the TIE process.
When do I have until to apply for a TIE?
If you want to ensure all your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you should aim to get an appointment before December 31st.
You will still be able to apply for a TIE residence card after Brexit but these rights will not be automatically guaranteed and the set of requirements needed to be issued with the card are likely to be stricter and closer to those for third-country nationals in Spain.
However, immigration offices will assess the circumstances and the reasons for this non-compliance and will grant the UK citizen an additional period long enough to submit the application if the reasons for the non-compliance are well founded.
UK citizens who intend to register in Spain after Brexit will have to apply within the first three months of their arrival, in accordance with the provisions set out in the Withdrawal Agreement.
What if I can’t get an appointment before December 31st?
Numerous sources, including the Spanish government, have reported a backlog in residency applications at migration offices (Extranjería) across Spain.
According to the Moncloa government website, “Spain’s government has been working continuously for months to optimise the appointments system.
The immigration offices and police stations of the provinces where most British citizens live have been equipped with more personnel and material means to be able to respond to the increase in the demand for residence certificates.”
The government site also points out that some police stations don’t use the online “cita previa” appointment system and have to be contacted by phone, although there are many complaints from residency applicants from not just the UK who said they’ve been unable to reach police stations on the phone.
If all else fails, the best option is to head to your closest migration office in person to explain the situation and try to obtain some sort of reference code which states that you applied before December 31st 2020.
There is no official comment yet by government sources on what will happen if come the start of 2021, thousands of Brits have been unable to register due to backlogs or delays at Extranjería.
Citizens Advice Bureau Spain recommends seeking legal assistance if you are unable to get an appointment.