The British Embassy in Spain and the Consulate in Malaga have issued a series of reassuring messages to Britons living in Spain this week. Many have been concerned about the paperwork they need to have before and after a likely Brexit date at the end of the month, said the Embassy.
The UK parliament is currently approving the Withdrawal Agreement, which now looks virtually certain to take Britain out of the EU on 31 January, moving the country into an official transition, or implementation, period.
This period will last until 31 December this year, during which time the UK is out of the EU but current rules and processes apply.
Rights protected if registered
The Withdrawal Agreement also guarantees British residents the same rights as now in healthcare, pensions, work and residency beyond that date providing they are registered by the end of the transition, 31 December.
In a message on the Embassy's Brits in Spain Facebook page, UK Ambassador Hugh Elliott said, "It is so important to ensure that you, your family, your friends and indeed your neighbours are all correctly registered as resident here," adding links to a video explaining the need to have the "residencia" green card (or green piece of paper that some have) and how to apply.
Green card not TIE for now
The Ambassador also sought to clear up confusion among many Britons on the option to swap the green documents to a non-EU foreigners photo identity card. This is known as a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero).
"I should also clarify that UK nationals cannot apply for a TIE until after Brexit... something I know some people have been asking about".
The Embassy said this week that the Spanish authorities have not published details of the process for a TIE yet for Britons already in Spain, nor is it confirmed if it will be compulsory or optional.
Speaking to SUR in English, Charmaine Arbouin, UK Consul for Andalucía, echoed the Ambassador's message. "The Spanish government has been clear that the green residency d ocument UK nationals currently hold will continue to be valid throughout the implementation period, and even if you do not already have that certificate, you can still register as a resident according to the same criteria as now until 31 December."
British residents in Spain have been increasingly confused over what paperwork they need, and what Brexit conditions are, as originally there were alternative terms if the UK left without a deal with the EU. That risk subsided with the Conservatives winning a big majority in last December's British general election.
The UK's Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, when signed, recognises a minimum period until at least 30 June 2021, (six months after the end of the transition period), for an EU country to carry out a changeover to any new ID it requires for Britons living in that country. This is providing they have registered their residency by 31 December.