Consulates offer advice for those who can't get "green card"

British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, speaks at an information event last month in Madrid.
British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, speaks at an information event last month in Madrid. / EFE
  • British authorities update website with more information on residency in a deal or no-deal Brexit scenario

British consulates in Spain published more information on their official website this week aimed at reassuring Britons who have had problems registering as resident of Spain ahead of Brexit. Many applicants have been unable to get appointments because of high demand for the so-called "green card" proof-of-residency document with Spanish authorities.

An update was added to the residency section of the Living in Spain website. Although it repeats the legal requirement for Britons to have a green registration card (or older A4 piece of paper) if they are in Spain for more than three months, it also helps put that requirement in perspective.

If there is a deal

In the consulate guidance, officials explain what will happen if Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement goes ahead. "If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, any UK national arriving in Spain before 31 December 2020 will be able to register as resident in Spain under the current rules and will have their right to residence in Spain protected for as long as they remain living here," the site says.

And if there is no deal?

The advice continues by explaining what alternative terms are on offer from the Spanish government if the UK leaves with a hard Brexit and no deal with the EU. "If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, any UK national residing in Spain before the date the UK leaves will be considered legally resident for a period of 21 months, irrespective of whether they currently hold a residency document."

The information is reassuring for UK nationals who cannot get an online appointment to apply for a green card ahead of any Brexit date. It continues, "In some parts of Spain UK nationals are currently unable to register as a resident as appointments are not available. If you don't yet have a residence certificate, the advice [of the Spanish government] is to make sure you have proof you were living here before we leave the EU (eg. "padrón" registration from your town hall), and to keep checking the online appointment system for new appointments."

The Spanish authorities have also said they are working to make more appointments available. They have also published details of the likely process after Brexit which would involve registered British citizens automatically swapping their EU resident green cards (or green A4 paper) for a Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros, a TIE, over a grace period of several months. Otherwise, those with no green certificate would need to apply for a TIE.