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Residence

The withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) took place on 31 January 2020, such that as from 1 February 2020, the UK became a third country.

The terms of its withdrawal were regulated through the Withdrawal Agreement (English version), which came into force on 1 February 2020. This contained a series of provisions so that the effective withdrawal of the UK took place in an orderly fashion. To achieve that, a Transition Period was established, which finalised on 31 December 2020.

A key aspect of this Withdrawal Agreement is the rights regulated in Title II on the residency of those people who enjoyed this status before the end of the Transition Period. Based on that, all UK nationals and their families, nationals of third countries, that resided in Spain before the end of this Transition Period will maintain their rights deriving from the application of EU law (except the right to vote and to stand in elections to the European Parliament and the exercise of the EU's Citizens Initiative).

In turn, those UK citizens that arrive as from 1 January 2021, and that are not included in the scope of application of the Withdrawal Agreement will fall under the general immigration regime, since the agreement reached between the UK and the EU does not include the free movement of people.

Based on the foregoing, as from 1 January 2021, UK nationals in Spain will be in one of the following two situations:

  • They will be beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement
  • They will be governed by the general provisions of the immigration regime

UK Nationals and their families resident in Spain that are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement

The fundamental aim of the Withdrawal Agreement is for UK nationals and their families that were resident in Spain before the end of this Transition Period to maintain their status deriving from the application of EU law (except the right to vote and to stand for elections to the European Parliament and the exercise of the EU's Citizens Initiative).

Based on this, the Withdrawal Agreement offered two possibilities to document beneficiaries of the agreement: (1) to establish a procedure of a constitutional nature, under which they must apply for the new status of resident of a host country (Article 18.1); (2) not apply this procedure and issue, if citizens so request, a residency document that expressly identifies them as beneficiaries of the agreement (Article 18.4).

Spain opted for the latter possibility, based on which, on 4 July, the Instruction was published, signed by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, through the Directorate-General for Migration, together with the Ministry of Home Affairs, through the Directorate-General for the Police (also available in English).

This procedure was set in motion on 6 July 2020, and distinguished between those who already had an EU registration certificate or citizen family card and those that did not have this for whatever reason.

It should be noted that EU registration certificates and citizen family cards will serve to accredit the status of beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement after 31 December 2020 and thus substantiate legal residency in Spain after the end of the Transition Period.

However, the government recommends obtaining the new residency document since this follows the model established at an EU-wide level and explicitly states their status as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement. Furthermore, this new document is a physical card that contains biometric elements which, among others, facilitate the performance of administrative procedures by the holder, including the ability to cross external borders of the EU.

You can obtain more information on this matter in the Q&A guide on the situation of UK nationals resident in Spain and their families who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement. This is also available in English by clicking here.

For more information on this procedure, and on the documentation that must be provided, you can consult the web pages of the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration and of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In addition, you can find further information on who can benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement and their rights by clicking on the following links:

UK Nationals and their families that want to reside in Spain as of 1 January 2021 and that are not beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement

Those UK national and members of their family that arrive in Spain after the end of the Transition Period, that is, after 1 January 2021, and that are not beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement will fall under the general immigration regime, since the agreement on future relations between the UK and the EU does not contain provisions on the maintenance of the free movement of people.

This general immigration regime is primarily contained in Constitutional Law 4/2000, of 11 January, on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration, and in its regulatory implementation and the section on international mobility of Law 14/2013, of 27 September, on supporting entrepreneurs and their internationalisation.

More information can be found in this regard by clicking here.

Non official translation


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