Britons living in Spain have been given just 15 days to leave the country after their residency applications are rejected. According to anecdotal evidence from Britons who have been asked to leave, as well as legal documents provided by those individuals, how long you can stay in Spain has been shortened considerably. Spain’s Immigration office (Extranjeria) are now informing UK citizens who want to stay in Spain after Brexit, and are not eligible to do so, that they have 15 days to leave the country, otherwise they will be classed as living in Spain illegally.
The legal documents that are being issued to these Britons reads that: “You will be advised that, unless you have a qualifying document to stay in Spain, you must leave the Spanish territory within 15 days from the notification of this resolution, unless exceptional circumstances occur and you justify that you have sufficient means, in which case you may extend your stay up to a maximum of ninety days....Once the indicated period has elapsed without the departure being made, the provisions of the Regulation of Organic Law 4/2000, of January 11, will be applied for the cases of being irregularly in the Spanish territory (article 53.1.a of the cited Organic Law 4/2000).”
Overstaying Your Welcome
Without residency, the answer to the question “how long can Uk citizens stay in Spain?” is 90 days. After 90 days you will require a visa if you wish to stay in Spain legally. The process of obtaining a visa to live in Spain is often a lengthy one though, so you are advised to begin this process as soon as possible, and you may have to complete the process, at least in part, whilst remaining in the UK.
Overstaying this 90 day period, or indeed overstaying the 15 day period you have been given to leave the country after your residency application is rejected, is considered a serious offence. Spanish authorities are able to issue fines of between €501 to €10,000, expel you from Spain, and also ban you from all other Schengen area countries: this ban could last anything from six months to five years.
This 15-day deadline could be very difficult for individuals who have been living in Spain in the long term, and who have made their lives in the country, giving them very little time to make their arrangements to leave the country, or indeed find somewhere to live when they return to the UK. Whilst this isn’t a wide spread issue right now, it is affecting some applicants in Malaga and the Costa del Sol region, meaning that a precedent has been set for this to continue to occur.
Reasons for Residency Rejection
There are many reasons your residency application might be rejected and how long you can stay in Spain without residency will be shortened. The most common reason for this, at this point, is that the individual is unable to provide sufficient evidence that they resided in Spain during 2020, before the end of the Brexit withdrawal period. Evidence that would suffice in this situation includes being registered on the padron (town hall) in the town where you live, having medical insurance, or any other proof (such as rent cheques, for example). This is a unique situation that only applies to Britons that are applying for residency under the withdrawal agreement: if you moved to Spain in 2021 then you will need to apply for a visa instead, and how long you can stay in Spain without residency will depend on the terms of this visa.
What If I Hold a Residency Card?
If you already hold either a TIE card or an old-style green residency document then this does not apply for you. Your right to remain in Spain has already been established. Instead, this applies to Britons who are applying for residency in Spain for the first time. That doesn’t make it any less scary though, and should be taken as a cautionary tale as to why it is so important to keep any documentation that might prove your eligibility to live in Spain, such as insurance documents and social security payments.
If your application for residency is rejected then you can appeal. In these circumstances you can stay in Spain without residency for the duration of the appeal process: the forms that you complete in order to appeal the decision must be completed and submitted within a month of your rejection. Your application may well be rejected again, but the appeals process will give you time to organise an onwards plan whilst still remaining in Spain legally.
If you are a Briton who was living in Spain before Brexit and still haven’t registered to stay in Spain then you should do so as soon as possible.
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