Why Half Of Britons In Spain Haven’t Exchanged Their Residency Documents

For Britons to reside legally in Spain post-Brexit, they must have the correct documentation. The UK’s decision to leave the EU has also made it impossible for Britons to move to Spain without securing a visa. Those Britons who were already living in Spain before the Brexit withdrawal began were issued residency cards and the Right to Remain without applying for a visa.

But a new study by Spain's Immigration Observatory has found that more than half of UK nationals living in Spain still haven’t exchanged their EU green residency documents for the TIE identity card following Brexit. This equates to more than 200,000 Britons living in Spain without the correct paperwork. As of the end of last year there were 412,040 Britons living in Spain. This figure includes Brits that moved to Spain after Brexit and don’t enjoy Withdrawal Agreement right.

But for those Britons who do have rights according to the Withdrawal Agreement, the TIE Residency Card is an important piece of documentation. It enshrines the residency rights of Britons in Spain as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Why Should You Apply For a TIE Identity Card?

Many UK nationals have chosen not to apply for a TIE identity card. And there is no legal requirement that  UK nationals legally residing in Spain before the Brexit deadline have to exchange their old EU green residency certificate (Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión) for a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) Identity card.

But this card can be an incredibly useful piece of documentation. It states clearly that under the Acuerdo Retirada UE (EU Withdrawal Agreement), UK nationals who can prove they were in Spain before Brexit are entitled to the same residency rights they had prior to the UK's exit from the EU.

Some people have put off applying for a TIE card because they are concerned that their application will be rejected.  But only one percent of UK nationals with an EU certificado de registro who have applied to exchange it for a TIE have either had their application filed or rejected. That’s just 828 people in total. On the other side of the coin 85% of UK nationals who didn’t have a green certificate but could prove that they were living in Spain prior to Brexit were issued a TIE identity card. You can prove your residency using rental agreements, payroll slips or padrón town hall registration, amongst other documents.

Exchanging your documents is still optional but both the UK and Spanish governments have strongly recommended that UK nationals residing in Spain with the old green EU residency certificate should exchange it for a TIE as soon as possible. This is because having a TIE card can make living in Spain much simpler from a logistical point of view. Many bureaucratic processes in Spain much simpler if you have a TIE card. Travelling to and from the country will also be much easier too. Finally the TIE card has a photo on it so it can be used as a form of identification and is much more durable then the flimsy green certificate which is made of paper.

Is Now a Good Time To Make The Application?

There has been a significant slow down in the number of Britons applying for TIE identity cards making now a great time to make your application. After an initial surge in exchanges in the second half of 2020 when the TIE identity card was first made available to UK nationals, the number of Brits exchanging their green certificate for a TIE card has decreased considerably. The application is straightforward, easy to complete, and you should have your TIE residency card, and the benefits that come with it, quickly and easily.

So who is living in Spain and exchanging their residency documents? The latest information, which was released in June 2023, shows that 34% of applications were aged over 65 and 30% of applicants were aged between 50 and 64. The average age of UK nationals living in Spain is 55 years old.

51% of Britons exchanging their documents live in just 3 provinces. 25% were in Alicante, 18% were in Malaga, and 8% were in the Balearic Islands.

Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Looking to escape the cold and rainy weather in the UK and make an escape to the sun? Then why not get in touch with our local property experts, who are perfectly placed to help you buy the Spanish home of your dreams. We’re excited to help you make your next move your best move!