Brexit, Green Residence certificates, TIEs and “Swallows” after Brexit

Those already registered here in Tenerife will at some point have the opportunity to change their police registration document (properly called a Certificado de Registro but also known as a green NIE, green card, residencia, Green certificate) to a third-country nationals’ card, the TIE (tarjeta ID extranjeros) This is to be a European level document /card which will show the country of residence and also that the bearer had taken advantage of their article 50 rights . At the time of writing (23/05/20) NO ONE yet knows what the system will be in detail OR when it will come into effect, but information will be published when that becomes known.

* Those who are not yet registered will have until the end of this year to do so (31/12/2020) … BUT it is possible that new arrivals may be issued with a TIE immediately if it is available when they apply. You should keep checking for appointments as they are released in tranches.

* It is therefore vital to register as a European Citizen Resident before 31 December 2020 if at all possible … BUT … those who register are those who are coming here to live, and the registration is itself a formal declaration that the person is living in Spain or intends to live in Spain from this point on

* The UK has a transition period which ends on 31 December 2020. After this period, British nationals will become subject to the Schengen area restriction of 90 days in a rolling 180 day period. They will not need a visa. Those who are legally resident in Spain (ie registered with the police) will obviously not be considered “visitors” for these purposes.

The situation for so called “swallows”, those part-time residents who visit Tenerife for several months each winter but stay under 183 days a year so as not to become tax resident, is clearly going to be more difficult because they often visit Tenerife for more than three months and after 31 December 2020 will be restricted to 90 days in any 180 as are all other non European 3rd-country nationals .

British nationals who have applied for the green Certificado de Registro who just want to retain EU advantages for free movement in Spain after Brexit when they just visit for a few months or so at a time sadly simply cannot continue to do so. There are implications both for state health care and for taxation. UK pensioners who have processed an S1 document here are registered with the UK as living here permanently and the UK can and already does notify the Spanish tax office of any private pension amounts received by them all be it that this can take up to 2-3 years to occur.

The current legal situation is that when a prospective part-time European citizen resident arrives in Spain they must register for a green certificado for EU citizens and in reverse, de-register when they leave Spain. The fact is that many Swallows never did this is because as EU citizens they were not closely monitored by Spain – it’s one thing to be illegal as an EU national in an EU country but another thing entirely to be an illegal alien! If these people have registered but have left without de-registering, they will still be on record as living in Spain and so may not be entitled to the residence based benefits in the UK ie the right to use the NHS as anything other than a visitor – the registration of an S1 health document obtained from the UK implies their permanent residency in Spain for this purpose.

Going forward re-registering could be problematic because of the more stringent residence registration requirements for non European 3rd-country nationals. The UK’s Ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliot, has confirmed that the British and Spanish authorities are aware of “the swallow issue”, and the matter is firmly on their radar BUT he cannot confirm that special rules will be put in place or be able to be agreed in the bilateral negotiations which are ongoing throughout this year and naturally which are yet to be concluded. He also stressed, contrary to what many “swallows” think and allege, that the UK and Spanish authorities are not only planning to monitor and enforce these systems, they are already talking to each other and doing so.

I will publish updates here but reliable information can be obtained here (scroll down page) and here and here