As Brexit looms, here’s the latest information on becoming a resident in Spain

At the time of writing – mid November – there is just six weeks left until the United Kingdom steps from under the umbrella of the EU and goes it alone outside the member states. This has led to increased activity regarding obtaining residency, exchanging UK driving licenses for the Spanish counterpart, and generally ensuring that it’s okay to be a Brit living in Spain after 31 December 2020.


The law hasn’t changed recently, but people’s perception of it has, and while some people were previously content to just jog along without going through the formalities of applying for residency, there is now consternation that irregularities in residential arrangements could lead to expulsion from Spain. This means there’s a heavy load on the immigration system, and it’s become virtually impossible to get appointments to submit the necessary paperwork that gets you into the system. The Spanish government have responded to this situation by making more options available for online applications, thus reducing the need for face-to-face appointments.


Digital certificates:

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Spanish civil servants love a paper trail – the thicker the pile, the better they like it. However, when residency applications are at an all time high, something has to give, and now it’s possible to submit all your documentation online – not just for residency, but for things like applying to be on the electoral roll, checking and paying fines, filing tax returns and paying tax bills.


Digital certificates can be obtained from the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) where you are registered on the padron. No matter how long you have been on the padron – the equivalent of the electoral roll in the UK – you will need a new certificate if you are conducting any sort of official business. Save time and frustration in the future by asking for a digital certificate at the same time. Since you have to provide several forms of identification and the Ayuntamiento keeps copies of these documents on file, you have effectively proven your identity in order to obtain your digital certificate, so it’s simply a matter of logging on, or providing the log in information to trusted legal representatives so they can process business matters on your behalf.


The TIE Card:


Due to digital certification, you will only need to visit the local Immigration Office once, to have your fingerprints taken for the new TIE Card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). The TIE Card is a newly created identification document for foreign nationals which specifically guarantees the rights of British nationals residing in Spain, under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Agreement. While it’s possible to apply for residency after 31 December, it’s possible that entry conditions may be more stringent. At this stage, nobody knows!


The only way to guarantee that life in Spain will carry on as usual after Brexit is to apply for residency now, because once your application is in process, you will be considered resident before Leave Day and will enjoy the benefits that come with it, depending on your acceptance. Even if your request is turned down, you will receive a valid reason, and be able to appeal. It’s all about being in process.


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The TIE Card is mandatory for new residency applications, and optional for existing residents. Official advice is that it’s unnecessary to change your green Residencia Certificate for a TIE card, but again, nobody knows what the future holds. It’s a matter of personal choice, really.


Driving license:


Once the United Kingdom leaves the EU, new TIE Card holders have just six months to exchange their UK driving license for a Spanish one. The fines for failing to do so are hefty, so don’t ignore this important step. While the UK was an EU member state, you had two years to exchange your license, but after Leave Day, drivers from the UK will face the same restrictions as non-EU countries.



Due to sheer volume of numbers wanting to exchange licenses the DGT (Direccion General de Traffico) – the Spanish government department responsible for drivers and the road network – has changed the requirements for drivers. As long as people register the intention to exchange the license before the end of the December, it’s not necessary to be seen at the DGT Office before Leave Day in order to complete the transaction. That’s come as a huge relief to drivers, since at one stage it was said that those who hadn’t changed their license by the end of the year would be obliged to take a Spanish driving test!


If you need help navigating the web of bureaucracy in Spain, Spain Life Exclusive is happy to recommend Webster Asesores of Javea. They are experienced in all legal and tax matters relating to Spain for both residents and non-residents. Give them a call for a no-obligation consultation, and check out their Facebook Page for up to date information on the things that affect your life in Spain.


Contact details:


Webster Asesores



Edificio Velas Blancas – Calle Salvador Salvá
03730 – Javea

Telephone: 96 646 32 20




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