Please see the following update, sent on behalf of the British Ambassador, by Deborah Christophers. Feel free to pass this on far and wide.
I hope everyone is well. Apologies in advance for the somewhat mammoth email, but there is a lot I wanted to update you on. As always, we really appreciate your support in sharing our information and hope you find it useful. If you have social media channels do please consider sharing our content from facebook.com/britsinspain – particularly those updates aimed at helping UK Nationals ensure they are ready for the end of the Transition Period.
And now for the update –
1. Residency information:
– We know that there are still many rumours around that green residency certificates must be exchanged for the TIE by 31 December. Please be assured that this is not the case. While the Spanish Government has highlighted that there may be some advantages to having the TIE – it is more durable, contains biometric data and may speed up administrative processes and border crossing – they make it clear that the green certificate remains valid evidence of your residency status and rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, even after the end of the Transition Period. See their Q&A document for more detail.
– You may be aware that some UK Nationals have been issued with TIEs with incorrect wording. We continue to work with the Spanish authorities on this issue. The Spanish have emphasised that these cards remain valid documents, however, we appreciate the desire of UK nationals to obtain a card with the correct wording and are awaiting further information from the Spanish authorities on the process for doing this.
– We know that it is still difficult to get residency appointments in many areas. Please encourage anyone who is struggling to obtain an appointment to make sure they have all the documentation necessary for their application and to prove that they are legally living in Spain by the end of this year.
– We have published a series of videos on residency on our Brits in Spain Facebook channel: an FAQ video, a video specifically for first time applicants and a third on exchanging the green certificate for a TIE. In addition, we have updated our page on gov.uk on registering as a resident in Spain.
– If people are particularly struggling with the residency process as first-time applications, please do signpost them to the organisations that have received funding from the UK Nationals Support Fund to assist them. The level of support may vary depending on where in Spain you are, but their helplines are open to people from across the country. You can find their details here.
2. Driving licences
– As you know one of the key actions for UK Nationals living in Spain is to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one. However, recently it has been extremely difficult to get an appointment. We have a key update from the DGT:
– The DGT is aware that UK and other licence holders are facing problems in obtaining an appointment. They will soon introduce a new process to streamline the current exchange process until the end of the year. UK licence holders will be asked to complete a form with the details the DGT needs in order to verify the driving licence with the UK authorities. This form must be submitted to the DGT by 25 December at the very latest. Once a person has presented their form, they will need to obtain an appointment with DGT to finalise the exchange process. However, as long as the form was submitted by the date above, and the licence verified by the DGT before the end of the year, the appointment to complete the process can be after 1 January 2021. We will share information on the new process as soon as we have it.
– So, whilst further details are needed about the system and when it will come into effect, this should be welcome news to people who may be struggling to get through the exchange process. In addition, the UK continues to negotiate the rules on the recognition and exchange of UK driving licences from 1 January 2021onwards with member states, so do encourage people to sign up to email alerts on gov.uk/livinginspain, so that they are kept informed of the latest information.
3. UK bank accounts
– We are aware that some UK nationals who hold UK-based bank accounts, but are resident in the EU, have received letters from their UK bank, informing them that these accounts are to be closed.
– Most people living in Europe shouldn’t see any change to their banking at the end of the transition period (31 December 2020). Whether UK banks can service EEA-based customers is a matter of local law and regulation. Also banks are set up differently and may have taken different actions to continue to serve their customers. Your bank or finance provider should contact you if they need to make any changes to your product or the way they provide it. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, contact your provider or seek independent financial advice.
– Meanwhile, please be assured that your UK state pension can be paid into your Spanish bank account. This link from gov.uk may be useful.
From 1 January, passport validity rules are changing for travel to European countries. You’ll need to have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).If you renewed your passport early last time, any extra months added to the normal 10-year validity will not count towards meeting this requirement, so we encourage everyone to doublecheck their passport validity online now at: gov.uk/checkpassport
– We held a Facebook Live Q&A session with colleagues from DHSC on Tuesday. You may want to point people who have health-related questions to the video, which is now available to watch.
– The team has also created a useful infographic (attached), which explains the different ways people can access healthcare in Spain. Please do share this with anyone who may need clarification on the system here, as well as signposting our healthcare page on gov.uk.
6. Q&A sessions
– We have a number of Q&A sessions coming up on our Facebook page. The current schedule is:
27 Oct: Travel and swallows
10 November: Education
1 December: Residency
10 December: General Q&A
Please do signpost people who have questions to these sessions, but be aware that the schedule is subject to change, so do keep an eye on the page for the latest dates.
If you need further information on any of the above topics, please let me know and I will do my best to help. But please do be aware that I cannot answer questions relating to people’s personal circumstances.
With continued thanks for your support.