As of 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom no longer belongs to the European Union. And as a consequence of this withdrawal process known as Brexit, any citizen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland resident in Spain is seeing his or her legal status with some uncertainty.

Therefore, the objective of this article is to summarize the necessary procedures that must be followed by any citizen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland resident in Spain, in order to issue a new residence document as of July 2020.

The information collected in this article, however, and in case anyone wishes to be informed in more detail, is contained in the Joint Instruction of the Directorate General of Migration and the Directorate General of Police determining the procedure for the issuance of the residence document provided for in Article 18.4 of the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community of 29 June 2020.

First of all, the process of Great Britain's withdrawal from the EU provides for a transitional period that will, in principle, last from 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2020. Thus, until the last day of 2020, UK nationals will be able to enjoy rights of free movement in Spain. Those who have exercised their right of residence or work prior to that date, and who continue to do so thereafter, will continue to have exactly the same rights as those who did so prior to Brexit.

In addition, during the transitional period, UK nationals, their family members and any other persons residing in Spain under the conditions set out in the Withdrawal Agreement will not be required to apply for a new residence status if they already had one previously. Thus, they will only have to collect a new residence document during the transitional period.


  • UK nationals will be able to apply for a residence permit from 6 July 2020.
  • In the case of people whose right of residence in Spain begins after the end of the transitional period (after 31 December 2020), the deadline for submitting the application will be 3 months from their arrival in Spain. If applications are submitted after this period, the Aliens Office will assess the circumstances and reasons for non-compliance and will grant a sufficient additional period to submit the application if the reasons for non-compliance are well-founded, after assessment by the Aliens Office.
  • It is established that the period of validity of a residence document must be between 5 and 10 years, 5 years for temporary documents and 10 years for permanent documents.
  • In the field corresponding to the type of permit, "Article 50 TEU" must appear.
  • In the field for comments, it should be indicated that it has been issued in accordance with Article 18(4) of the Withdrawal Agreement.
  • If you already hold a registration certificate, whether temporary or permanent, you must go to the National Police to obtain the residence document, upon payment of the corresponding fee.
  • If you have not been the holder of a registration certificate, the application for the residence document will be made at the corresponding Foreigners' Office, upon payment of the corresponding fee.
  • Applications for a certificate of registration as an EU citizen will be processed as applications for a residence document.
  • Continuity of residence shall not be affected by temporary absences not exceeding a total of 6 months per year, or by absences of a longer duration for compulsory military service, or by absences not exceeding 12 consecutive months for important reasons such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or a posting in another EU Member State or a third country.
  • Once the right of permanent residence has been acquired, it will only be lost if the absence from Spain is more than 2 years in a row.
  • Previous periods of residence in Spain will be considered when applying for permanent residence. The beginning of legal residence in Spain shall be presumed to have taken place on the date of issue of the temporary registration certificate, if this was issued.
  • The renewal must be presented during the month prior to the expiration, and may also be presented within 3 months after said date.
  • At the time of renewal, when in possession of a temporary residence document, a residence document will be issued for 10 years, automatically renewable every 10 years. Failure to submit the application for renewal of the residence document within the time limits set out above (1 month before and up to three months after the date of loss of validity) shall not under any circumstances entail loss of the right of permanent residence.

If this is your case, what should you do?

  • If you are a UK national and hold a temporary registration certificate, but have not reached 5 years of legal residence in Spain, you must apply in person at the National Police station for a residence document.
  • If you are a UK national, holder of a certificate of registration, and have already reached five years of legal residence in Spain, you can apply for permanent residence at the National Police station. It will be valid for 10 years. You can do this whether you have a temporary or permanent certificate of registration.
  • If you are a UK national but do not hold a certificate of registration as an EU citizen, you may apply for a residence document, either in person or through a representative, at your local foreigners' office.

Family members

Family members of UK and Northern Ireland citizens can also apply for a residence permit.

If the family member is a holder of an EU citizen's family card, either temporary or permanent, they must apply for their new residence card at the National Police. Previous periods of residence will be taken into account in order to grant a temporary or permanent residence card, as appropriate.

On the other hand, if the family member is not the holder of said card, due to not having applied for it before 6 July 2020 or for having arrived in Spain after this date, they must apply for their residence document at their local Foreigners' Office.

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