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The Directorate General for Migration has issued an important informative note on the "SITUATION OF BRITISH CITIZENS FROM 1 JANUARY 2021”. This note was published due to an enquiry by the Barcelona Bar Association and aims to clarify the situation in which British citizens will find themselves in Spain after 1 January 2021.


The beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement are all those who have been residents in Spain before or as of 31 December 2020.

This means that they can apply for a residence card for UK citizens. Depending on whether they had already registered as residents before, they had to first apply for a permit and then for the card. Their family members apply for the residence card for family members of UK citizens.

After 1 January 2021, there are different situations in which they can find themselves.

If they have arrived in Spain before 31 December 2020, they can hold the residence document provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement, the RESIDENCE CARD FOR UK CITIZENS, either because they applied for it after 6 July or because they decided to exchange their previous EU registration certificate or residence card for family members of EU citizens at the police station.

They can hold an EU REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE or a RESIDENCE CARD FOR FAMILY MEMBERS OF EU CITIZENS. These citizens are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement and can prove this status by means of these documents, but if they wish, they can apply for the new residence document. This application is highly recommended because of the guarantees associated with the new residence document.

Those who do not have registered in Spain yet, but are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement because they were RESIDING IN SPAIN BEFORE 31 DECEMBER 2020 and they can prove it, may apply, at any time, for their residence card for UK citizens. The immigration offices will follow the procedure in the same way as during the transitional period but paying special attention to the elements proving that the applicant was a resident in Spain on 31 December 2020 (e.g., through rental contracts or census certificates).


UK citizens who have ARRIVED IN SPAIN ON OR AFTER 1 JANUARY 2021 are not beneficiaries to the Withdrawal Agreement.

The general rule is that all UK nationals arriving in Spain on or after 1 January 2020 are not beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement and, therefore, will be considered third-country nationals and will be subject to the general immigration regime. They will have to request the corresponding visas and authorisations at the consular office at their place of residence.


There are some EXCEPTIONS regarding family members who reunite with their UK family members in Spain after 1 January 2021. This is the case when a family relationship with a beneficiary of the Agreement is accredited, which already existed before 31 December 2020 but which, for whatever reason, has not resulted in an effective exercise of residence until after that date. This also covers children born on or after 1 January 2021.

In these cases, the Instructions determine a period of 3 months from arrival in Spain to apply for the residence document, which will be processed in the usual way. The three months are counted from the date of arrival in Spain or from the date of birth. This period is an administrative formality. It will not affect the residence status. Applications submitted after the deadline will also be accepted and, if there are no justifying reasons for the tardy application, the corresponding fine may be imposed.

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