NEWS FROM THE BRITISH EMBASSY IN MADRID
With things changing so rapidly with regard to the rights of British Expatriates resident here in Spain, frequent updates are coming out of the British Embassy in Madrid and we've created this page to keep them all in one place for easy reference. Please note that we rely on the information coming from the Embassy and its Consulates and take no responsibility for its accuracy.
While we will make every effort to reproduce them all, you might also want to ensure that you visit the Embassy's webpage or their Facebook Group "Brits in Spain" regularly, as information is constantly changing.
Latest Update From the Drop-In Clinic
Following the drop in clinics held last week, the British Embassy has sent the following information:
I hope the clinics were useful for those of you who were able to attend. We hope to hold another clinic before the summer (probably towards the end of May) so if you have any feedback, please let me know.
Residency Applications and TIE exchange:
We confirmed that we are aware of issues around getting appointments for the TIE exchange in Alicante. If anyone is having difficulty getting their green residency certificate accepted, they can show this document which the Spanish authorities have produced: https://www.inclusion.gob.es/ficheros/brexit/nota_aclaratoria_green_certificate.pdf
For anyone who is applying for residency for the first time, if they cannot get an appointment they can apply online, either with a digital certificate or by using a gestor. You can obtain a digital certificate from your local town hall.
We confirmed that everyone in Spain will receive the vaccine but it may take time for this to happen. British nationals on private healthcare can register at their local health centre. If they try to do so and are told to wait, this may be because the vaccine roll out has not yet reached their age group. As soon as we hear anything further on vaccines, we will let you know. The Murcia region is setting up some information online but again this may take some time, so we will update you once we hear anything further.
Contacting the Consulate:
If someone asks you a general enquiry, you can ask them to fill in an online contact form so they get the answer directly. If someone is vulnerable and unable to call the Consulate, they can also fill in a contact form and ask for someone to contact them. The online contact form is www.gov.uk/contact-consulate-alicante
Healthcare in Spain:
· Information for residents: www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-in-spain
· Information for tourists: www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-for-uk-nationals-visiting-spain
If a customer has a particular problem with accessing healthcare in Spain, they can email the healthcare team directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
Residency Requirements Moving Forward:
British nationals moving to Spain from now on will fall under the “regimen general de extranjeria” which is the main immigration rules for non-EU nationals.
More information can be found on these websites:
· https://extranjeros.inclusion.gob.es/index.html (in Spanish)
· http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Consulados/LONDRES/en/Consulado/Pages/Visas.aspx (in English)
Note that the British Consulate cannot advise on whether someone may meet these requirements or help with any applications.
For British nationals who were in Spain before the end of last year but do not meet the residency requirements – we explained that if they need help with returning to the UK because they cannot pay for a flight or the PCR tests, they can contact us.
In the Comunidad Valenciana, most town halls have an office that supports non-EU national immigrants. These are called PANGEA offices. There is a list of all PANGEA offices in the Comunidad Valenciana on this link: http://inclusio.gva.es/documents/610754/169859438/Contactos+Oficinas+Pangea+2020_Alicante.pdf/e7247a3c-0734-4123-a6eb-29a7e393c493
ESSENTIAL GUIDE FOR UK NATIONALS LIVING IN SPAIN
The British Embassy has just published a very useful leaflet, produced to explain citizens’ rights for UK Nationals covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, i.e. those living legally in Spain before 1st January 2021. Click on the link below to access the full copy.
COVID-19 VACCINATIONS IN THE VALENCIAN COMMUNITY
I am writing with an urgent request from the Valencian healthcare authority regarding some erroneous information that is circulation on social media. I’d be grateful if you could share the following information on your platforms/with your communities, where appropriate. Do forgive me if you are not in Valencia and have been included in this incorrectly – you can blame my geography!
The Valencian health authority has made us aware that the following link is being shared erroneously. This link (below) is for patients who have Covid-19 symptoms only (and do not have a SIP card), it will register them on the system so that they can receive the appropriate medical attention.
It seems this link is being circulated erroneously on social media as a way of registering to receive the vaccine for those who aren’t on the state system e.g. those with private health insurance. This is not the case, and those who have registered on the system using this link are, in fact, notifying the authorities that they have symptoms. As a result, the authorities are duty bound to call every individual, which is placing an unnecessary strain on their system in the cases where people have registered incorrectly.
The link to notify the Valencian authorities that you have Covid-19 symptoms is as follows. It should not be used to register for a vaccine. http://coronavirusregistro.san.gva.es/sipcovid19/registrosinsip?language=es
Lastly, there are also rumours that there is a waiting list for vaccines. There is no list, according to the authorities. Those who are eligible for a vaccine will be vaccinated according to the risk group they belong to, as per the wider vaccine rollout. If a UK national does not have a SIP card, they can contact their local health centre to register (and are advised to call beforehand).
BRITISH EMBASSY UPDATE - 17 NOVEMBER 2020
- As you know, exchanging your UK licence for a Spanish one is one of the key actions for UK Nationals living in Spain to carry out before the end of the Transition period. However, we know how difficult many people have found getting an appointment to do so in recent months. The Spanish Traffic office – the DGT – yesterday activated a new protocol to streamline the process for UK driving licence holders who have not yet exchanged their UK licence for a Spanish one. Further information is available on their website here. (Please note that you can change the language to English using the dropdown menu in the top right of the page).
- We put out Facebook posts on Brits in Spain on this, which we would be grateful if you would share on your social media channels.
- The main points are:
o UK licence holders who wish to exchange must present an application to the DGT before 30 December, either via a form on their online portal (this requires a digital certificate or CLAVE), or by calling 060. It may also be possible to take the form into the DGT in person, but we would recommend people check with the office by telephone ahead of doing so, particularly due to ongoing COVID-restrictions in many parts of the country. We understand that for this part of the process you do not need to have a residency certificate or TIE but you will need a NIE.
o You can also engage a third party (eg a gestor) to do this part of the process on your behalf.
o If they have not been contacted by the DGT in the meantime, after three days of presenting the application the licence holder can request an appointment with the DGT. This should be booked on the DGT’s website.
o As long as the application has been submitted within the timeframe, and the licence has been verified by the end of the year, the appointment to exchange with the DGT can be after 1 January 2021. It must be within the first 6 months of next year. Please note that you will need a residency certificate/TIE to do final exchange, so if you are in the process of applying for residency you may want to choose a later date for your appointment.
o Irrespective of whether a UK licence has been verified for exchange by the end of the year, UK licence holders will be able to use the licence for 6 months to drive in Spain from 1 January 2021.
o The future rules for recognition and exchange of licences are still subject to negotiation. Our advice remains that UK nationals sign up for the email alerts on the Living in Spain guide to ensure they keep up to date with the latest.
o If a person already has an appointment booked with DGT, their website states that the person does not need to go through the process above and can attend their appointment as scheduled with all their supporting documentation.
- Hopefully this process will allow those who have been struggling to get an appointment to start the exchange process before the end of the year and be reassured that they can still exchange their licence for a Spanish one as per the process for EU licences.
- Whilst most UK nationals living in Spain will not see any change to their banking arrangements, some UK nationals living in the EU have been contacted by their UK banking provider as there will be changes to their accounts or financial products after 31 December.
- For those UK nationals who have been affected and contacted by their banks, there is now further guidance available on the Money and Pensions Service which may help them in considering their options. We are now linking to this guidance from our Living in Spain guide.
- If a UK national is not sure or is concerned about whether there will be any changes to their UK account or financial products, they should contact their bank or an independent financial advisor.
BRITISH EMBASSY UPDATE - 15 OCTOBER 2020
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 2021 onwards 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.
BRITISH EMBASSY FACEBOOK Q&A SESSIONS
As we count down to BREXIT, the British Embassy is holding a series of live Q&A sessions on its Brits In Spain Facebook page, covering a wide range of related subjects which you may find interesting. You can submit questions in advance or even during the session itself. We will post the links to Facebook for the recording of each session here as they become available.
Pensions, Benefits, Working & Driving- held on 6 October 2020
Healthcare - Held on 13 October 2020
Travel - Held on 27 October 2020
Residency - held on 1 December 2020
General Q&A - held on 8 December 2020
RESIDENCY Q&A - 16 SEPTEMBER 2020
For those who missed it yesterday when it was live on Facebook yesterday here's a link to the Q&A . It's worth watching as it covers some important points. There are a huge number of comments, many of them repeating the same questions but it's worth bearing in mind a few salient points. There are quite a few so please excuse the post being quite long! Even so, it isn't an exhaustive list, so if the answer to your doubt isn't contained below, feel free to ask through this page or consult the British Embassy Facebook or web pages.
- it's important to use the right terms to avoid confusion: NIE is just an 'identification number', it's yours for life and never changes but is not the same as 'residencia'; 'padrón' is simply your registration at your town hall and isn't 'residencia' either; the new TIE card, issued from July onwards, or the previous A4 or credit card sized green certificates are your proof of correctly filed 'residencia'.
- if you aren't already correctly registered and holding some one of the forms of residency certificate you must act now. It can take a while to get everything you need, especially as a new applicant. As a new applicant you have to provide evidence of housing, income and healthcare among other things and you have to be on the local 'padrón'.
- apparent difficulties in obtaining appointments in some areas are an issue that the British Embassy knows about and is addressing with the Spanish authorities. Exact procedures vary slightly by province, so be careful to understand what the process is for you.
- if you already hold a green 'residencia' of either type you are under no obligation to change to a TIE as things currently stand but you may choose to do so. I have done and the process is easy - the biggest nuisance it that, here in Alicante province, it's done centrally in Alicante itself and entails two visits about 3 weeks apart. If you're switching, you only need the correct forms, a valid passport and your old 'residencia' (plus a new 'padrón' if your address has changed from that on your existing certificate) - the other income and healthcare conditions were dealt with at the time of your original application and are taken for granted.
- most people do not need to pay for the services of a gestor or other agent - it can be done easily yourself even if your Spanish is limited and there are organisations being funded by the British Government to assist you - their details are in another post here on Facebook and on our webpage.
- a number of the new TIE have been produced with incorrect wording on the bottom of the front and the words "tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano de la union" appear. Most people are not, they are applicants in their own right but this is an error in the production process. The British Embassy is aware and will provide guidance once the issue has been resolved with the Spanish authorities. If yours contains this error, take it anyway and await the outcome of the current investigation.
- unlike its green predecessors, the TIE has an expiry date on it usually 5 or 10 years beyond your date of application. This does not mean your 'residencia' expires at that date, it simply means that you need to renew the card, just like any other piece of photo ID to keep the photograph current - just as you do with your driving licence or passport.
- if you haven't had your 'residencia' for 5 years yet, your TIE will bear the word 'temporal' roughly in the middle next to your photograph. It will also have an expiry date 5 years from your date of application - not from your date of originally obtaining your green 'residencia'. Don't worry, on the central database that original date is still recorded and you can apply for a permanent card at your 5 year point just as you could before TIE was introduced. However you don't have to, as you will automatically be "upgraded" at the 5 year point on the database and the change will happen automatically when you renew the card on its expiry.
- you should also have exchanged your driving licence from UK to Spanish and you must do so before the end of the year otherwise you run the risk of having to take out an International Driving Permit or even taking the Spanish driving test! You can do this yourself through DGT ('Tráfico') but it's not an easy process - personally I used a 'gestor'.
WHAT’S A 'TIE' AND DO I NEED ONE OR WANT ONE?
The “tarjeta de identidad de extranjero” (TIE) is the newly released replacement for the green document/card usually referred to as a “residencia”. Any new applicants will automatically be issued a TIE from now onwards and exisiting “residencia” holder may want to exchange their current document for the TIE although it is not compulsory to do so.
All is explained in the following update from Sara Munsterhjelm, the Vice Consul in Alicante. Please note that this update applies specifically to Alicante Province, although it may be mirrored in other Provinces. In Alicante, those wishing to make the swap can apply as there are plenty of appointments currently available. The link in Sara’s update is to a document in English giving you all the necessary information and links wherever you are in Spain and whether you’re well settled or a newcomer…
I know many of you have been following the latest information regarding the process for applying for a TIE in Spain. The Spanish authorities have now published their FAQs in English which clarifies the process for new applicants and anyone who wishes to transfer their green card/certificate for a new TIE:
As you are aware, it is not obligatory to change the green card/certificate for a TIE. However, the local authorities in Alicante did ask me to pass on the information that they currently have a lot of appointments available should anyone wish to take advantage and swap the document now. New applications are being handled by a different department, so the police officers in Alicante are dedicated to issuing TIE cards and there is currently availability for appointments from one day to the next.
They also provided the attached information (attached in Spanish but fairly self-explanatory) about what is required in Alicante to carry out the swap from the green card/certificate to the TIE.
For the Alicante province, the appointments are only available in Alicante city, the authorities do not currently plan to open up in Denia, Benidorm, Torrevieja or any of the other police stations.
In addition, the Babelia Association is now fully up and running and available to give advice to anyone who needs help with applying for residency for the first time, and they can also give additional support to those who are more vulnerable. They cover the whole of the Alicante province. To contact them, please visit their website here: https://asociacionbabelia.org/
Green Residency Certificate or Tarjeta
Yesterday (13 July 2020) HMA Hugh Elliott and Secretaria de Estado de Migraciones Hana Jalloul recorded a joint video message for UK Nationals living in Spain to provide clarity and reassurance on the new residency document. (Click on the photo below to view the video on YouTube) The Ministerio de Inclusion, Seguridad Social Y Migraciones has also published a comprehensive Q&A document to provide answers to many of the questions you have been asking us. You can find the guide here and we will be updating gov.uk/livinginspain to reflect the new information.
Accessing Healthcare: The Convenio Especial
During last week’s Facebook Live Q&A many of you asked for more information about the Convenio Especial and how to apply. Our healthcare team has provided the following update:
WHAT IS THE CONVENIO ESPECIAL?
· The Convenio Especial is a pay-in scheme which allows you to access state healthcare in Spain.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
· You will pay a monthly fee of 60 euros (under 65 years old) or 157 euros (over 65 years old).
· Be aware that your prescription costs aren’t subsidised on this scheme, so you will pay full cost for prescription medicine. You won’t be eligible for a European Health Insurance card.
WHO CAN APPLY FOR THE CONVENIO ESPECIAL?
· You can apply for this scheme if you aren’t eligible to access to state healthcare, for example as a worker or pensioner.
· You need to have been living in Spain for a minimum of 12 months, and have been registered for 12 months with the town hall (padrón).
· You are still eligible for the Convenio Especial if you have pre-existing conditions, so if you can’t get private health insurance because of your medical history then this is a good option for you.
HOW DO I APPLY?
· You can find out how to apply in your region below. If your region isn’t listed, please check with your nearest health centre. For further information about the application process, please contact the authorities in your region (via the links below).
Accessing Healthcare: Regular Healthcare Appointments for Residents in Spain
All regions in Spain have made changes to (non-COVID 19 related) regular services provided by health centres. Some centres have reduced opening hours, some require you to telephone first, some are now operating digital services, such as online consultations, mobile phone apps, and telephone consultations.
Below you will find a summary of how to access appointments for regular treatment in your region. For more detailed information or specific circumstances, such as specialist treatment, you will need to contact your health centre. If your region isn’t included below, please contact your local health centre to enquire directly.
For non-emergency treatment and appointments, you must call your local health centre. Please consult here
to find your nearest centre.
Balearics: For non-emergency treatment and appointments, you must call 902 079 079 or 971 43 70 79 before going to the healthcare centre. The line is experiencing lots of calls, please continue to ring if you are not successful first time.
IB Salut will automatically renew prescription medicine from 17thMarch 2020, for 2 months. You can find further information here
. Call 902 079 079 or 971 43 70 79 if your prescription hasn’t been renewed automatically.
There is also a mobile phone app Cita Prèvia GOIB
which you can download. Please consult here
for more information on how to download the app.
If you need prescription medicine, there is an online service to renew your prescription, consult with your local health centre. You can also download the app SCS Cita Previa A.P.
Some health centres have changed their services and opening times. For non-emergency treatment, including prescription medication and appointments, you must contact your health centre in the first instance. You can find the contact details for your local health centre here
. You can also log onto your online account La Meva Salut
and make your request. La Meva Salut
is also available as an app on your mobile phone.
For non-emergency treatment, please contact your health centre by telephone in the first instance. You will find the latest information on how to request an appointment, including an option to make an appointment online here
You can also download an app for your mobile phone Cita sanitaria Madrid.
Please note that the Madrid health service will renew any regular prescription medication automatically for 90 days.
Please call 968 228 250 to make your appointment. Alternatively, you can access the online system here
, using your personal details and health card number. If you have not registered for the online system, you can do so by following this link
To obtain a doctor appointment/prescription medicine in the Valencia region it is advisable to call your local health centre in the first instance and follow their guidance. You can locate your nearest health centre here
. Have your SIP card at hand when you call.
Alternatively, you can download the app
for the Valencian health service GVA mes salut.
Don’t forget, if you have a medical emergency you must call 112.
Update from the Consular Communications Team of the British Embassy in Madrid
I hope everyone is well. There are a few things to update you on, most importantly the introduction of the TIE.
1. TIE: As I’m sure many of you will have seen, on Monday the Spanish Government introduced a new residency document for UK nationals who are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement – the Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero or TIE. This means some changes to the appointments process and anyone registering from now on will be issued with the biometric TIE card, rather than the current green paper document. You can find all the detail in the Boletin Oficial del Estado.
There has been lots of concern from members of the British community in Spain and we have received a huge number of questions on social media. Therefore, we would appreciate your help in underlining two key points:
- All British nationals, who are legally resident in Spain by the end of this year, will have their rights protected, including the right to live and work here, and lifelong access to healthcare for UK state pensioners, including those who claim a pension in the future. These are not affected by the current negotiations taking place between the UK and the EU.
- Whether you already have the green residency certificate – A4 or credit card-sized version – or the new TIE, they are equally valid in demonstrating your residence status and your rights as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement. And whilst you may choose to exchange your current certificate for a TIE at some point in the future, there is no requirement to do so. The green residency document gives you the same rights as the new TIE card.
There is one group of people who must take action. If you live here, but don’t already have a green residency certificate, you must apply for the new TIE as soon as possible. A link to the Spanish administration website is here.
We know people will have lots of questions about the process itself and we are currently updating our gov.uk/livinginspain guide to reflect the changes. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the system is very new and different provinces will be introducing it at different rates. Also, COVID restrictions mean that there will be fewer presencial appointments available. However, people do have time to get their residency certificate and as long as they are legally resident in Spain (meeting the current residency requirements) then they will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, even if they don’t have the document itself by 31 December.
You can see HMA Hugh Elliott talking about this in a short video here.
2. UK Nationals Support Fund: As you may already know, the UK Government has made funds available to support UK nationals in the EU to complete their residency applications and secure their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. In Spain, three organisations have been funded to provide this support: the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Babelia and Age in Spain. Their remit is to support the most vulnerable UK nationals, providing targeted assistance to individuals who face specific challenges, such as people living with disabilities or chronic illness, those facing language and literacy barriers, or barriers in accessing relevant technology. The attached document gives you further details about the organisations and their current plans (available on request from SpainNorth.ViceChairman@RBL.Community). As you will see, we do not have this targeted support for the whole of Spain, but the organisations’ websites and helplines will be available for people anywhere in Spain.
3. Healthcare information: We also wanted you to be aware of a change to our online healthcare information. We now have one definitive guide to Healthcare in Spain on gov.uk. This page has been recently updated. It includes information about how you can access healthcare in Spain as a resident, and up-to-date information about your right to access healthcare during and after the transitional period. You can also sign up for alerts on this page, so that you can keep up to date with any new information. Some people may have previously used www.healthcareinspain.eu. Please be aware that this website has now been closed. We’d like to thank anyone who visited the page and offered comments and feedback over the last few years. Please be assured that we will continue to provide the latest information and updates regarding healthcare on our Healthcare in Spain page, and via our Brits in Spain Facebook page.
We are very keen to hear your feedback and any general comments and questions from your members. But I would ask that people do not email me directly with individual questions nor pass on my email address to others. Whilst I am happy to help where I can, I am in the Embassy comms team and our consular teams are much better placed to assist with individual questions. You can find their details on gov.uk or you can contact us via social media. Far too short notice, I know, but you may also want to join our Facebook Live Q&A this evening (8 July) at 19:00 (CET), which will also be available to watch afterwards and may answer many of the questions you have.
As many of us enter Phase 3 of the relaxation of "lockdown" and things begins to return slowly to normal, many will be taking stock of their position here in Spain and, in due course, people's attention will again focus on BREXIT. The Babelia Association is a well established Spanish support organisation that has recently been awarded funding by HM Government and approved by the British Embassy to help British nationals in Alicante Province with issues surrounding residency. You can find further information on Babelia and access their support on their website by clicking on the flyer below. Although Babelia themselves only deal with Alicante Province, a lot of the information on their website is applicable across Spain.
Update from the British Embassy, Madrid
You will be interested in the latest update from the Communication Team in the British Embassy in Madrid that appears below:
I hope that everyone is enjoying the relative freedoms we now have – things seem to be moving in a positive direction since I was last in touch. Now that we are gradually coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, our focus is moving back to our resident UK national population and I wanted to share a few key bits of information that may be of use.
1 - Residency
Over the last couple of months many people have asked us when residency appointments would resume. Now that all provinces are now in phase 2 or 3 of the de-escalation plan, we understand that offices are opening up appointments, so we are advising people to keep checking the Spanish Public Administration portal (https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/index.html) for appointments in their area – bearing in mind that provinces are lifting restrictions at different rates and will be operating at limited capacity.
We also wanted to offer some reassurance for those people that haven’t yet got their residency document and may be worrying about the time left to get it. While we continue to urge people to get an appointment as soon as they can, as long as they are living in Spain and can prove that they satisfy the legal conditions of residency (ie sufficient income and access to healthcare) by 31 December 2020, your rights are assured even if you are not able to get the physical document before the end of the year.
People have also asked about the TIE – the document that will explicitly say that you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. We understand that this is due to be introduced from July 2020. However, be assured that if you already have the green residency document, this remains a valid document and proof of your legal residence status, even after the end of the transition period.
We will update www.gov.uk/livinginspain whenever we have further information on residency and other issues of importance to UK nationals living in Spain.
2 - Driving Licence Exchange
As you know, another of our key messages has been for residents to exchange their UK driving licence for a Spanish one as soon as they can, as they will be able to do so until the end of the year without taking a test. But again, appointments have been unavailable during the crisis. Now that all Spanish regions have enter Phase 2 or above these appointments are opening up again.
Regional DGT offices will be running by appointment only, so whether you’re starting the process for the first time or suffered a cancellation, you should book a new appointment online (https://sedeclave.dgt.gob.es/WEB_NCIT_CONSULTA/solicitarCita.faces) or by calling 060. Of course, travel between provinces is not yet permitted, so you can only request an appointment in the province where you live until further notice.
It is crucially important that we communicate effectively what the Withdrawal Agreement means for UK Nationals in Spain and that they understand any actions they need to take during the Transition Period. Therefore, I am really keen to hear from you if there are issues that people in your communities are unclear about, so that we can tailor our communications accordingly.
3 - Your work during COVID
We know that many of you have been doing fantastic work to support your communities during the pandemic and we would love to hear about it, so that we can celebrate so much of the great work that voluntary and community groups have been doing at this time. If you would like to share something of your own activity (or that of others), please do reply sending me a short paragraph on what you have been doing. And if you have a photo – even better!
4 - Returning to the UK
Whilst we understand that the vast majority of people wishing to return to the UK have now done so, we recognise that some people have chosen to remain in Spain, rather than take an indirect flight option. Please refer anyone looking for advice on returning to the UK, staying safely during coronavirus or information on entry requirements to our travel advice pages, which are frequently updated as the situation evolves: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain