Benidorm expat slams ‘impossible’ residency requirements for Spain post-Brexit

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Relocating into the sunshine of Spain is a popular move for Britons of all ages, whether that is for retirement, a new job or simply for a fresh start. However, since Brexit came into force, rules surrounding freedom of movement between the UK and EU have seen some key changes.

Crucially, Britons now need to apply for specific visas in order to be allowed to relocate to the country.

According to one expat, this new rule isn’t only impacting those with plans to relocate, but it is also causing “major issues” for those already living in Spain.

Tony Harrison, who currently lives in the Spanish seaside resort, told of some of the problems expats are currently facing.

“I think Brexit has caused major issues for many living in Spain and certainly for many in Benidorm,” he explained.

“With Covid causing a complete collapse in tourism forcing most bars to lay off staff, issues around residency has become a major problem.”

The coronavirus pandemic put a stop to travel and saw the resort’s annual tourism figures plummet.

Coupled with the impact of Government ordered lockdowns across the country, numerous businesses fell into administration or were forced to lay off staff – many of whom were expats.

In most cases, in order to obtain a permanent residency in the country, Britons will need to be able to prove they are in employment or are bringing in a certain income.

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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) states: “On July 6 2020, the Spanish government introduced a new residence document for UK nationals living in Spain who have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement – the Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE).

“This biometric card explicitly states that it has been issued to the holder under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

“All UK nationals legally resident in Spain before January 1 2021 have the right to request this card.

“If you register as resident after July 6 2020 but were living in Spain before January 1 2021, you must follow a two-step process to obtain your TIE. “If you meet the requirements and your application is approved you will be issued with the TIE.”

However, according to Mr Harrison, this process is “impossible” for many people.

“To be granted a TIE card which has been introduced post-Brexit for all UK nationals seeking permanent residency in Spain you have to meet a certain

criterion which for many is impossible,” he continued.

“You either have to have proven monthly income, a certain amount in the bank.

“My wife had to show she had €7,000 for three months.

“You also have to show evidence of a 20-hour contract and private health insurance in some cases.

“Most of these were impossible for most and many are now looking to return to the UK.”

What’s more, the process for obtaining one of the new TIE cards comes with an added price tag.

“The process for applying for your TIE is also very slow and can be expensive, many local lawyers charging high fees,” said Mr Harrison.

“For some who had the old residency cards the process was simpler with this being exchanged for the new card.”

According to Mr Harrison, expats who have not yet received their new residency card could be left unable to access some basic necessities.

“One of the more disturbing elements of all this is it will become increasingly difficult for expats to gain access to bank accounts, services, health and even renting an apartment as all require a full residency card,” he said.

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