Before the United Kingdom officially ceases to be an EU Member, and Britons are no longer EU citizens, the Spanish government has signed an Instruction on the procedures that should be followed for the issuance of residence permits to those wishing to continue living in Spain after BREXIT.
As a reminder, so far in Spain citizens of the Union, including British citizens, when residing in Spain longer than three months, they had to register in the “Central Register of Foreign Nationals”. When doing so, most commonly at the national police stations, an “EU-Citizen Residency Certificate” would be issued (green A4 or credit-card sized).
The Instruction previously mentioned has been signed by the Ministry of the Interior together with the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations. This Instruction determines the procedure to be followed for the issuance of the residence document provided for in article 18.4 of the “Withdrawal Agreement” of the United Kingdom from the European Union in order to differentiate between those who have exercised their right to free movement before December 31, 2020 and will benefit from the rights regarding residence, free movement and Social Security expressly recognized in this Agreement, and those who arrive after that date.
The big doubt right now is if the old green residency certificates (either sizes - A4 or credit-card) will or will not be “adequate” after the transition period to prove that you are a beneficiary of the “Withdrawal Agreement”.

According to the “official” information, theoretically those green certificates should be valid for British citizens to prove their acquired rights. Nonetheless, based on years of experience dealing with Spanish bureaucratic system overall, we believe that to avoid any future problems, and considering the general confusion that is characteristic when going through this type of procedures, the best right now for any British expat holding this “green certificate” that is willing to stay in Spain as a permanent resident is to exchange it for the known as T.I.E. (“Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero” - Foreigner Identity Card).
The new T.I.E. card will clearly regulate their situation while keeping the same rights they currently benefit from and will explicitly point out the status as beneficiary of the “Withdrawal Agreement”. The application process to swap the green certificate to the T.I.E. is to be carried out before the 30th of December 2020 and can be done at the National Police Stations assigned for the purpose following a request for appointment. The formalities have to be done in person, meaning you cannot authorise or grant powers of attorney to anyone to do it on your behalf. You will need to go to the Police premises at least twice, to file the required documentation, have your fingerprints taken and finally collect the TIE.
A British Citizen that has never been resident before and does not have a “green certificate as European resident in Spain” may move to Spain before the end of the year and apply for residency and profit from the effects of the “Withdrawal Agreement”. In practice, new applicants are being granted directly the known as T.I.E.
The “Withdrawal Agreement” will only apply to those nationals of the United Kingdom and their family members that are legally resident in Spain on 30 December 2020 (end of the transitional period). The existence of a transitional period extends the effective exit of the United Kingdom, at least in this area of citizens' rights, until 31 December 2020.
Nationals of the United Kingdom and their family members who wish to reside in Spain after that date must comply with the provisions governing the “future mobility framework”. This framework has not yet been negotiated, although a Political Declaration has been signed.
The existence of a cut-off date, 31 December 2020, means that the documentation of nationals of the United Kingdom resident in Spain before the end of the transitional period becomes essential. This may lead to different legal statutes depending on when they formalized their residence in Spain (before or after that date).
As many people have experienced the difficulties of dealing with the different Spanish Public offices and the discrepancies between what law states and the practical methodology, we encourage British residents to clarify their status by swapping to the T.I.E. photo-card, which will expressly mention they benefit from the “Withdrawal Agreement” that guarantees key rights of UK nationals already legally resident in Spain before 31st December 2020 and that those rights are preserved indefinitely in the future.
Lia Independent Advisors