A message for UK nationals from HMA Hugh Elliott – please make sure you are registered!

As you know, the UK should have left the EU on 31st January with a ‘Deal’, so I wanted to explain some of the jargon around the parliamentary process and, crucially, what all of this means for British nationals living in Spain.

Citizens’ rights have always been an important part of the negotiations on our exit from the EU. Indeed the citizens’ rights parts of the Withdrawal Agreement (the agreement about how we left the EU) were one of the first areas to be agreed between the UK and the EU back in autumn 2018. The final text of the Withdrawal Agreement was agreed between the UK and the EU in October 2019 and there were no substantive changes to the citizens’ rights elements. In the UK, the process for approving the Withdrawal Agreement – or what many of us called ‘the Deal’ – was already well underway in parliament. The House of Commons approved the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – which is the domestic legislation that needs to be passed by parliament – by a majority of 99 on Thursday 9th January. It was discussed in the House of Lords and if there were any amendments as a result of this, they would have been considered by the House of Commons. The Bill would then have been given ‘Royal Assent’ which means that it became law in the UK. 

In parallel, the European Parliament also voted on the Withdrawal Agreement on 29th January. These processes are a bit intricate, but the key point for you is that we were firmly on track to leave with a Deal on 31st January. It is also important to note that your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement are completely independent of the negotiations about our future trade and security relationship with the EU.

For British Nationals in Spain, the Withdrawal Agreement contained really important guarantees for you on citizens’ rights, such as the right to continue to live and work in Spain, continuation of healthcare and uprating of pensions. Those rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident in Spain, provided that you are registered as a resident by 31st December 2020. That’s why it is so important to ensure that you, your family, your friends and indeed your neighbours are all correctly registered as resident here. If you are not sure whether you are or don’t know what to do next, have a look at the video on the following website link from our consular advisor which takes you through the process, and explains the differences between the padron, NIE and residencia:


You have time and there are plenty of appointments in most provinces, but do get it done as soon as you can! I should also clarify that UK Nationals could not apply for a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero or foreigner’s identity card) until after Brexit – something I know some people have been asking about.

If there is any change to the residency system after Brexit we will update our Living in Guide at gov.uk/livinginspain, so sign up for alerts and follow us on Facebook at