There has been much news about the problems that Brexit is causing for some British citizens and, in particular, for the many expatriates living in Spain. The latest, echoed yesterday by the Evening Standard (see below), is about the difficulties of travelling from the UK to their places of residence in Spain. For this reason, we recommend that British people living in the Balearic Islands contact Moya & Emery to find out about the latest news, procedures and documentation necessary for their journeys or any other matter related to their residence in Spanish territory.
Author: Barney Davis
Original Post: Evening Standard 03/01/2021
British expats have been reduced to tears after getting stuck in Heathrow, claiming that airlines have refused travel back to their Spanish homes post- Brexit.
One couple claimed they spent thousands on Covid-19 tests but airlines still rejected documents that before the Brexit transition period ended had been valid proof of the Britons’ status as residents in Spain.
Their ordeal comes amid heightened travel restrictions due to a coronavirus variant that has been blamed for faster contagion in the UK and highlights the bureaucratic complexities resulting from Britain’s departure from the 27-nation European Union.
Both Spanish and British authorities said on Sunday that the green-coloured certificate of EU citizenship with a foreign national identification number issued by Spain is still valid for British citizens residing in Spain under the bilateral provisions that followed the UK’s withdrawal from the trading bloc on December 31.
But the travelers say British Airways and Iberia have been refusing to let them board for the past two days.
The airlines, part of the IAG group, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Around 300,000 British citizens are registered as permanent residents in Spain, although before Brexit, many more had been living full or part-time in the country without officially registering.
Patricia Moody, a 69-year-old retiree who has called the southern Spanish town of Zurgena home for nearly four years, was among a group of at least nine people who say they were unable to board a Madrid-bound BA/Iberia flight from London’s Heathrow Airport on Saturday.
Ms Moody said she and her husband, who she says needs to see his doctor back in Spain, have spent £1,900 on getting tested for the virus, traveling to the airport and booking new tickets after they were refused boarding. Their second attempt was also futile.
“Throughout all the months of negotiating Brexit, we were always assured that nothing would change for us,” she said. Referring to the airlines and authorities in both countries, she added: “It’s horrendous and we are suffering because of their incompetence.”
Following the discovery of the coronavirus variant in the UK, Spain, like many other European nations, banned all travel from the British isles except for Spanish citizens and UK citizens with residency rights.
Spain has been rolling out a new system to register permanent foreign residents called TIE but it’s suffering a backlog due to the high number of requests.
Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that under the circumstances both proofs of application for the TIE and the “green certificate” for EU citizens is still valid to travel for British residents under the new health restrictions in place until January 19.
“This should not be happening,” said the UK embassy in Spain in a Facebook post. “The Spanish authorities have today re-confirmed that the green residency document will be accepted for travel to return to Spain, as stated in our travel advice.”
The British Embassy in Spain added they were aware of Brits being barred from flights but had assurances from Spanish authorities that expats without the new Tie card would be able to travel in a seven day grace period from January 4.
But Sam Dakin, a 32-year-old English-language teacher based in Barcelona for the last four years, and his partner, who has been in the Spanish city for eight years, said they needed more assurances before they could rebook flights.
The couple had been blocked from flying Saturday morning despite carrying their certificate and then were refused boarding on another flight Saturday evening that British Airways had initially said they could take.
“Just because the government adviser said that we could travel, we don’t know whether that will happen when we turn up at the counters,” Dakin said. “We just don’t know where we’re going to get answers.”
Reporting by AP