Archivo de la etiqueta: Brexit

Rules for UK vehicles in Spain are changing at the end of September

British drivers in Spain will need to put new stickers on their cars from September 28


UK motorists in Spain have been caught off guard by a sudden change of regulations which will make the standard GB number plate and stickers obsolete. A change in the law for British cars in Spain will come into effect on Tuesday September 28 2021, which means they will have to display a UK sticker instead.

Until now Brits have needed to display a GB sticker clearly on the rear of their vehicles no matter what is on their licence plate, whether a Union Jack or a Euro symbol or whatever, and these rules will stay the same up until September 27.

On and after September 28 2021, Brits driving a UK car in Spain will need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of the vehicle no matter what is on the number plate.

The changes come at the same time as a raft of new regulations come into force for UK citizens in Spain as a result of Brexit, including changes in passport validity for Brits travelling to Spain.

#moyaemery #Spain #Uk #Drivers #Cars Motorists #GB #Sticker #Driving #brexit #palma #baleares #balearics #calvia

Nicolás Emery entrevistado por IB3 televisió a propósito de las dificultades para contratar trabajadores británicos tras el Brexit

Para los informativos del fin de semana de IB3 Televisió entrevistó al abogado y economista Nicolás Emery con motivo de las dificultades que el BREXIT ha deparado para la contratación de trabajadores británicos, esencialmente en Baleares, para el sector de la hostelería y la restauración.

Recuerda que desde 𝗠𝗼𝘆𝗮 & 𝗘𝗺𝗲𝗿𝘆 podemos ayudarte en tus dudas laborales (contratación de británicos), mercantiles (importación y exportación de bienes o contratacion de servicios a o desde el Reino Unido) y tributarias (recargo de equivalencia/devolución del IVA). Ponte en contacto con nosotros en cualquiera de nuestras oficinas de Palma o Calvià y pide cita.

#moyaemery #abogados #asesores #consultores #brexit #contrato #contratación #británicos #extranjeros #residentes #trámites #procedimiento #requisitos #recargo #equivalencia #devolución #IVA #mercancías #productos #ib3 #televisión #informativos #baleares #palma #calvià

Important information for British citizens who wish to enter Spain

The Embassy of Spain to the United Kingdom would like to clarify that UK nationals who were legally residing in Spain before 1 January 2021, and as such are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement, can prove their residence status when entering Spain while entry restrictions remain in place by presenting any one of the following documents:

  • Residence card issued under Article 18.4 of the Withdrawal Agreement (the TIE) – ‘la tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (TIE)’.​
  • Temporary or permanent EU residence certificate (green certificate) – ‘el certificado de registro de ciudadano de la Unión’ (tarjeta verde).​
  • Residence card as a family member of an EU citizen – ‘la tarjeta de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión’.​​
  • Receipt of application to exchange an EU residence certificate (green certificate) or residence card as a family member of an EU citizen for the new TIE (residence card issued under Article 18.4 of the Withdrawal Agreement) – ‘el resguardo de expedición de la tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (TIE) o de la tarjeta de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión’.
  • Confirmation of the positive outcome of your residence application from the Immigration Office – ‘la resolución favorable de reconocimiento como beneficiario del Acuerdo de Retirada emitida por la Oficina de Extranjería competente’.

It is possible to request proof of beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement on line, through the Mercurio application:

#moyaemery #brexit #british #citizens #travel #Spain #Mallorca #Majorca #Balearics #Islands #Palma #Calvia #Embassy

Reminder to United Kingdom nationals travelling to the European Union and Schengen area member states

United Kingdom nationals travelling to the European Union and Schengen Area Member States are already going through a lot of changes, including additional checks at ports of entry, and even entry restrictions which have been imposed on third countries amid COVID-19.

Frequent travellers to the block and the borderless zone will soon face another struggle – a limited period of permitted stay within the block.

Under the Schengen Area rules of stay for third-country citizens, non-EU citizens entering the territory under the visa-free regime can stay for a maximum of 90 days, for every 180 days.

Those who overstay this period – intentionally or unintentionally – may face penalties, including deportation and entry bans.


The 90/180 days rule may be confusing to many, in particular for Britons, who so far did not have to worry about how long they were staying in another EU or Schengen associated country.

Every third-country citizen travelling to the Schengen Area under the visa-free entry regime is permitted to stay for a period of a total of 90 days, in any 180 days.

The 180-day period keeps rolling, thus, anytime a traveller wishes to enter the Schengen zone, he/she just have to count backwards the last 180 days, and see if they have been present in the Schengen Zone for more than 90 days throughout that period.

Often, travellers are confused by this rule and fail to calculate how long they are permitted to remain in the EU, or they believe that overstaying is not a big deal. Yet, overstaying has its consequences, which often may be quite harsh.

Check the EU Period of Stay Calculator for British Citizens to find out how long you can stay in the EU.


The consequences that a British national may face for staying in the EU longer than permitted depend a lot on the country where he/she is caught overstaying, as well as the number of days overstayed.

Since there is no common policy for penalties for overstayers, the Member States may apply the penalties differently, some by being softer and other harsher, like for example Germany.

Despite their differences, in general, the Member States apply the following penalties on those caught overstaying, including on Britons staring from this year:

  • Deportation – All third-country citizens caught overstaying the number of permitted days of stay in the EU are immediately forced to leave the block. Some of the countries will imprison overstayers and deport them by themselves, while others will give overstayers a certain period of hours or days to leave.
  • Fines – One of the most common penalties for overstaying in the Schengen Area is being fined with an amount of money, though the fees vary from one country to another. Fines are applied alongside with deportation and are not a substitute for it. They may often be followed with an entry ban too.
  • Difficulties in returning to the Schengen – Almost every deported person will face difficulties to travel back to the Schengen Area. They will face prolonged border checks upon entry and may even be turned back or banned from entering for a certain period.
  • Entry ban – Usually the Member States ban from entering only those who have overstayed for a longer period. Bans are applied for a period of three years or even more.

Despite the consequences listed above, some travellers may not be subject to any of them, in particular those who cannot travel for a strong reason that can be proved.

#moyaemery #lawyers #solicitors #brexit #calvia #palma #balearics #mallorca #spain

Will British nationals only be allowed to acquire real estate in the Balearics under military permit?

Real estate investments by British in the Balearics after Brexit

Since the United Kingdom left the European Union, the media filled their front pages with the following headline: The British will only be allowed to acquire property in the Balearics under military permit.

Although the abovementioned statement is true, it is not accurate. Pursuant to the Spanish Law 8/1975, of 12 March 1975, on areas and facilities of interest to the National Defence (hereinafter, the “Law”), in order to safeguard the interests of the National Defence and the security and effectiveness of its organisations and facilities, there are certain areas to which non-EU foreigners have restricted access to ownership.

The regulation implementing this law defines these areas as: islands, Cartagena, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Bay of Cadiz, the border area with Portugal, Galicia, the border area with France and the Spanish territories of North Africa.

In accordance with the Law and its implementing regulation, non-EU foreigners willing to acquire real estate in the areas described below are subject to the requirement of military authorisation. In addition, military authorisation will be required for Spanish companies when their share capital is owned by foreign individuals or legal entities in a proportion of more than 50 per cent, or when, even if this is not the case, the non-EU foreign shareholders have a situation of dominance or prevalence in the company, derived from any circumstance that makes it possible to prove the existence of a decisive influence by them in the management of the company.

Therefore, and contrarily to what might be thought, this restriction cannot be circumvented by the mere incorporation of one or more Spanish and/or foreign companies when their ultimate beneficial owners are, de facto, British.

As per the military authorisation, the applications for the acquisition of estates not exceeding 2,000 square metres in area, their granting will fall to the relevant General Captaincy; however, when it comes to estates exceeding 2,000 square metres in area, the application must be addressed to and will be processed by the Ministry of Defence.

In any case, it should be noted that both regulations provide for an exception to the above restriction. Military authorisation will not be required in the area occupied by existing urban centres or their existing built-up or expansion areas.

Hence, although this restriction affects the whole of the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera), an exception is made, and therefore military authorisation will not be required, when non-EU foreigners acquire property in urban centres and built-up areas. In other words, the permit will only be required when British nationals intend to acquire property on rural land.

At this point, it is convenient to highlight the residence status in Spain that applies to them after the Brexit. Unless they apply for temporary or, where appropriate, permanent residence, British nationals must comply with the entry requirements established in the Schengen Borders Code, which allows them to stay in Spain for 90 days per 180-day period, either on one or several visits, and in which case they must identify themselves with their passport and will be exempt from visa requirements.

As an alternative, a few years ago the Spanish government introduced a special visa to attract foreign investment, which is commonly known as “Golden Visa”. Thus, the Golden Visa is a type of residence visa, suitable for non-EU citizens who undertake a real estate investment in Spain equal to or greater than € 500,000 free of charges or encumbrances, i.e. without mortgaging the property to be acquired. This visa allows both residing and working in Spain and has an initial duration of two years, which can be extended for another two. Moreover, it is possible to extend the visa to the spouse and children under 18 years of age, or children of full age who are objectively incapable of providing for their own needs.

Notwithstanding the above, British nationals may apply for temporary or permanent residence in Spain through the standard procedure. However, it should be borne in mind that, if so, their tax status would be affected, as they would be considered tax residents in Spain and, consequently, would be taxed on certain income in that country. Nevertheless, it should be noted that during their first years of residence in Spain they could benefit from the tax regulations known as the “Beckham Law”, which allows foreigners who move to Spain to be taxed as non-residents for a certain limited number of years.

Anyway, and going back to the subject matter, it is likely that the above-mentioned military regulation applies only for a limited period of time. Currently, citizens of countries that do not belong to the European Union but belong to the countries of the Single European Space or assimilated (Schengen Area), i.e. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, are fully equated to nationals of EU countries and, accordingly, exempt from the need for military authorisation. It is therefore to be hoped that, in the not-too-distant future, the Spanish government will extend this status to the British and this obsolete regime of restricted access can be forgotten, at least as far as the British are concerned.

Marta Marina

Lawyer specializaing in commercial law and real estate law

#moyaemery #lawyers #solicitors #majorca #mallorca #balearics #baleares #property #properties #purchase #buy #Spain #British #Brexit

¿Necesitan los británicos un permiso militar para adquirir propiedades en Baleares?

Inversiones inmobiliarias por británico en Baleares tras el Brexit

Si bien la salida del Reino Unido de la Unión Europea se produjo el 1 de febrero de 2020, inicialmente se pactó un periodo de transición que reguló una salida ordenada de este país de la Unión y que terminó el 31 de diciembre de 2020. En consecuencia, a partir del 1 de enero de 2021, la relación entre el Reino Unido y la Unión Europea se basa en un Acuerdo de Comercio y Cooperación que supone un importante cambio para ciudadanos, empresas y administraciones de la UE y del Reino Unido.

Desde ese momento, esto es, cuando el Reino Unido dejó de ser Estado Miembro de la Unión a todos los efectos, los medios de comunicación españoles llenaron sus portadas con el siguiente titular: Los británicos solo podrán adquirir inmuebles en Baleares con un permiso militar.

Si bien la anterior afirmación no es incorrecta, tampoco es del todo precisa. De conformidad con la Ley 8/1975, de 12 de marzo, de zonas e instalaciones de interés para la Defensa Nacional (en adelante, la “Ley”), con la finalidad de salvaguardar los intereses de la Defensa Nacional y la seguridad y eficacia de sus organizaciones e instalaciones, existen determinadas zonas de acceso restringido a la propiedad por parte de extranjeros, entendiéndose estos como terceros no comunitarias.

En esta línea, el Real Decreto 689/1978, de 10 de febrero, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento de zonas e instalaciones de interés para la Defensa Nacional, que desarrolla la Ley 8/1975, de 12 de marzo, de zonas e instalaciones de interés para la Defensa Nacional, establece cuales son estas zonas: territorios insulares, Cartagena, el Estrecho de Gibraltar, la bahía de Cádiz, zona fronteriza con Portugal, Galicia, zona fronteriza con Francia y los territorios españoles del Norte de África.

De conformidad con la Ley y su reglamento de desarrollo, los extranjeros no comunitarios que quieran adquirir un inmueble en las zonas infrascritas quedan sujetos al requisito de la autorización militar. Además, será exigible la autorización militar a las sociedades españolas cuando su capital pertenezca a personas físicas o jurídicas extranjeras en proporción superior al 50 por 100, o cuando aun no siendo así, los socios extranjeros no comunitarios tengan una situación de dominio o prevalencia en la empresa, derivada de cualquier circunstancia que permita comprobar la existencia de una influencia decisiva de los mismos en la gestión de la Sociedad.

Por tanto, al contrario de lo que podría pensarse, esta restricción no podrá sortearse con la mera constitución de una o varias sociedades españolas y/o extranjeras cuando, en realidad, sus titulares reales sean, de facto, británicos.

Por lo que respecta a la tramitación de la autorización militar, cuando se trate de solicitudes de adquisición de terrenos o fincas que no rebasen los 2.000 metros cuadrados de superficie, la concesión de autorizaciones corresponderá a la Capitanía General pertinente; sin embargo, cuando se trate de terrenos o fincas con superficie superior a los 2.000 metros cuadrados, la solicitud deberá dirigirse y será tramitada por el Ministerio de Defensa.

En cualquier caso, es importante tener en cuenta que ambas disposiciones establecen una excepción a la restricción anterior. La autorización militar no será necesaria en la superficie ocupada por los actuales núcleos urbanos de poblaciones no fronterizas o sus zonas urbanizadas o de ensanche actuales.

Así pues, si bien dicha restricción afecta a la totalidad de las islas Baleares (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza y Formentera), se exceptúa y, por tanto, no será precisa la autorización militar, cuando los extranjeros no comunitarios adquieran inmuebles sitos en núcleos urbanos y zonas urbanizadas. En otras palabras, el permiso solo será preceptivo cuando los británicos quieran adquirir propiedades en suelo rústico.

Abordada la cuestión de cómo pueden invertir los británicos en Baleares, conviene destacar cual es el régimen de estancia en España que les aplica tras su salida de la Unión. Salvo que soliciten la residencia temporal o, en su caso, permanente en nuestro país, los nacionales británicos, deberán cumplir con los requisitos de entrada establecidos en el Código de Fronteras Schengen, que permite permanecer en España 90 días por periodo de 180, sea en una o en varias visitas, y en cuyo caso deberán identificarse con su pasaporte y estarán exentos de visado.

Como alternativa, hace unos años el Gobierno Español creó un visado especial para atraer inversiones extranjeras, comúnmente conocido como la Golden Visa. Así, la Golden Visa es un tipo de visado de estancia o, en su caso, residencia, apto para ciudadanos extracomunitarios que realizan una inversión inmobiliaria en España igual o superior a 500.000 euros libre de cargas o gravámenes, es decir, sin hipotecar el bien a adquirir.  Este visado permite tanto residir como trabajar en España y tiene una duración inicial de dos años, prorrogable por otros dos. Asimismo, cabe la posibilidad de extender el visado al cónyuge y los hijos menores de 18 años, o mayores de edad que no sean objetivamente capaces de proveer sus propias necesidades, si así lo desean.

Sin perjuicio de lo anteriormente expuesto, los británicos también pueden optar por solicitar la residencia temporal o permanente en España a través del procedimiento estándar. Pero hay que tener en cuenta que, de hacerlo, su estatus fiscal se vería afectado, en cuanto pasarían a considerarse residentes fiscales en España y, consecuentemente, a tributar por determinados conceptos en nuestro país. No obstante, cabe destacar que durante sus primeros años de residencia en nuestro país podrían acogerse a la normativa fiscal conocida como “Ley Beckham”, que permite que los extranjeros que se muden a España tributen como no residentes durante un cierto número limitado de años.

En cualquier caso, y retomando el tema de la autorización militar para adquirir propiedades en Baleares, es muy probable que todo lo dispuesto anteriormente sea de aplicación durante un periodo limitado de tiempo. En la actualidad, los ciudadanos de países que no pertenecen a la Unión Europea pero sí a los países del Espacio Único Europeo o asimilados a éste (Espacio Schengen), esto es, Islandia, Noruega y Suiza, quedan plenamente equiparados a los nacionales de países de la Unión y, por tanto, exceptuados de la necesidad de autorización militar. Por tanto, es de esperar que, en un futuro no muy lejano, el Gobierno Español extienda dicho estatus a los británicos y podamos olvidar este obsoleto régimen de acceso restringido, al menos en lo que respecta a los británicos.

Marta Marina
Abogada especialista en Derecho mercantil e inmobiliario

#moyaemery #abogados #asesores #brexit #compraventa #adquisición #reinounido #británicos #propiedad #inmobiliaria #inmuebles #fincas #baleares #mallorca #palma #calvià

About property purchasing in Majorca by British after Brexit

Few days ago we could read in the papers, here in Majorca, some headlines like this one:

British will only be able to purchase properties (in Spain) with a military authorisation

Unfortunately, the provided information is not accurate and Moya & Emery wants to clarify that the mentioned military authorization is not required if a British wants to purchase an urban property (flats, villas, etc.) according to section 35.1 of the Royal Decree 689/1978.

We recommend you to get legal advice before purchasing a property to avoid any problem. For sure, as it is one of our finest expertises, you can choose our legal firm in case you need.

#moyaemery #lawyers #solicitors #majorca #mallorca #balearics #baleares #property #properties #purchase #buy #Spain #British #Brexit

Measures to adapt the UK to the situation of a third country following the end of the transitional period for Brexit

On 30 December last, following the agreement of the Council of Ministers, Royal Decree-Law 38/2020 of 29 December was published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) number 340, adopting measures to adapt the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the situation of a third country following the end of the transitional period provided for in the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community of 31 January 2020 (access to BOE regulations, here)

Chapter II of this RD-Law establishes the rules applicable to “Professional and Labour Relations” and is divided into 5 sections:

  • Section 1: “Professions and public service”, regulates access to and exercise of professions, and the rules applicable to access to and maintenance of the status of public employees of United Kingdom nationals in the service of Spanish public administrations.
  • Section 2: “Industrial relations” contains two articles, one on the transitional arrangements applicable to workers temporarily posted in the framework of the provision of services and the other on European Works Councils in Community-scale undertakings or Community-scale groups of undertakings.
  • Section 3: on the exercise of research and innovation activities in a single article, Article 8, which allows United Kingdom nationals, who on 31 December 2020 are exercising these activities in Spain, to continue to do so on the same terms as those under which they are recognized, subject to the application of the Spanish legislation in force, provided that reciprocal treatment is recognized for Spanish nationals by the competent United Kingdom authorities.
  • Section 4: “Social Security”, contains, in a single article, Article 9, the rules for determining the applicable legislation on the same terms as those established prior to the date of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. This will allow Spain to continue to apply these same rules to those persons who are subject to UK social security legislation, provided that the United Kingdom acts reciprocally in respect of those persons who are subject to security legislation Spanish social security system.
  • In Section 5, Article 10 regulates measures to enable United Kingdom nationals to access unemployment benefits for periods of contribution up to 31 December 2020 (end of the transitional period), in any Member State of the European Union including periods of contribution in the United Kingdom, provided that the last contributions were made in Spain and that the right of legal residence in Spain is maintained.

By way of summary, among the measures included in this RD-Law, we highlight the following:

  • Companies established in Spain which on 1 January 2021 had workers temporarily posted to the United Kingdom or Gibraltar must continue to apply the legislation of that country, which transposes Directive 96/71/EC of 16 December, during the period of posting and provided that reciprocal treatment is recognized.
  • Similarly, companies established in the United Kingdom or Gibraltar with workers posted to Spain before 31 December 2020 may remain in Spain from 1 January and continue to provide their services until 31 December. After that, in order to continue the activity, it will be necessary to apply for a residence and work permit.
  • European Union citizens who commute to Gibraltar for work will be eligible for unemployment benefits until 31 December 2022
  • Workers who were posted to provide services will not have to apply for residence and work permits from 1 January 2021 if the planned duration of the posting is not extended
  • Workers posted to Spain as from 1 January 2021 must obtain the visas and/or residence and work permits provided for in Spanish immigration law, without prejudice to the agreements and commitments that may be assumed in a possible agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
  • Access to unemployment benefit or cessation of activity is allowed until 31 December 2022, for citizens of the European Union who travel daily to Gibraltar to work without having to make contributions in Spain last. As from 1 January 2021, provision is made for the reimbursement of benefits paid by Spain to be claimed from the United Kingdom authorities, once an international instrument establishing the mechanisms for collaboration in this area has been agreed.
  • For nationals of EU Member States, periods accredited in the UK social security system up to 31 December 2020 will be considered for the calculation of unemployment benefits or benefits for cessation of activity, when these contributions are made last in Spain and provided that the right to reside legally in Spain is maintained, in accordance with the regulations on the co-ordination of social security systems. UK citizens will have their periods of work in any EU Member State recognized until 31 December for the purpose of calculating their pensions when contributions are made last in Spain.
  • Persons receiving unemployment benefits in Spain who were authorized to export their entitlement before 1 January 2021 may continue to receive them until the end of the initial three-month period for which they were authorized to export.
  • European Works Councils or procedures for consulting workers which have been set up or agreed before 1 January 2021 will be maintained. This measure concerns European companies in which workers or companies from the United Kingdom participate and which have their management centralized in Spain.

From 1 January 2021, the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union is based on the “Trade and Co-operation Agreement” which is a major change for citizens, companies and administrations in the EU and the United Kingdom.

The content of this Agreement is divided into four main blocks: the first on Free Trade, which eliminates quotas and tariffs between the UK and the EU and establishes conditions of fair competition. The second establishes a framework for economic, social, environmental and fisheries cooperation which includes provisions to ensure energy and transport connectivity, as well as coordination in areas related to social security. The third regulates a partnership on internal security based on existing mechanisms such as Europol or Eurojust and includes provisions on the surrender of detainees, the fight against money laundering and the fight against the financing of terrorism. Finally, a fourth block establishes a common governance framework with governance underpinned by an institutional framework that includes an “Association Council”, co-chaired by a member of the European Commission and a representative of the British government at ministerial level, which will supervise the implementation of the Agreement and will be assisted by specialized committees and working groups.

Nicolás Emery en Radio Calvià FM sobre el BREXIT

Nicolás Emery visitó los estudios de Radio Calvià FM para responder a muchos de los interrogantes que está generando el BREXIT tanto para los empresarios baleares como para los numerosos ciudadanos británicos que son residentes en las islas o que son turistas asiduos o poseedores de una segunda residencia:

¿Qué implicaciones para empresarios de Baleares tiene el Brexit? ¿Puedo seguir contratando a ciudadanos del Reino Unido en mi empresa?  ¿Tendrá el trabajador la consideración de no-comunitario)? ¿Qué pasa con la compra de mercancías procedentes del Reino Unido? ¿Hay que liquidar el IVA en la aduana? ¿Seguirá funcionando el método de inversión del sujeto pasivo? ¿Hay que pagar aranceles? ¿Qué ocurrirá con la prestación de servicios? serán operaciones intracomunitarias exentas? ¿Qué régimen será aplicable a los turistas del Reino Unido en sus visitas a España? ¿Podrán solicitar la devolución del IVA pagado por los productos adquiridos en los comercios locales en su estancia? ¿Qué ajustes tiene que hacer el proveedor en recargo de equivalencia que efectúa la devolución de cuotas al viajero? ¿Pueden los ciudadanos del Reino Unido seguir viajando con sólo el DNI o necesitarán pasaporte? ¿Qué ocurre con la Seguridad Social? ¿Y con la sanidad? ¿Y si son pensionistas?

#moyaemery #brexit #baleares #agreements #acuerdos #balearics #uk #residents #mallorca #majorca

Brexit and british expats in Spain: get informed with Moya & Emery before taking your next step.

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.

British expats ‘being barred’ from flight back to Spain post-Brexit

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