The Brexit post: UK’s ambassador visits Canary Islands with Brexit just over a week away

The Brexit post: UK’s ambassador visits Canary Islands with Brexit just over a week away

Updated 22 January: Local journalist Clio O’Flynn got an interview on Monday with Hugh Elliot, the UK’s new Ambassador to Spain on his first visit to the Canaries. Clio spoke to him at a lunch hosted by the FCO for those who work alongside the British Consulate as partners, as well as British-run charities and organisations. Obviously the main topic of conversation was Brexit, and you can listen to the full interview HERE.

Updated 20 January: To save any more questions about the 90/180 days rule, please see HERE. It is a calculator from the EU’s own Schengen website, and as it says:

Short-term visitors to the Schengen countries that do not need a visa and holders of multiple entry visas valid for at least six months and with 90 days of duration of stay, are not permitted to spend more than 90 days within 180 days in the territory of the Schengen Area.

Travelers often get confused by this rule, and fail to calculate how long they have stayed in Europe, and how long they are permitted to remain.

They need be confused no longer, and I will no longer answer questions on the 90/180 day ruling. Please use the calculator.

Updated 6pm: To some, it seems the 90 days in 180 rule is confusing. So to clarify, the period is not calculated by calendar year. This means that visitors cannot come for 90 days in October, November and December and then stay on for January, February and March as a separate 90 days in a separate year. This is because the 180-day period keeps rolling. As the Schengen Visa website HERE explains: anytime you wish to enter the Schengen, you just have to count backwards the last 180 days, and see if you have been present in the Schengen for more than 90 days throughout that period.

British nationals will not need a visa to enter the Schengen area after Brexit because we have been granted an exemption but the timings remain firm, and the Extranjería has said they will start stamping British passports on 1 February this year so they will be able to monitor … though as I’ve already said, the rule comes into force for us at the end of the implementation/transition period, i.e. at the end of 2020.

Santiago del Teide Almond Blossom Route – 2020 programme of walks

Santiago del Teide Almond Blossom Route – 2020 programme of walks

This year’s programme of almond blossom walks in the Santiago del Teide foothills has now been unveiled. As previously there is a range of routes with varying levels of difficulty, and for different aspects of the spectacular phenomenon. Details of them all and how to sign up for them are HERE.

The annual Almendros en Flor campaign in Santiago del Teide is one of the most popular in Tenerife, and it’s now in its 23rd year. These walks are always hugely popular because they’re through a stunning environment in the hills when the almond blossom is blooming, surrounded by beauty with an unbelievable scent filling the air.  As always, walkers are advised to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and to carry water, sun protection, and a walking stick or pole.

Canarian Government passes decree to eliminate prescription co-payment for pensioners on less than €18,000

Canarian Government passes decree to eliminate prescription co-payment for pensioners on less than €18,000

Updated 16 January: Canarian president Ángel Victor Torres has announced that the new decree has been approved today and will become valid immediately, indeed it will be retroactive to 1 January. It will be published in the BOC tomorrow.  

Updated 10 January: The Canarian Government has announced that it is to provide an alternative solution to the subsidy previously given on prescription costs by the former Government to those with an annual pension of less than €18,000. The Government stressed that with jurisdiction over health, regional authorities were empowered to pass such measures and so the 10% co-payment will be eliminated by a decree which the government intends to approve next week.

Essentially, instead of Sanidad subsidising the 10% cost for those pensioners on low incomes, now social budgeting will provide a complement to the pension to cover it. To the pensioner concerned, of course, the funding niceties will actually make no difference because the end result is that their prescriptions will once again be free as soon as the new decree comes into force, which should be the day after its publication in the BOC. 

Please note that not all medications are covered in this respect. Some treatments, as in the UK, are considered medically inessential or not capable of subsidy for various reasons. NICE in the UK’s NHS does the same thing when it evaluates which medications and treatments should be generally available. Some pensioners will therefore find that they still have to pay for certain medications.

 Updated 3 January 2020: The decree that provided pensioners with free prescriptions expired on 31 December last year and so the discount is no longer available. Such financial measures are budgeted annually and this is one that hasn’t made it through into the new budget because, I understand, the measure was originally the result of concerns that pensioners might be restricting ongoing medication because of cost. The measure was brought in, at least in part, as an academic exercise to see if it made any difference when medication was free. The then Coalición Canaria Government had no long-term plans for the measure which turned out, anyway, to have made no difference anyway to how people took their medication, and so it has not been continued in 2020. Pensioners with income of under €18,000 will now again pay 10% of the cost of their medication but only up to a maximum of €8.23 per month.

Original post 16 May 2019: Whether or not the forthcoming elections are responsible, this is now law, and from tomorrow a decree comes into force allowing pensioners and their dependents free prescriptions. Currently a charge of 10% is made for the medications covered but that will change from the day following its publication in the BOC. The only criterion applicable will be that the pensioner has an income of less than €18,000 a year, which statistics say is 70% of pensioner. The new measure is expected to benefit nearly 300,000 pensioners in the islands who will find their medication is provided free without any adminstrative requirement. The decree is HERE.

The Brexit post: UK’s ambassador visits Canary Islands with Brexit just over a week away

The Brexit post: important advice as Brexit is just a fortnight away

Updated 16 January: I am receiving increasing numbers of increasingly panicked emails looking for “the workaround”, i.e. the loophole, to “residencia” as it continues to be called. There isn’t one. The situation is:

  • The UK leaves the EU in 16 days time.
  • This means that those registered here will at some point over the next year have to change their police registration document (properly called a Certificado de Registro but also known as a green NIE, green card, residencia) to a third-country nationals’ card, the TIE (tarjeta ID extranjeros). We don’t yet know the system, and information will be published when we do.
  • Those who are not yet registered will have until the end of the year to do so, but we cannot guarantee that the criteria (see HERE) will remain as they are currently after 31 January.
  • It is therefore vital to register before 31 January if at all possible … BUT … those who register are those who are coming here to live, and the registration is itself a formal declaration that the person is living in Spain.
  • British nationals who just want to retain EU advantages for free movement after Brexit when they just visit for a few months or so at a time sadly simply cannot do so. This is because they cannot register as residents unless they are prepared to make a fraudulent statement to the Spanish immigration authorities that they are living permanently in Spain.
  • As things stand, the UK has a transition period which ends on 31 December this year. After this period, British nationals will become subject to the Schengen area restriction of 90 days in a rolling 180 day period. They will not need a visa. Those who are legally resident in Spain (ie registered with the police) will obviously not be considered “visitors” for these purposes.
  • During this year, British nationals will continue to be able to arrive for more than 90 days but the Spanish authorities have confirmed that passports will be stamped from 1 February 2020, and readers should be aware that they remain required, technically, to register if coming for over three months – and then deregister when leaving. As said above, we cannot guarantee that the registration criteria will remain the same after the end of this month, but certainly after the end of this year they will become very much more stringent, as they currently are for all other third-country nationals.

A message for UK nationals from HMA Hugh Elliott – Happy New Year, and please make sure you are registered!

A message for UK nationals from HMA Hugh Elliott – Happy New Year, and please make sure you are registered!

UK Ambassador Hugh Elliott, has sent the following message to all British nationals in Spain. Please see HERE for all updated information about Brexit as it affects UK nationals in Spain.

As you know, the UK will be leaving the EU on 31 January and we are on course to leave 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 leave 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 call ‘the Deal’ – is 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 is now being discussed in the House of Lords. If there are any amendments as a result of this, these will be considered by the House of Commons. The Bill will then be given “Royal Assent” which means that it becomes law in the UK (to follow this in depth, see HERE). In parallel, the European Parliament will also vote on the Withdrawal Agreement on 29 January; approval by a simple majority would mean that the EP has also ratified “the Deal”.  These processes are a bit intricate, but the key point for you is that we are firmly on track to leave with a Deal on 31 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 contains 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 31 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 this video 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 make it a New Year’s Resolution to get it done as soon as you can! I should also clarify that UK Nationals cannot 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, so do sign up for alerts and follow us on Facebook at We are also holding outreach events in a number of locations in January, including Benidorm, Lanzarote and Murcia, and further details of all our outreach events are on the Living in Guide and on Facebook, so do come along if you have any questions or doubts, and encourage others to join us too. If you can’t attend a face-to-face event, we will be doing another Facebook live session on 31 January where we can also answer your questions directly.

My very best wishes for 2020.

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