Updated 16 February: Good news tonight for British residents in Spain with regard to the ETIAS scheme that is coming into force through the EU from next year. The EU has confirmed the following to Debbie Jayne, Admin of the Brexpats Spain group run by Anne Hernandez, in respect of the scope of application of the new regulation which will require all third country nationals to get an ETIAS permit before travelling into the EU if they have a Schengen visa exemption, as will British nationals. The EU has confirmed that this will not apply to British nationals who are legally registered as resident in Spain, though it is now formally confirmed as applying to British nationals who are not. The EU says:

ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. The European Union has created this visa waiver program to protect and strengthen its borders. The main goal of the ETIAS visa waiver for Europe is to identify possible threats or risks associated with visitors traveling to any of the Schengen Area countries. The ETIAS visa waiver program will be needed to enter a Schengen member country. In 2021, all visitors that currently do not need a visa to enter Europe will be expected to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization.

The ETIAS for Europe will grant travelers authorization to visit the ETIAS countries, which are the 26 members that compose the Schengen Zone. The countries that make up this specific region acknowledge the abolishment of internal borders with other member countries.

Currently there are 60 countries that will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver when visiting the Schengen Zone. It is likely that ETIAS will be available to more countries in the future.

The ETIAS visa waiver has been designed for short-term stays of up to 90 days. Tourism and business travelers will be expected to have an approved ETIAS when traveling to any of the Schengen member countries.

Clearly, in the wake of Brexit, UK citizens will be required to process and obtain an ETIAS document prior to embarking on their trip to the Schengen member states.

However, your query raises whether this new requirement will also apply to UK citizens who are already residents in the EU, and who hold a residence permit issued by a member states. In other words, will UK citizens, holders of a residence permit issued by a member state of the EU be exempt from obtaining an ETIAS?

In short the answer is yes.

The answer to this question is provided under article 2 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 September 2018 establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2018/1240/oj

When travelling within the Schengen territory, e.g. from Spain to Portugal, you are travelling through an internal border, thus no border checks normally apply. When travelling through an external border, e.g. when travelling between the UK and Spain in the future, as a Spanish resident, and holder of a Spanish residence permit, you are currently outside the scope of application of the ETIAS Regulation and not required to process and obtain an ETIAS.

Updated 14 February: I have become aware that at least one “gestor” in Tenerife is telling people that British residents will have to change to the TIE in March, and that anyone not registered by 28 February cannot make the change or register. This is not true.

I have got confirmed information this morning from the FCO that during the transition period which is the whole of this year, British nationals will be able to move to Spain and register as resident according to the same criteria as before 31 January. Any British national legally resident in Spain by the end of the year will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and enjoy the rights that it protects for as long as they remain living in Spain.

Anyone who already has a Certificado de Registro (green residency document, whether A4 or credit card sized) will have a document that remains valid and proves not only legal residence but that they are a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement … and this will remain true even after the end of the transition period. No action needs to be taken at present.

For those who still need to register their residence and who do not yet have a green residence document, more appointments will be made available to enable registration under the current process until at least 28 February. The Spanish authorities are currently working with the European Commission to introduce a new document for British nationals who fall under the Withdrawal Agreement – the Foreigners’ Identity Card, or TIE to use its Spanish initials. This card will explicitly say that the holder is a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement.

And so anyone who says they already have a British TIE is either wrong or being untruthful. And anyone who says that 28 February is the limit for registrations is either wrong or being untruthful. To be explicit: we do not yet know when the new TIE will be introduced. Once it is in circulation, anyone who applies for residency before 31 December will be issued with the TIE rather than a Registro. Anyone who has a green certificate will have the right to request a TIE.

The FCO also confirms that there will be no deadline by which time those UK nationals already in possession of a green certificate must have a TIE, so there is no need to panic.

Updated 11 February: New appointments for up to 28 February have been made available on the Extranjería website HERE for the old EU green Certificado de Registro, which will continue to be issued to British nationals who are resident in Tenerife for at least three months.As far as I am aware the existing criteria will still be applied until the end of the month. Beyond this, we await further information.

One important further thing. I’ve had enough enquiries now to make me understand that I need to be explicit in saying that anyone living here is by definition “resident”: the fact that someone might be planning only to live here for a while, or return to the UK, or doesn’t consider themselves resident, or doesn’t want to be resident … none of this signifies. There are people here saying they’ve been here thirty years but aren’t “resident”. The logic escapes me but the fact is that if you live here, you are resident. And as such, you are required by law to register with the police. Anyone not doing so is an illegal immigrant. It really is that simple.

Updated 5 Feb 2pm: As I posted on Monday, all we have confirmed at the moment is that the current criteria for registration will apply until 14 February. Today, we have been advised that the Extranjería in Santa Cruz has put registration appointments on hold from 14 February. Whether this pause is to introduce the new criteria that will be put in place at some point, or whether it’s connected to the TIE, at the moment we don’t know.

While I’m here, the photo below is one that was taken of a meeting of advisers, charities, etc and the Consulate team with the UK’s Ambassador to Spain (the very tall man in the middle behind me) who visited the Canaries with his wife last month.

Updated 5 February: A reminder of the website for people to check the 90/180 days rule: please see the information and calculator HERE. 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.

Please note: 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.

British nationals will not need a visa to enter the Schengen area after the Transition Period which ends 31 December this year. Extranjería has said they will start stamping British passports on 1 February this year so they will be able to monitor the system.

British visitors are expected, however, to need an ETIAS to enter the EU/Schengen Area, as will British nationals resident in Spain who are going to another EU/Schengen area country. Resident British nationals will not need an ETIAS to return “home” to Spain from the UK. There is full information on ETIAS in the post HERE.

Updated 3 February:  The Consulate has confirmed this morning that the criteria for registering with the police and obtaining the Certificado de Registro – the only document that proves legal residence in Spain – will remain the same as previously until 14 February. Beyond that we have no confirmation presently as to whether criteria will remain the same, change a little, or a lot. Once there is an update I’ll clarify, of course.

With regard to registrations themselves, they are still exclusively at present in the Extranjería in Santa Cruz, but from now appointments are strongly recommended. Those who turn up will probably be seen at some point but the only sensible advice right now is to make an appointment. That must be done online: as before the website to do so is HERE. There are no more block bookings or accompanied visits by the Adeje FOCUS group which has helped British nationals register before the UK left the EU. From now, registrants who do not speak Spanish will need to engage a translator privately to accompany them.

As and when there’s more information, of course I’ll publish it here.

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