BREXIT IN TENERIFE –
LAST UPDATED: 14th July 2021
TOPICS COVERED BELOW INCLUDE:
Good news! The European Union and the United Kingdom government announced on 24th December 2020 that a Trade Deal has finally been agreed between the UK and EU. Spanish government has now confirmed its rules and procedures for UK nationals wishing to apply for residency rights in Spain. We will explain the main effects of the deal that apply to UK nationals in the relevant sections below.
Unfortunately the situation for UK Nationals wishing to apply for residencia in Tenerife (Spain) is largely in limbo. Those who can prove they were living here prior to 31st December 2020 but who were unable to get their application in before the deadline, will still be accepted under the old rules, but anyone filing at this late stage already runs the risk of being challenged as to why they have left it so late.
Meanwhile, for anybody who wasn’t living in Spain up to the end of 2020 must currently apply for a Spanish visa before travelling to Spain. We have set out the latest information and rules regarding obtaining residencia, including details of available visa categories: HERE.
Meanwhile, UK Nationals can still travel to Tenerife on holiday for up to a total of 90 days in any 180 day period (fully explained in the Residency article linked to above) simply by using their UK passport (provided it it valid for at least 6 months from the date of travel). However, for any stay longer than 90 days, an application for a visa and residency is currently required.
N.B. The 90 day limit is nothing new. It has in fact been a legal requirement for ALL EU nationals (including British) living in Spain since 2012. In its infinite wisdom, Spain decided at that time to introduce a new law requiring anybody intending to reside in Spain for more than 90 days to apply for Spanish Residencia and register as Empadronamiento at the local Town Hall. This is of course entirely separate from the concept of ‘tax residency’, which states that a ‘Spanish Tax Resident’ is one who resides in Spain for at least 6 months and 1 day in any given tax year.
Since Brexit, it is likely that the 90 day rule will now be monitored and enforced for UK Nationals by way of inspecting passport stamps upon entry and exit in Spain.
For those who do choose to register, applying for ‘Residencia’ in Spain is entirely separate to being a tax resident (i.e. filing resident tax returns, declaring bank accounts as resident etc etc). Obtaining the new TIE card (or having the older green card or green A4 sheet) does NOT make the holder tax resident in Spain, until they spend over 6 months per year in Spain.
Finally, UK nationals holding one of the older green residencias should be aware that those documents remain 100% legal and they are NOT required to swap that document for a newer TIE card. Such a switch is purely voluntary. Please ignore any social media articles suggesting otherwise.
In conclusion: All UK nationals can continue to spend up to 90 days in Tenerife in any 180 day period simply by presenting their UK passport.
DRIVING LICENCES: As we predicted last year, a last-minute deal was reached between the UK and all 27 EU countries on 31st December 2020, UK Nationals visiting any EU country (including Spain) can continue to use their UK driving licences for up to 6 months total per year, without needing an International Drivers Permit or needing to change to a local licence. They will however require a Green Card if driving a UK registered vehicle anywhere in the EU.
For UK driving licence holders who live permanently in Tenerife, it depends on whether you registered your interest in swapping your UK Licence for a Spanish one before 31st December 2020 under the DGT online registration scheme. For those that did register, Spain has now granted an extension until 31st October 2021, until which UK licences will continue to be accepted. For those that failed to register their interest prior to 31st December 2020, then technically their right to use their UK licence expired on 30th June 2021 (basically because they then became subject to the ‘6 month’ rule applicable to tourists.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the UK and Spain are currently in negotiations to formally recognise each other’s driving licences permanently, much the same as they did prior to Brexit. We will issue further updates once the outcome of the above negotiations is known.
Contrary to some incorrect rumours, every country worldwide can reach such agreement between themselves and no input or authorisation is required from the E.U. For instance, this is the basis upon which Spain already accepts USA, Swiss and Norwegian driving licences.
For those that did register their interest to change their UK licence for a Spanish one BEFORE the 31st December 2021 deadline and now wish to go ahead, the procedure can be found: HERE. (you can change the page to English using the selector at the top). N.B. Whilst still using your UK licence, please note that the police may require proof that you do indeed qualify for the extension of time from 30th June 2021 to 31st October 2021. To prove this, you should print out and carry in your vehicle a copy of the email receipt where DGT acknowledged receipt of your registered interest prior to 30th December 2020.
However, for those UK residents living in Spain who failed to register their interest online before 30th December 2020, their UK Licence will not be accepted from 1st July 2021 onwards. Unless or until the UK and Spain reach any new agreement on driving licences, such persons wishing to continue driving in Spain will need to sit and pass the new Spanish Theory Test & Driving Test. Given our understanding that there are substantial delays in obtaining a test due to the Covid pandemic, those wishing to take their test should brush up on their Spanish Highway Code and apply for the driving test ASAP! See HERE for the procedure (again, the page can be changed to English at the top).
MEDICAL CARE: UK Nationals who have an existing EHIC card can continue to use that card in Tenerife (or Spain in general) to receive medical care. If you don’t have your EHIC with you in Tenerife or if you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
However, new EHIC cards are no longer being issued. Instead, UK Nationals will now need to apply for the new GHIC card. The NHS has set up an information page explaining how this works HERE
Please remember that the EHIC and GHIC cards are designed to provide emergency and urgent medical cover and they do NOT cover all medical procedures or needs. UK nationals visiting Tenerife (Spain) or indeed any EU country who need more comprehensive cover should therefore ensure that they have sufficient medical/travel insurance in place to cover their requirements, or ensure they have registered for reciprocal medical care rights in Spain (click for more info).
The Good Stuff – Duty Free Fags and Booze
Brits holidaying in or visiting EU countries once again find themselves limited on what they can bring back from Spain to standard ‘duty-free’ limits (e.g. 200 cigarettes). However, given that Tenerife has always been outside of the EU for ‘tax purposes’ and duty-free limits already apply between the Canary Islands and the UK, there is likely to be no change whatsoever for bargain-seeker drinkers and smokers visiting Tenerife. However, most canny visitors to the Canary Islands know that fags and booze are invariably cheaper in local supermarkets than at the airport Duty Free shops anyway.