ANY Brits in Spain who have been here since before the end of last year and who have not registered as residents – or are in the process of registering – should be heading back to the UK by the end of this month.
But a woman fighting for the rights of Brits in Spain believes that hundreds of unregistered Brits in Spain will fall foul of the new 90-day rule at the end of this month and are oblivious to the consequences.
Anne Hernandez is supposed to be retired. Instead she spends her days and much of her nights helping Brits across Spain sort out problems that have been caused by Brexit.
“Since January 1, I have been busier than ever,” the President of the Brexpats in Spain organisation told The Olive Press. “It’s incredible how often I was accused of scaremongering when insisting people needed to sort themselves out and get their paperwork in order before the deadline.
“Now they are coming and asking for help to get residency, sort out their driving licences, get in the health system, but many of them have just left it too late.”
“There was this arrogance of ‘Oh I’m British and the Spanish need us here so they’ll sort something out for us,’ and only now are they realising the full impact of not being registered as residents,” she said over the phone from her home in Mijas Costa
“I just can’t fathom why so many people left it until the last minute. There are those Brits who just had their head in the sand about the whole thing and ignored the warnings and have no-one else to blame but themselves,” she explained.
“But there’s also a whole lot of people who tried to do things properly and went to lawyers or gestors and unfortunately were given the wrong advice.”
She complains that different issues arise from region to region, province to province and often depending on different civil servants working within the same office.
“We have a Spanish system that has just become overwhelmed with applications and apparently confusing guidelines that means the decisions are often left to individuals behind the desk.
“The decision on whether your residency application is accepted or rejected could come down to whether the clerk is having a good day or has skipped their morning coffee,” she said.
Those who have residency applications pending or are appealing rejections can stay beyond 90 days while it is being considered.
But those who simply never registered as residents or who have failed to appeal if they were rejected, risk overstaying the 90 permitted days in any 6 month period.
The first deadline is March 31 when time runs out for those who have been in Spain since before the end of the transition period.
A spokesman from the British Embassy explained:
“The 90/180 day rule applies to any UK nationals who are visiting Spain for leisure purposes since 1 January 2021. Any stays beyond the 90 days in any 180-day period will be dependent on the applicable visas and immigration rules for Spain. This may require applying for a visa and/or permit.”
“The FCDO is not able to comment on Spanish immigration policy. We would therefore advise UK nationals to direct any queries to the relevant Spanish authority. If you are currently in Spain, you should direct queries on possible extensions to your length of stay to your local ‘extranjería’ office, details of which can be found here or by calling 060”.
Spanish authorities have not stated what measures will be taken for those who overstay or whether exemptions will be made for those affected by travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
“No-one knows the real implications of over staying as we have no real guidance about what will actually happen to people if they don’t leave when the 90 days is up. Could they be fined and told to leave the country? Or will they be deported?” Hernandez asked.
“Some of these people don’t have homes anywhere else and yet could be banned from Spain,” she said.
“Brexit has caused a hell of a mess,” she concluded.
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