Brits living in Spain warned to exchange one document ahead of airport change

Brits who live abroad in Spain are being urged to switch to a new travel document if they want to "avoid disruption" at airport border security.

Officials of the British Embassy in Madrid want any UK nationals who haven't swapped their green Spanish residency certificates for a TIE to do so "as soon as possible", according to local reports. The reminder comes ahead of the EU's new Entry Exit System (EES), which is expected to come into force this autumn.

Prior to Brexit, UK nationals living in Spain were given two forms of residency certificate - either in an A4 or green, wallet sized document. Now, Brits living in Spain can opt for a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE) - a special biometric card for UK nationals in Spain that proves their rights to work and live under the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and UK.

As stated in Spanish publication The Locale, Britain's Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliot said: "It’s really important that any British person who lives in Spain gets the TIE - not only because it is the most durable and dependable way to prove your rights in Spain, but also to avoid disruption at the border when the EU’s Entry Exit Scheme comes into force.

"We are working with the Spanish Government and the EU to prepare for the implementation of this new scheme and we have requested that more TIE appointments are made available."

A border control sign for European Union citizens inside an airport
Officials say a TIE card can help 'avoid disruption' at border security -Credit:Getty Images

This does not mean that the green certificates, known as a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión, will become invalid and there is no deadline to apply for a TIE. However the Spanish Government recommends that anyone living in Spain before January 1, 2021 make the switch as it will simplify some administrative processes - including air travel.

UK nationals looking to apply for a TIE must submit their residence application either in person or electronically to their local immigration office. Applicants can find more information and necessary forms on the Gov.uk website.

The EU's Entry/Exit System (EES) is a new automated IT system aimed at registering travellers from non-EU countries, including those who don't require a visa, every time they cross into the European Union. After being delayed several times since its announcement back in 2017, reports suggest that it will finally come into force this October.

Once it's up and running UK holidaymakers will need to provide their passport, have a photo of their face taken and provide fingerprints, all of which are scanned at passport control upon arrival.

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