So, you’ve decided to make the big decision and want to move to Fuerteventura. But where do you start and what needs to be done for you to become a legal resident?
On 31st December 2020, the transition period for the UK leaving the EU ends and, sadly, along with it the right to freedom of movement within the EU. This means the requirements for becoming a resident will change. At the moment there is no agreement between the British Government and the EU concerning movement of British Nationals within the Schengen area, which includes Spain, nor are there any plans arranged for negotiations on this matter. This means that from 1st January 2020, the current rules for nationals of third countries will also apply to British Citizens.
All British Citizens that are registered, or have at least applied to register, as a resident PRIOR to 31st December 2020, will have their rights to remain covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.
The following are specific documents and procedures for those who wish to move here, conduct any sort of business, to work here, or to buy a property, etc.
NIE – Numero de Identidad de Extranjeros
Spain works on a number identification system, and you can not do much without registering for your NIE (pronounced nee-aah). The NIE is an ID number for those who are not Spanish citizens, For Spanish Citizens, the equivalent is the DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad).
In order to obtain one you need proof of a valid reason for having one. This could be a contract for work, a property rental contract, confirmation of a house purchase, etc. See our article NIE – Numero de Identidad de Extranjeros for more information.
Once you have a permanent address here in Fuerteventura, you should apply for your Padrón. This benefits the ayuntamiento (town hall) as their funding received from the government is based on the number of residents in its municipality. But it also benefits you, allowing you to vote in local elections and also apply for a viajar, a travel document allowing residents large discounts on travelling within Spain and the islands. But more importantly it is now a requirement to apply for your TIE and become a resident. See our article on Padrón for more details.
TIE – Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjeros
Anybody living in Fuerteventura for more than 3 months in any 6 months must apply for residencia. However, it is not as simple as that and there are requirements. One such requirement is that for the first 5 years from your date of residencia, you must not go out of Spain for longer than 6 months in any 1 year period. This means that if you intend to simply be here for between 3 and 6 months and spend the remaining time in the UK, you could be in jeopardy of having your residencia revoked. If that happens it is very doubtful that you will be able to apply for it again.
On 6th July 2020, the system for British citizens obtaining residencia changed in preparation of the end of the Brexit transition period. To gain residency here now, you must apply for a TIE, which is basically a foreigners’ ID card. The TIE was already in place and used for other non-EU countries, however, the requirements for obtaining a TIE for the British was to remain the same as the previous green residencia (Certificado de Registro) until the end of the transition period, ie 31st December 2020. The Spanish directive (BOE) concerning the new system can be read here.
The new system is bio-metric and can take 2-3 months, or even longer, to complete. For new applicants the TIE will need to be renewed after 5 years. For those who have been official residents for 5 years or longer, it will need to be renewed every 10 years.
From 1st January 2021, the requirements will change and the Spanish Government have stated that British people arriving after 1st January 2020, who are not covered by the withdrawal agreement, “will be subject to the general rules governing foreign nationals, unless conditions for mobility are established under the framework of the agreement on future relations being negotiated between the UK and the EU“. We know that there are no negotiations at the moment, and that currently there are no plans for any. Under the general rules governing foreign nationals, the financial amount required for proof of sufficient funds is based on IPREM. We cover this in more detail in our article here.
Currently, those who already have a green residencia (Certificado de Registro) do NOT have to change it for a TIE, however, they may change if they so wish.
See our article on TIE for more details and what constitutes a resident.
Registered residents of Spain MUST change their British Driving License for a Spanish one. If you are bringing a car over that is registered in the UK, you have 3 months in which to register it in Fuerteventura. Other than that residents are not allowed to drive an English registered car.
Prior to 31st December 2020, residents can easily change their license by having a health check, which consists of an eye test, a hand-eye coordination test and answering some general health questions. However, after 1st January 2021 new applications will need to take a Spanish driving test, both practice and theory.