The Spanish Home Office announced yesterday that, from next week, a special exclusive service for British residents is being set up at ‘extranjeria’, the immigration office where EU residents need to register to be residents, in order to help those UK expatriates living in the Balearics register before the UK leaves the European Union in theory at the end of next month.
According to the Home Office sources, there are an estimated 25,000 Britons living in the Balearics of which 15,000 are registered which means that some 10,000 have yet to complete their paperwork and could face losing their European rights in Spain post Brexit.
In anticipation of yet another surge in demand, three extra civil servants are going to be on duty and on hand to only help British residents.
In March, when Brexit was due to have happened, extranjeria reported a deluge of applicants and was initially unable to cope.
However, with the 31 January deadline now looming, the Home Office is taking precautions in order to make the process as easy and as quick as possible for those Britons who have, as yet, failed to have registered.
The same also applies to those residents who have not exchanged their UK driving license for a Spanish one, as required by law.
Furthermore, Home Office sources also underlined the need for all registered British residents to make sure that they have now outstanding debts or payments on their Balearic properties or tax office come Brexit day.
The lack of clarity over Brexit has already prompted many British citizens to register with the Spanish authorities – either at an immigration office or at a designated local police station.
There are now 365,967 Britons officially registered in Spain.
Figures provided by the Home Office reveal that the numbers are rising at an accelerating rate, and it is likely that they will go up even more quickly immediately before and after the new Brexit deadline - although the Spanish authorities want the vast majority to have their situation in order before Brexit.
Besides those Britons who have been officially resident in Spain for years, there is also a floating population of UK nationals, some of whom only spend part of the year in the country. There are, of course, also those who reside in Spain on a permanent basis but have failed to make their residence official as they were already guaranteed enough rights thanks to their home country’s membership of the EU.
“Some had probably not thought of doing it, but with Brexit it is important to get residency papers,” Home Office sources said.
This is the message that the British Embassy and the various consulates across Spain have been trying to drive home over the past few years as part of an on going campaign on social media and regular meetings with expatriates up and down the country.