A group of British expats living in Spain were stopped from boarding a flight to Madrid after airline staff informed them their residency papers were no longer valid following Brexit.
Nine passengers were prevented from boarding the Iberia/BA flight from London Heathrow to Madrid on Saturday night.
Staff reportedly blocked them from boarding and told them their pre-Brexit ID documents had become invalid.
The incident took place on January 2 – just a day after Britain’s new trade deal with the EU came into force.
It also took place despite though both the Spanish and British governments agreeing specific documents – called the Foreign National Identification (NIE) document and the new Foreign ID Card (TIE) – would remain valid after Brexit.
Among those caught in the disruption was Madrid-based British journalist and photographer Max Duncan, who reported the incident on Twitter.
The UK’s embassy for Spain replied to Duncan’s tweet saying: ‘This should not be happening, the Spanish authorities have reconfirmed again this evening that the green residency document will be valid for travel to return to Spain as stated in our travel advice.’
Mr Duncan also recorded a video interview with a distressed couple that wasn’t allowed on the flight.
Nine British passengers were barred from boarding on a Iberia/ BA flight to Madrid on Saturday night
The incident took place on January 2, even though both the Spanish and British governments have agreed the Foreign National Identification (NIE) document and the new Foreign ID Card (TIE) remain valid
A couple said they ‘were gutted’ after airline staff told them they weren’t allowed on the flight
Another couple was told the green NIE card was invalid following Brexit on January 1
The form British expats living in Spain have to fill out in order to make sure they can return to Spain
Arch-Remainer Tony Blair says he would have BACKED the Brexit deal in House of Commons as he compares leaving the EU to ‘shock therapy’
Tony Blair today admitted he would have backed Boris Johnson‘s Brexit deal in the House of Commons – comparing leaving the EU to ‘shock therapy’.
The former PM was one of the strongest opponents of leaving the bloc, having campaigned for another referendum to cancel the decision.
However, in interviews this morning he revealed he would have joined Labour leader Keir Starmer in voting ‘tactically’ for the government’s trade agreement if he was still an MP.
The comments came as Mr Blair complained that cutting ties with Brussels would mean the UK is ‘economically weaker and with less political influence’.
But he said it did provide ‘shock therapy’ and an opportunity to take ‘big decisions’ about the direction of the country.
Asked if he would have joined a revolt against Sir Keir over the PM’s deal, Mr Blair said: ‘I would have backed (Sir Keir Starmer) on this.
‘I mean look, it’s a tactical question for the Labour Party because the problem is that it’s open to your opponents to say that if you don’t back the deal, then you’re voting for no-deal.’
Mr Blair continued: ‘There was a case for abstaining and there was a case for voting for it because the alternative’s no-deal.
‘What I’m really saying is as a decision that the Labour leader’s got to take, I don’t think it particularly matters to the Labour Party either way.
‘I think what does matter is that we’re still in a position where we’re pointing out what the problems with this deal are.’
Mr Blair said there was ‘nothing that Brexit’s going to do for Britain on its own’.
‘It’s going to leave us economically weaker and with less political influence,’ he said.
‘And so the only way I make sense of Brexit is to treat it as shock therapy, that we then realise we’ve got to take certain big decisions as a country, we’ve got to set out a new agenda for the future, but that’s going to be difficult to do.’
The woman said:’ We arrived here at the airport today and we were told we are not allowed to fly because we have the wrong residency card.
‘We were told we have to have the TIE card. We are absolutely gutted. We are going home, Spain is home.
‘My husband is in urgent need of medical care.
Another couple was told at the check-in desk the green NIE card was no longer valid.
The man said when they contacted the embassy they were told by staff that they had received a lot of calls about the confusion.
On a Facebook post the British Embassy in Madrid said it has received similar complaints due to post-Brexit confusion and said it has requested ‘greater flexibility’ from the Spanish Government and have highlighted the recent cases to the Spanish authorities.
Patricia Moody, a 69-year-old retiree who has lived in Zurgena, south-west Spain, for nearly four years, was among a group caught in the issues on Saturday.
Moody said she and her husband, who she says needs to see his doctor back in Spain, have spent £1,900 pounds on getting tested for the virus, travelling to the airport and booking new tickets after they were refused boarding. Their second attempt was also futile.
She said: ‘Throughout all the months of negotiating Brexit, we were always assured that nothing would change for us.’
Meanwhile, Sam Dakin, an English-language teacher based in Barcelona for the last four years, and his partner, who had been in the Catalan city for eight years, were also caught up.
‘Just because the government adviser said that we could travel, we don’t know whether that will happen when we turn up at the counters.
‘We just don’t know where we’re going to get answers.’
Travelers to Pisa, Italy, and Berlin have also reported similar hurdles in boarding planes operated by Ryanair and Lufthansa, despite carrying documents that had been accepted by the Italian and German governments, respectively.
Matt Bristow, a spokesman for the British in Germany association of residents in that country, said: ‘This appears to be a case of UK airport staff not knowing what documents to accept or applying the rules more stringently than the German border police would.’
Today the Spanish Embassy for the UK tweeted it was ‘aware’ that some British nationals who are residents in Spain had been unable to board a flight.
In a message on Twitter, the embassy said: ‘We are aware that during the current travel restrictions there have been some problems for British nationals resident in Spain who have been denied boarding to return to Spain.’
It said that the ‘green certificate’ and the new Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE)’ are valid proof of residents for UK nationals who wish to return to Spain – but that all travellers must also carry a passport.
The Spanish authorities have confirmed British nationals were allowed to travel with the green residency document or the new residence document (TIE)
Gibraltar hits back after Spain claims it will have the final say on who enters the territory under post-Brexit deal
Gibraltar has slapped down Spain‘s claim to have the final say on who enters the British territory, setting the stage for more wrangling over sovereignty.
Chief minister Fabian Picardo today tersely declared that ‘this is our land’ after Madrid’s top diplomat said her government would oversee cross-border travel.
The row comes a mere two days after an 11th-hour post-Brexit deal was struck to integrate Gibraltar into the EU’s passport-free Schengen Zone to avert a hard border.
Almost 30,000 people crossed between Spain and Gibraltar every day before the pandemic, half of whom were workers.
That Spain has access to Schengen’s database and the UK does not means it now will police who enters Gibraltar, foreign minister Arancha González Laya insisted.
She told El Pais newspaper: ‘Schengen has a set of rules, procedures and instruments to apply them, including its database, to which only Spain has access. Gibraltar and the United Kingdom do not.
‘In order to enter a Gibraltar integrated into the Schengen area, the responsibility for border control is in Spanish hands.
‘That is why the final decision on who enters the Schengen area is Spanish, of course.’
Mr Picardo quickly challenged her interpretation and rejected her claim to control arrivals.
He tweeted: ‘Under the New Year’s Eve Agreement only Gibraltar will decide who enters Gibraltar & Spanish officers will not exercise any controls in Gibraltar at the Airport or Port now or in four years time. This is our land. Couldn’t be clearer.’
They added: ‘We can also confirm that those UK nationals who can prove that they have started their residency process, but who do not yet have their new TIE card, should also be allowed to board flights to return to Spain.
‘The Government in Spain will put in place this measure for a grace period of seven days from January 4.’
In a statement, Spain’s Foreign Ministry said there had been ‘an isolated communication problem with some airlines that affected a very small number of travelers’ and that air traffic between the UK and Spain was proceeding ‘with normality’ by mid-Sunday.
The Spanish government announced last year that British expats in Spain would be given a new ID card instead of the residency paper.
According to the Spanish authorities British nationals who were residing in Spain before 31 st December 2020 have obtained the rights set out in the Withdrawal Agreement and can use either the green residency document or the new residence document (TIE).
Travel advice suggests that UK nationals can exchange their paper residence document for the new TIE but you they are not obliged to.
Spain have announced Covid-19 restrictions for those travelling from the UK until January 19 with the exception of Spanish nationals and those legally resident in Spain.
Currently there are more than 300,000 British residents in Spain, although before Brexit, many more had been living full or part-time in the country without officially registering.
According to Spain’s Secretary of State for Migration the number of UK citizens with Spanish residence permits increased by 5.8 percent from June 2019 to June 2020, a rise of 19,977 British residents.
Under the new Brexit trade deal, announced on Christmas Eve and official brought into force from January 1, UK citizens no longer have an automatic right to live and work in the EU.
Existing EU burgundy passports remain valid but UK travellers will not be able to use fast track e-gates at EU airports or Eurostar.
Britons visiting most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, should have at least six months left on their passport when travelling. It should also be less than ten years old on the day of travel.
From work to pensions, passports and pets, what Britain’s new Brexit deal with the EU means for you
By John Stevens, Deputy Political Editor for the Daily Mail
UK citizens no longer have an automatic right to live and work in the EU. The ability to do so depends on each country’s immigration rules. Professional qualifications may no longer be recognised. Citizens of the UK and Ireland can continue to live, work and move freely between the two countries.
Existing EU burgundy passports remain valid but UK travellers will not be able to use fast track e-gates at EU airports or Eurostar. Britons visiting most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, should have at least six months left on their passport when travelling. It should also be less than ten years old on the day of travel.
Visits to EU countries will be limited to no more than 90 days in any 180. From January 2022, Britons will have to pay a visa-waiver for EU travel – approximately £6 per head. These will last for three years.
UK travellers will not be able to use fast track e-gates at EU airports or Eurostar. Pictured: Passengers from London arrive at Eurostar terminal in in Paris, France, December 23
There will be a tax-free limit of £390 on goods brought back from the EU. For drink and cigarettes, the limits are 42 litres of beer; 18 litres of wine; nine litres of sparkling wine; four litres of spirits; and 200 cigarettes.
Most can continue to drive in the EU without the need to get an International Driving Permit. Those with an older paper licence may need one. Drivers taking their own car to the continent will need a ‘green card’ from their insurer. There may be a fee.
The EHIC – European Health Insurance Card – scheme is to end although cards remain valid until their expiry dates. The Government says it will bring in a similar global health insurance card.
The EHIC – European Health Insurance Card – scheme is to end
UK will no longer participate in the Erasmus scheme, which allows students to study at European institutions for a year during their degree. A global ‘Turing Scheme’ will replace it from September 2021.
The EU pet passport scheme is ending and owners will need to get an animal health certificate instead. The cost is likely to be around £100, with a new one for each trip.
Sending goods to the EU will require a customs declaration, available from the Post Office. Britons receiving goods from the EU may have to pay duty, VAT and handling fees.
Retiring to the EU
A visa and proof of financial independence will now be needed. The UK state pension will still be paid.
Its citizens may escape some rules as the province is considered part of the European Union in certain circumstances.
— to www.dailymail.co.uk