A group of British expats living in Spain were prevented from boarding a flight to Madrid after airline officials told them their residence permits were no longer valid after Brexit.
Nine passengers were prevented from boarding the Iberia / BA flight from London Heathrow to Madrid on Saturday evening.
Employees reportedly blocked boarding, telling them that their identification documents had expired before Brexit.
The incident occurred on January 2nd – just one day after the UK's new trade agreement with the EU came into force.
It also took place even though both the Spanish and UK governments agreed on certain documents – the so-called Foreign National Identification (NIE) document and the new Foreign ID Card (TIE) – that would remain valid after Brexit.
British people from Madrid were among those affected Journalist and photographer Max Duncan reported on the incident on Twitter.
The British Embassy to Spain responded to Duncan's tweet by saying, "This shouldn't be happening. The Spanish authorities have confirmed again tonight that the green residence document will be valid for travel to Spain as stated in our travel advice."
Mr. Duncan also recorded a video interview with a desperate couple who were not allowed on the flight.
Nine British passengers were not allowed to board an Iberia / BA flight to Madrid on Saturday evening
The incident occurred on January 2, despite the fact that both the Spanish and UK governments agreed that the Foreign National Identification (NIE) document and the new TIE (Foreign National Identification) document would remain valid
One couple said they were "gutted" after airline staff told them they were not allowed to fly
Another couple was told that the green NIE card would be invalid after Brexit on January 1st
The woman said: “We arrived here at the airport today and learned that we are not allowed to fly because we have the wrong residence card.
“We were told we must have the TIE card. We are absolutely disappointed. We're going home, Spain is home.
“My husband urgently needs medical care.
Another couple was told at the check-in counter that the green NIE card was no longer valid.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 many calls because of the confusion.
In a Facebook post, the British embassy in Madrid said it had received and asked for similar complaints due to post-Brexit confusion.greater flexibility ”from the Spanish government and highlighted recent cases with the Spanish authorities.
The form that UK expats in Spain are required to fill out must be completed in order to return to Spain
Patricia Moody, a 69-year-old retiree who has lived in Zurgena, south-west Spain for almost four years, was part of a group caught up in the troubles on Saturday.
Moody said she and her husband, who she says will have to see his doctor in Spain, spent £ 1,900 to get tested for the virus, travel to the airport and book new tickets after boarding them was denied. Her second attempt was also unsuccessful.
She said: “Throughout the months of Brexit negotiations, we were always assured that nothing would change for us. & # 39;
In the meantime, Sam Dakin, an English teacher who has lived in Barcelona for four years, and his partner, who has been in the Catalan city for eight years, have also been caught up.
“Just because the government advisor said we could travel doesn't mean we know if that will happen when we show up at the counters.
"We just don't know where we'll get answers."
Travelers to Pisa, Italy and Berlin have reported similar obstacles on planes operated by Ryanair and Lufthansa, despite carrying documents accepted by the Italian and German governments, respectively.
Matt Bristow, a spokesman for that country's Association of British Residents in Germany, said: "This appears to be a case where British airport workers do not know which documents to accept or apply the rules more strictly than the German border police."
Today the Spanish Embassy to the UK tweeted that it was "aware" that some UK nationals residing in Spain have not been able 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 UK nationals resident in Spain who have been denied boarding to return to Spain."
The Spanish authorities have confirmed that UK nationals can travel with the Green Residence Permit or the New Residence Permit (TIE).
Gibraltar strikes back after Spain claims it will have the final say on who enters the territory after Brexit
Gibraltar has put down Spain's claim to the final say on who enters British territory, setting the stage for more sovereignty dispute.
Prime Minister Fabian Picardo said shortly: "This is our country" after Madrid's top diplomat said her government would monitor cross-border travel.
The dispute comes just two days after an agreement to integrate Gibraltar into the passport-free Schengen zone of the EU was concluded in the eleventh hour after Brexit in order to avert a hard border.
Almost 30,000 people were moving back and forth between Spain and Gibraltar every day before the pandemic, half of whom were workers.
Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya stressed that Spain has access to Schengen's database and the UK does not mean that it will now be the police who enter Gibraltar.
She told El Pais newspaper: “Schengen has a number of rules, procedures and tools to apply them, including its database, which only Spain has access to. Gibraltar and the UK do not.
& # 39; In order to enter a Gibraltar integrated into the Schengen area, the responsibility for border control rests in Spanish hands.
"That is why the final decision on who enters the Schengen area is of course Spanish."
Mr. Picardo was quick to question her interpretation and deny her claim to control arrivals.
He tweeted: “Under the New Year's Eve Agreement, only Gibraltar will decide who enters Gibraltar. Spanish officials will not carry out checks in Gibraltar at the airport or port now or in four years. This is our country. Couldn't be any clearer. & # 39;
The “green certificate” and the new Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE) are valid proof of residence for British nationals who want to return to Spain. However, all travelers would also have to carry a passport with them.
They added: “We can also confirm that those UK nationals who can show that they have started their residency process but do not yet have a new TIE card will also be able to get flights to return to Spain.
"The Spanish government will introduce this measure for a grace period of seven days from January 4th."
In a statement, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said there had been "an isolated communication problem with some airlines, affecting only a very small number of travelers" and that air traffic between the UK and Spain had been "normal" until mid-Sunday.
The Spanish government announced last year that British expats in Spain would be given a new ID card instead of a residence permit.
According to the Spanish authorities, UK nationals who were resident in Spain before December 31, 2020 have received the rights set out in the Withdrawal Agreement and can use either the Green Residence Document or the New Residence Document (TIE).
Travel advice suggests that UK nationals can exchange their paper residency documents for the new TIE, but you are not required to do so.
Spain has announced Covid-19 restrictions on travelers from the UK through January 19, with the exception of Spanish nationals and those legally resident in Spain.
There are currently more than 300,000 British people living in Spain, although many more full or part-time employees lived in the country before Brexit without officially registering.
According to the Spanish Secretary of State for Migration, the number of UK citizens with Spanish residence permits rose 5.8 percent from June 2019 to June 2020, an increase of 19,977 UK residents.
Under the new trade deal on Brexit, which was announced on Christmas Eve and came into force on January 1st, British citizens no longer have automatic rights to live and work in the EU.
Existing EU Burgundy passports will remain valid, but UK travelers will not be able to use fast lane e-gates at EU airports or Eurostar.
Brits visiting most of the EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland should have at least six months on their passport when traveling. It should also be less than ten years old on the day of travel.
From work to pensions, passports to pets, what the new UK Brexit with the EU means to you
Posted by John Stevens, Deputy Political Editor for the Daily Mail
British citizens no longer have automatic rights to live and work in the EU. The ability to do this depends on each country's immigration rules. Professional qualifications may no longer be recognized. Citizens of the UK and Ireland can continue to live, work and move freely between the two countries.
Existing EU Burgundy passports will remain valid, but UK travelers will not be able to use fast lane e-gates at EU airports or Eurostar. Brits visiting most of the EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland should have at least six months on their passport when traveling. It should also be less than ten years old on the day of travel.
Visits to EU countries are limited to a maximum of 90 days per 180. From January 2022, the British will have to pay a visa waiver for EU travel – around £ 6 per capita. These will take three years.
UK travelers cannot use fast-track e-gates at EU airports or Eurostar. Pictured: passengers from London arrive at the Eurostar terminal in Paris, France on December 23
There is a tax free limit of £ 390 for goods returned from the EU. The limit values for drinks and cigarettes are 42 liters of beer; 18 liters of wine; nine liters of sparkling wine; four liters of spirits; and 200 cigarettes.
Most can continue driving in the EU without needing an international driving license. Those with an older paper license may need one. Drivers who bring their own car to the continent need a “green card” from their insurer. There may be a charge.
The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) system will end, although the cards will remain valid until their expiration date. The government says it will introduce a similar global health insurance card.
The EHIC – European Health Insurance Card – System is to end
The UK will no longer participate in the Erasmus program, which allows students to study in European institutions for a year during their studies. A global "Turing Program" will replace it from September 2021.
The EU pet passport system is ending and owners will have to obtain an animal health certificate instead. The cost should be around £ 100, with a new one for each trip.
For the dispatch of goods to the EU, a customs declaration is required, which is available from the post office. Brits receiving goods from the EU may have to pay customs, VAT and handling fees.
Withdrawal to the EU
A visa and proof of financial independence are now required. The UK State Pension will continue to be paid.
Citizens can evade certain rules as the province is considered part of the European Union under certain circumstances.
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