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Brexit: British expats blocked from returning to Spain

© Belga

British nationals resident in Spain complained on Sunday that they had been prevented from boarding a Madrid-bound, British Airways/Iberia flight in London on Saturday as a result of Brexit.

Photographer Max Duncan, one of the passengers who were blocked on Saturday at London’s Heathrow Airport, tweeted that many British expatriates were devastated at not being able to return home after the airline told them their residence cards were “not valid after Brexit”.


In a video published on social media, Duncan shows British passengers expressing their dismay and incomprehension at not being allowed to board their plane.

In response to his tweet, the UK Embassy in Spain stated on Saturday that this “should not be happening.” It added that the Spanish authorities had “reconfirmed again this evening that the green residency document will be valid for travel to return to Spain as stated in our travel advice.”


A spokeswoman for the Spanish Foreign Ministry told French news agency AFP on Sunday that the complications at Heathrow on the previous day were due to a “specific communication problem with certain airlines” and only concerned a small number of travellers. This had since been corrected, the spokeswoman said.

She added that air traffic between Britain and Spain was normal on Sunday for all citizens of Spain and Andorra and all British citizens residing in Spain and Andorra.

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Over 300,000 Britons are resident in Spain. Most of them are retirees living on the sunny southern coast, drawn by the warm weather and the country’s low cost of living.

Those who registered before the 31st of December 2020 can retain their right to reside in Spain, but they need to provide the Spanish authorities with a permanent residential address, a Spanish bank account, proof of health coverage and evidence that they have enough income to support themselves.

The Brussels Times