Britons are being accused of ‘ignoring’ new rules to leave Spain after legislation was passed that would mean those choosing to live “under the radar” could face deportation or fines.
The British community in Spain are allegedly “burying their heads in the sand” over new Brexit rules on residency that come into effect this week.
It comes as Spanish authorities denied reports that police were planning to deport up to 500 Britons in the first week of April.
Instead, Britons most at risk will be those dodging taxes, which is said to be a small fraction of the 300,000-large community.
But those campaigning for Britons to remain in Spains say many are “deliberately” looking to flout the rules in the hope they can slip through the net.
Sue Wilson, chair of Bremain in Spain, told the Local: “We have been advising visiting Brits of the fast-approaching deadline and reiterating advice given by the British Embassy.
“The clock is ticking, yet there are still Brits deliberately planning to overstay their welcome.
“They are burying their heads in the sand and assuming we’ll be treated differently from other third country nationals, simply because we are British.
“I fear many that have ignored the warnings of the consequences of exceeding a 90-day stay are in for a rude awakening.”
Many Brits have previously breached the EU’s 90-day per every 180 limit placed on tourist visas and have been living unregistered under the radar.
But under the Withdrawal Agreement, anyone unregistered could be fined or even banned from returning.
A UK government spokesperson said: “The rights of UK nationals to continue living, working and studying in Spain are protected by law.
“Anyone legally resident in Spain before 1 January 2021 can stay but should register their residence and obtain the new TIE residency card to prove their rights.
“British tourists and business travellers are able to visit Spain and other EU countries for up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period without a visa.
“We recommend UK nationals check the Living in Spain Guide on GOV.UK for any actions they may need to take and for up to date official information.”
Spain has been rolling out a new system to register permanent foreign residents with biometric cards called TIE but due to a deluge in requests the process is currently log-jammed.