News: Understanding the EU 90-day rule in Spain for British and UK nationals

Understanding the EU 90-day rule in Spain for British and UK nationals
Written by Inmo Investments - 2 Jun 2021

What is the 90-day rule, and does it matter to British property buyers?

WE´VE HEARD A LOT from our British clients with regards to the EU´s so-called "90-day rule", often referred to as the "90/180-day rule" that applies to UK nationals who already own a home on the Costa Blanca, or British residents planning to buy a holiday home in Spain.

The United Kingdom ceased to be a member of the European Union becoming a third country with effect from the 1st January 2021, and the 90-day rule affects the rights of British second-home owners in Spain - and in fact throughout the European continent.

Until the end of 2020, British people could stay in any other EU Member State for as long as they wanted to as citizens of the Union, but what changes most for UK buyers now is that the period of time (or rather, the number of days) they can spend in Spain will be limited.

EU Regulation 2018/1806 of the European Parliament stipulates that visitors from the UK may enter any European Union country without a visa for stays of no more than 90 days in any 180 days.

The regulation forms part of the external border policy of the EU, so exactly how does it work, and how will the 90-day rule affect ownership of Spanish property by British nationals?

Understanding the 90-day rule in Spain for British and UK nationals

Can British people still buy property in Spain? Yes.

First things first - British citizens still have the same rights to buy property in Spain as they have always enjoyed, in just the same way that other non-EU nationals own property here, such as homeowners from the United States, South Africa and Australia.

Indeed, despite the financial uncertainty caused by Brexit and a global pandemic, British buyers continue to be the leading source of international investors, followed by German and French overseas property buyers.

The process of buying a property in Spain remains simple and thankfully uncomplicated, and in the majority of cases, nothing has changed for British buyers.

It should be clear that all buyers and owners of property in Spain, both current and future, have equal rights and obligations enshrined in domestic and European law, regardless of their nationality or their residency status.

But the 90-day rule means that the amount of time British people can spend in the Schengen Area is limited. So whether you´re planning a weekend away in Venice, a city break in Paris, or a two week summer holiday on the Costa Blanca, all the time spent in the EU counts towards your limit.

Understanding the 90-day rule in Spain for British and UK nationals

What is the 90/180-day rule for UK property buyers in Spain?

Citizens of visa-free non-EU countries such as the UK are permitted to enter countries within the Schengen Area without a visa for up to 90 days out of every 180 days. During these 90 days, British nationals are not allowed to engage in paid work or study, but can travel for business, tourism, or to visit family, friends or relatives.

The 90-day clock starts counting from the date of entry into any Schengen country, so for instance, if you intend to drive through France to get to Spain, you need to count the days from the moment you enter France - not the moment you enter Spain.

UK residents can choose to use all of their allocated 90 days in one three-month-long holiday, or could take a couple of weeks here-and-there whenever they prefer until their 90 days have been used.

It´s important to note that because the clock starts from the moment of entry into the EU, it´s not possible to consolidate the two annual 90-day allowances into one long 180-day period.

Once the 90-day allocation has been exhausted, European law requires that British nationals leave the EU without exceeding the mandatory limit, and not return to any country within the Schengen Area until a further 90 days have passed.

Crucially, the 90/180-day allowance keeps rolling. UK citizens who might be close to the limit of their allowance will need to check if they have been present in the Schengen Area for less than 90 days during the past 180 days.

Understanding the 90-day rule in Spain for British and UK nationals

How does the 90-day rule work in Spain, and does it matter to me?

The website Schengen Visa Info offers a handy travel calculator for non-EU citizens that works out how long visitors are permitted to remain.

But ultimately, budding British holiday home owners need to ask themselves whether the 90-day limit will really make any difference to them, their desired future lifestyle, or their current personal circumstances.

Prospective property buyers from the UK can still spend almost 13 weeks on the Costa Blanca every six months, or more than 25 weeks in the Spanish sunshine each year, without the need for any additional documentation or a visa application.

That´s a lot of long holidays and for many people, balancing existing work and family commitments could make spending 6 months out of every year in another country difficult if not totally impractical.

And of course, British nationals with long-term plans to live in Spain or dreams of retiring to the Iberian peninsula in the future, are still eligible to apply for a Schengen Visa at any time in the years to come.

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GC Partners Foreign Exchange Services


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