On the 1st January 2021, the UK officially left the EU. We now know that this means that Britons hoping to buy property in Spain are only entitled to remain in the country for 90 days out of every 180-day period unless they secure a visa. Whilst this might make living in Spain trickier than it was in the pre-Brexit world, it doesn’t make it impossible. There remains a host of visa options available for Britons in Spain, including the golden visa, student visas, and the non-lucrative visa. Spain is still very much open, and ready to welcome Britons to the country.
But Brexit has left Brits with many questions: How will Brexit impact those Brits currently living in Spain, travelling to Spain regularly to stay in their holiday home, letting holiday homes, or planning to move to Spain in the future? Here we will outline the latest information about how living in Spain after Brexit is different, and how the shift may (or may not) impact on your way of life:
A Note on: Taking Holidays to Spain
Regardless of how you feel about Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, as of 31st January 2021, Britain is no longer a part of the EU. And for the vast majority of British people this will have very little impact on their visits to wider Europe. If you are a British person who spends your holidays in Spain, or otherwise visits the country for short periods of time then very little will change about the way you enter or exit the EU: if you spend less than 90 days in Spain over the course of 6 months then you will not be impacted by entrance or exit visa requirements and you can continue to enjoy your holidays as you always have right now. Known informally as the 90-day rule, this allows you to spend a maximum of 90 days in any EU country (not just Spain) in any 12-month period: this means that if you have already spent 90 days in France, you would not be able to visit Spain for the weekend until the 6-month period is completed.
By the end of 2022, however, you may have to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver before you enter Spain: this is a simple online application that will allow you to enter the Schengen Area with minimal hassle and paperwork.
This same rule applies to individuals who own second homes in Spain, but only visit for relatively short periods of time. Provided you spend less than 90 days in Spain in each 180 day period, you will still be able to enter and leave the country as you always have, without any extra paperwork. When you are clearing immigration at your Spanish arrival airport you will need to enter the non-EU passengers queue rather than the passengers arriving from the EU line. Your status as a non-EU resident will not stop you owning property, or investing in a holiday home, in Spain.
Other good news to immerge from the most recent Brexit agreements is that British travellers will retain free healthcare across Europe, including in Spain. Your current EHIC card will remain valid until it expires, when you can apply for a GHIC card instead. This card is valid only in EU countries, rather than the wider Schengen area, and full details of what will be covered haven’t been released yet. But it does mean some health protection will be afforded, which is more than many travellers expected. It is also recommended that you ensure you have robust medical travel insurance (this has always been the recommendation, although many travellers chose to ignore this advice).
If you are living in Spain though, or spending longer than 90 days in each 6 month period in the country, then you are likely to experience some more dramatic changes to those outlined abouve, and these will be the focus of the rest of this piece.
Taking Business Trips
For Britons who need to or wish to conduct business in Spain, it is not yet clear whether you need a visa to take a business trip to the country. This will be decided by future bilateral agreements between Spain and the UK, but it is likely any requirements will depend on all visits taking place under the maximum of 90 days period.
There is currently a Schengen short-stay business visa system for those non-EU nationals who require it, and it is likely that the UK will become a part of this scheme. Individuals would have to have an interview at the Spanish consulate of their country, show proof of financial means, fill in an application form and then pay between €35 to €80 in fees for their visa. As part of this process, you would also require a letter of invitation from the company that you will be visiting, and that they intend to be doing business with.
Prepare Your Passport
It’s worth noting that, whether you live in Spain or are just visiting for a short trip, you will need to have at least 6 months validity remaining on your passport in order to enter Spain. You should check the validity of your passport, and if necessary apply for a new one, before you book your trip: passport applications in the UK are delayed right now, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and you don’t want to be unable to travel because your passport didn’t arrive in time.
You can apply for a new passport online, or request a paper form here.