Since the UK’s decision to leave the EU, Britons can now only spend 90 out of each 180 day period in Spain, or anywhere else in the Schengen area, without securing a visa.
We talk a lot about the Schengen Area, but what is the Schengen area? In short, this is a zone where 26 European countries, abolished their internal borders, for the free and unrestricted movement of people. And one of these countries is Spain.
The UK is no longer a Schengen country, and therefore the amount of time Britons spend in the Schengen area needs to be monitored closely.
Understanding the Schengen 90 Day Rule
The easiest way to remember the rule is that, since the beginning of 2021, Britons who do not have residency status in any other EU country can only spend 90 days out of each 180 day period in the Schengen area: that includes Spain. That rule covers the whole of the Schengen area, so you cannot leave Spain to go the France or Portugal. When your 90 days are over, you must leave and return to a non-Schengen area country (which does not necessarily have to be your country of residence).
You don’t have to take your 90 days in one block: you can come and go throughout this 90 day period as many times as you wish as long as your stay doesn’t go over 90 days in total. The day you arrive is considered day one, and your departure day is counted too, so consider these when using a schengen 90 180 rule calculator.
The best way to work out how many days you have left is to use one of the Schengen calculators that do the job for you. This will help you ensure you never overstay your allowance, because calculating it can be more complicated than you might think: according the the EU “The 180-day reference period is not fixed...it is a moving window, based on the approach of looking backwards”. This is also the approach that border officials will use to check that you haven’t overstayed your visa-free allowance. For that reason it’s important to note that the calendar year is not relevant or important year: the only thing that matters is that when counting backwards from the present day, you have not spend more than 90 days in the EU over the previous 180 day period.
What is the Schengen Area?
So that you don’t accidentally overstay your allowance by visiting a country you didn’t realise you shouldn’t, here is a full breakdown of the 26 countries that make up the Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
If you are a resident of any of these countries, or have a visa to remain in one of them for a longer period of time, then this time will not form a part of your 90 day visa-free time period. If you are not a resident though, the main and most important thing to note is that you will have to spend 90 days outside of the schengen area in every 180 day period.
How to Plan Your Visits
It’s important to calculate your visits and plan them so that you can spend the time of the year in Spain that you want to be in the county: if you want to spend winter in the sun, for example, then you don’t want to spend a month in Spain in June. This will start your 90 out of 180 day period, and will mean that you have to spend at least some of the winter back in the UK. Plan your dates carefully, so that you spend the lengthy periods in Spain that you are able to at a time of year that best suits you.
If you want to spend as much time in the sun, and away from the UK, as possible, don’t forget to consider time in other countries that are not in the Schengen area, as these will not form a part of your allowance. Morocco, Cyprus and Turkey are all good options as they all over great weather year-round and affordable prices.
Always stick to the rules
No matter how tempting it might be to spend a little bit longer in Spain, particularly if you have a second home in the country, it’s important that you always stick to the rules. If you need to be in Spain for longer than 90 days for a good reason (a medical reason, or to attend a funeral, for example) then it is possible to secure a short-stay visa extension. But if you do overstay your 90 day period, there could be very negative consequences: this will be recorded, and you could face fines, deportations and travel bans. Not the ideal scenario if you have a property in Spain that you wish to visit regularly! It simply isn’t worth taking the risk.
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