Brits who own a second home in Spain may soon be able to stay longer than the 90-day limit post-Brexit, with the Spanish government joining calls to scrap the unpopular rule.
By law, Brits are only allowed to stay in their holiday homes for 90 out of 180 days. To stay longer, they must apply for a long-stay visa of up to six months.
Now the Spanish government has admitted that the rule, which limits how long British travelers can stay in European Union countries without a visa, is having a negative impact.
“Unfortunately, the rule is not something that Spain itself has imposed or can get rid of,” said the country’s acting tourism minister, Hector Gomez. ‘It is in our interest to lobby and convince the EU that we can try to make an exception with them. But the solution has to come from them.’
It comes after the French Senate approved an amendment to immigration law that would automatically give British second home owners the right to a long-stay visa, after politicians there said British tourists had been ‘punished by Brexit’.
Under current rules, Brits are only allowed to stay in their holiday homes for 90 out of 180 days
Spain’s acting tourism minister, Hector Gomez, said: ‘It is in our interest to lobby and convince the EU that we can try to make an exception’
Andrew Hesselden, campaign director and founder of ‘180 Days in Spain’, which campaigns for the free movement of Britons in the country, told the Mallorca Daily Bulletin that he is ‘delighted to see that French senators recognize the injustice of the situation in which British part-year residents have found themselves since Brexit’.
He added that members of his campaign “remain hopeful for similar recognition in Spain for all involved.”
Now developments appear to be taking place in Spain, with Gomez confirming earlier this week that he had had an ‘important meeting’ with the British Director of Consular Affairs and Crisis, Jennifer Anderson, at the Foreign Office.
The pair “discussed interesting issues relating to the stay of British tourists in Spain and discussed collaborative projects for future seasons,” he said. It is believed this included the 90 day limit.
Britain is Spain’s largest and most profitable tourism market, with almost double the number of Britons visiting the country last year than German tourists.
Data from Spain’s National Statistical Institute (INE) shows that two million people traveled from Britain to Spain last year, accounting for 23.8 percent of total visitors.
Under Schengen Area rules, non-EU citizens, including those from Britain, who enter the territory under the visa-free regime can only stay for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 days.
Those who overstay, either intentionally or unintentionally, can face stiff penalties in Spain, including fines of up to €10,000 and prison sentences.
The French Senate has approved an amendment to the immigration law that will automatically entitle British second home owners to a long-stay visa (file image)
They could also be subject to deportation and entry bans, with the post-Brexit restrictions proving to be a nightmare for thousands of Britons with properties across Spain and France.
Martine Berthet, a French senator representing Savoie in the southern Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, has now proposed a change to the rules after receiving complaints from Britons who own holiday homes in the region.
“Britons I’ve spoken to say the current system is long-winded, difficult and full of pitfalls,” she said, according to The Daily Telegraph.
She also said the rules are preventing them from contributing to the French economy, and that the restrictions will already contribute to the rising number of vacant properties in the country’s popular tourist regions.
“Ties between France and Britain are heating up after the royal visit,” she said. ‘And don’t forget that King Charles reserved his only official speech for the French Senate.
‘The British are privileged partners of France. History has shown this to be the case.’
The change to the law must still be debated in France’s National Assembly (the country’s lower house) before it can be adopted, and has been opposed by Emmanuel Macron’s government.