BREXIT and the 90-day rule

by Lorraine Williamson
BREXIT 90 day

For those residents in Spain, BREXIT may have changed some things for, especially those who were not able to exchange their driving license before the beginning of May this year. However, others may not have felt any difference at all. But, perhaps owners of Spanish properties, travelling from the UK worry about how to work out the 90-day rule.

This is one group that has certainly felt the impact of the new rules BREXIT has brought. UK residents who own property in Spain are no longer free to travel back and forth as they wish. The UK is now classed as a third country throughout Europe, and as such, visits to Spain and other countries in the Schengen area can only be up to 90 days within any 180 day period.

The 90 day rule does not just affect British nationals following BREXIT.  It also applies to all foreign nationals who are non-EU or -EEA citizens but able to enter without a visa into the Schengen areas. This includes American, Australian, and Canadian citizens.


Apart from the inconvenience of not being able to visit your property whenever you feel like it or for however long you wish, the 90-day rule is often misunderstood. All over social media, people question how to work out if they have overstayed their 90 days. For those who have, they could be penalised and fined.

Before you travel

However, before you travel from the UK now, whether on holiday, or to your holiday home in the sun, there are several checks you should make.

According to the official UK government website, if you are planning to travel to Spain, or another EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

Your passport must be:

  • issued less than 10 years BEFORE THE DATE YOU ENTER THE COUNTRY (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months AFTER THE DAY YOU PLAN TO LEAVE (check the ‘expiry date’)

You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements.

The 90-day rule after BREXIT

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This is relevant whether you travel as a tourist, or for any other reason be it work, study or pleasure.

Since BREXIT, if you are travelling to Spain and other Schengen countries without a visa, you must ensure your visit is within the 90 day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

To stay longer, you will need to meet the Spanish government’s entry requirements. Therefore, it is important for you to check with the Spanish consulate in the UK prior to travelling.

Passport stamping

As a visitor to Spain, now when you enter or leave the Schengen area, you must have your passport stamped. This is new since BREXIT and is to ensure the border guards can check you are complying with the 90 day rule. It is important to have this done, otherwise the authorities could presume you have overstayed your limit of days.

Cogesa Expats

If you are resident in Spain, your passport should not be stamped. In this case, you should provide as proof of residence the ‘TIE’ card (la tarjeta de identidad de extranjero).

How is the 90/180-day rule calculated?

When calculating your 90 days, it is important to include ALL visits to countries included within the Schengen area. Even if these are spread out, each individual day counts towards the 90.

The difficulty most people have, is understanding that the 180 days are a rolling period. And as such, the 90 days works backwards.

For example, if you are planning a 10-day holiday on December 1, then you must check back for the remaining 170 days prior to the end of your planned holiday to check you have not used more than a total of 90.

Another example is if you wish to go on holiday from a particular date. If you are unsure of the duration, simply count back the previous 180 days. Therefore, if you have spent 56 days in that period in Schengen areas, then you have 34 days available.

However, please remember if you have a flight that arrives at a Spanish airport (or another Schengen country) just before midnight, this will be counted as a full day already. Equally, if you leave very early, the same will apply.


Of course, this can be easier worked out using a calculator as guide. The Schengen visa calculator is very simple and straightforward to use.

When using the calculator, there are 4 things to consider.

  • The first is where you complete the entry and exit dates of your last visit to the Schengen area.
  • Next, simply click on the plus sign (+) to add more travel dates. Continue this until you have added all your visits onto the calculator. (As mentioned above, please take into account late arrivals and early departures as these will count towards the 90 days).
  • Once everything has been added, click on the calculator button in the bottom left corner.
  • Your results should then be displayed. This will show the number of days you have already stayed. And, therefore, how many days you have remaining within that 180-day period.

Please be advised, however, that you are solely responsible for checking that the calculation, and the dates entered are correct.

What happens if I overstay the 90 days?

If you overstay the 90 days in the 180-day period, then you run the risk of being fined and deported. You could also receive a ban from entering Schengen countries in the future.

However, if you have genuine reason such as a medical emergency, contact the British Consulate to seek their advice.

Remember ignorance does not provide exemption!

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