British passport holder denied entry to Spain over 90-day rule

by Deborah Cater
Don¡t be denied entry to Spain becuase your passport isn't stamped
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A British passport holder was denied entry to Spain due to border officials not stamping her passport when she last left the country. As a result, she fell foul of the 90- day rule.

A British citizen was denied entry to Spain after her passport did not show an exit stamp from her last visit, The Local Spain reported. Border officials suspected she had already exceeded her 90 out of 180 days limit for Spain and the Schengen Area.

Border official did not stamp her passport on exit

The reason for the refusal was due to the border official not stamping her passport the last time she left the country. Despite her son explaining the situation in Spanish, and her ability to prove she had been in the UK since June, she was refused entry.

Non-resident Brits visiting Spain must abide by rules that came into force in 2021 as a result of Brexit. That is, they cannot spend more than 90 days out of every 180 in the Schengen Area, including Spain.

“I was denied entry to Spain on September 26th due to my passport not being stamped on exit on a previous one-week visit to Spain which started on June 4th,” Linda, who is 72, told The Local.

“The guards initially stamped my passport to enter, then they noticed I had no exit stamp from that one-week visit in June, thereby classing me as an overstayer and subsequently marked the entry stamp with the letter F and two lines.

Even though I have proof of returning to the UK via banking activity as well as the test and trace COVID app, the border guards would not accept or look at any proof nor let me speak to anyone that could help.”

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Essential to get exit stamp

Following Brexit, British citizens who are not residents in Spain or another EU/EEA nation cannot spend more than 90 out of 180 days in the Schengen Area.

It is essential, therefore, that passports are stamped both on entry and exit. If you are non-resident but return frequently to Spain, you must ensure a – you don’t over stay the 90 day period and b – your passport is stamped on exit.

Read: second home owners contest 90 day rule

The 90-day rule has been in place for many years in the EU, but applies to British citizens post-Brexit. The 180 days reference period is not fixed but based on the approach of looking backwards.

But if you spend 90 days in a 180 day-period all in one go, you will have to spend 90 days outside of the Schengen Area. There are penalties for overstaying which vary from €500 to €100,000 depending on the severity of the violation.

UK passport holders resident in Spain

Perversely, UK citizens holding residency in Spain, should NOT have their passports stamped as they have the right to remain. Therefore, Spanish residents are not subject to the 90-day rule. Nor should their passports be stamped anywhere in the Schengen Area.

If you are resident in Spain, please ensure you always carry your residency card when you leave and return to the country.

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