Spain wants to scrap the rule that non-EU travellers can only stay in the country for 90 days in any period of 180 days. However, a decision on this would have to be taken in Brussels.
Spanish Tourism Minister Fernando Valdés made that wish known in an exclusive interview with iNews this week. Spain previously removed its visa requirements for UK tour operators after Brexit. At the time, this was seen as a win for the UK tourism industry. Now the course has shifted towards eliminating the 90-day rule for all British citizens coming to Spain.
Second home owners and tourists
This winter, according to estimates by the travel industry, 3.5 million Brits will come to Spain. That makes the United Kingdom, as always, the largest and most important tourist market in the country. Furthermore, a lot of British own second homes in Spain. For those homeowners, life has been quite complicated since Brexit and the 90-day rule, which also holds back new buyers and other investors. Therefore, eliminating that rule could give tourism in Spain a major boost. The sector makes up 12% of the national GDP.
Scrap the 90 day rule
In the interview, the minister said it is in Spain’s interest “to abolish the 90 day rule, but “unfortunately, this is not something Spain can initiate itself. It is true that after Brexit there have been problems with people wanting to stay longer.”
He went on to say that Madrid is also trying to pressure Brussels to change the 90-day rule. “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.”
The Schengen Area Residence Rules for Third Country Citizens states that non-EU citizens entering the territory under the visa-free regime stay for a maximum of 90 days for every 180 days.
Those who exceed this period – intentionally or unintentionally – may be subject to sanctions, including deportation and entry bans. This new situation, which arose after the British left the EU on December 31, 2020, is proving to be a nightmare for thousands of Brits. Especially for those with properties in Spain that they can no longer just spend a large part of the year in.