Tuesday 28th September 2021 – CARLOS LÓPEZ with Mike Smith
British citizens who own second residences in the Marina Alta and across the province of Alicante are mobilizing to express their grievances at not being able to spend more than 90 days in any 180-day period in Spain without a visa.
The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union – BREXIT – means that the British are now considered ‘third country nationals’ and therefore need a visa to enter any EU country for longer than the permitted 90 days.
XAD spoke with Peter Wilkinson, who owns a second home in Dénia and has been coming on holiday in the Marina Alta for 16 years. He explained that since Brexit came into force on January 1st 2021, British citizens can only be in Spain – and indeed any EU country – for a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days. “In our case, we have family in France so if we visit them, those days are also deducted from that 90-day limit”.
British residents across the province have rallied around a Facebook group ‘180 Days in Spain’ which aims to apply pressure on both the Spanish and British governments to sign a bilateral agreement to promote a change to the Schengen 90/180 day rule or changes to relevant Spanish laws to allow UK citizens to travel freely and/or to use their homes in Spain for 180 days in any 365 day period, separately and in addition to any allowance that may be given in or shared across any other Schengen zone countries.
This would match what the UK is now giving to Spanish citizens visiting the UK. Peter said: “We can only be here 90 days, and Spanish citizens can stay up to six months a year in our country without the need for a visa”. He added that if British citizens stay beyond those 90 days, there is a 2,500 euro penalty and the possibility of being banned from entering any EU country for a certain period of time. A bilateral agreement could have some points such as residents owning a property in Spain, he said, so that it could be justified that they can stay more than the 90 days allowed in a more flexible way.
“We love Dénia. We have Spanish friends and I go cycling when I’m here,” he told XAD, adding that, until now, he had not bothered to count how many days he has left to enjoy the region. He explained that while many of his compatriots who are in the same situation have decided to obtain Spanish residency, there are others like him and his wife who have decided not to do so because they still work in the UK.
In his campaign to highlight this situation in which some 800,000 residents of Spain find themselves, Peter has contacted the mayors in the region, politicians at the national level, and even the British ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliot. The latter was honest in his answer: “I don’t see that a solution can be found in the short term”, although he claimed that the British Embassy is trying to work with both the Spanish and British governments to provide an answer to the thousands of British residents living in Spanish territory.