UNITED Kingdom nationals travelling to the European Union and Schengen Area Member States are already going through a lot of changes, including additional checks at ports of entry, and even entry restrictions which have been imposed on third-countries amid Covid.
But, frequent travellers to the block and the borderless zone are now facing another struggle – a limited period of permitted stay within the block.
Under the Schengen Area rules of stay for third-country citizens, non-EU citizens entering the territory under the visa-free regime can stay for a maximum of 90 days, for every 180 days.
Those who overstay this period – intentionally or unintentionally – may face penalties, including deportation and entry bans, which the Spanish government made clear on January 7 and the new post-Brexit situation is proving a nightmare for thousands of Britons who own properties in Mallorca and elsewhere in Spain.
Robert David M.B.E. has owned a property near Bendinat since 2011 and until the end of last year, was a frequent visitor to the island spending long periods of time in Mallorca - now that has all changed as a result of Brexit.
Yesterday, the former Lord Mayor of Westminster, the youngest to date, and former deputy leader of the Westminster City Council said that he is facing a “nightmare” situation.
“Only yesterday I was trying to plan my travel movements for this year. I miss Mallorca and my friends on the island so much. I have been looking into every possible solution to overcome the three months in six rule but no one seems to have an answer.
“I’ve contacted four different lawyers in Mallorca, each one has a different answer and the Spanish Embassy in London is closed due to Covid, they are not even operating from home so my calls and emails are going answered, and I am not the only one. I’m hugely frustrated because I don’t know what to do.
“There was talk of a ‘non lucrative Schengen visa’, but there does not appear to be any clear information about that and there’s the ‘Golden Visa’ option for people who invest over 500,000 pounds in a property. That can be back dated to 2013, but I bought my property in 2011, so I’m excluded from that option and certainly don’t want to purchase another home on the island.
“So, in order to avoid the penalties and being domiciled and therefore obliged to pay tax in the UK and in Spain, on which I would never get a fair return, for the meantime I have to comply with the new rules.
“But, what it means is that any other trips I make take into the EU zone for weddings, weekend breaks etc. will all be counted and deducted from the length of period I can spend at my home in Mallorca.
“Where I live on the island, there are scores of Britons in a similar situation to me and apart from complicating our lives, this will have an impact on the local economy. I am retired and what consultancy work I do, I can conduct remotely from Mallorca.
So, I would enjoy long periods on the island spending a significant amount of money in restaurants, on car hire and shopping - for example. So no one will benefit from this in the long term, by which time I sincerely hope the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.
“A petition was launched on the parliamentary website and attracted over 10,000 signatures. Only last week, we received a reply from the British government and they more or less washed their hands with the matter on the grounds it was an EU ruling which member states are responsible for enforcing.
“So, hundreds of thousands of Britons with homes in the EU zone, not just Mallorca, are in a very difficult situation.”