British holiday and second home owners could see the 90-day cap being lifted in Mallorca. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter


Spain appears determined to try and lift the 90-day cap for Britons coming to Mallorca and Spain in general.

Spain’s acting Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Héctor Gómez confirmed this week that he held an “important meeting at the Foreign Office with the Director of Consular Affairs and Crisis, Jennifer Anderson, in which they discussed issues of interest regarding the stays of British tourists in Spain and discussed collaboration projects for future seasons,” and this is understood to have included the 90-day cap.

And, an important precedent has been set in France which Spain will hopefully look to follow for British second and holiday home owners.

The French Senate has this week approved a bill amendment granting automatic long-stay visa rights to British second-home owners in France “without the need for any formalities”.
This amendment is part of France’s immigration bill and will proceed to the Assemblée nationale for debate in December.

The change aims to address challenges faced by British part year residents post-Brexit, who are currently limited to spending a maximum of 90 days in the entire Schengen area.
The current limitation means they cannot go to 26 other countries if they’ve already spent 90 days living in their own home in France.

The amendment proposed by Senatrice Martine Berthet (of Savoie) and approved by France’s upper chamber recognises the unique situation of British part year residents, many of whom did not vote for Brexit and who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own.
It seeks to simplify or even eliminate the visa process, by allowing for easier and extended stays for those owning a second home in France “without formalities”.

Other rejected amendments included a five-year ‘homeowner’ visa which was proposed by another Senator in response to the same issue. The approved amendment awaits further details in an additional decree.

If approved by the French National Assembly, it would mean that second home owners in France who get this automatic right to a visa (which seems to amount to a visa exemption), would only have to worry about the 90-in-180 day problem when visiting Schengen Countries other than France.

This would mean that British part year residents in France, just like their full-year resident compatriots in France, would be free once again to take holidays or business trips to Spain or other Schengen countries because they would still have the full complement of 90-in-180 days under the Schengen Visa Waiver available to use. At present, people in this position are blocked from visiting Spain even as tourists if they’ve run out of days.

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This is potentially good news for Spain’s tourism industry, in the light of their renewed interest in solving the 90-in-180 day problem for all British visitors to Spain. It has yet to be seen if Spain will take the opportunity to move this idea on, during the remaining time of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Andrew Hesselden, Campaign Director and founder of the ‘180 Days in Spain’ campaign which seeks to help British people in Spain in a similar position to those in France, told the Bulletin on Friday night that he is “delighted to see French senators recognise injustice of the situation that British part-year residents have found themselves in since Brexit”.

He said that his own campaign’s members “remain hopeful of similar recognition in Spain for everyone affected”.
“The French proposal, an ‘automatic visa entitlement without formalities’, is certainly in line with the kind of protection we would like to see for everyone who has made a part year home in France or Spain, whether they owned or rented that home or even lived with family regularly. We’re asking for a guarantee of protection akin to that given under the Withdrawal Agreement which seems very similar in practical effect to what the French Senators appear to be suggesting.

“People exercised their rights lawfully before Brexit, but many are still uncertain of their rights and feel in limbo today”, Andrew said.
“There’s still more work to be done to ensure that everyone is protected fully. We hope that UK, Spanish and French politicians will engage with us now to understand the issues fully and work with us to find the best possible solutions. Many of our members felt integrated in their local communities in France and Spain before Brexit, but now feel like they don’t belong anymore, which I think is sad.”

“If on 31 December 2020, British full-year residents had been told to leave France/Spain, return to the UK and come back only once they had secured a visa, there would have been public outrage. Yet, essentially this is exactly what happened to British part-year residents who also have lives and obligations elsewhere. The pandemic restrictions certainly masked the extent of this problem at the time.”

Our members lobbying UK and Spanish politicians, have found Spanish politicians and regional presidents to be supportive and empathetic, but the response from members of parliament in the UK has been more mixed. We are encouraged by the fresh news last week that Spain seeks to eliminate the 90-in-180 day problem entirely for all British visitors. (Brittany said the same in 2021.) “

“And this comes on top of the very welcome news back in June that Spain has scrapped the six-month absence rule for losing temporary residency, which gives comfort and reassurance to thousands of British people living in Spain who were able to register before Brexit. Now the task in Spain is to help those who were unable to register or who were advised against doing so, to retrospectively gain the protection they desperately need.”

This is just about treating people fairly and equally, so they can get on with their lives”. Andrew said.
“Personally, I’d love to see reciprocal, mutual Freedom of Movement restored, or even for us to rejoin the EU one day, but until we can persuade politicians to do either of those things, there is plenty that could be done to ease mobility right now, and not just for those with homes in Europe. I think the planned introduction of ETIAS and the UK equivalent in 2025, is truly tragic for the future of our continent and shared cultural understanding. Thankfully, the UK government has recently agreed to ease rules for French school groups visiting the UK with other nationalities set to follow, but clearly there is much more work to do.”

“And it’s not just about people with homes in Spain; we are also calling for more equitable and practical mobility arrangements for all British visitors to Spain to match what Spanish people get in the UK today. This should be as inclusive as possible”, Andrew commented.

“We should remember the UK still welcomes all French and Spanish citizens as visitors for up to six months per visit and that isn’t reduced at all by days spent in other countries. Brexit barely changed access for European visitors to the UK, although it did, sadly, impact their ability to settle or work without a visa, and it would be nice if even that can change in time.”
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