Can Brits stay in Sotogrande for more than 90 days?


Presuming that by the time you read this, you have already spent a decent amount of time contemplating what would be involved when you come to buy a house in Sotogrande, you might have encountered various mentions of the ’90-day rule’.

Also sometimes referred to as the ‘90/180 rule’, this is the requirement – as set out in European Union (EU) law – that those visiting the EU or Schengen area of Europe from a non-EU state only stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, if they do not have a visa entitling them to remain for longer.

The conclusion of the Brexit transition period in December 2020 brought Britons within the scope of this rule. Simply being the owner of a property in Spain doesn’t prevent you from being subject to the rule – so as a British national, even if you do buy a house in Sotogrande, you will need to account for it when making plans to travel to and enjoy your property.

What are the ways of potentially overcoming this rule?

As the UK Government sets out in its foreign travel guidance for Spain, as a UK national, you will be permitted to travel to countries in the Schengen area – of which Spain is a member state – for up to 90 days in any given 180-day period without the need to seek a visa.

There are a few things that it is important to bear in mind about the rule – including that it applies to the Schengen area in general, and not just Spain. So, time spent in other parts of the Schengen area during the 180 days will count towards your 90 days.

Consider, too, that the 90 days you spend in Spain in each 180-day period can be in either a single block of time, or take the form of several smaller stays. You can, then, spend as long as six months a year in the EU as a British owner of Sotogrande property, as long as you don’t do this in a single block of time.

Unfortunately, being married to a spouse with an EU passport won’t exempt you from the 90/180 rule; you’ll still need to comply with it. This EU family connection could, though, be useful when it comes to applying for residency or other immigration routes within the EU.

All of this means that if you do wish to spend a longer period of time in Spain each year than the 90-day rule allows, you will need to investigate the visas that would give you the right to do this.

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