Spain to Ask EU to Remove 90-day Visit Rule for UK Citizens

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Spain is planning to request the removal of the current 90-day limit on tourist stays for British citizens, Spanish Tourism Secretary Fernando Valdés has confirmed.

Now that the United Kingdom has exited the European Union following the Brexit split, British passport holders can only stay in the Schengen Area, including Spain, for 90 days within every 180-day period.

From November 2023, it is also expected that they will need to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization to remain in Spain for the same period of time.

If they wish to remain in Spain longer, they now have to obtain a visa or residence permit before their trip. Otherwise, they could face consequences such as a fine, detention or even a temporary travel ban for overstaying.

Many British holidaymakers and Spanish officials are unhappy with this new arrangement. “It is true that after Brexit some problems have emerged with people wanting to stay longer”, Valdés said.

“Unfortunately, [the rule] is not something Spain has established by itself or can get rid of”, he added.

As a result, Spain is set to ask EU authorities to relax the visa requirements for UK citizens. “It is in our interest to lobby and convince [the EU] we can try to work an exception with them. But the solution must come from them,” Valdés explained.

Spain to Ask EU to Remove 90-day Visit Rule for UK Citizens

Why UK Tourism Is So Important to Spain

Spain is keen to abolish tourist stay restrictions for British citizens because tourism accounts for 12% of Spain’s GDP, and visitors from the UK made up a large part of this contribution.

Roughly 84 million people traveled to Spain each year before COVID restrictions were introduced in 2020, and 17 million of these tourists were British nationals. 

These numbers dramatically dropped during the coronavirus pandemic, but have started to improve, with around 1.8 million travelers from the UK visiting Spain in the first quarter of 2022.

However, the restrictive travel rule introduced following Brexit has made it harder for British travelers to stay in the country for longer periods.

Whereas expats with second homes in the country used to spend the whole winter in Spain, they can no longer do this without a valid residence permit.

Removing the 90-day stay rule would allow Spain to continue to capitalize on the rise in ‘thermal tourism’ whereas British people fly to warmer European countries to escape the winter cold.

It has also been reported that the Spanish and British governments are negotiating alternative bilateral agreements to circumvent EU approval for British workers in Spain during the holiday season.