What British Owners Of Spanish Property Need To Know About Brexit

EU ruling

The clock on the UK’s exit from the EU is now ticking loudly, and while a lot is still up in the air, other aspects are clear. And many of these directly affect both British residents in Spain and British owners of Spanish property.

In this post, we answer some of your questions in advance of December 31st this year when the UK officially leaves the European Union.

Got a question about how Brexit affects you or your property in Spain?

Get in touch with us now. We’re only too happy to help.

What Is Schengen and is Spain part of it?

Schengen is a geographical area in Europe made up of 26 countries, 22 from the EU and 4 non-EU (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). The 26 countries have no passport control or borders between them.

Schengen Visa: The 26 nations also share a common visa policy, known as the Schengen Visa.

This usually allows non-EU citizens to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 in every 180 calendar days.

Spain is a member of the Schengen agreement, so when you enter Spain, you also enter the Schengen area and are subject to its visa rules.

What about my NIE? Will that change when the UK leaves the EU?

No, because your NIE (foreigner’s identification number) is valid throughout your lifetime and does not change.

Note that an NIE is a number that identifies you to the Spanish authorities for tax and administrative purposes. It has nothing to do with residency – having an NIE does not mean you are automatically resident in Spain.

If you live in Spain and own Spanish property

Many British citizens who own property in Spain also live in the country.

What if I am officially resident?

If you have a Spanish residence permit (known as the Tarjeta de Identidad Extranjero/TIE), your status falls under the Withdrawal Agreement set up between the UK and EU. This means your rights in Spain and the rest of the EU do not change after Brexit.

What if I live in Spain but am not officially resident?

You should apply for residency as soon as possible and in any case, before December 31st this year. If you don’t, you won’t enjoy the same benefits as other EU citizens in Spain.

Discover all you need to know about residency in Spain.

What about the validity of my British passport?

If you hold Spanish residency, you will be able to enter Spain as usual on your British passport even if it has less than six months validity.

However, you may not be able to travel within Schengen with a passport due to expire in less than six months.

I own property in Spain – will Brexit affect my rights as a homeowner?

No. Spain has not announced any decision to change homeowner rights (of any nationality) in the short or medium term.

All owners of property in Spain have the same rights and obligations, regardless of where they are from.

If you don’t live in Spain but own Spanish property

The British make up the largest group of foreign homeowners in Spain and year after year, are the biggest buyers of property. From January 1st 2021, homeownership will not change, but there will be some slight changes for those who spend long periods in Spain.

What about my passport?

Your British passport will continue to be valid to come to Spain, but it must be valid for at least six months from your date of entry into Spain. If the expiry date is less than six months, you will not be allowed into Spain.

Will my British passport be stamped?

From January 1st 2021, all British citizens entering Spain will have their passport stamped. This date is proof of your entry into the country (and Schengen). At some border controls, passports may also be scanned.

How long can I stay in Spain after Brexit?

From January 1st 2021, rules regarding the length of your stay in Spain will change. You will no longer be allowed to stay for more than three months.

UK residents will be able to spend a maximum of 90 days at a time in a 180-day period.

Note that the 90 days starts as soon as you enter the Schengen Area. This means that if you travel to Spain via France, for example, the time you spend in France counts towards your tally of 90 days.

Be fully prepared for Brexit in Spain – read our guide.

What if I want to stay for longer – can I join two periods of 90 days?

Although there has been no official confirmation of this, the authorities that believe that it will not be possible. You will be allowed to spend up to 90 days in Spain, and then you must leave the country.

You will not be able to return until 180 days have passed since your date of entry into Spain (or Schengen).

However, you can divide the 90-day period into two (45 days each) and spend each of them in Spain during the 180 days. However, you must then leave and wait for another 180 days to pass before you return.

To help you work out how long you can stay in Spain (or any Schengen country) and when you must leave, click here for a useful calculator. https://ec.europa.eu/assets/home/visa-calculator/calculator.htm?lang=en

Does the 90-day rule apply even if I own property in Spain?

Yes, at the moment, it does.

Spain may, of course, introduce new legislation to favour British property owners and allow them to spend longer periods of time in the country. However, at the time of writing (early November 2020), the government had not announced any new rules.

Will Brexit affect my property in Spain?

No. The UK’s decision to leave the EU does not affect homeownership rights in Spain. These will continue to be the same as they were prior to Brexit.

All Your Questions Answered

At Costaluz Lawyers, we are experts in the areas of property purchase and ownership and residency in Spain. If you are a British citizen and have a question about how Brexit affects you, do get in touch. Our team will be more than happy to help.

22 thoughts on “What British Owners Of Spanish Property Need To Know About Brexit”

  1. Interesting article.

    The rules of 24% tax on income from property will hit owners very hard but what is harder to understand is why UK owners are not allowed to deduct any expenses such as electric, water, community fees, maintenance , repairs etc.
    Surely there must be some negotiations taking place about this?
    It is not fair and will mean that for many UK owners who rely on income from short term holiday letting, that owning a property in Spain or running a small holiday let business is now no longer sustainable.
    In any business you need to be able to deduct expenses and it would be ethically wrong to charge tax on income where the costs have not first been deducted.

    Spain and the UK should at least agree that any UK owner who lets their property out for short term holiday rentals can deduct expenses so long as they hold a holiday rental licence for their property.
    This will at least allow UK property owners to continue providing a service to holiday makers in Spain and will ensure they can reinvest some money back into maintaining their property for guests.
    Maria, any information you can share regarding this would be very much appreciated.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Glen, I do agree with your persepctive. So far, I have seen no sign of this being reviewed in the coming future though.

  2. Have a small property in Catalonia after being a Property owner for over 50 years. We downsized 13 years ago and have always kept the proceeds from the Sale in our Spanish Bank . My husband has an Irish Passport and I have a British one. We are domiciled in UK but spend possibly 7 weeks approximately mid May/ July ,then 6 weeks September/October. Possibly an occasional visit for a week or two at Christmas. Our Families use the apartment at intervals but we have never rented over the years. Would it be an advantage for us to become Residents and keep the same lifestyle we have now. We are in our 70 and 80’s respectively and would like a little advice. Thanks

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Linda:

      Your husband has an Irish Passport and therefore will be able to stay in Spain as long as he wishes anytime. In regards to your status, you need to value if obtaining Spanish residency, which would be possible through the EU family members visa is worth it in terms of taxes and social benefits.

  3. Larisa Velizheva

    I have British passport as Russian as well.
    My daughter bought a property in Spain
    Is it possible to get Spanish residentsy for me and yes what do I need to do.
    I am retired in August.

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Hi Larisa!

      Thanks for contacting us!

      I would need you to answer some questions to me before advising you on residency:

      – Is you daughter acquiring residency through the purchase of the property?
      – Are you dependant of her?
      – Will you receive 2.259,6 € per month after retirement? or its legal equivalent in foreign currency?

      Kind regards,

  4. Kevin Brewster

    Hola Maria
    My wife and I have owned a holiday home in Spain for 20 years.
    It has never been rented to holidaymakers, but we have often brought family and close friends with us on holiday, and sometimes given them the keys to enjoy holidays when we are not here ourselves.
    I have read about a new letter of invitation, issued at a police station, that may be required in such circumstances, which I would be unable to complete, as I do not live in Spain.
    In this Post -Brexit world, will I still be able to freely allow family and friends to enjoy our apartment?


      Hi Kevin

      That letter of invitation is for non-EU nationals coming to Spain for less than 90 days, and who are not staying in a hotel but at a private home.

      1. Hi Maria
        I spent 60 days at my apartment during June and July am i able to spend another 30 days later this year within the 180 day period?

        1. Hi Linda, thank you for your comment.
          You can stay up to 90 days in each period of 180 days, so, yes, you can come and stay again up to 90 days once the first 180 days period is over.

          Kind Regards,

  5. Hi Maria
    I have another question, what happens if as a spanish homeowner you have used your 90 day allowance but there is a problem with your property that you need to be in spain to rectify the problem?

  6. Hola Maria
    I have recently obtained my Irish passport
    As well as being in receipt of a British passport.
    My husband has a British passport
    We own a holiday home in spain
    But would like to retire when of age what is the law on this please. Also what if we wanted to stay longer than 90days on these passports.
    Kind regards


      Hi Tracie:

      With an Irish passport, the process is quite simple: you need to register as a resident in Spain and your British spouse to register as a non-EU family member of EU resident in Spain

      We will be pleased to help you with this if needed,



  7. Hello Maria
    I live in the UK and have owned a property in Spain for nearly 10 years. I am under 50 years old.
    I now wish to buy a new property and sell my existing one. Am I correct that amongst the total costs, I must pay 24% Capital Gains Tax without there being any possibility of offsetting any costs on the profit, or relief due to reinvestment.

  8. Malcolm Harry Grundy

    Me and my wife are under sided what to do. We have our own Apt in Benalmádena. Also have our own home in the U.K. We think it’s the only way now to get residency in Spain. We are both in our middle 70. / Me 76. Pearl 78 His it still possible. We are going out to Spain next week. Thank you

  9. Dear Maria,
    I am a British passport holder and British citizen. My wife is an Irish passport holder and we jointly own a villa in Catalonia. Can you confirm that, under EU law, we are both able to stay in Spain for an uninterrupted period of 180 days?


      Dear Derek,

      Under Spain Law you can stay here permanently by registering as a resident ( your wife as being an EU national) and you as a Non EU family member of an EU resident.

      We can help with that if needed,


  10. Hi Maria,

    My wife has owned the same property in Spain for 40 years and has a British passport only. She is does not have residency permit. She is close to retirement age and would like to spend more time in Spain. Maybe up to 6 months a year. This could be continuous or split throughout the year Would rules regarding 90 days in Spain then 180 days before returning also apply? Regards, Neville

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Hi Neville,

      At present, there is no possibility for any property owner in Spain to stay for longer than 90/180 days.

      We have launched a petition on this. You can read about that on our website:


      The link to the petition is included there.

      If she would like to stay longer than 90/180 days, we would recommend she apply for a Non-Lucrative visa.

      Thank you.

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