brexit in Spain

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.

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.

María Luisa de Castro


María founded CostaLuz Lawyers in 2006 and is the Firm’s Director. María is registered Lawyer number 2745 of the Cadiz Bar Association and is licensed to practice in all areas of law throughout Spain. Working closely with her team, María has developed the firm into one of the most highly regarded and trusted Spanish Law Firms acting for English speaking clients with legal problems in Spain.

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