Post-Brexit holiday homes

April 28th, 2022

Post-Brexit holiday homes

How the 90/180 day rule works?

Are you dreaming of a new life among the olive groves of Mallorca or the vineyards of Provence? Perhaps you want to spend more of the year in your second home overlooking the sandy beaches of the Algarve?

Since Brexit, Brits now have to limit stays in the Schengen Area to 90 days out of every 180 day period. But there are ways to stay longer, legally, although visa rules vary from country to country.

Here’s an outline of the post-Brexit changes:

The Schengen 90/180 day rule

All British citizens with a valid passport are entitled to visa-free access throughout the European Union (EU) for short-term visits. That means for example, you can arrive in Spain or France and freely cross into Portugal, Italy or any of the 26 countries that make up the Schengen Area, with no restrictions.

For weekend breaks, one or two-week holidays, and one-off short stays of a month or two, the entry rules haven’t changed too much from pre-Brexit days.

The significant change comes if you plan a longer stay. Under current rules, British citizens are only permitted to stay 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen Area.

Arrive at your Spanish holiday home on May 1st, and you can live there full-time until the end of July, but then you must leave and not return – to Spain or any EU country – until the start of November. These are the same restrictions faced by the majority of non-EU citizens.

Read more: How British second-home owners can stay longer in the EU

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is a completely separate entity to the EU. It comprises 26 countries that allow free movement with no border controls.

They are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


  • The EU countries of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania are not in the Schengen Area, although Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are in the process of joining.
  • Croatia and Cyprus have their own 90 day rules. Time spent in other Schengen Area countries does not count towards their 90-day total.
  • Ireland imposes no restrictions on British citizens. Under the Common Travel Area there is free movement between Britain and Ireland.

How to calculate your 90/180 days in the Schengen Area

The 90 day count is strict, starting on the day of entry into the Schengen Area and finishing on the day of departure. If you break the stay in the Schengen Area – by returning to the UK for 10 days for example – then that period is not included in your 90 days total.

How the 180 days period is defined is also important to note. It is calculated backwards from the day you arrive in the Schengen Area. Each time you arrive, a ‘new’ 180 days are calculated. So arrive in the Schengen Area on 1st December and the 180 days will go back to 4th June, meaning you cannot have stayed 90 days within that period.

Confused? The European Commission has a handy and useful Short-Stay Visa Calculator that does the hard work for you.

Penalties for overstaying

Tight border controls mean that anyone overstaying their 90 days will soon be identified, and according to the Schengen Visa Information website, “no overstayed visa goes unnoticed”. Penalties vary from country to country, but in general if you overstay, you will face fines.

How to legally extend your stay in the Schengen Area

Residency and Investment

Demand for a second passport – and second citizenship – has soared in recent years. A number of countries, around 30 worldwide, offer the possibility of residency to investors interested in buying property. Within Europe, Spain and Portugal are the main two countries to offer this option.

Long-Term Visas

Portugal, Spain and France are among the countries that offer visas for non-working migrants who can prove they can support themselves financially and show valid private healthcare cover. Applications take anywhere from three weeks to six months or more depending on the country.

Note that even when you have secured residency rights in the adopted country of your choice, you will not be allowed to spend more than 90 days out of every 180 in any other EU country within the Schengen Area until you have been granted permanent residency.

Dual Nationality

The UK allows its citizens to hold dual nationality. Post-Brexit many British buyers with a European relative – an Irish grandparent for example – have explored the possibility of getting an ancestral passport permitting free movement within the EU.

Note that the official government guidance says you cannot rely on British diplomatic assistance while in the country where you hold dual nationality.

I hope this post is useful to you. Please do let me know if you have anything to add, and I will gladly consider it and add to the article if it helps my readers and don’t forget, if you need further advice/assistance or would like to reach out you can find my contact details below. 

Josephine – Your Trusted London Property Partner

Tel    : +44 (0) 7491 430055