If you’re one of the lucky people who own property in Spain, or if you’re thinking of buying a holiday home there, you’ll likely already know that the visa situation isn’t quite as simple as it used to be. When the UK was still part of the EU, there were no restrictions on movement, so you could spend as much time as you wanted there. But with the different rules, does that mean that buying property in Spain is no longer a good deal?
Not quite – don’t worry, you can still live your Spanish villa dreams. But you need to be aware of the rules, or risk being deported, fined and even banned from Spain and the rest of Europe.
The rules state that you can stay in the EU for a total of 90 days visa-free during a rolling 180-day period. This can be consecutively or going in and out, so if you tend to take many shorter trips it’s worth keeping an eye on the amount of time you’re spending away. And remember – this applies to all countries within the EU, so if you’ve also taken a holiday in France or Italy, you must count those days towards your allowance.
What if I want to stay for longer?
So does that mean that you’ll never be able to stay for longer than those 90 days? Not quite. It just means that if you do want to spend more time in your Spanish paradise, you’ll need to get a visa appropriate to your circumstances. This will grant you temporary resident status, and will be dependent on you being able to give valid reasons for being there as well as sufficient income to cover your expenses for the duration of the stay. Some of these visas include:
- Non-lucrative visa: if you can prove that you have 4x the IPREM amount (a Spanish cost-of-living index, currently €600) per month in your account and prove you won’t carry out any gainful work while in Spain, you will be able to stay for 900 days.
- Golden visa: if you make a significant investment in Spain you may qualify for a golden visa. And the good news is, buying a property in Spain might count as a “significant investment” in this context, depending on the price of the property.
- Student visa: If you’re considering a change of career, or studying something to enrich your life, a student visa may be an option.
- Entrepreneur visa: if you run or are starting a business, you may qualify for a three-year Spanish visa.
And of course, you may also be able to find employment and get your Spanish employer to sponsor you for a visa that way.
What if none of those options apply?
If none of those options apply to your situation, you may just have to accept that you’ll be staying in Spain in 90-day chunks at most. And while overstaying in the past may have been a gamble that you could win if you were lucky, technology these days means it’s highly unlikely that you’d be able to sneak under the radar.
And these rules are set to become even more stringent when the EES scheme comes into effect next year. This scheme will create an automated registry of when non-EU citizens enter and leave the EU. The upside is that at least you’ll be able to check which dates you’ve entered and left a little easier!
And as mentioned, if you overstay your visa, you are liable to be fined, deported or in certain extreme cases, even imprisoned. Don’t worry, though – if you’re innocently trying to spend some extra time in your Spanish villa, you’re very unlikely to be a candidate for imprisonment. However, people who have worked for several months or committed a crime while in Spain will need to watch out, however.
Another potential consequence of overstaying your visa would be a re-entry ban. This ban would normally be in place for three years, but a habitual overstayer might find themselves banned for longer.
Because each EU member state can enforce these rules at their own discretion, Spain has amassed a reputation of being less strict on exact coming and going dates as long as you’re not working or claiming benefits. But don’t get complacent – they are well within their rights to ban you for deliberately overstaying, so when you book your flights to go visit your Spanish property, make sure that you’re not overstaying!
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