Spain publishes new rules for entry from the UK, with no exemptions for property-related travel

Property-related travel is now a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave the UK, but not yet to enter Spain.

Since Monday, UK residents with property abroad, or looking to buy property abroad, have been given a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave the UK without breaking Covid-19 rules and incurring a fine of £5,000 if caught. Now Spain has updated its rules for entering from the UK, and property-related business is not one of the exemptions on offer for the foreseeable future. 

Since last December Spain has imposed strict restrictions on visitors from the UK, along with Brazil and South Africa (on the grounds of being Covid-19 hotspots), but these special restrictions expire today. Now the Spanish Government has published new rules at the website of its British consulate for visitors from the UK allowing visits by British family members of EU citizens, plus the following exemptions: 

  • a) residents of the EU, Schengen states, Andorra, the Vatican and San Marino who are travelling to their place of residence
  • B) long term Spanish visa holders
  • C) health care professionals and carers who travel for work
  • D) transport workers
  • E) diplomats, military and members of international organisations
  • F) students with permission or Spanish visas and medical insurance
  • G) highly qualified professionals in some justified cases
  • H) people who are travelling for essential and justified family matters
  • I) force majeure cases, necessary situations or humanitarian reasons
  • J) residents of countries not affected by the restrictions, in some cases (see annex of the Orden)

In all cases the necessary documentation and health tests have to be in order.

I imagine you could try using the exemption H for emergency property-related matters like selling a home, but you might have to rely on the understanding of Spanish border officials, however thorough your paperwork. I wouldn’t want to risk that.

How long will these restrictions last?

The UK is Spain’s biggest source of tourists and property-buyers/owners from abroad, so these restrictions come at a higher cost to Spain than the UK. 

Keeping these restrictions in force over the summer would be devastating to the Spanish economy, which has already suffered more than most European countries from Covid. 

Other competitor destinations in the EU like Greece and France have already removed special restrictions on the UK, so it’s hard to see why Spain is keeping them in place, especially considering the success of the UK’s vaccination programme, which looks like it’s putting the UK in a better position than Spain. 

How long these restrictions will last is anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to assume that the powerful tourism lobby will be pushing hard to get them lifted before the summer holiday season starts. 

As the foreign travel advice page of gov.uk says about Spain, “The rules for entry may change with little warning.”

SPI Member Comments (9)

Thoughts on “Spain publishes new rules for entry from the UK, with no exemptions for property-related travel

  • Sorry, this is probably not the right place for this, but I thought it might be interesting for U.K. citizens who are married to an E.U. citizen (I.e like myself has a spouse with an Irish passport)
    I had for a number of weeks been trying to find out categorically if having a spouse with an E.U. passport, it would enable myself to break the 90/180 day rule as a non E.U. citizens without needing to get some form of residency visa.

    Having contacted lawyers etc. who said “only if you get some form of residency” I soldered on thinking this can not be right, I surely get the same rights as my E.U. spouse if I am with her.

    I got advise further advise from Spain CAB who said to contact directly the E.U. commission (The Spanish consulate did not reply to my emails) This was the reply. I hope it is useful to some people.

    Dear John
    Thank you for contacting the Europe Direct Contact Centre.

    A citizen of the UK does in principle not require a visa to travel for a short stay of no more than 90 days within any 180-day period in the Schengen area.

    The fact that you reside with your Irish wife in the UK is, on its own, not sufficient to waive the limits of the 90/180-days rule if you intend to travel on your own to a Schengen Member State.

    However, if your wife is travelling with you to a Schengen country, or joins you in a Schengen country, the 90/180 days limitation does not apply. Accordingly, any stays in the Schengen area together with her will not be taken into account when you travel again on your own. Please be aware, however, that in this case you might need to have documentation to show on when you were travelling with her and when you were not.

    For further information, we recommend that you contact the authorities of the country you would like to travel to: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/embassies/index_en.htm

    You can also find further information here: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/brexit-travel-documents/index_en.htm

    If you wish to remain in Spain with your wife for more than 3 months, you may both need to register. You can find information on the necessary procedures here:
    https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/residence/documents-formalities/index_en.htm

    Please note that as Ireland is not part of the Schengen area and because your wife is Irish citizen, this does not apply if you wish to travel together to Ireland. For information on the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK, please see: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/government_in_ireland/ireland_and_the_uk/common_travel_area_between_ireland_and_the_uk.html

    We hope you find this information useful. Please contact us again if you have other questions about the European Union, its activities or institutions.
    With kind regards,
    Europe Direct Contact Centre
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    Information provided by Europe Direct is not legally binding.

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    Learn more about the EU response to COVID-19:

    https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response_en

    Find out about the health situation in other countries and plan your future journeys with ‘Re-open EU’: https://reopen.europa.eu/en/

    https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/safe-covid-19-vaccines-europeans_en The reply which I have copied and pasted is below, I hope it is useful to some People:-

    • I cannot categorically say that the border control would know this, but one of you being an E.U. citizen, you should retain freedom of movement, so have as much right as a person from any other E.U. state.

  • Jfh965@yahoo.co.uk says:

    So is this effectively saying that if you have an Irish passport, regardless of the fact you live in the UK, the 90/180 day rule doesn’t apply to you or your spouse?

    But it also suggests if you want to remain for more than 90 days you should register?

    Thanks for posting,
    John

    • Yes that is correct and applies to any other E.U. country wishing to stay longer than 3 months in Spain. Before the U.K. left the E.U. you were supposed to do this, I believe it only means going down to your local police station and filling out a form, I’m sure a lot of people didn’t bother!

  • The information is useful and helpful, thank you. Can I just please confirm that as an Irish passport holder how long I can stay in Spain without a visa/applying for residency? Many thanks Anna

    • Hi Anna, to the best of my knowledge it is 183 days in a year, after that you become a tax resident……again I’m sure some people don’t bother but you may be picked up at the airport if you stay longer.

  • ramsay.cameron@blueyonder.co.uk says:

    Hi, Thank you for this,- its been very helpful. My situation is similar, I am UK resident but now have a Portuguese passport, my wife has UK nationality. We jointly own a house in Spain and have been confounded by the 180 day rule. However, if as a Portuguese national I will be allowed to spend longer in Spain and my wife can accompany me, then things will start to look better. My only question is what is the definition of being “registered” in Spain? We both have a NIE and a padron – is that sufficient or are there more formalities? I do not wish to be full time resident.
    Thanks

    • I’m not sure what the definition is, I have not stayed Long enough to have to register. Before Brexit we use to stay no more then 2 and a half months at a time but certainly more then 90 days in 180. I presume registration is fairly simpl

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