By Chris King •
Updated: 16 Nov 2023 • 23:58
Image of a holiday home in Seignosse Océan, Les Landes, France.
THE strict 90-day rule that has affected British people who own second homes in Schengen Area countries could soon be relaxed in France.
Since the introduction of the 90 in 180 day legislation, the amount of time that British passport holders (and other non-EU nationals) can spend in France or the other 25 Shengen Area countries has been restricted.
Anybody wishing to extend their stay must apply for a temporary long-stay visa of up to six months, as explained by rightmove.co.uk.
Homeowners who would have previously spent longer than three months in their French holiday homes have been seriously impacted by this legislation which came in after Brexit.
Visa processing centres in France have reportedly suffered a huge increase in waiting times due to the large number of applications made by British citizens.
A French senator recently tabled a motion requesting a change to the law that could ultimately bring welcome relief to second home owners.
After receiving numerous complaints from Brits who own second homes in the Savoie region that she represents in the southern Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Martine Berthet decided to take action.
As reported by The Telegraph, the politician said: ‘The Britons I have spoken to say that the current system is long-winded, difficult, and full of pitfalls’, according to dailymail.co.uk.
Berthet highlighted the growing number of properties that have become vacant in popular tourist regions of France. The post-Brexit law is preventing British people from spending money that could boost the country’s economy she insisted.
Although her amendment to the immigration law was voted through by the Senate it must still go in front of the country’s lower house later this year for debate.
There is no guarantee that France’s National Assembly will vote in favour of the change, but: ‘This is at the very least an important first step’, the Telegraph reported the senator as saying.
One way in which the law could possibly be changed was to grant anyone who owns a property in France the automatic right to a long-stay visa.
Speaking last week, Philippe Bas, a senator and departmental councillor of Manche, claimed that the UK’s decision to quit the UK had ‘punished’ second home owners who maybe never even voted to leave in the first place. ‘They must be able to come to France and make the most of their second homes and spend their money’, the politician said.
President Emmanuel Macron has already made it clear that his government will not support any change to the law. However, his party does not have a majority in the French parliament.
Brits owning second homes in France were already dealt a blow in August when Macron introduced a reform that allowed an estimated 3,399 local councils to increase the amount of tax charged on second homes in some regions. This included Brittany where many Brits own properties.
Should the National Assembly approve Berthet’s amendment then it potentially opens the door for similar changes in other Shengen Area countries.
Many Brits own second homes in popular holiday regions of for example Spain, Portugal and Italy, among the 26 countries that make up the Area.
At the recent World Trade Fair in London, Héctor Gómez, the Spanish caretaker Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, reportedly visited the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (formerly known as the FCO) to discuss this same issue.
Spain retains the rotating presidency of the EU until the end of 2023, so any move to implement a change to the rules would clearly gain more traction while in that position.
Obviously, more British home owners being allowed to visit Spain for longer periods equals more economic benefit for the country. It is in Spain’s financial interests to press for such a change to the law, or at least to start the ball rolling.
Spanish citizens are currently permitted to stay for up to six months in the UK. Campaign groups such as ‘180 Days in Spain’ are of the belief that this should also be the rule applied to Brits visiting Spain or indeed, any other Schengen Area country.
Have any of our readers already been affected by the change to council tax charges in France? Let us know in the comments section please.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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France is not proposing to change the 90-day rule as they can’t. What is being proposed is that anyone who owns a property in France has the automatic right to a long-stay visa instead of it being discretionary at present. So, Britons would still not be able to break the 90-day rule unless they have PAID for a long-term visa.
As with all things Brexit, it means more red tape and cost.
Do not allow British to break the 90/180 rule. If they are allowed to do this, all other non EU countries will want the same deal.
So what’s the problem?
The French can already stay for longer than 90 in 180 when they visit the uk – there is no reciprocal agreement for the British visitors to France.
Thanks for that Jackie,we bought a house in Spain to retire to,we didn’t know Brexit was around the corner,or that we where going to be penalised.whats wrong with people buying homes in another country.Its all good in my eyes we pay taxes for the year ,basura for the year,ibi for the year,car tax etc etc etc but can only visit for 180 days a year do you think this is fair as well,or should we get a rebate as that sounds fair to me.
Why shouldn’t Britons have a reciprocal arrangement as to what Britain permits to EU citizens? What is your concern about Britons being less restricted with their travel plans? There is nothing forcing you to spend more than 90 days out of 180 in the EU, why don’t you want others that miss this benefit (and invariably didn’t vote Brexit) to be able to do this and lesson the blow of something they didn’t vote for?
I dont know why anyone would be bothered if it’s only for home owners, if people are fully supporting themselves bringing money into the economy and not using any social resources it can only be a good thing
Regarding Spain , would it not be in its best interest to issue a Visa purely for 2nd home owners from the UK [ or elsewhere ] to visit as and when they wish ?. This Visa would only be given to those owners that have paid all local and national taxes since the property was bought, and for those that haven’t an amnesty could be offered to those that pay up to date with any fine included . I am sure this would bring in millions if not billions over time
we currently live in a world where people are supposed to have rights, however, the rule developed by the European court to punish the British for leaving is entirely discriminative to Brits alone, and what makes this even more laughable is that any other country that fought in WW2 are allowed to live and work in france, dare i say it ,even Germans, whilst during this conflict th English made some mistakes, we did infact fight for France and its liberty, over half a million men gave their lives to help the French live, and we can only be there for 90 days because we left the club, I personally own a house in france and cant live there, a house that would have deteriorated and fell down, I have managed to save this prperty and try my best to blend in and be part of the community, but with a 90 day window my land suffers because i cannot keep it how I would normally, its a sad situation
I own a caravan on Spain would this be included as a second home.
It is entirely right that Brits who have invested in property in Spain (as we have), France Italy or other Schengen countries should be allowed to stay longer and not be treated the same as someone spending a week in an all-inclusive hotel. We have bought the property, paid the lawyers, paid taxes, go to restaurants & shops and contribute hugely to the local economy. It’s in the interests of the Schengen countries to allow those of us who have invested in their country t stay longer. Otherwise people just won’t bother and that will be detrimental to their economy. That is already happening which is why France and Spain want a relaxation on the rules.
We bought a property in France in 2003 – over this 20 year period we have contributed to the local economy by paying our property taxes (2 paid annually), buying food and goods, considerable sums of money for building materials early on due to renovation work on the house. Post Brexit our house is vacant for long periods of time, thereby restricting the time needed to upkeep of our house and loss
of enjoyment – we are a retired couple and this restriction in time is not good. Hopefully this ridiculous requirement will be relaxed or removed – we did not vote for Brexit and did not realise that the 90 day rule was part of the deal to leave the EU.
It is amazing that France and other EU countries do not let home owners in these countries visas to visit as they wish. They do not charge them only for 90 days in every 180 for taxes etc. People are selling up and purchasing homes outside the EU where such ridiculous rules do not apply. Both homeowners and businesses in EU countries miss out because of bureaucracy
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