Explaining the 180 Days in Spain campaign

Fast and slow track for passport control Malaga Airport Credit: Caolán Mc Aree X

The following explanation has been received from Andrew Hesselden who is an untiring  promoter of the 180 Days in Spain campaign.

Although the aim is to attract new members, Andrew emphasised in an exchange with Euro Weekly News that those most valued would be people who are willing to get involved with sending letters and talking to their politicians in Spain and in the UK.

To ensure that there is as little confusion as possible about the aims of the campaign, Andrew want to some lengths to give the following explanation after reading the EWN article which can be accessed through this link.

“It is only actually Spain that is saying they want to change the 90-in-180 day “rule”.  This idea was first floated by Fernando Valdes last year.

Why the confusion?

So why the confusion?  Well, I think it’s not actually helpful to call it the “90-in-180 day rule”, because there appears to be no such restrictive rule at all; certainly not the kind of rule where Brussels says that Spain can’t let people into Spain for more than 90 days.

Instead, there is just a requirement from Brussels on all Schengen countries to let Brits in (and nationals of other Annex II countries) for at least 90 days or the balance of 90 days if they have not already used up the full 90 days in other Schengen countries in the past 180 days.

Brits not banned

So the rule is not a rule that bans Brits; it is a rule that requires Spain to let Brits in for a basic minimum period, at least.  This is where the confusion arises.

And so that means the 90-in-180 day Schengen Visa Waiver is a good thing, since our own (UK) government omitted to negotiate replacement arrangements with each country after Brexit and without it, Brits would have no visa free access to Spain at all.

We know that Spain is certainly free to issue visas as it wishes for stays that exceed 90 days or for stays where the traveller has already used up their 90 days in other Schengen countries.   And those could in theory follow any kind of application process, or, as we understand, none at all and be issued at the airport on arrival.

The French proposal

This is what France recognises and why France already has a six month tourist visa that can be applied for — or not applied for — as the senators now propose, to save hassle and bureaucracy.

Therefore if Spain can create new visas, then Spain is (probably) at liberty to create new visa exemptions for Brits along the lines perhaps of the ones it already has for New Zealanders and Canadians etc.

Spain has bilateral agreements with 18 non-EU countries already. There is a list here.  The non-EU countries whose citizens theoretically qualify for extra time over and above the current Schengen Visa Waiver are:  Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Singapore, South Korea, USA, Uruguay.

New bilateral agreement

But rather than copying those older agreements, we are suggesting a new bilateral agreement with the UK would be a very simple reciprocation of the six month per visit visa exemption that the UK already gives to all Spanish visitors to the UK. (This has the very obvious simplicity of not requiring the UK government in its current incarnation to do anything different at all)

So that is how we envisage things might work if we ever get the right politicians around the table to make this happen (and kind of how the French proposal would probably work without upsetting Schengen, if the French National Assembly approves the idea).

We understand that EU member states are “fully sovereign” over their own national immigration, certainly where it exceeds 90 days, and so Spain could probably agree something with the UK government directly, perhaps simply to match what the UK already does for Spanish people.

Such an agreement would apply in Spain and/or France only, not in the rest of the Schengen zone; people would still need the 90-in-180 Day Schengen Visa waiver for that.

Spanish concept

But of course this is slightly at odds with the ideas Spain has come up with independently – namely to get Brussels to “change the 90/180 rule”.  Spain seems to be asking Brussels to change a rule that (1) doesn’t seem to be a restrictive rule, and (2) that, we understand, perhaps only Spain has the power to “override”.

EU Commission option

Of course, it is probably possible for the EU Commission to bring all Schengen member states together, agree to acquire new competency over immigration for up to six months or more, and then introduce new Schengen wide arrangements, but that’s kind of like signing a whole new Schengen Treaty, so would be a much bigger project.

But if all 27 Schengen states want that, then of course, theoretically that could happen. It might eventually involve Brussels taking over all responsibility for Visa issuance.  That seems some way off, right now.

Until then, we are busy suggesting ideas that might make things better for all those impacted right now, while politicians in the UK have time and space to decide whether or not they might want to re-join the Single Market again, which would of course, have the benefit of restoring mutual Freedom of Movement of People once again, so that people can work and settle more easily too.

Political solution needed

It’s our job to tell the stories about what ordinary people need and it’s up to politicians to find the solutions they are happy with.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

John Smith

Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica. Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene. Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development. Share your story with us by emailing newsdesk@euroweeklynews.com, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page www.facebook.com/EuroWeeklyNews


    • Jane Fraser Brown

      19 November 2023 • 15:23

      Great and constructive article thank you .

    • Derek Searle

      20 November 2023 • 22:01

      I have apartment in Spain’s and very frustrating not being able to go spain and injoy my holidays there at any time they are missing out on money from holiday owners in the winter months and keep bars and restaurants open instead of closing them down.

    • Phill

      20 November 2023 • 22:12

      As a home Owner in aaltea Spain paying bills all year and extra bank charges since we left the eu feel that one should be given a free movement visa so one can enjoy what he purchased

    • Anne

      21 November 2023 • 10:06

      I am in agreement with Phil I have a home in Murcia and pay all relevent taxes etc

    • Phil

      21 November 2023 • 12:54

      Blame the UK brexit vote and Boris ‘ let’s get brexit done stupidity ‘ then leaving everything in a mess. Let’s hope Mr Starmer takes us back in to Europe we’re we belong

      • Paul Marsh

        22 November 2023 • 11:22

        No thanks

      • Rob

        22 November 2023 • 12:56

        Yes please!

    • Paul Cullen

      21 November 2023 • 13:51

      I’m not sure I have this right but the way I see it, you can spend 2 weeks every month with days left over or visit every other month ie spend 30 days here and 30 days back in home in the UK

    • Trevor Iveson

      21 November 2023 • 13:57

      Keep the single market out of it. Simple realy if Spain want brits to buy holiday homes in Spain 90days is no good. People who buy property should be allowed to visit when the want and for as long as they want. Or the better buy in another country Mexico cheaper property and no problem how long you stay

    • Kevin

      21 November 2023 • 15:05

      A very useful article, which has corrected my understanding of the issue. Thank you.

    • John Marshall

      22 November 2023 • 10:16

      This rule stopped my wife and me from buying a house in Spain it was our retirement dream but sadly don’t see the point in buying in Spain

    • Grahame Meredith

      22 November 2023 • 11:10

      We have a bungalow in Tenerife and can only spent 90 winter days in Tenerife. We then go to Cyprus and spend money there for two months as they are not in the Shengin area. We would otherwise spend the whole time in Tenerife so Spain is losing our spending.

    • Grahame

      22 November 2023 • 11:14

      Our politicians did a bad job negotiating the brexit deal. We should have the same visiting rights as eu residents have visiting the Uk.

    • Quentin Stamp

      22 November 2023 • 18:55

      Sorry . Against . Those of who made the decision to emigrate to Spain and contribute all the year round to our new homeland have suffered the consequences of Brexit . Many second home owners voted to Leave so should abide with those consequences. “ Swallows” are also contributing to rise in house prices which make them unaffordable to the local populations .

    • Rita

      22 November 2023 • 20:07

      I think brits should have freedom of movement again


    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *