Healthplan Spain


Red British passport with plane in background What ‘Swallows’ And Second Homeowners In Spain Need To Know About Travel Post-Brexit Expat Tips

With Brexit now complete, it is important that we all know where we stand in regards to travelling in and out of Spain from 2021.

The British Embassy recently did a live Q & A session covering the most common questions asked by those who are not permanently resident in Spain and may wish to travel back and forth throughout the year.

On January 1, 2021, the rules for those who are non-residents and travel between the UK and Spain (often referred to as ‘Swallows’), changed.

Below we outline the most common questions ‘Swallows’ will have and their rights to travel to and from Spain from 2021 and beyond.

What is a ‘Swallow’?

A ‘Swallow’ other than being a small bird, is also a term used for someone who is not permanently resident in Spain, however, they may regularly travel between the UK and Spain for their holidays throughout the year.

Some of these people may also be second homeowners in Spain, either renting out their property or using it themselves throughout the year as a holiday home.

The 90/180-day rule

From 2021, a 90/180 rule will apply to those wishing to visit Spain.

Below is a quote from Charmaine Arbouin, British Consul in Malaga.

Up until now, UK citizens have been able to come to Spain for whatever length of time they wanted. Most people would come for maybe four or five months over the winter.

Brits are right in thinking that after the transition period, those who are not resident in Spain or other parts of the EU will only be able to spend 90 days in every 180-day period here.

As far as we are aware, the clock will start ticking from the first point in which you enter the Schengen area.

And it’s really important that people know that that’s not from the moment that you reach your final destination but rather when you first enter the Schengen area.

You may be destined for the south of Spain but if you drive through France from the UK, which is when the clock starts," Arbouin said.

It is important to note that up until the end of 2020, nothing will change. The 90/180-day rule will only commence from January 2021.

Can I join two 90-day periods together?

Unfortunately not. You will not be able to stay for 180 days consecutively by combining two 90-day periods.

Once you have been in Spain for 90 days, you will need to leave the Schengen area.

You will then need to wait for 180 days to come around before you are permitted to re-enter again.

Another option is to split the 90 days into two 45-day periods within the 180 days. This will still, however, apply from when you first enter the Schengen area, not from when you reach Spain.

The British Embassy team recommends that those who are unsure, use the Schengen calculator below.

There is another one here.

How will they know how long I have been in Spain?

According to Charmaine Arbouin, from January 1, 2021, any British citizens entering the EU will have their passports wet stamped.

Modern technology including passport scanning devices will also record the dates that you entered the EU and Schengen zone.

Passport requirements from 2021

From January 1, 2021, those who live in the UK and wish to travel to Spain and other parts of the EU will need to have a minimum of 3 months of validity remaining on their passports on the date that they travel into the Schengen area.

Passports must also have been issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country. You will need to check the ‘date of issue’ on your passport.

If you renew your passport early, you will have any outstanding time added to the 10-year validity period.

However, any extra months added, do NOT count towards the six months validity.

The six months validity does NOT apply to those who are officially residents in Spain.

If you are officially resident in Spain and travelling outside of Spain to the UK or within the EU you are advised by the British Embassy to carry your TIE residencia card with you to provide proof that you are a resident and not a Swallow.

Other Common Questions

Q. Does the 90/180-day rule apply to me if I own a holiday home?

A. Yes, it does. It could be that the Spanish authorities eventually have a new arrangement for second homeowners but this is unknown at this time.

Q. Will the 90/180-day rule be used before 2021?

A. No. Only from January 1, 2021.

Q. What will happen if I enter and exit Spain on either side of January 1?

A. At the moment, the British Embassy is unsure how this will be viewed by the Spanish authorities. However, we do know that your passport will not be stamped before January 1, 2021.

Q. If I am travelling to and from Spain, which queue do I use at the airport?

A. The British Embassy advises that from January 2021, regardless of whether you are resident in Spain and hold a TIE or not, you should use the non-EU resident queue.

You can view a recording of the British Embassy’s live Q & A recording here.