‘Spanish blame us’ British expats in Spain struggle with 90 day rule – ‘retire in peace’

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Since the Brexit transition period ended, British people are treated as non-EU residents in the EU. That means expats can only stay for 90 out of 180 days in a Schengen zone country such as Spain without residency. 

Express.co.uk commenters have been sharing their views on the rule which has primarily impacted retired Britons.

Expats known as ‘swallows’ regularly travelled to Spain for the winter months of the year and some did not have Spanish residency.

One commenter claimed: “I was in Spain this summer and I really found that we are not welcome, the Spanish blame us for our poor education, our inability to speak Spanish and maybe Gibraltar too.”

Some British expats have said they have felt more welcome once they’ve learned some Spanish.

One said: “I’ve lived in Spain for 12 years, find Spanish friendly, must be doing something wrong.

“My neighbours are Spanish, we talk, exchange help and give each other Christmas gifts. Learn some basic Spanish.”

Learning Spanish and making an effort with local residents will usually help expats to settle in more quickly.

However one commenter, ‘Brooding Presence’ said: “In Spain they say that the English have no manners, no money and no style!”

Another Express.co.uk commenter didn’t think that the 90 day rule would impact many British people.

They said: “I am not sure how the 90 day thing would affect many people, some of course.

“Most people go to Spain on holiday for a week or two. If you own a property you could still go for two three month stints each year which is more than most would.”

Many of those affected are Britons who bought homes in Spain to retire to in future and are now unable to move there.

Without residency, British citizens need to apply for a non-lucrative visa which can be difficult or meet a higher minimum spend requirement.

One commenter ‘Icecold’ said: “There is nothing wrong with asking a country who has hosted the rich retirees for 60 years or more to allow them a retirement visa to come and go at will, these retirees spend upwards of £30,000 a year in Spain and enjoy the life style, many charities are run by expat retirees, the golf clubs and Spanish restaurants rely on their trade.

“These expats have houses and cars and pay rates and taxes, to assist with the Spanish economy, they eat out at restaurants and drink at the bars not for two weeks a year but for 26-30 weeks a year, mainly in the summer months, but also in the winter months when trade is hard.

“Why not let them come and go, they harm no one. So let them have their property and retire in peace.”

One commenter claimed: “Spain has shot itself in the foot with this rule, it’s going to cause a lot of Brits who contribute to the Spanish economy to go elsewhere.”

However the rule covers the whole Schengen area, so it could be very difficult for Spain to change the policy.

Some areas such as Valencia, which includesthe Spanish Costa Blanca, have said they would like the 90 days extended to six months. However, it may not be possible for Spain to arrange its own agreement.

Another commenter, ‘Oyea’ added: “You wouldn’t believe how many UK residents were living in Spain for more than 180 days per year.

“They were running groups/social events, registering on the padron and claiming free healthcare. I didn’t know myself until they started disappearing during Brexit and Covid.”

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