‘No extension to 90-day rule for Britons in Spain’, UK Embassy warns

Despite the state of alarm and ongoing travel restrictions, non-resident Britons in Spain will have to leave the country before the end of March 2021, the British Embassy in Spain has told The Local.

'No extension to 90-day rule for Britons in Spain', UK Embassy warns
Photos: Jaime Reina, Josep Lago/AFP

Spain did issue a state bulletin in May 2020 in which it addressed the matter of overstays for all non-EU nationals during the early months of the state of alarm.

In the document the Spanish government explained how those people who were in Spain, with permission to stay for a period not exceeding 90 days, that has expired during the validity of the state of alarm, would see their stay automatically extended for a period of three months.

However, according to British Embassy sources, this grace period is no longer valid.

“The BOE legislation from May 2020 related to the first state of alarm is no longer in force,” a source from the UK Embassy in Madrid told The Local Spain.

“The 90/180 day rule applies to any UK nationals who are visiting Spain for leisure purposes since 1 January 2021. Any stays beyond the 90 days in any 180-day period will be dependent on the applicable visas and immigration rules for Spain. This may require applying for a visa and/or permit.”

March 31 2021 marks 90 days since Brexit came into force, making it the first deadline UK nationals who aren’t registered as residents or in the process of applying for residency have to meet.

In other words, they have to leave the Schengen Area – made of 26 European countries – and will not be able to re-enter for another 90 days if they’ve spent the first three months of 2021 in Spain or in the Schengen Zone.

“The FCDO is not able to comment on Spanish immigration policy. We would therefore advise UK nationals to direct any queries to the relevant Spanish authority. If you are currently in Spain, you should direct queries on possible extensions to your length of stay to your local ‘extranjería’ office, details of which can be found here or by calling 060.


“Anyone who was living in Spain before 1 January 2021, but does not yet have their residency documentation, should take steps to register as soon as possible. For more information visit:

When Spain went into full lockdown last March and it allowed thousands of third-country nationals who were unable to return home due to international travel bans to remain in Spain, it did force those who spent more than 183 days in Spain to become fiscal residents and to start paying taxes here.

Travel restrictions are not as severe now as they were then but there are still daily comments on forums by Britons in Spain or Spanish homeowners in the UK saying their flights between both countries for February and March have been cancelled.

READ MORE: Is it possible to travel from Spain to the UK right now (and back again)?

According to Spanish lawyer Romulo Parra, Spain only generally offers visa extensions to third-country nationals in the event of illness or an accident, but these are unusual times.

The EU has issued some general advice on this, encouraging member states to grant visa extensions where necessary and to waive sanctions on people who have overstayed due to travel restrictions.

As ever though, decisions on border issues remain with national governments within the EU.

Member comments

  1. How can a U.K. National about to get residency in Spain obtain a vaccine for Covid ? Previous information that health centre will help are rubbish !!

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Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

The Spanish government has confirmed that it will not extend its reciprocal healthcare agreements with Gibraltar, meaning that from July 1st 2022, it will come to an end.

Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

When the UK left the EU on December 31st 2020, both sides agreed that the UK’s EHIC European healthcare cards could still be used until their expiry dates.

This card provided British travellers with free state-provided medical care in the EU in case of emergencies.

Beyond their five year period of validity, EHIC cards are no longer valid and travellers have to apply for the new Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. 

Spain made a separate agreement with Gibraltar under its Royal Brexit Decree in which unilateral arrangements would be maintained in the territory and extended until June 30th 2022.

During the meeting of the Spanish Council of Ministers on Tuesday, the Spanish Government decided not to extend the agreement further, meaning that residents of Gibraltar will no longer be able to benefit from it.

In a statement the government of Gibraltar said: “It would have been HMGoG’s preference for these arrangements, which deeply affect citizens on either side of the border on matters as essential as healthcare, to have been maintained. Indeed, HMGoG was prepared to continue with them”.

“However, because reciprocity is a key element to these arrangements which cannot work without coordination and provisions for reimbursement of costs etc., HMGoG is left with no option but to discontinue them also in so far as treatment in Gibraltar is concerned,” it continued. 

What does this mean?

Gibraltar residents insured under Gibraltar’s Group Practice Medical Scheme will, after 30th June 2022, no longer be able to access free emergency healthcare in Spain during a temporary stay in the country. 

Those who are residents in Spain who travel over to Gibraltar will not have access to free healthcare on The Rock either. 

As a consequence, if a resident of Gibraltar falls ill or has an accident while over the border in Spain or the same for a Spanish resident in Gibraltar, they will have to pay for healthcare.

The government of Gibraltar is encouraging its citizens from July 1st 2022 to have appropriate travel insurance with medical cover each time they visit Spain.

This means that even those who are hopping over the border for few hours such as for a shopping trip or going out for dinner will have to make sure that they have adequate health insurance. 

“Where medical attention is required the costs incurred may be considerable, so you should ensure you have adequate insurance cover or alternatively the means to pay,” the Gibraltar government said in their statement.