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However, according to British Embassy sources, this grace period is no longer valid.
“The BOE legislation from May 2020 related to the first state of alarm is no longer in force,” a source from the UK Embassy in Madrid told The Local Spain.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.
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“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: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/residency-requirements-in-spain
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.
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.