Brexit For Members

FACT CHECK: No, Spain isn't lobbying for 90-day rule change for Brits

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
FACT CHECK: No, Spain isn't lobbying for 90-day rule change for Brits
There is no evidence that the Spanish government is actively trying to change the 90-day rule for non-resident Brits. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Rumours that Spain could follow in France’s footsteps and look to amend the 90-day rule for Britons have resurfaced, partly due to a wrongly attributed quote claiming Spanish authorities are “lobbying” to change the law.


There’s been renewed interest in potential changes to the 90 out of 180 days Schengen rule among non-resident British second home owners in Spain and those who spend (or want to spend) extended periods of 3+ months at a time in the country. 

It all started after the French Senate recently voted in favour of the country's new Immigration Bill - including an amendment that would "ease the conditions of entry into France for British citizens who own second homes in France."

It’s far from a done deal yet (more on the French case later), but it’s led the rumour mill to get rolling again in Spain, and several UK papers and English-language dailies in Spain have fed into this. 


November 2023 headlines have suggested that Spanish authorities “want to change the rule” and are “trying to convince the EU”. 

To lend credibility to this, there’s a quote that’s allegedly from Spain’s now former Tourism Minister Héctor Gómez (replaced in November 20th’s cabinet reshuffle), which says:

“Unfortunately, the rule is not something Spain has established by itself or can get rid of.

“It is in our interest to lobby and convince the EU that we can try to work an exception with them. But the solution must come from them.”

LBC, Daily Mail, GB News and regional English-language sites in Spain have all wrongly attributed these quotes to Gómez, without providing a source, date or location either. 

Unless Spanish tourism officials are meticulously learning off by heart the same answer to the 90-day question, Héctor Gómez did not say those words in November 2023.


It is instead a quote that can be attributed to ex-Tourism Secretary Fernando Valdés, who in November 2022 told journalist Graham Keeley those exact words, as featured in an article published in i news. Valdés resigned from his post the next month.

When Valdés first made those comments, the Daily Express and GB News jumped on the story with headlines such as “Desperate Spain begs EU…”, while on this occasion an unknown reporter has wrongly attributed a quote which has spread like wildfire and not been checked.

There is no evidence that Héctor Gómez, who has now been replaced by Jordi Hereu, ever spoke publicly about the possibility of Spain extending how long non-resident UK nationals could stay in the country after Brexit made them non-EU nationals subject to Schengen freedom of movement rules. 

Gómez was present at the World Travel Market in London and did talk to the press at the time that these articles claiming 'Spanish lobbying' were published, but no Spanish news source has included the quotes in question. 

What has been mentioned by news agency Europa Press is that during his visit to the UK, Gómez met with Jennifer Anderson, Director of Consular Affairs and the UK Foreign Office, to address "topics of interest regarding the stays of British tourists in Spain".

In fact, Europa Press quoted Gómez as saying that Spain's British tourism market "has left behind the uncertainties of Brexit".

Therefore, as things stand there is no specific, attributable or new evidence to suggest there have been any advances on the 90 out of 180 days question.

If you’d like to learn more about the legal feasibility of Spain offering non-resident UK nationals more than 90 days, the article directly below will interest you.

READ MORE: Can Spain legally offer more than 90 days to Britons?



Will non-resident Brits in France be able to stay longer than 90 days?

The Local France’s journalists have covered this story in detail, clarifying to its affected readers that there is nothing certain yet about the agreement in the French Senate.

“The short amendment is confusingly worded (the final version can be found here) - it appears that the goal is to create a visa exemption for British second-home owners,” The Local’s Emma Pearson writes.  

“Essentially this would restore pre-Brexit travel conditions, when Brits (as EU citizens) could come and go as they pleased without being limited to 90 days in every 180, or having to get a visa for longer stays.”

The amendment references difficulties Brits have faced since Brexit with obtaining visas to spend more than 90 days out of every 180, including "technical challenges (malfunctioning contact website, few appointments available, etc)". 

However, it’s a long way from being a done deal, as the Assemblée Nationale will have the final say on the bill in December. France’s Immigration Bill is contentious and those who pushed for the 90-day amendment, right-wing Les Républicains, do not have a majority, making it unlikely it will pass.

Ultimately, the problem is that the 90-day rule is an EU rule, not a French or a Spanish one - so anything that France and Spain potentially do affects other countries in the EU by setting a precedent. 

"I think the French are walking a bit of a tightrope because they are equally aware that in some areas what they do will set a precedent for other EU countries and they are being careful not to make concessions to the UK, effectively, in areas that could then involve other EU countries having to do the same thing,” Member of the House of Lords, Lord Peter Ricketts, told The Local France.

READ MORE: Will France really exempt British second-home owners from post-Brexit visa rules?


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