Now that the UK has left the EU, decades of easy living for Britons who have holidayed, worked and lived in the EU is over.
when negotiating Brexit Withdrawal from the agreement, the government arranged for the UK to be treated as a “third country”.
This means that there are strict limits on the maximum length of stay in any EU country except Ireland – the ’90/180′ rule applies to UK passport holders.
So how does it work and what aspects are difficult to navigate? These are the key questions and answers.
How long can I stay in EU countries on a UK passport?
for Schengen area (Including most EU countries, plus others) Any 180 days has a 90 day limit. The easiest way is: if you go to the Schengen area on January 1, 2023, you will be able to stay there until the end of March. You will then need to leave Schengen for another 90 days until late June.
Of course most people will have more complicated travel plans than this. The question to ask on the day you plan to travel to the Schengen area is: Go back 180 days (almost six months), how many days were you in the Schengen area? Your passport should contain entry and exit stamps so that you and the passport officer can count the time. (Days in and out are included in the count, even if you are only in the Schengen area for a few hours.)
If you answered less than 90 days out of the last 180 days, you have the right to enter the Schengen area. But how long you can stay depends on the “rolling count”.
what does that mean?
You always have to look back 180 days. Let’s say after not having traveled to Europe for the past year, you spend in Schengen from 1st January to 1st March, and then leave – after 60 days in the zone.
Then you return on April 1st. You can only stay until April 30th at most, and then you must leave. Your score is now 90 days, which means you’ve used up your allowance for the full 180 days from New Year’s Day (when the clocks start ticking). Only at the end of June, when you start erasing those early January days, are you allowed to re-enter.
The EU facilitates online calculator Adapt to your own situation.
Can you simplify it?
I can try it. Imagine a calendar that starts almost six months from today (T). What happens before “T minus 180” is completely irrelevant. What matters is the number of days you were in the Schengen area (I) or outside the Schengen area (O) in the last 180 days.
You can easily rely on a calendar for yourself, whether in print or digital.
If “I” reaches 90, that day you have to leave.
Just remind me of the Schengen area?
The “passport-free” zone includes almost all EU countries except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania, as well as Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican City.
Stays in all of these countries count toward the 90-day limit.
What happens if I overstay?
Generally, travelers are given a three-day grace period after exceeding the 90-day limit. If this time is exceeded, they may be banned from entering the country for a year. This applies to the entire Schengen area – not just the country where you overstayed.
How is Ireland different?
Freedom of movement and indefinite stay for UK citizens is guaranteed under the terms of the Common Travel Agreement.
But with the Brexit deal creating a “border” at the “Irish Sea border”, new controls have been imposed on pet passports, currency and food from the UK to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – no cheese or ham sandwiches.
I live in Northern Ireland. Can I be exempted from the 90/180 rule?
Most people in Northern Ireland can easily get one only if you have a passport from the Republic of Ireland. Standard restrictions apply for using a UK passport, even though the country is part of the European customs union.
What about other EU countries that are not in Schengen?
Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania have their own 90/180 day limits. Thus, you can effectively shuttle back and forth between the Schengen countries and other countries – although border officials may look sideways and ask you to find out how you are financially self-sufficient.
I also have a burgundy British passport with “EU” written on the cover. Does it make a difference?
Won’t. It remains valid as a UK travel document. But it lost all EU powers.
Just to remind me of passport validity rules in Europe?
Stricter “third country” passport validity rules now apply. Your travel document must comply with two rules:
- Date of arrival in the EU – less than 10 years after issue.
- The date you intend to leave the EU – at least three months away.
The EU’s fast track, which is used for passport control, is no longer open to British travellers, although countries that host large numbers of British tourists, such as Spain and Portugal, will make special arrangements when flights arrive.
But the immigration process would be slower and British citizens would no longer have any guarantee of entry. EU law requires border officials to carry out deeper checks.
They may ask about the purpose of your visit; where you plan to travel and stay; how long you plan to stay in the EU; how you plan to finance your stay; and whether you pose a risk to public health.
I want to stay longer. Can I?
Many Brits who own a second property in France or have a tradition of wintering in Spain are in a position where they don’t want or need a place to stay, just want to live there for an extra three months.
For France, you can apply for a long-term visitor visa valid for up to one year. It requires “evidence of your socioeconomic status”, proof of travel health insurance for the entire visa validity period, proof of your accommodation, and your bank statements from the last three months “to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover the duration of your visa travel” , or, oddly, travelers cheques.
And: “If you are financially sponsored by your spouse/partner: Your spouse/partner’s marriage certificate and bank statements.”
Spain has a similar ‘long-term’ visa, for which you must submit a medical certificate stating that you are no threat to the Spanish people, an official document confirming that you have not been in trouble for the past five years, and at least £1 of your booked accommodation 2,000 per month.
You must attend an interview at the Spanish Consulate General in London or Edinburgh.
A long-term residence permit in a specific EU country does not entitle you to stay in other Schengen area countries for more than 90 days out of 180 days. However, any time spent in the country where you hold the visa will not count towards the 90-day total.
How about an online visa I’ve heard about?
Initially, British travelers will not need to apply for permission to enter the EU in advance. But from November 2023 (or possibly later), UK visitors will need to register online and pay in advance”etias“License under the European Travel Information and Authorization System.
This is a relatively lenient visa, similar to the Esta used in the United States. A three-year license costs €7 (£6). The 90/180 rule will continue to prevail – limiting the time spent in the Schengen area.
Does the 90/180 day rule apply to UK visitors to the Schengen area pre-Brexit as we are not in the area?
No, but there’s a lot of misinformation online claiming it does. Apparently it was put forward by Brexiteers keen to rewrite history. This is bullshit and anyone with an Irish passport will attest to it.
The Dublin government said: “Irish citizens continue to have EU citizenship, regardless of their location. They continue to have the right to travel, live and work anywhere in the EU.”
Irish passport holders residing in the UK are exempt from the 90/180 day rule.
Speaking of history, aren’t we assuring British tourists that nothing will change post-Brexit?
Immediately after the 2016 referendum, Boris Johnson reinforced this impression, writing: “British people can still go to the EU to work; to live; to study; to buy a house and to settle down.”
Yes. “There will be no downside to Brexit, only considerable upside,” said Brexit first secretary David Davies.
What does the government say now?
“This is a very exciting time for our country, a time of potential and opportunity.
“This is a government that has the ambition and determination that Britain needs to succeed now and for many years to come.”