Everything you need to know about 90 Day Rule Spain

Published on 1 January 2024 | Last updated on 14 February 2024

Imagine feeling the warm sun on your face, smelling the aroma of freshly prepared seafood, and the sound of upbeat Spanish music. This is what you would experience if you were in Spain.

Spain is a popular destination for tourists. It offers a wide variety of attractions and activities. From its pulsating culture to breathtaking architecture and delectable cuisine, you can’t help but get swept up by the country’s grandeur.

But as you plan your trip, you may be wondering, “How long can I stay in Spain without residency?” The answer lies in the 90-day rule.

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This is a regulation that determines how much time you can spend in the country as a tourist. The rule can be a bit confusing, but don’t worry – we’re here to break it down for you and help you make the most of your time in Spain. So, grab a sangria and get ready to learn all about the 90/180-day rule in Spain.

The 90-Day Rule in Spain Explained

90 180 days rule in spain

The 90-day regulation is a guideline that the Schengen Member States created to limit the number of days (90 days) that non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals can spend in any one Schengen country within a period of 180 days.

It is also known as the 90/180-day rule.

Simply put, the 90 day rule states that short-term visitors to Spain without residency permits should not exceed the permissible 90-day stay. This is regardless if they hold a tourist visa or not. When your 90 days are over, you are required to leave the country or apply for permanent residency status.

How Does Spain Implement the 90 Day Rule?

Spain implements the 90-day regulation similarly to other Schengen countries. The total stay allowed on a Schengen visa (which allows multiple entries) is restricted to no longer than 90 days within a 180-day period. You need to count back 180 days to determine how many days you’ve previously spent in Spain (or any other country that is part of the Schengen zone) and how many more days you may add to sum to the allowed 90 days.

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The 90-day clock starts ticking the moment you enter Spain. After 90 days, you must leave Spain and the Schengen Area (the group of 26 European countries that allow free movement of people) for at least 90 days before you can enter again without a visa.

The 90-day regulation is enforced across the whole Schengen countries, and not just in Spain. In that case, if you spend 90 days in Spain, you cannot simply hop over to France or Italy and stay for another 90 days. Your stay in these countries is counted towards your 90-day limit.

How Do I Know When the 90 Days Are Up?

The Schengen website has a handy ‘travel calculator‘ to assist you in figuring out how many days you can spend visiting the Schengen countries. Once you’ve picked your arrival and departure dates, the calendar will automatically calculate the end of your 180-day term. The calculator can also tell you the number of days you have left before you must leave Spain in accordance with the country’s 90-day guideline.

It is important to note that the clock for the 180 days will continue to tick. The two 90-day periods cannot be merged into a single prolonged stay.

Can I Get More Than 90 Days If Necessary?

Yes, an extension of your 90-day tourist limit is possible. However, it’s more challenging than you may think.
You can acquire an extension by submitting an official request to the national police.
In most cases, requests for extensions are rejected. Such requests are allowed only in extreme circumstances, such as in the case of an emergency.
This includes situations when you are unable to return to your home country due to unforeseen circumstances, such as an accident or a sudden illness.

Do I Have to Stay for 90 Days Straight?

On the contrary, you have complete discretion over how you spend your 90/180-day limit. You can, for instance, enter Spain on January 1st and remain there for the next 90 days (until March 31st).

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Alternatively, you can break up the 90 days that begin on January 1st and conclude on June 29th (when the 180 days period ends) into multiple shorter trips to Spain.

What Happens if I Stay in Spain for Longer than 90 Days?

90 days rule in spain

If you overstay your 90-day Schengen Visa, you risk facing legal repercussions. Therefore, you need to leave Spain (or any other Schengen country) immediately after the 90-day limit is over.

You will then need to wait 90 days after leaving Spain (or Schengen) before you can enter again without a visa. For example, if you spend 90 days in Spain and leave on April 12th, you won’t be allowed to return without a visa until at least July 11th.

Usually, the penalties for exceeding the 90-day limit are a fine between €500 and €1000. However, an expulsion procedure, even though rare, may be initiated depending on the severity of your situation.

If this penalty is enforced and you are forced to leave the country, you will be barred from entering Spain for the following 5 years. You’ll also lose the right to seek a residency permit during this time.

Additionally, the days you exceed will be carried over to the subsequent semester. In other words, if you overstay your Schengen Visa by, for example, 3 months, you’ll have to wait a full year before you may re-enter Spain. This includes the 3-month waiting term for the first 6-month ruling period plus the 3-month waiting period for the subsequent 6-month ruling period.

How Will Spanish Authority Know How Long I’ve Been There?

The dates you enter and leave Spain are recorded in a database with the stamps on your passport.

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Who Must Comply with the 90/180-Day Rule in Spain?

The 90/180-day rule applies if you fall into one of the following and want to go to Spain:

  • You have a valid multiple-entry Schengen visa from a Schengen or non-Schengen countries.
  • You are a citizen of a country with a visa agreement with Spain or the Schengen Area, allowing you to be in Spain visa-free for up to 90 days every 180 days.
  • You’re British citizen.

Why are British Nationals Now Affected by the 90 Day Rule in Spain?

Prior to Brexit, British citizens had unrestricted access to all EU countries and could stay in any of them for as long as they liked. After the UK’s formal exit from the European Union on December 31st, 2020, British citizens are now treated as third-party nationals in Spain and the rest of the Schengen member states.

In other words, they are subject to the same regulations as the nationals from the United States, Australia, and Japan interested in visiting Spain or any other Schengen country.

However, there are considerations to scrap the 90-day regulation for British tourists. This has been echoed by Spanish Tourism Secretary Fernando Valdés, who says the restriction is counterproductive to Spain’s interests.

Can I Work or Study in Spain While Under the 90-Day Rule?

Under the 90-day/180-day regulation, visitors to Spain are prohibited from engaging in paid employment or studies. This includes remote employment for Spanish or foreign companies while in Spain. If you want to undertake any of these, you need to apply for an appropriate visa before arriving in the country.

Recently, the government of Spain made an announcement that they would begin giving a Digital Nomad Visa. This short term visa will make it possible for people from other countries to live in Spain and work remotely while still enjoying the country’s various tourist attractions.

What are my Options Before the End of the 3 Months

You can avoid getting into legal problems in several ways. As discussed earlier, you are permitted to remain in Spain for a maximum of 90 days at a time as a tourist.

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You can choose between the following two significant options if you want to avoid falling into an unusual situation and running the danger of receiving a sanction:

  • Either leave the Schengen area or go back to your country.
  • Apply for a residence permit if you plan on staying in Spain for an extended period.

This second choice requires caution, however. Considering that you are already in Spain, the number of options open to you will naturally be less. This is because, for many residency permits, you are required to begin the application process at the Spanish embassy in your native country.

Is There a Way to Extend My Visit?

It’s recommended that non-EEA residents, including British nationals, apply for a visa before travelling to Spain if they are interested in long term stays. This is to avoid being subject to the country’s 90-day maximum stay requirement.

There is a lot of information about visas but we always recommend talking to a serious law firm to help you through the whole process, you can contact our lawyers if you have any questions.

Anyway here you can find the most common visas.

  1. Work Visa
    This is appropriate for anybody who has been offered a job in Spain. A copy of your employment contract and your application must be submitted no later than one month after you have responded favourably to the job offer.
    If your visa is approved, you have one month to enter the country and another month to apply for a residence permit.
  2. Self-Employment Visa
    A self-employment work visa is available for those who want to work independently or start a company in Spain. You’ll need to show that you have a well-thought-out business plan, secure premises, the right credentials, and confirmation of enough financial resources to get by as part of your application.
    Once again, you’ll have a one-month window to enter the country and another to apply to be a resident in Spain.
  3. Non-Lucrative Visa
    You don’t need a job offer to apply for this visa in Spain. It’s an excellent option for retirees. It’s easy to get it if you already have enough money to meet your fundamental living expenses.
    You’ll need to prove that you have a stable source of income if you want your application to be considered. The minimum monthly sufficient finances required as of 2022 was €2,316.08 per month (about €27,792.96 annually). You’ll need an additional €6,948.24 monthly income for every accompanying family member.
    After approval of the visa, you will have one month to enter Spain and apply for a Foreign Resident Card.
  4. Golden Visa
    It is also known as the “investor-entrepreneur visa.” Golden visa applicants must be citizens of a non-EU country and demonstrate their ability to make a large investment in Spain.
    This can be by establishing a new company in Spain or investing in Spanish real estate, stocks, government bills or bonds. However, to qualify, a minimum value of €500,000 is required, and this value shouldn’t be used as collateral for any kind of loan or mortgage.
  5. Digital Nomad Visa
    It’s a brand-new kind of visa. The digital nomad visa allows workers living in countries outside the EEA to come to Spain and work here for a period of 6 to 12 months.
    To qualify for this visa, you must demonstrate that your employer allows you to work remotely, you get at least 80% of your income from sources outside of Spain, and you can successfully perform your job duties remotely.

Can I Stay Longer in Spain If I Own Property?

Even if you own property in Spain, you are only allowed to remain in the country for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa or residence permit. You are free to do any real estate transactions, including purchasing or leasing, but you must adhere to the 90-day/180-day guidelines.

Important: 90/180-Day Rule in Spain Not the Same as the 183-Day Rule

So far, we have looked at Spain’s 90-day regulation. We’ve identified that it establishes the longest a tourist can remain in the country before facing a potentially illegal scenario.

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However, this rule is sometimes confused with the 183-day rule, a different rule with a strikingly similar name.

The 183-day threshold is the dividing line between resident and non-resident status in Spain. If you spend more than 183 days in Spain in a calendar year (January 1st to December 31st), you are considered a resident of Spain.

This has important fiscal repercussions because as a resident of Spain, you must pay income tax or IRPF on global income regardless of where it is earned.

14 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about 90 Day Rule Spain

  1. bruce |

    we have a property in Andalusia bought before Brexit my wife has an eu passport is easy to get a residency for for me I am 60 + and still working

    1. My Spain Visa |

      You can apply for residency as an EU family member and thus obtain Spanish residency for 5 years. We can help you through the whole process.

  2. Kenneth Herbert Hook |

    My wife and I are long time legal residents in Spain and wish to travel within the Shengen area next year for 5 – 6 months. Is this possible under our Spanish residency?

    1. My Spain Visa |

      In order to renew your residency you have to be in Spain for at least 183 days, but if you want to apply for permanent residency after 5 years in Spain you have to remember that you cannot be out of Spain for 10 months within the 5 years.

  3. SARAH |

    For the non lucrative visa, does it have to be “income”, what about if you have enough money to cover the whole year?

    1. My Spain Visa |

      You can have a monthly income of 2400€ or have savings of more than 28.800€.

  4. Bill |

    Whats this database that registers your stay? As far as I’m aware it’s just the passport stamps at the moment.

    1. My Spain Visa |

      The seals and then the national police have a control on their borders.

  5. Jeffrey McNinch |

    If you decide to stay and go for residence, and have a pension income do you pay income taxes on that pension? Also how do you apply for residence?

    1. My Spain Visa |

      It depends on your pension! Since it varies according to your earnings.

  6. Laurie Walker |

    Can a UK national stay more than 90 days if in the company of his Spanish wife?

    1. My Spain Visa |

      No, to stay more than 90 days you need to have a visa, not for having a company in Spain, having a property gives you the right to live more than 90 days in Spain.

      If you need help with your visa we will be happy to help you.

  7. Philip Addis |

    Hi. I am returning to Spain for third time this year. I will have used 86 days by 13 September. My 180 days run out 14th September. Please when does my next 90 day period star.

    1. My Spain Visa |

      We would have to know the dates to calculate the days you have pending in our schengen calculator, without knowing the days you have entered Spain and the dates you have been in Spain it is impossible to give you an answer.

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