The 90-day rule

Understanding the 90 out of 180-day rule for visiting countries in the Schengen area, including Tenerife.

British people who own a second home in Spain now have to plan their time carefully, to not break the law by overstaying the permitted limits of staying in Spain and all the other countries in the Schengen area.

Understanding the rules.


As you probably know, since the start of 2021 non-resident British owners of property in Tenerife can stay 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen Area, which includes Spain. The date of entry is considered as the first day of stay in the Schengen territory and the date of exit is considered as the last day of stay in the Schengen territory.

However, it is possible to leave and re-enter the Schengen Area several times during that six-month period. The 180-day reference period is not fixed, but is a moving window, on the basis of looking backwards.

That means taking a calendar and highlighting all the time you have spent in Spain and other Schengen countries during the past 180 days. If police or border officials ever question how long you’ve been in the EU, this will be how they calculate if you’ve overstayed or not.

You must understand that the Schengen rule does not work with the calendar year but is always a case of counting back 180 days.

Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


Time spent in any of the above countries is taken into account, and not just your stays in Tenerife or Mainland Spain when calculating the duration of your 90-day visa-free stay.

Whatever your preferences or calculations for your time spent in Spain and other Schengen countries, once the 90 in 180 day-period is over, you will have to spend 90 days outside of the Schengen Area. An absence for an uninterrupted period of 90 days allows for a new stay for up to 90 days.

Remember that you are always counting back the last 180 days, so if you have not exhausted the 90-day limit over the past six months, you will not have to leave the Schengen Area until that is the case. When that happens, know that 90 full days outside of the Schengen Area and Spain will give you a new period of 90 days.

Planning for winter in the sun.

If you kickstart your 90 out of 180-day period during the summer in Spain, it will mean that the six-month window will end in winter, and you won’t be able to enter the Schengen Area for the next three months. For many Brits in this situation, it will mean spending the coldest, darkest and wettest months of the year back in the UK, which is often exactly what they don’t want.

In order to enjoy warmer winters in Spain and mild summers in the UK, try to avoid starting your 180-day Schengen window in summer and wait instead until at least October or November to enjoy three months of winter sunshine during the following six months.

You can split your time in Spain into several trips, so over a period of 180 days, you can spend four three-week holidays in Spain, and alternate it with three-week periods in the UK or outside the Schengen Area.

You can also break the three months you have available into six-week periods. For example, if you arrive at the beginning of November in Tenerife, spend six weeks here until the middle of December, then return to the UK to spend Christmas and New Year in the UK, then come back to Tenerife in the middle of January until the end of February. This way you will be able to spread out your time in Tenerife over a six-month period.

Overstaying your time in Spain and the rest of the Schengen area is not a good idea. There is no clear mention from Spanish government sources regarding fines, deportations or travel bans to Spain and the Schengen area for overstayers, but the likelihood of this is very high.

There are various Schengen Calculators available on the internet, to help you record your stays during past months and be able to see what period you have left to visit your property here.

One that is very simple to use is:

We hope you find this information useful.

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