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You’re a UK citizen and accustomed to spending months at a time in your second home, somewhere in the Schengen area. You may not have spent as much time there during the pandemic, so the implications of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU may not have fully registered. But as travel restrictions have eased, thousands like you are discovering that visa rules have changed.

The most basic is that without a residence, student or work visa, you can no longer stay in the Schengen area more than 90 days in any rolling 180-day period (not calendar year). That’s all Schengen area countries combined.

So if you were accustomed to staying at your Finnish cabin three months, then flying to Spain, now you could risk being denied boarding, expelled from the Schengen area, or fined.

You can still stay in your second home 180 days out of the year, just not consecutively. But beware! You’ll want to use our country tax lookup to make sure of the tax rules for the country of your second home. For some Schengen countries, you’re not liable for tax unless you’ve stayed 183 days, but others have stricter criteria.

In all cases, before you buy a home abroad, we strongly recommend you consult an international tax attorney.

Can’t I just get a residency visa?

Just as the prices for homes in desirable locations are getting higher, obtaining residency visas for the most popular second-home countries is getting harder. It can take months and require Foreign Office-verified documents that may cost a considerable amount.

But the main drawback is that once you’re a resident, in many countries, you’re liable for tax on your worldwide income, including capital gains.

Passport changes

There are new passport rules, too.

First, you have to have at least three months left on your passport on the day after you leave the Schengen area. We assume this is to discourage undocumented folks from rattling around their countryside.

So if you’re staying in your home in France for three months, you have to make sure, before you leave, that there are at least six months left on your passport.

The next change is that the Schengen area is now enforcing a long-standing rule: your passport must be less than 10 years old, on the day after you leave the Schengen area.

How can a valid passport even be more than 10 years old? We looked it up. If you renew your current passport before the previous one expires, the UK Home Office may add the extra months to the expiry date of your new one.

Apparently, when you’re leaving the Schengen area, the extra months may not count. Or something. Anyway, check the issue date and make sure your passport will be less than 10 years old on the day after you plan to come back to the UK.

NB: Apparently these new passport rules do not apply to Ireland. As long as your passport hasn’t expired on the day you leave, you’re fine.

Can Mia Bazo help?

Of course we can, thanks for asking. Our Visa Compliance service can track your days in all Schengen area countries combined, tell you how many days you have left, and warn you if you’re approaching (or have exceeded) your limit.

Our Tax Compliance service can keep you from unintentionally becoming a tax resident.

And our Document and Vaccination Vault can warn you when your passport is nearing its expiry date.

Now breathe deeply and enjoy your second home.

J Laurence Sarno

J Laurence Sarno is co-founder and CMO of Mia Bazo, with more than 30 years in technology marketing. He led his first socially responsible company in the late 1970s and is passionate about ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance).

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