If you are buying a property as a non-resident in Spain, you need to know the rules around how long you can stay in the country. Visitors to Spain from non-EU countries are subject to the 90-day rule, which states that they can only stay for 90 days out of 180. But how strictly is this rule enforced – and what happens if you end up overstaying?

The rule applies to non-EU nationals who need a visitor visa to enter Spain, such as Indian, Chinese or Russian nationals, and those who don’t need a visa, such as visitors from Israel, Canada, the United States, Canada or the UK.

The rule limits time spent in the Schengen zone (which Spain is a part of) to 90 days out of the last 180. Note, this isn’t 90 days per country its 90 days across all countries in the Schengen zone

People who want to stay longer than 90 days in every 180 in Spain must get a long-stay visa which grants them residency status for a period of time based on work, research, study, having sufficient income to cover your expenses and more.

Some of these visas include the non-lucrative visa, the golden visa, the student visa, the entrepreneur visa or the employment visa.

If you spend more than 90 days in the EU or Schengen zone without a visa or residency permit then you have officially overstayed.

And unlike the days when border control was simply a guard with a stamp, modern technology means that most passports are scanned by a Spanish border guard on both entry to and exit from the EU – making it obvious who has overstayed their welcome and impossible to slip through the cracks.

This is set to become even more stringent when the EES scheme comes into effect next year

Anyone who overstays the 90-day rule in an EU country can, in theory, be subject to the following penalties:

Deportation – if you overstay, EU countries are within their rights to deport you, or give you a certain number of days to leave.

Prison sentences – in extremely rare cases, people who overstay their visas can face up to a year in prison. However, aggravating factors like working for several months or committing a criminal offence while in the country would likely be involved.

Entry ban – EU countries can impose a complete ban on re-entry, usually for three years although it could be longer

Though the above rules and punishments are EU-wide, each member state has the autonomy to enforce them at their own discretion.

Generally speaking, Spain has reputation for being less strict on exact coming and going dates, so long as you aren’t working, claiming benefits, or doing anything illegal.

It must not be forgotten, however, that Spain – as with all EU member states – is perfectly within its rights to punish you for deliberately overstaying your 90 days

If you are looking to buy a property in Spain, Franc, Portugal, Turkey or USA and need a mortgage, email mark@vci-network.com for the latest criteria