How has Brexit affected holiday homes abroad

Written by Nick Grant


Published on 7th November 2022


Last Updated on 23rd February 2024


Read time: 6 minutes

brexit effects

A second home in a sunny part of Europe is a dream for many, but is it an achievable dream in the post-Brexit world?

For many it still can be. However, owning a holiday home abroad has become more complicated since we left the EU. There are new rules you should know about, particularly regarding how long you can stay in the country.

At Intasure, we specialise in insurance for holiday homes, including a range of property types. We have nearly 20 years’ experience providing cover for holiday homeowners abroad. In this article, we’ll use our know-how to lay out the facts and make the new situation as straightforward as possible.

How will Brexit affect my holiday home?

According to a recent article in the Radio Times1, 70% of people say that Brexit is the main thing preventing them from buying a holiday home overseas. Are they right or wrong to be so pessimistic?

The most important fact is this: when Brexit became official on 1st January 2021, the rules changed for UK passport holders visiting any of the 26 countries in the Schengen borderless travel zone. The Schengen area covers many EU countries, including France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well as non-EU countries, such as Switzerland and Norway. Brits are now limited to maximum stays of 90 days within every 180-day period in those places. There are ways to stay legally for longer, but they involve visas and vary from country to country2.

How does the 90/180-day rule work?

The count towards 90 days begins as soon as you enter any part of the Schengen area. Say you decide to drive to Italy through France; the 90-day period begins the moment you enter France. You can split the 90 days into shorter periods, but once your 90 days in total have elapsed, you have to leave and can’t return until another 90 days have passed2.

Remember that any time spent in France on the return journey counts towards your 90-day limit. It applies to the entire Schengen area, not just the country where your holiday home is located.

Still unsure? One way to check that you’re on the right side of the rules is to use the European Commission’s short-stay visa calculator.

How to arrange staying for longer than 90 days

Procedures for longer stays vary between countries. Let’s discuss how to extend your stay in some of the most popular European destinations.

How does Brexit affect holiday homes in France?

Brits wishing to stay longer than 90 days at a time in France should apply for a visa de long séjour at any French Consulate. This allows you to stay in France for between three and twelve months.

To stay longer, British citizens must apply for a one-year carte de séjour (residence permit) from the local prefecture in France. You can renew this up to five times. After living in France for five continuous years on a carte de séjour, you can apply for permanent residency.

What if you were already a legal resident in France before 1 January 2021? No problem. All your pre-Brexit rights are unchanged. You can continue to spend as long as you like at your French property.3

Brexit and holiday homes in Portugal

To stay for up to a year, British citizens can apply to the Portuguese embassy in the UK or their country of residence for a temporary stay visa.

If moving to Portugal full-time, you can apply for the D7 or ‘retirement visa’. Applicants must have a minimum monthly income of €600, and an accompanying spouse must earn at least €300.

Since 2012, Portugal’s Golden Visa has offered residency to British citizens who spend a minimum of €250,000 on property. However, properties in Lisbon, Porto and much of the Algarve no longer qualify.4

Brexit and holiday homes in Spain

Two of Spain’s most common long stay visas, allowing stays beyond 90 days, are the Non-Lucrative Visa and the Golden Visa.

The Non-Lucrative Visa allows stays of up to a year for anyone not taking up employment in Spain — ideal for retirees. It is renewable for two two-year periods. After a five-year stay, holders can apply for permanent residency. To be eligible, you must have held a bank balance worth €34,000 for at least six months and have valid private healthcare cover.

The Spanish Golden Visa is available to investors who have spent at least €500,000 on property. It costs around €5,000 per family and lasts for two years at a time. This provides holders, their spouse, children under 18, and dependent parents with residency permits. You are eligible for permanent residency after five years and Spanish citizenship after 10 years.5

Brexit and holiday homes in Italy

Most foreign nationals, including British citizens, need a long-stay visa to remain in Italy for longer than 90 days. You must then apply for a residence permit within eight days of arriving in Italy.6

Has Brexit changed the property buying process or the rights of property owners in the EU?

The answer is no to both questions. You can still buy your dream city apartment, country property or seaside villa in Europe. Your rights and obligations are unchanged. They remain the same as for any homeowner in that country.7

What should I know before buying a house abroad after Brexit?

Property buying rules, regulations and tax issues varied from nation to nation before Brexit, and that continues to be the case, so it is important to research the laws of the country in question before starting the holiday home-buying process. Pay particular attention to the way taxes have changed for UK citizens in each country after Brexit. You may also need to pay a higher sum as a deposit on the mortgage.

Finding a local property advisor who specialises in helping expats with their holiday home purchases can save you a lot of time, hassle and potentially money. You should consider having suitable insurance for your property too. That’s where we come into the picture.

Intasure holiday home insurance policies can cover loss, theft, or damage to your property’s building and contents. It can also include public liability cover, which helps protect your holiday home against claims relating to compensation or injury of third parties. This can be especially important if you are away from your holiday home for long periods.

Ready to find out more? Get a quote online or chat with our team today by calling 0345 111 0680.

Policy limits and exclusions may apply, please see the policy wording for full terms and conditions. 


The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Intasure accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.

Nick Grant is a Business Development Manager at Intasure with 10 years of insurance experience.