On Wednesday (May 31), we asked Connexion readers about their experiences with the EU’s 90/180 day rule.
The regulation means that Britons, like other non-EU nationals of countries that do not need short-stay visas, can spend only 90 days visa-free in any rolling 180-day period in the bloc, looking back from the current day.
Earlier we highlighted a number of stories from France Visa Free group members, whose lives have been impacted since Brexit, and are seeking rule changes for second-home owners in France.
Here is what Connexion readers told us.
Less time for pleasure
The main gripe was that time spent at properties in France has been severely eaten into, especially if other commitments in Europe take them away from France for any period of time.
“The lack of flexibility makes planning very challenging,” said S.D., who has owned her second home in France for 23 years.
L.H. is British and married to a German man, but they live in the UK together.
“Because my husband, understandably, wants to visit friends in Frankfurt once or twice a year, this curtails even further the time we can spend at our second home in France,” she said.
Others want to ‘save’ some days in case of an emergency requiring them to access the country at short notice
F.H. mentioned how her sister – who used to visit her multiple times a year – has now cut visits short in order to save days for this reason.
“She is very stressed with the situation and worried if anything happened to me she could not get back,” she said.
“It has impacted our lives enormously,” she added.
The necessity to obtain visas to bypass the limitations has also delayed important holidays for other readers.
M.W. told us about the “sting in the tail” when applying for visas.
Because new visas cannot be applied for until the previous ones expire, a holiday scheduled for mid-May was postponed because a visa could not be attained until mid-July.
He said "the knock-on effect" of delayed visas will also impact when he can take future holidays
“Adieu les voyages. So be it,” he concluded, hinting he would not be taking more extended trips to France due to the difficulties.
Economic impact on businesses
Alongside personal difficulties, such as less time to visit second homes in France, a number of readers highlighted the negative economic impact on French businesses (and the French state) from the rule.
“We have owned a vacation apartment in Cannes for some 20 years,” said N.L., who added his family spend around €20,000 on taxes and other running costs per year.
The 90/180-day rule changes, coupled with the frustration in obtaining a visa, means the property is “no longer cost-effective to own… and we will be selling it.”
S.D. said she feels local businesses close to her second home have lost out on revenue, with fewer visits from her family and friends meaning less time and money spent there.
Despite obtaining visas to stay in France longer, the excess costs associated with getting them “meant we spent almost £500… which could have been better spent in our local community in France,” she concluded.
It is not only France which misses out on revenue, she believes; “other EU countries lose out because we use all our 90 days in France and have not had our normal European city breaks,” she added.
“Before Brexit, we used to come over four times a year… [but new rules mean] we can only visit our home in France twice a year,” said G.S.
“Brittany Ferries must be missing us!” he added after they have cut their travels to France in half.
“It’s a nightmare… the current problems with [the 90/180-day visa-free visits] are pressing me to sell in France and buy an apartment in Germany or Spain,” he said.