Are you looking for a sunny hideaway to retreat to every year, but want to stay longer than just visits to your vacation home?
Since Brexit, Britons must now limit stays in the Schengen area to 90 days in every 180-day period. But there are ways to stay longer, legally, although visa rules vary from country to country.
Here’s how you can extend your stay in some of Europe’s most popular destinations, including France, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy.
UK citizens planning to stay more than three consecutive months in France should apply for a long-stay visa – Long stay visa – at the French Consulate in London (or in the country where they reside). This allows you to stay in France from three to twelve months.
There are several types of long-stay visas, however the two main ones are:
The VLS-TS: this visa is normally issued for one year and is renewable.
The VLS-T: this visa is issued for one year and is not renewable. These are usually for work or business purposes, to study, or to join family members. The official French visa application site indicates which visa is the most suitable.
To extend a stay for more than a year, British citizens must apply for a residence permit in France. This residence permit – residence permit – is generally valid for one year and renewable up to five times. British citizens residing in France for five consecutive years on a renewable basis residence permit can apply for permanent residence. A residence permit costs €270 and is available for the local prefecture.
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In addition to good weather, beaches and golf courses, the Tax regime for non-habitual residents (NHR) has been a significant reason why Portugal has seen a marked increase in foreign nationals, particularly the British, moving there in recent years.
The NHR initiative, introduced in 2009, allows anyone who has not been resident in Portugal for the past five years to benefit from tax incentives on pension and rental income, capital gains on real estate and non-Portuguese income – for 10 years.
Holders pay no tax on non-Portuguese source income and only 20% income tax on income earned in Portugal. The NHR program can be used in conjunction with certain residency visas, but must be applied for separately.
Temporary stay: for stays of up to one year, British citizens can apply to the Portuguese Embassy in the United Kingdom, or in their country of residence, for a temporary stay visa. It usually takes a month to arrange and costs €75.
Visa D7: This is known as a ‘retirement visa’ and is for people moving to Portugal full time. Applicants must have a minimum monthly income of €600 and an accompanying spouse must earn €300, either from rental income, self-employment or pension payments. Candidates cannot work for a Portuguese company and must have an address in Portugal. Typically, holders become tax residents in Portugal, enjoying NHR status for up to 10 years.
Visa D2: Also known as the Immigrant Entrepreneur Visa. This allows holders to set up a business in Portugal or to work as a freelancer.
Golden Visa: Since 2012, Portugal’s Golden Visa has offered residency to UK citizens who spend a minimum of €250,000 to €500,000 on property, depending on the region of Portugal and the type of property they are buying. The process is longer than most, usually taking around six months.
To obtain a passport, Golden Visa holders must spend a minimum of seven days in Portugal each year. The Visa is renewable after the first year and then valid for two years. After five years, Golden Visa holders can apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Since January 1, 2022, the Portuguese government has decided that property purchases in Lisbon, Porto and much of the Algarve will no longer be eligible for the Golden Visa.
Costs (December 2021): an application for a D7 Visa costs on average €2,000. A Golden Visa will cost approximately €5,325 per person, plus an annual renewal fee of €2,663 per person. All of these visas require proof of a private health insurance policy. Once you are accepted for Portuguese residency, you can access the Portuguese NHS (the SNS).
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There are a number of visas that allow stays of more than 90 out of 180 days in Spain. These longer term visas are also called D visas. The two most popular are the Non-Profit Visa and the Golden Visa.
The non-profit visa allows stays of more than three months for anyone who does not work in Spain and is ideal for retirees. You must demonstrate that you have held a bank balance of €34,000 (or the equivalent in pounds sterling) for at least six months and that you have valid private medical cover.
This visa has an initial duration of one year and is renewable for additional periods of two years, with holders being able to apply for permanent residency after five years. The application process is usually simple and takes between two and three months.
The golden visa is available to investors who have spent at least €500,000 on real estate. It costs around €5,000 for a family application and lasts two years at a time. Once all the documentation is filed, it is normally approved within a month.
The Gold Visa provides holders and their families (spouse, children under 18 and dependent parents) with residence permits to live in Spain. It is not mandatory to live in Spain to renew this visa, but if you live there you are eligible for permanent residency after five years and Spanish citizenship after 10 years.
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There is also a Golden visa program in Greece. This provides a five-year residency and requires a minimum property purchase of €250,000.
As a Golden Visa program with one of the lowest entry prices in the EU, it has proven popular, especially when you add the flat rate of 7% income tax that is charged on foreign pensions, with tax residence transferred to Greece. To benefit from this level of taxation, you must live in Greece for more than half of the year.
The Greek Golden Visa is valid for five years. It costs around €2,000 per person, with approval usually within two months. To renew there is no requirement to live in Greece, although you must be able to prove that you still own a property. After seven years of continuous residence, Golden Visa holders can apply for Greek citizenship.
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In 2017, Italy introduced a citizenship-by-investment program called The Investor Visa for Italy. It is valid for two years and renewable for three more years, allowing anyone who invests between €250,000 and €500,000 in approved national projects to obtain Italian citizenship after 10 years. This does not currently include real estate purchases. The process takes three to four months.
Italy will consider applications for permanent residence from anyone who can prove an annual income of €100,000.
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READ MORE:How the Schengen Area’s Post-Brexit 90/180 Day Rule Works
The header image for this article is from Praia de Sao Rafael, Albufeira, Portugal,and is provided courtesy of Unsplash