ETIAS Implementation Delay

As the New Year begins, there are more updates to the regulations for vacation rentals and additional confusion regarding the entry requirements for those holding British passports.

What is ETIAS? ETIAS is the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, a visa waiver program that will be introduced in November 2023. Its purpose is to strengthen the borders of the Schengen Area.

Who needs an ETIAS visa waiver? Around 50 nationalities will need to apply for the waiver, which are countries that currently do not require a visa to enter Spain. The UK is one of these countries, so from November, British passport holders will also need to obtain a valid ETIAS.

How do you get an ETIAS visa waiver? To obtain a visa waiver, applicants must apply online and pay a fee. The waiver will be valid for 3 years and requires personal information to be provided and checked against various databases. The process is similar to the US visa waiver system.

So what happens when you present yourself at an immigration desk? British passport holders will be required to enter Spain as tourists and will be asked to show their ETIAS visa waiver. They may also be asked about their trip, including where they are staying.

Will passports be stamped? The traditional ‘wet stamping’ of passports will cease, instead passports will be scanned and entry details recorded. The system will also automatically calculate the maximum allowed stay (90 days in any 160 day rolling period).

Biometrics As part of the ETIAS scheme, all tourists or visitors from non-EU states will be required to provide a biometric dataset each time they enter the Schengen Area. This will consist of four fingerprints as well as a photograph, which will be collected electronically at the immigration desk. This is the main reason the rollout has been postponed until after the summer season, as the infrastructure is not expected to be completed before then.

The final phase of Royal Decree 933/2021 came into force on January 2nd 2023

What is this about? Tourist accommodation, including privately owned properties with a tourism license, must now be ‘registered’ and these details must be sent to the national database operated by the police. This law has been in place for a while, but the final phase has just been rolled out and it connects to ETIAS as well as the financial authorities in Spain.

When checking into private rented accommodation, guests will now be required to provide their home address, mobile telephone number, and email address. Additionally, details of the holiday contract and payment method must also be provided, including payment card or IBAN information. This is to prevent tax avoidance on behalf of the property owner and make it more difficult for owners to let friends stay for free. Things are getting very joined up. For the past two years, rental portals such as Airbnb and Booking.com have been required to provide the tax authorities with a detailed list of bookings and amounts paid. Non-resident property owners in Spain are also required to submit a tax return every three months, stating how many days the property was occupied and if it was used for rental purposes. With the enhanced tourist registration system and

ETIAS, it is virtually impossible to hide any rental activity.

So, as a UK owner of property in Spain, can friends stay in the property? The short answer is no. Unless they can provide evidence, in the form of an acceptable holiday contract, to show they are staying in licensed tourist accommodation, friends with British passports will not be able to enter Spain.

How can we help UK property owners? Assuming the owner does not wish to rent their property commercially, a tourism license can be applied for in the usual way. This is the only way to issue a legally valid holiday contract. A modest charge must be paid and the owner’s friends or family members can

I Have an NIE, So Surely I am OK?

An NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is a tax identification number assigned to foreign residents in Spain. Having an NIE does not automatically grant legal residency or citizenship in Spain, but it is required for many transactions, such as opening a bank account or buying property. It is important to note that possession of an NIE does not guarantee that an individual is in compliance with Spanish immigration laws.

What About the ‘Golden Visa’ Scheme (The Investor Visa)?

The “Golden Visa” scheme, also known as the Investor Visa, is a program that grants residency in Spain to non-EU citizens who make a significant investment in the country, such as buying property worth over €500,000 or making a €1 million deposit in a Spanish bank. The Investor Visa allows holders to live, work, and study in Spain, as well as travel within the Schengen Area. The visa also grants a path to permanent residency and citizenship after a certain period of time. It is important to note that the requirements for the Golden Visa scheme are subject to change and consulting with a lawyer before undertaking the investment is recommended.