FCDO issues statement to address concern over ongoing stamping of British passports

Updated 21 January: Following concerns over the ongoing stamping of passports, the FCDO has issued a statement to reassure those who are legally resident that it won’t be a problem for them. Those who are not legal residents will find the stamping is used in the future to control their stays and admission to the country, but legal residents do not need to worry.

We are aware that some UK nationals resident in Spain, have had your passports stamped at border control.

The general rule is that UK nationals who can demonstrate that they were resident in Spain before 1 January 2021 should not have their passport stamped or be subject to routine intentions questioning upon entry, exit and transit through the Schengen border.

If you are resident in Spain, you should therefore always travel with both your valid passport and proof of your residence status, such as:

  • your residence document: the green paper EU certificate or the new TIE. The Spanish authorities have published guidance on the continued validity of the green residency certificate here: http://inclusion.gob.es/…/nota_aclaratoria_green…
  • a certificate of application for residency in Spain
  • or other documentation that shows you were resident in Spain prior to the end of the transition period.

If you have had your passport incorrectly stamped, despite showing proof of residency, we want to reassure you that your rights in Spain will not be affected. The stamp will also not affect your ability to apply for residency in Spain, under the Withdrawal Agreement, as long as you can demonstrate that you were legally residing here by 31 December 2020.

When travelling in the future, any stamp will be considered null and void when accompanied by evidence of lawful residence such as your residency certificate. Some border authorities may annul incorrect stamps when presented with evidence of residence, but this is not required.

As you will all be aware, travel should currently only be undertaken for essential reasons and additional restrictions are in place for travel from the UK to Spain until 2 February 2021. For the latest information on travel, please sign up for alerts at: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain

(edit: the above is a direct quote from the FCDO. It is not my text, and if any links fail there’s nothing I can do about it, I’m afraid.)

Original post 4 January: Before Brexit, much heat was generated about the chances of passports being stamped or not when British nationals arrived in Spain after the end of the Transition Period. As I’ve explained more than once over the past four years, those who go through border control as non-EU nationals will have their passports stamped, and non-resident stays limited to 90 days in any 180 will be monitored. As I’ve also explained more than once, this will not give such visitors much trouble in the first place: their passport will be stamped, they will be allowed in, and it will be stamped again when they leave. It’s on their subsequent visits that there could be serious problems if that earlier visit exceeded the allowance, and those serious problems can include being refused admission to the country.

There were many who scorned such advice with the usual “they’ll never do it” dismissal, but they’ve started already. One who has confirmed it is Richard Lewington who is the Chairman of UK Conservatives Abroad Madrid. He says that he’s “Just been stamped into Spain on my British passport DESPITE living in the country for 14 years AND presenting my Spanish residency card!”. Lewington has a TIE, hence he was legitimately travelling home, so entry was permitted but his passport was still stamped. There are also reports in the last couple of days that this is happening to residents returning through TFS as well. I did say they would … this is the stamp on Lewington’s passport.


  1. Does the 90 day rule in any 6mths mean that once that period is complete you can start again.Example
    Sept Oct Nov in last 6mths of a yr, then start again Jan feb Mar in first 6mths of New yr.

    1. Author

      no, it is a rolling 180 day period. Please use the calculator which has now been linked to several times.

      1. Author

        It is obvious that swallows want to work out their 90 day allowance to their best advantage. Unfortunately they don’t have a “best advantage”. It is simple. You have six months a year as previously but unlike before, you can’t have them in more than three month blocks.

        Those who want to travel several times for short visits will have to use the calculator to see what their allowance is but you cannot take two three-month periods, one at the end of one year and another at the start of the next, and put them together to make six months. That would make more than 90 days in any 180 day period: in fact, doing so would make 180 days in a 180 day period. It is simple logic.

        As Donald Tusk once told the UK before it threw it all away, it could have all been a piece of cake, but now there’s no cherry picking … that was the UK’s choice, these are the consequences. I’m closing this post to comments now, there is no benefit to continuing trying to unpick something that is already as clear as can be, at least until anything changes.

  2. On the European Commission website there is a checking tool where you enter the dates of your previous and proposed travel and it checks whether your proposed travel will be compliant with the 90/180 days rule. I haven’t tried it myself so can’t vouch for how user friendly it is.

    1. Author

      The checking tool is on this site as well, HERE under swallows, point 1. The important thing to realise is that this tool is for everybody wanting to visit the EU from outside. It is correct for everybody of that ilk, but UK citizens have the additional consideration that time before 01.01.21 does not count, so they should insert 01.01.21 as their arrival date, not the real one if it is before that.

  3. I assume, and hope, that the 90 days in 180 rule will be policed by a system that is more robust than simply stamping passports.

    Anybody arriving from the UK before 1st Jan won’t have had their passports stamped on entry. If there is no other system in place to keep a record of when people arrived, then it won’t be possible to check if they stay for more than 90 consecutive days before they return home.

    1. Author

      It will be possible if they return home after the end of March because that will automatically be more than 90 days. If they return before that date, the number of days stayed will be assumed to be starting from 01.01.21. The problems will only start towards the end of 2021 when returning to Tenerife could be a problem. It will also be a problem for those who are registered with the police but who have been away from Tenerife for more than six months, because their registration will be voided.

  4. HAPPY NEW YEAR, could you please advise me, we arrived in Tenerife 10th December,obviously we had the PCR test, we should go home 17th January, will the time from 1st January go towards our maximum 90 days stay in every 180 days, or is it counted from when we come back again.

    1. Author

      Every day from 1st January is counted towards the 90 day maximum. See HERE under “swallows” point 1

  5. I would guess that these stamps will operate as controls in both possible circumstances…. Primarily in the entry-exit way for tourists/swallows and in Exit-entry mode for “residents” who choose to flout the system by spending too much time away.
    Either way, my opinion is that it’s a good thing.
    Anything which cuts down the extraction of urine by Brits OR other nationals has got to improve the situation of those of us who “Do it right” and who love the right to live here.

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