As European travellers prepare for the introduction of stricter passport controls, known as the Entry-Exit System (EES), some clients have asked us about the impact on the 90-day rule for non-European Union (EU) nationals.

A common concern has been how the new system will affect the 90-day rule, which allows nationals of certain non-EU countries (such as the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to stay in the EU for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa.

In short, the answer is: absolutely not. It is important to note that the EEA does not change the rules on immigration, visas and related matters.

So the 90-day rule remains the same, but what changes under the new EEA system is the application of the rule.

Three months

The 90-day visa waiver applies to persons from certain non-EU countries;

The list includes the following countries and territories Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Macao, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, East Timor, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.

Beneficiaries of the 90-day rule can stay in the EU for a maximum of six months, but not consecutively. Visitors must limit their visits to ensure that they do not exceed a total of 90 days (three months) in the bloc within a period of 180 days (six months).

The 90-day period is determined by a rolling calendar system, which means that at any time of the year you must be able to go back to the previous 180 days and prove that you have spent less than 90 days in the EU/Schengen area.

If you want to stay longer than 90 days in the EU, you must either leave the EU and apply for a visa to extend your stay or, within that period, apply for one of the types of residence that can be applied for from Spain. If you were planning to apply from outside Spain, the application must be made from your home country or, from your country of residence, through the corresponding consulate.

Beneficiaries of the 90-day EES rule retain the privilege of visa-free travel. However, it is important to note that the implementation of the ETIAS will bring about other changes, which are set out below.

The EES does not change the rule or the method of calculating the days, but it does change the application.


One of the explicit aims of the new system is to improve the crackdown on people who have overstayed their visa or exceeded the 90-day visa-free period, sometimes referred to as "overstayers".

Currently, border officials keep track of their stay in the bloc by manually stamping passports with the date of each entry and exit from the bloc. These stamps can then be checked and the number of days added up to verify that you have not overstayed.

The current system is somewhat inefficient: stamps are often not checked, border guards sometimes stamp passports incorrectly or fail to stamp them when leaving the EU, and the stamps themselves are not uniformly legible.

For people who respect the prescribed limits, the system, if it works properly, should be superior, as it will replace the sometimes arbitrary manual sealing system.

However, it will make it almost impossible to exceed the 90-day limit without being detected.

The consequences of overstaying will remain the same: a fine, a warning or a ban on re-entering the EU for a certain period of time. The penalty for overstaying in the EU is determined by each Member State and depends on individual circumstances, such as the length of the overstay and whether the person was employed or receiving benefits during that period.


It is important to take into account the existence of ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), although it is a different system from EES, because it will have a significant impact on many people's travel.

ETIAS is an EU regulation that will be implemented after the EES system is operational, most likely in 2025. However, the exact timetable for the introduction of ETIAS remains uncertain.

The implementation of this regulation will have a significant impact on persons benefiting from the 90-day rule, effectively ending their ability to travel without documentation.

Under ETIAS, those eligible for the 90-day rule will be required to submit a visa waiver application online before travelling.

Strictly speaking, this is a visa waiver and not a visa, but it marks the end of a period during which beneficiaries of the 90-day stay can travel without completing any immigration documentation. For more information, see: What are the main differences between ETIAS and a visa?

If you have recently visited the United States, you will see that the ETIAS system is very similar to the ESTA visa waiver. To obtain a visa waiver, you must apply online in advance, fill in a form, answer certain questions and receive your visa waiver within a few days.

The cost of the ETIAS will be 7 euros, with an exemption for those under 18 and over 70 years of age. The ETIAS will be valid for three years.

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