New legislation being introduced by the British Government this week will allow overseas homeowners and buyers the opportunity to travel abroad from as early as March 30th. But anyone else seeking to take a holiday outside of the UK before the end of June, without a reasonable excuse to travel, will face a fine of up to £5,000.
New UK Legislation
The new Health Protection legislation forms part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘road map’ for leaving lockdown and is designed to protect the UK against the importation of any further mutant strains of the Covid virus by travellers returning from other countries. It goes before Parliament for a vote this week and is expected to come into law as early as March 29th.
Reasonable Excuses To Travel
Whilst the new legislation carries draconian penalties for anyone attempting to take an overseas holiday it also includes a whole raft of exemptions, or reasonable excuses to travel, which are highly pertinent to anyone who owns or is seeking to invest in a property overseas.
These include numerous activities connected to the sale, purchase or rental of residential property, such as visiting an estate or lettings agent, viewing a home with a view to buying or letting it, moving home and preparing a property for sale or rental.
Other exemptions, which are listed in full on the Gov UK website, include travel for weddings, funerals, work, education and medical treatment.
Plane To Spain Again
All of which potentially opens the door for owners of second homes in popular overseas investment locations such as Spain to finally visit their properties.
Spain has long been a popular hot spot for British investors. The country’s climate and culture has proved magnetic for sun starved Brits since the advent of package tourism back in the 1970’s. To such an extent that today the Spanish Government estimates that up to one million British nationals own a property in Spain.
Around one third of these properties are permanently occupied by long-term ex-patriate residents who either live and work in Spain or have retired there permanently. Whilst the remainder, some 650,000 properties, are owned by non-residents who remain based in the UK – and are either rented out to holidaymakers or on a long-term basis or reserved for the owner’s exclusive use as second holiday home.
Unsurprisingly, the bulk of this property ownership is concentrated in key holiday hot spots, such as Southern Spain, the Balearics and the Canary Islands.
Spain Lifts UK Travel Ban
Whilst the UK Government has been unveiling their new legislation governing overseas travel the Spanish Government simultaneously announced this week that they will be lifting their ban on arrivals from the UK as of March 30th. Making it possible for potential buyers, vendors and owners to book a flight to Spain for the first time since December 22nd 2020, when it was first imposed.
Travel Declaration Forms and Entry Requirements
However, anyone seeking to plan a trip to Spain, or indeed anywhere else outside the UK, based on a reasonable excuse to travel, will still be required to fill out an official Travel Declaration form and provide supplementary evidence, such as deeds of ownership.
The UK Government website states that travellers may then be required to show this declaration form and proof at their point of departure. Whilst anyone visiting Spain would also need to comply with health regulations there, including providing proof of vaccination or a negative covid test, in order to enter the country.
According to Nick Ball, a spokesperson for estate agents Atlantico Homes who are based in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, “These new regulations are a positive move from our perspective as they now allow potential buyers to visit us and view properties in person. Virtual visits and tours are a useful sales tool, but they can never really give buyers a real feel for the atmosphere and energy of a place. So, we welcome the new moves made this week by both the UK and Spanish governments to ease restrictions on travel for those involved in the overseas residential property sector.”
This article was written by Nick Ball. Nick is a long-term resident of the Canary Islands where he has lived since 2001 and is a keen observer of – and commentator on – the Spanish property market.