EU treatment of non-resident UK homeowners in Portugal (Article, March 11 edition)

We have owned a property in the Algarve since 2004 and love it. Our plan when retired was always to spend winters in the Algarve and summers in England.

Fortunately, in 2014, I had a change of job which meant I could work remotely only having to go to the office every couple of months. So, since 2016, we have been living the dream by spending winters in the Algarve with a quick trip back to England every couple of months.

Clearly, we voted to remain in the EU (as did all the non-resident UK homeowners in Portugal) and were deeply saddened when the UK voted to leave by a very small amount.

We were in the Algarve when covid hit Europe and were really impressed with how Portugal quickly reacted to this pandemic and the compliance of the Portuguese people, which is something we didn’t see on our return to England.

Sadly, Covid lockdowns prevented us from returning to the Algarve in 2020, but as fully vaccinated people, we are planning a return this autumn. However, now we have to manage our way around the Schengen 90 days within a 180 days’ rule!

We want to be in Portugal as much as we can, and we love the quiet January to March period. Also being golfers, we find that the courses in the Algarve appreciate that we use them during this period as it is outside their busy periods.

So now we don’t know what to do. Our options are to either reduce our annual stays to three months (January to March), which we aren’t keen on as we want to be there as much as possible. Or do two lots of three months which will be October to December and then April to June, which means missing part of the summer in England plus spending the worst months of the year in England.

It looks like this year we will plan to go over mid-October and return in mid-December, and then maybe return mid-March for a couple of months. Not ideal as we will be in the Algarve during the peak golfing periods.

So, in summary, the Schengen 90-day rule means that we will probably spend less time in Portugal, and we are actually looking at taking breaks elsewhere (outside Schengen) in the horrible English January to March period, which we haven’t done for many years.

Also, it seems odd that people visiting the UK from the Schengen area get 180 days out of 360 days (which would be ideal for us if Portugal did the same)! 
Thanks for publishing this article as it was an excellent summary of our position.

Derek Johnston