The Resident has received an overwhelming response from readers regarding Roger Eastoe’s article “EU treatment of non-resident UK homeowners in Portugal” published in last week’s edition. The author of the article has since told us that he received a favourable response from the Portuguese Ambassador to the UK, Manuel Lobo Antunes, regarding this matter. In an email, the Ambassador said: “This is certainly a matter worthy of contemplation”, in respect of the amount of time non-resident homeowners are permitted to spend in the country. Here we publish some of the emails we received:
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I fully support your campaign for the Portuguese government to review the current restrictions imposed by the Schengen Agreement on Portuguese property owners who have chosen not to become official residents. We did not want to commit to spending at least six months of the year in Portugal, or exchange our driving licences or be subject to Portuguese tax arrangements.
We purchased a property in the Algarve in 2017 and, to date, have spent around five months a year in Portugal, while our family have made use of it in the summer months.
We spend around €6,000 a year on services (gardening, pool maintenance, reception facilities, security, property maintenance, insurance, utilities, property tax etc.) and then also support supermarkets, cafés and restaurants with regular meals out. The impact the loss of this spend has had on the Portuguese economy is borne out by the number of gardeners, cleaners, waiters, barmen etc. already laid off due to the lack of visitors.
Not only is the restriction of a maximum of six months a year an issue, but also the inflexibility of the requirement to plan for visits of 90 days in a rolling 180 days. This calculation is sure to catch out many visitors if the rule is rigidly enforced.
Recently we have had to sign up with a Portuguese solicitor at a cost of €180 to submit an annual nil tax return, or be subject to a fine if not done by June 30. To rub salt in the wound, we were told this was “due to Brexit”. I cannot recall anything in the Brexit negotiations that required tax returns to be submitted via a solicitor or accountant!
We believe there should be a separate category for property owners in the EU who have invested in the local economy and are not merely tourists or full-time residents.
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Like you, my wife and I purchased a property in 2003 in the Algarve. We have invested substantial amounts of money in local businesses, paying local taxes, buying Portuguese cars, etc, and spend time with our Portuguese friends and families, spending money in bars and restaurants.
We enjoy at least six months of the year in the Algarve. Our family and friends visit us every year and, like us, spend money in the shops, bars and restaurants.
If we have to sell our property to invest elsewhere, due to the bureaucracy, the income loss of taxes, shops, bars and restaurants will be a loss that, in my opinion, they cannot afford.
We think that the Portuguese government should consider very carefully our position, based on the fact that we contribute so much to their country and local economy each year. I think British property owners who are non-resident should be awarded special status.
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My wife and I purchased a villa in 2016 in the Carvoeiro area of Lagoa.
In the first year of ownership, we invested a further amount of money in property improvements using local tradesmen and services.
Our contribution to the local economy is significant over a 12-month period: villa management, maid service, gardeners, pool maintenance, electricity and services, local council tax.
In addition to the above, we spend money on living costs and replacement items while we are at the villa.
We rent out our property during July and August bringing additional revenue to the local economy.
We now find ourselves still making a considerable contribution to the local economy but are restricted to using our villa no more than 90 days in a 180-day period.
A solution could be found by allowing villa owners to spend up to 180 days at any one time or splitting over a number of visits during the year by removing the barrier of a maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period. This would enable villa owners a level of flexibility when they visit their properties.
Surely the aim of the Portuguese Administration is to encourage the numerous people in our situation to enjoy Portugal while making a financial contribution to both local and national economies.
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Thank you for highlighting this compounding problem with the movement of non-resident homeowners within Portugal.
It would be a tragedy for the 90/180-day stay not to be bilaterally amended. If not on a country-by-country basis, by Brussels itself since it affects such a large proportion of a country’s potential GDP, as you gave the example of many southern European countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece and even countries such as France in my opinion, so it is in everyone’s interest I would imagine.
You so insightfully observe and eloquently translate, to my mind, the huge pitfalls of not allowing a change in the 90/180-day rule and, with the introduction of the ETIAS in 2022, this will only have a further negative impact on the prosperity of Portugal and in particular in the Algarve where I have a villa and apartment.
I, along with my wife, intended to spend a lot more time in the future and potentially, like many homeowners, may become tax residents there within the next 10 years or so, as retirement beckons.
I hope your article gains traction and is sent to the necessary government departments/ministers in Portugal, so they can recognise, on a micro and macroeconomic level, the huge inward investment for the hospitality industry alone that enables spin-off economies of scale from non-resident home ownership.
This is also crucial for Portugal’s growth both in Europe and on the world stage to appear outward looking, especially in this instance where non-resident homeowners are major net investors/contributors in Portugal in all the ways you describe.
I have been reading that there are a number of British owners in different parts of the EU selling or listing their holiday homes for sale due to this 90/180-day ruling and the ETIAS coming in in 2022. I believe this is short-sighted by many owners who, unfortunately, may be misguided (not advised properly) and have regrets later when things settle down and possible amendments to the maximum non-resident homeowner stays are made on a bilateral or even at the Schengen level.
Myself, wife and family have been coming to Portugal for 35 years and have owned property for more than 20 years here and have many Portuguese friends.
Portugal is a beautiful country, as you know, from the welcoming people, culture, food and history to its superb climate all of which resonates with me and aligns with values I share.
Thank you once again for highlighting this disparity concerning the 90/180-day rule as it is applied to ‘us’ – the non-resident homeowners – in contrast to tourists in general.
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I am astonished to see such a suggestion. Basically, what you’re suggesting is re-negotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, which is not possible.
You chose to leave the EU but yet you want your cake and eat it.
Boris Johnson negotiated this deal and now you want it unpicked bit by bit.
There are more nationalities living in the Algarve than British immigrants, so I would have no fear for the Portuguese economy.
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With regard to the above article, my wife and I wholeheartedly agree with everything he stated but would like to add that, after numerous years of paying our council tax, we now have to appoint a fiscal representative to do this for us. The charges for this are quite expensive for something that is very easy to do. We pay our electricity, water, and condominium fees by direct debit with no problems, so why can we not pay this by direct debit being non-residents?
It seems as everything is being made more difficult.
Steve and Shirley Graham
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Well said Roger Eastoe!
Let’s hope the government of Portugal take careful note of your arguments and acts in the best interests of the country.
Prof. Steve Lumby
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Congratulations on your excellent article in the Resident.
My wife and I recently (just before December 31 last year) registered as Portuguese citizens. We have not yet bought a house but are planning to do so in the next 12 months.
As a new Portuguese and EU resident I would like to express my total support for – and solidarity with – non-resident UK citizens who are homeowners and the proposal that they should have a fairer dispensation than tourists.
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Good Morning from the Isle of Skye.
I read your article with interest and agree completely that more flexibility would be beneficial to all – a win win.
My wife and I have owned a house in the Algarve for 12 years and are regular visitors. My wife is incoming Lady Captain at our golf club and the 90-day rule will seriously restrict time in the country, once we have both had our vaccinations.
A couple of points:
I looked at visa information – there is the possibility of a “long-term visa – long-term stay” which permits four months multiple entry at €75 per head. One of the criteria is to “pursue amateur sports activity”. I have not investigated this fully yet, but wonder if this is an option to help the golfing fraternity?
In addition, I wonder if, when such a visa expires, you can immediately revert to the 90/180 rule or whether your “long-term visa” days would count as 90 days counting back, therefore you cannot re-enter for 90 days. Or if you can immediately apply for a further long-term visa.
I am sure that, if you were not already aware of this, you have the contacts to find out more from the authorities, and that this type of visa might help many folks in the short term until (hopefully) a change in the rules occurs.
I also heard (anecdotally from a contact in Spain) that both Spain and Portugal are seeking to change the rule from 90/180 to 180/360. If true, this would also help.
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My wife and I are US citizens currently domiciled in the US. In March 2020, we purchased a townhouse in one of the Algarve’s coastal communities. The house had been a rental for the past 20 years and, as one might expect, requires a great deal of renovation. This past November we came to Portugal for 65 days intent on renovating and updating the house. We spent thousands of euros on tradespeople and thousands of euros in retail establishments furnishing the house. Every day was a workday. We were not in the country as tourists.
We feel hamstrung by the 90-day rule because we would like to spend more than 90 days completing our renovation. There is still a lot of work to be done on the house. Even now, despite being back in the US, we have a cabinet maker working in our house. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, i.e. replacement of the roof tiles, and the renovation of two bathrooms and the kitchen.
Did I forget to mention that our renovation work means employment for some Portuguese tradesperson? How many times do “tourists” hire tradespeople and spend thousands of euros on them and various retailers?
We strongly favor the Portuguese government legislating a rule for homeowners who are non-residents that would ease the 90-day rule. This will in no way harm the Portuguese economy; in fact, it will be highly beneficial to the country as a whole.