The Spanish Holiday Hack – How Brits Are Set To Loophole Abroad

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It probably hasn’t escaped many of you that we’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic, and the most adventure you can look forward to in the upcoming days is a trip to the Tesco biscuit aisle.

However, not everyone seems to be quite as accepting of their fate. InsideFlyer’s Euro-wide reach has well-placed contacts in Spain, and it seems that a number of restless Brits are making plans to use an exceptionally exploitable travel loophole – coming to Spain to view a property.

spain travel allowed

Firstly, there are of course a number of perfectly legitimate UK-based potential Spanish property buyers out there. While it could be argued that now is a strange time to be coming to Spain to view a property, everyone has their own needs and circumstances. There are also honest estate agents out there. I mean, I haven’t ever met one, but statistically they should exist, I think. In a sort of “monkey and typewriter” fashion. The pathologically honest peace-of-mind enthusiast who accidentally wrote “estate agent” on his job application, rather than “estate planning”.

The loophole in action

Anyway, back to the key point. The UK seems set to pass legislation (The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021), effective from 29 March, allowing people to travel overseas in connection with second homes abroad, a move that has been dubbed the “Stanley Johnson loophole“.

The actual provision, as drafted, is:

spain travel allowed

Not only are Brits set to make use of this loophole, it is being actively encouraged by Estate Agents who are using it to drum up interest in Spain and get a nice captive audience to their properties.

Just have a look at this recent email communication from a Spanish estate agent:

spain travel allowed

Call me a cynic, but that last sentence doesn’t appear to entirely encourage a quick, essential visit for an essential viewing of an essential property. Plus that’s not even really the requirement – “reasonably necessary” is a pretty easy threshold to justify if you just announce an interest in buying (or even renting) Spanish property. Fairly remarkably, there doesn’t seem to be any clear time frames. It seems you could very easily come for a week in Spain, enjoy the open bars and restaurants, spend an hour viewing that “property of a lifetime” and then head home.

It also seems that people connected to estate agents in Spain are viewing them as having, effectively, a “licence to prescribe Spanish holidays”.

Clearly, this allowance is not limited to Spain, but we have very much a first-hand account of what is going on there. Let’s just say that a combination of Brits desperate for a holiday, and a largely open Costa del Sol, means that the 29 March relaxation will not only benefit the dedicated property buyers.

But don’t these people have to quarantine?

On arrival in Spain, travellers from the UK are not required to quarantine, although they may be required to take a Covid test.

On return to the UK, the “non-red list” quarantine is applicable, so 10 days of light-touch quarantine. I would gently submit that anyone prepared to go to Spain for a holiday right now is unlikely to be overly-daunted by a UK quarantine that’s borderline impossible to police.

spain travel allowed


  1. maccymac says

    This is really disgusting.

    We’ve all been suffering trying to get through this as quickly as possible and there are scores of selfish melts more than happy to risk prolonging this misery because they can’t do the simple task of just staying put for a few more months.

    Morally repugnant.

    • Tom Sumner says

      I also agree with your assessment. However, I think a lot of the blame needs to lie with the government for allowing this comically unnecessary and non-specific exemption.

      Clearly, certain classes of people need to travel abroad for genuinely essential reasons. How ‘viewing a property’ can be deemed in that category is mind-boggling.

      • Craig Sowerby says

        Judging by my Facebook group for expats in Catalonia, there are a lot of people who own two homes and had become accustomed to hopping back and forth to make sure that everything’s ok. You’d be pretty annoyed if squatters took over your place on the Med just because the UK Government decided that it wasn’t essential for you to empty your mailbox and open the shutters occasionally. Or if your tenants move out and you’re not able to deal with it personally.

        That doesn’t excuse people taking a reasonably-intentioned loophole and turning it into an excuse for a holiday. (even though as InsideFlyer travel hackers we might have pushed the boundaries here or there ourselves…)

  2. Alex W says

    Why are you publicising this immoral loophole? You may not be the first to find it, but by sharing it you are just as bad as the estate agents that you are slandering. People in glass houses…!

  3. Andy says

    Tend to agree with Alex. When I read through the document earlier this week I saw the open potential for everyone suddenly becoming interested in foreign property buying/renting but publicising it only tends to open up the idea to more people.

    Suggesting its a travel hack you don’t condone then listing the ways round it seems somewhat counter productive

    • Joe Deeney says

      I can understand the perspective, but respectfully disagree. We discussed it before publication and, of course, the decision to do so was ultimately mine. Fundamentally, the question was whether to cover something that is both topical and potentially important, or not.

      When we cover things (often critically, as in this case) we could always be accused of bringing something to the attention of some people who may otherwise not have known about it. In general, that’s a good thing. What people choose to do with that knowledge is mostly a matter of personal responsibility – although, we do try to help readers avoid bad decisions (whether that’s a bad deal, bad travel plans, or in the post-covid world, bad public/personal health decisions).

      If the article was presented as something like “Check Out This Simple Tip To Save YOUR Summer Holiday!”, I would absolutely agree with you by the way – but it’s not.

      There is clearly a difference between writing about something (and in fact condemning it) and encouraging it.

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