Simon Calder warns that without these documents you could be turned away from Spain

After the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, negotiators in Brussels acquiesced to our insistence that we should be “third-country nationals”. Brexit means British travellers face much higher hurdles for any trip to the EU and wider Schengen Area.

On arrival at a Schengen frontier, each British passport must be examined and stamped. Officials need to ensure the traveller has not spent too much time in the EU recently (a maximum of 90 days in any 180 days).

They must also be satisfied that the traveller has sufficient financial resources and will return to the UK (or continue to a non-EU country) after a short visit.

Each European Union nation can choose its own subsistence criteria for admitting British travellers – and also impose requirements on accommodation. Spain requires anyone staying with friends or family to obtain a Carta de Invitación (Letter of Invitation). The process can take weeks, and the official document costs over £70. But without it you may be turned away at the border.

What are the Spanish rules?

Spain is the most popular holiday destination for UK travellers. The authorities demand evidence of a booking for hotel or other commercial accommodation. The Foreign Office says: “At Spanish border control, you may need to show:

  • a return or onward ticket

  • proof of your travel insurance

  • you have enough money for your stay – the amount varies depending on your accommodation

  • a hotel booking confirmation or proof of address if you’re staying at your own property

  • an invitation or proof of address if staying with a third party, friends or family, such as a ‘carta de invitación’ completed by your hosts.”

How does my host get a Carta de Invitación?

They should first download the form (in Spanish only) and complete it.. They can then apply at the local police station in Spain for a carta de invitación.

Besides full details of the invitee and the exact relación o vínculo (“relationship or bond”) the property owner has with the guest, they must produce the title deeds to the property and specify the dates when the guest will be staying. In addition, “the applicant may be summoned to hold a personal interview in order to verify his or her identity”.

Once the letter is ready, several weeks later, the host can collect it on payment of a fee of around £70.

Crikey – is there any way around this?

Some people recommend the traveller swerves the requirement by making a cancellable booking for a hotel; printing out the confirmation; and cancelling the room once through Spanish passport control. The Independent does not condone this course of action.

Besides the Letter of Invitation, how much money must I have at the border?

Each British visitor must have at least €1,020.60 (£862), which will cover a stay of up to nine days. For trips of 10 days or longer, you must have a minimum of 10 per cent of the monthly minimum wage – currently €113.40 (£96) per person per day.

For a fortnight’s holiday a family of four will need proof of £5,364 in total.

You can provide cash, travellers’ cheques or credit cards; the latter must be supported by “a bank account statement or an up-to-date bank book … or any other means that reliably certifies the amount available as credit on the aforementioned card or bank account”.

Internet bank statements are not acceptable, the Spanish government warns.

What if I don’t have the money – or the letter?

“Entry into Spanish territory will be denied,” say the authorities in Madrid. In practice, few travellers are likely to be asked. But when temperatures are running high over Gibraltar, officials at the land crossing from the British Overseas Territory into Spain may ask for full documentation.

How did we get to this position?

Because we asked for it. The European Union acquiesced to UK demands and agreed to grant us the status of third-country nationals.

“A great moment in history” – eight years ago this month, that was how leading Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom portrayed the vote to leave the European Union. “My ambition will be to guide our country to the sunlit uplands.”

Her colleague Michael Gove chimed in: “We hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want.”

The path we wanted was to become third-country nationals, facing a tangle of rules and restrictions – including the Carta de Invitación. So whether or not you voted to leave the EU, you can rejoice in the fact that Brussels gave us exactly what we wanted.

As the first Brexit Secretary, David Davis pointed out: “There will be no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside.”

Our guide to the complete ‘Benefits of Brexit’ for travellers, as claimed by the government; it is not a long article