Stop navigating from one website to another, and read ALL the information you need before you leave home.
The Schengen Tourist Visa is a document allowing you to visit most European countries. The visa sticker shows how long you may remain in the Schengen Area, the date on which your visa becomes valid and the date on which your visa expires. After that date, the visa will no longer be valid.
Despite more than 70 countries are excluded from travel visa obligations, some restrictions apply within the Schengen Area. ALL visitors must respect them at all times.
The most annoying one for long-term travellers is the “90-day limit” stay stopping them to stay more than 3 months in the Schengen Area. But, believe it or not, there are a few situations that will do the trick. Take this decision at your own risk because you will be breaking the Law.
The signature of the Schengen Agreement in June 1985 led to the creation of the Schengen Area. The main objective was to gradually abolish the border checks between the countries forming this common area.
26 European countries currently form the Schengen Area. All of them have removed internal border controls and have a common visa policy.
Therefore, all these countries act if it were only one in terms of border controls. As soon as you enter the Schengen Area you go through a border control. But once inside there won’t be further internal controls.
For example, if you travel from Canada to Spain you go through an immigration control at your arrival in Spain. If you then go from Spain to France, you can do so freely, without any passport control.
The Schengen Tourist Visa is a 90-day visitor visa allowing you to travel throughout the Schengen Area.
Currently, citizens of 70+ countries are allowed to travel to the Schengen Area without having to get a visa in advance.
Since Spain is part of the Schengen Area, have a look at the citizenships excluded from visa obligations to check whether you need a visa or not.
As any other visa, the Schengen Tourist Visa has many restrictions. The most important one is the popularly known as “90-day limit”.
For non-Schengen citizens, the entrance is only valid for 90 days (50% of the time in the Schengen Area) within a period of 180 days (6 months). While these days are not necessarily consecutive, they are cumulative.
As a consequence, after a total of 90 days in the Schengen Area, you must leave the Schengen country you are in. You can do so from a different country than the one your entered the Schengen Area.
Thus, in the simple case of an Australian staying in Greece for 90 consecutive days, that Australian must exit the Schengen Area for the next 90 days.
The immigration official controls your time thanks to the stamp you get on your passport as soon as you enter and depart the Schengen Area. Make sure your passport is always stamped to avoid any confusion.
You can travel around Europe for more than 90 days. And it’s easy; you only need to smartly combine the countries you stay in.
The UK for instance allows you to stay 180 days. Other non-Schengen countries (e.g. Ireland, Croatia) allow you to stay between 60 and 90 days.
So if you plan to spend more than 3 months in Europe travelling, stay in Schengen for 90 days, travel to non-Schengen countries for at least 90 days and you are ready to enter the Area again.
This is a question that people have been asking in travel forums for ages. Europe is a very big continent and 90 days are simply not enough to go everywhere. Unfortunately, most long-term travellers keep looking to find a way to slip past the “90 day limit”.
It’s possible but it’s not easy.
1. Apply for a long-term visa
This is a semi-permanent visa that lasts up to one year. The requirements and process vary in each country. The easiest countries to apply for this kind of visa are France, Sweden and Italy.
2. If you are under 30, apply for a 1-2 year Working Holiday Visa
This visa, however, is only available to Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders. You should seriously consider this option even if you don’t plan to work.
Note: This visa requires you to enter and exit the Schengen Area from the country that issued it.
3. Apply for a Student Visa
If you are considering studying in Spain, have a look at the details. Other countries application process is similar.
4. Apply for a 1-2 year German Self-Employment Visa
This visa has two limitations:
• You must be in Germany to submit the application.
• You must have some sort of income.
You can get it in a week or so. Additionally, if you are about to end your 90-day period and the process takes longer, you will be given a temporary 3-month extension.
5. Take the Eurostar to enter France from the UK
The Eurostar or Chunnel is the train crossing the English Channel though an undersea tunnel.
In order for this strategy to work you must do it from France to the UK because the UK doesn’t issue exit stamps, whereas France does. Moreover, France does not have an entry stamp control in the Chunnel.
It doesn’t work the other way round because you get an exit stamp both in France and in the UK.
Using this little trick allows you to stay 180 + 90 = 270 days in the Schengen Area. All you have to do when leaving Schengen is tell the immigration official that you left the UK on the 180th day. He won’t be able to prove you did not.
Nevertheless, some blogs and forums articles explain that some travellers got a stamp in France after coming down from the train. Success is not 100% guaranteed.
If you want to keep reading on the subject, the Telegraph published an article about a loophole discovered at the Eurostar gates in Brussels.
You risk a fine and deportation.
However, it will depend on the country you exit from.
Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland and the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland) are very strict. Your stamps will be thoroughly controlled and the immigration official will count the days you stayed in. The outcome will depend on how long you overstayed. It can go from a warning or a high fine up to an “illegal immigrant” stamp on your passport and your immigration record.
On the other hand, border controls in Spain, France, Italy and Greece are less rigorous. You shouldn’t have many problems if you don’t overstay too long (a week or so). Nevertheless, keep in mind that you rely on the immigrations officer’s mood.
According to some opinions on various travel forums, Spanish authorities are described as not being very thorough regarding exit procedures. But you should avoid overstaying by all means. The risk is simply not worth it.
If you are thinking about extending your Schengen Tourist Visa, forget about it. There is no way to do so.