We're confused a bit by the advice on the State Departments website re: need for visas in Europe. I understand that for many countries a visa is needed for more than 90 days stay, but it sounds like that many countries are considered together in regards to the length of stay - i.e., Germany, Austria, Italy, others are being referred to as Schengen countries where as entry in to one country starts the clock ticking for others? We're headed to Europe indefinitely (4-6 mos likely) and so are curious about this. Any thoughts?
There are 15 Schengen members...Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Schengen countries are all lumped as one and, as a group, they will only let visitors stay 90 days maximum every six month period. You'd then have to visit another country or countries outside the Schengen countries for 93 days before getting back into the Schengen bloc for another 90 days. You would probably have to split that time in at least two other oountries (say the UK and Poland), since most other countries only allow 90-day stays, maximum, for tourists....and that extra three days may be a problem if a sharp-eyed immigration officer notices it.
As Norm indicated, the 90 days is for the group of Schengen countries as a whole, but you can extend travel indefinitely by mixing your travel with non-Schengen countries like the UK, Ireland, Switzerland, most of Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Here is some good info:
Maybe a little easier to understand:
The 90 days in a schengen country need not be one block, you can enter and leave, "stopping the clock" so to speak. If you plan on pressing the 90 days to avoid a formal visa though, keep some evidence of your travel (Train Stubs, Hotel Receipts) as passports are not always stamped or scanned at Schengen/Non-Schengen border crossings.
I have not heard of the term "Schengen" countries. Europe is divided into Western Europe and Eastern Europe, a more common term which Europeans use. The European Union consists of the countries we're most familiar with and there are 27 countries who are members of this union. Most of Eastern Europe are not members yet and most of them require a visa. These countries are less developed and food is much cheaper there. Just made a friend from Slovakia, where he said 3 EUR can buy you a lunch whereas in Germany for instance only a bottled water. Except for specific Eastern European countries, you will not need a visa to travel to different European countries during your time span. I am from the states and I am doing the same thing like you are. Feel free to doublecheck the info I gave you.
KIm, better check on the visas. Everything I have
read gives the 3 mo rule. There are Schengen
countries. Europe is Western, Central and Eastern.
Best to check with the Counsulate General's office
for the countries in which you are traveling.
We have traveled in many eastern countries and have
never had a visa, but we were only there for a few