My husband and I will be traveling all over Europe this summer (Schengen and non-schengen counties. We know that we can stay in Schengen counties for up to 90 days without a visa. We have heard that if you get a visa from one of the schengen counties you would be able to travel freely through the other counties over the 90 days. Does anyone know what the cheapest/easiest visa is to get? Is a Schengen visa the same as a country visa? We are both United States citizens.
Here's an article that addresses your questions.
Good luck. As Matt says, it's complicated, and there are some tricky hoops to jump through.
A Schengen Visa is not easy to get. You have to have an address where you are going to live. I’m pretty sure they are not issued for the purpose of just traveling around. You have to present, in person, all kinds of documentation proving that you have sufficient income and medical insurance so that you will not become a burden to the social services of the member countries.
That being said, do you understand that the 90 days need not be consecutive? How long will your trip be? If some of your destinations are non-Schengen, you can travel around, just keeping track of the number in. By the way, it’s 90 out of 180. The clock does not reset when you leave and start over at 1 when you return. Take that last seriously. Arrival and departure days count as in. Many people have been caught upon departure and had stiff fines levied, like €500. For you that would be x 2.
Getting a visa from one country and freely traveling is need not only a visa but a residency permit. At least in Italy that is the case. We lived there, arriving under an Elective Residence Visa and acquiring a residency permit which was renewable annually. It was not easy. If you do not intend to establish a home in Europe, the easiest way is to spend your 90 out of 180 days wisely, going to non-Schengen countries (the UK for example) to rest your Schengen clock.
I highly recommend just planning enough non-Schengen time to be safe. That is a much easier approach. It doesn't sound as if your entire trip will be terribly long, and you can occupy yourselves either in the Ireland/UK or in Croatia/Montenegro/Serbia/Bosnia-Herzegovina/Romania/Bulgaria. The second option will be less expensive if your itinerary takes you over that way. There's also Morocco if you're going to be in southern Spain--but both Morocco and southern Spain are best visited during a cooler time of year. And there's Turkey, too. Plus the various countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.
Last year we traveled five months in Europe. Here’s how. One month each in Ireland and Scotland which are not Schengen Zone countries and the other three months (88 days to be exact) in Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Greece, which are in the Schengen Zone.
Next summer we will travel for four months. Three months in Schengen countries and one month in Cyprus.
Someone recommended a Schengen visa...a Schengen Visa is for people whose passport does not allow them to travel in the Schengen Zone without a separate visa. As a US citizen a Schengen Visa does not apply to you.
In order to stay within the Schengen Zone for more than 90 days in 180 you need to get a long term visa for a country within the Schengen Zone. If you just want to travel this is not going to be possible. You have to prove you have a reason to be there. You have to provide an address, often register with the local police, prove income, etc. It's a difficult process that involves a great deal of bureaucracy
Just FYI here is the link to the French Consulate in Los Angeles that shows the steps in the very long process of applying for a French long-stay visa.
Like others have recommended it's usually easiest to divide your time between Schengen and non-Schengen countries, being careful not to exceed 90 days in every rolling 180 day period..
As a US citizen you don't need a Schengen Visa, just your passport, but have to be mindful of the 90 days out of 180 days. We are in the process of loosely planning one year in Europe (Whoppee for retirement this year) ....trying to manage the Schengen - non Schengen is interesting. Someone told me recently that visiting Croatia as a non-Schengen country could be challenging because it's not easy to get passports stamped to prove you've been out of a Schengen Country. Has anyone had experience with that.
This past summer we entered Europe through Frankfurt then flew to Croatia. We were stamped out of Frankfurt and into and out of Croatia when our visit was over. But, be aware that Croatia is almost finished with their 3 year waiting period for EU entrance and may be joining the zone soon. Keep researching.
Thank you - that's good to know and be aware of!
Many countries, including Croatia, don’t stamp because it is computerized now. When we come and go from Croatia by car, the border agents no longer stamp. This has been the case for several years.
While it is a process to get some type of extended stay visa, it can be worth the effort. Many people do it, it does require some expense and travel to a consulate.
Some basic questions that might help with an initial decision:
Are you retired, or of "working age"? A number of countries have no problem allowing retirees to come live for a while, pending some of the requirements below. It is good for the economy. If of "working age" then some flags go up...what is your true purpose? Are you planning on seeking employment? etc. Retirement Living is a valid reason to seek a Visa.
Do you have good financial resources and/or a source of non-work income? Rule of thumb seems to be having cash assets of $25,000 or more, plus maybe a pension, SS, or other income. Keep in mind that having an extended Visa, Certainly if you have a longer residency permit, that you may incur a tax liability in that country.
Do you have a plan for Medical coverage while there? Medicare will not cover you (though you will need to maintain Medicare coverage), Private plans will, otherwise you may need to look around for a plan for the time period and evaluate cost.
Many Countries require you to provide a Notarized Security Check, do some research on haw, where, and how much to get.
Visa's are issued by a specific country, the expectation is that you will be residing within the country for the duration, some require a specific address, some a town or region. That does not prevent you from traveling within the Schengen Zone, and depending on the terms of the Visa, in and out of the Schengen Zone. Technically there may be some limits to travel, but without intra-Schengen border checks, it is difficult to track. You might do some planning as to where a good "home base" would be.
In the calculus, if this is a one time trip and you intend to be traveling all over the Schengen zone, then try to balance Schengen vs Non-Schengen time. If you are retired, can meet the criteria mentioned above, and are looking to kick back in one spot for a while, and maybe looking to do the same in the future, then certainly start the process of investigating.
Emily that may be because you are an EU citizen, we drove to Venice from Croatia for the day and were stamped, both ways. I just checked my passport.
We obtained an Elective Residency Visa for Italy last May. We are now residents here. Even so, the same Schengen rules apply for travel to other Schengen countries. No more than 90 out of 180 can be spent in non Italy Schengen countries. That being said, with no border control, or passport stamping, there is no way to for your travels to be tracked.
But to someone’s point earlier, the visa is not a “tourist visa”. To apply for a 1 year visa, there is a list of hoops to jump through including a 1 year lease where one intends to live.
Below is a link to our experience with the Italian Consulate when we applied for our visa
San Fran Italian Consulate Appt for long term visa
Barbara - I am a US Citizen.
But, be aware that Croatia is almost finished with their 3 year
waiting period for EU entrance and may be joining the zone soon.
I'm sure 3 year period the poster is refering to, but Croatia has been an EU-member since 2013. There are some requirements for a state to join Schengen, but the last I heard is that Croatia is aiming to becmembers by 2020. But when they join, an entry date will be set well in advance.
To go back to the original question.
A "Schengen Visa" is the visa you get to give you "90 days in any 180" in the Schengen Area as a tourist. Only some people need one, many nationalities are allowed 90 days in 180 as a tourist without a Schengen Visa. As GlobalNomad does not state his nationality, I cannot comment on which category (s)he is in.
If you want to stay over 90 days, you have two options
a) If you are a citizen of an EU country no problem. You can stay, live and work in all EU countries with no limit.
b) Otherwise you need to get a residence visa from a Schengen Area country.
I emphasise here there is no one common Schengen procedure for residence. You get a residence visa/permit from whichever country you wish to stay in, and it is covered by that countries laws, procedures and rules. You would have to prove you have sufficient funds, medical coverage etc. Depending on which option you go for you may or may not be able to work. Your application would be made to the embassy or consulate of that country.
Once you get a residence visa, it is only valid for that country. You are still restricted to 90 days in 180 in other Schengen countries (though that is difficult to enforce with no border checks). And, if allowed to work, that would only be in the country of your visa.
If you wish to go down this road, you need to decide which country you wish to spend most of your time in, and inquire at that country's embassy or consulate.
Questions: How long do you want to spend in the Schengen Area? Do you want to work or do you have enough funds to cover this stay? Where do you want to stay? What nationality are you?