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Schengen Agreement

My fiance and I were planning to spend a lengthy honeymoon traveling throughout Europe for 3-5 months starting in April 2015 and ending in August. In doing research and planning, we became concerned that the Schengen Agreement may limit our ability to travel for more than three months within those countries. Does the agreement affect foreign travel? Is there any way around those restrictions?

Posted by
9363 posts

Yes, the agreement affects foreign travel. You can only spend a total of 90 days, out of any 180 days, in the Shengen zone. The only way "around" it is to plan your trip to include no more than 90 days in the zone. The 90 days don't have to be consecutive, but you will have to keep careful track of your time inside it. And that's 90 days for ALL of the countries together, not each country.

Posted by
3592 posts

There was a lengthy thread, recently, which dealt with this topic. It was started by someone who put up a question about spending 4 months in Europe, not a question about Schengen. If you can find it, using the search function, it would be very worthwhile for you to read it. Even if you read the official statements, you might miss some of the important twists in the rules, which several posters elucidated. For example, 90 days means 90, not 91. No leeway is granted; and, I believe, 90 includes the day of departure. The penalties can be VERY severe.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all so much for the information! This news is a little disappointing. We had hoped to take our time and visit around 5 countries with plenty of time for extended hiking/camping trips within a five month period. Now we'll either have to change our itinerary or try to apply for a visa in one of the countries. Again, thanks for the clarification! We definitely don't want any penalties!

Posted by
3592 posts

The process for obtaining visas is complicated and lengthy. Basically, the countries that are party to the agreement want proof that you will not try to work and that you will not become a burden on their social services. You would need to present detailed documentation of adequate income and medical insurance. There's probably more that I don't know about. You each must apply in person at a consulate. Depending on where you live, that, itself, could be time consuming. For example, my brother and sil, who live half time in Italy and half in western Massachusetts, have to take the 3 hour drive to Boston each time they renew their visas. There's nothing automatic about the process, and it can take a long time. It's not clear, at this point, whether you even have enough time for getting visas. It seems to me that the simplest solution is to follow the advice given above and do a couple of months in some of the non-Schengen countries. I hope you haven't bought plane tickets yet. If you have, you could still spend the necessary amount of time outside the zone; then, return. Lots of cheap flights to and from the UK.

Posted by
7513 posts

If the five months is important, at least look at the Visa process. As mentioned, it is not quick, you will need to provide proof of financial support, health insurance usually, and various other requirements. Your biggest issue though is that typically a country grants a visa to allow you to live in that country, at least implying that the expectation is that you will have a residence. Getting a visa just to "travel" to multiple countries, spending less than a month in each, likely will be rejected. Your best bet would be to pick a "home base", look into renting an apartment, etc; then present that plan to the applicable country. You are still free to travel and could likely still accomplish most of what you want.

Posted by
16893 posts

Brtiain, Ireland, Turkey, and Morocco are all excellent, non-Schengen destinations for extending your trip. Bulgaria could also be on the list.

Posted by
223 posts

Mary,
A noion I have discarded because I'm too old, but young adults' requirements for visas are not as awful as for others. Even better if you all are students.

Posted by
32198 posts

mary,

Which countries are you planning to visit? As Laura mentioned, the U.K. is not part of the Schengen area and has their own "common travel area" rules, which allow visitors to stay for six months (as I recall). If you spent 90 days in the Schengen area and the remainder of the five months in the U.K., that should certainly be possible.

Posted by
11613 posts

I would either start or end outside the Schengen area. 90 days means any part of a day, not a 24-hour period. Getting a visa, depending on which country you try, could take months.

Posted by
335 posts

If you decide to apply for a long-term tourist visa so you can stay within the Schengen countries for longer than 90 days, DO NOT try to get one through the French Embassy. I considered doing that last year, started my research in March for a September trip, and it was not enough time to meet all their requirements (no personal interview appointments available (required), have to finish the process by 3 months prior to departure date, all docs must be translated in French, etc.). So I ended up having to change my airline tix for an earlier return to stay legal (I stayed EXACTLY 90 days!) For 5 months, maybe you could do a month in England (non-Schengen), 3 months within the Schengen countries, and then another month in other non-Schengen countries. Good luck and congrats on such a wonderful honeymoon plan!

Posted by
22 posts

My husband and I planned a four month trip in Europe mid-Sept. 2013 to late Jan. 2014. When we learned about the Schengen Agreement we tried to get info, read many different interpretations, tried to get info from the State Dept. and still nothing "official". So, my engineer husband did a spread sheet listing/numbering each and every day, where we were and another numbered list of days in Schengen countries. We started with three weeks in Ireland, so Day #1 of Schengen started when we flew to Sardinia. Those Schengen Days continued until our first full day in Istanbul (visa required, but EASY!), then we boarded a cruise ship, spent several more days stopping in Turkey. Stops in Greece and Italy counted (if you go ashore!) but days at sea don't count. Disembarked in Rome and Schengen days continued to count....until we drove into Croatia for 2 1/2 weeks for a wonderful experience off-season. We joked with people we met that we "HAD to come to Pula and Plitvika to avoid breaking rules; of course they knew we joked because we were amazed and loved it all! We had leased a car and drove most everywhere, but left the car in Rome and flew to Istanbul, then picked it up when back in Rome. From Croatia we drove to Budapest to spend most of December with Hungarian friends then spent several weeks exploring our way to Amsterdam and fly home to Seattle. We had our passports stamped, had our airline tickets and ship itinerary, receipts, etc. to be able to prove we had spent 88 days in Schengen Countries and the rest outside. Even so, my husband was nervous because of the various stories and warnings of dire consequences we had read. So when he returned the car to the company site at the airport he had extra time waiting for the shuttle to return him to our hotel and decided to speak to the Customs Office at the airport. He was directed to an unmarked door, knocked and a heavily-armed officer opened it, listened to his explanation and query re absolute strictness of the Schengen Rules. The officer pointed to the Security area and officials checking passports and said that if they have any questions they will direct you to ME, right here! He laughed, was very pleasant and said they really have no problems with US citizens who are touring, spending money, etc. and really follow the "rules", as WE DID!!! So now we really understand the system....had we somehow gone over the 90 days we would not have had problems, however, we made a point to PLAN our adventure and keep track of where we were in the big Schengen Numbers Countdown!!!
Have a great trip, plan and DON'T get crazed with worrying!

We're busy planning our next 100 day Road Trip for this coming mid-April!

Posted by
11613 posts

Patricia got lucky. Don't count on luck. Look at the penalties for violating the 90-day limit and plan accordingly.

I'm pretty sure that if I asked a security officer the same question on my way out of the country and had proof in hand that I hadn't overstayed in Schengen areas, I'd get a big smile and "No worries", too. Last impressions are important.

Posted by
9363 posts

Of course Patricia had no problem with Schengen - they followed the rules. Had they not, though, it might have been a different story. It has been reported here that people have been fined on their way out after overstaying, and the penalties can be worse. It IS something to pay attention to and keep track of, and not assume that there will be no problem because you are only over by a few days and are "touring and spending money".