How to (Legally) Stay in Europe for More Than 90 Days

By Nomadic Matt | Published May 8th, 2012

A simple map of the countries in EuropeAs I’ve been planning my move to Sweden, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get past the 90-day limit placed on tourist visas. This is a problem encountered by travelers every year and a question that regularly pops up in my inbox.

“How can I stay in Europe for more than 90 days?” I’m asked.

It’s a great question with a very complicated answer. I’ve always known it’s difficult, but until I started researching on how to stay there, I never knew how difficult. But in the process of this research, I’ve come to learn there are a few ways to stay in Europe longer than 90 days, they just aren’t well known.

First, it’s important to note that Europe isn’t a monolithic area—there are varying visa rules throughout the continent—but when people talk about the “90-day limit,” they’re talking about restrictions on the Schengen visa, which is the visa rule that governs 26 countries in Europe. It includes all of the European Union except Ireland and the United Kingdom as well as a few non-EU countries.

What is the Schengen Visa?
The Schengen visa is a 90-day tourist visa for Schengen Area countries that include:

Austria Belgium Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
Finland France Germany Greece Hungary
Iceland Italy Latvia Lithuania Liechtenstein
Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland
Portugal Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden

These countries have a border-free visa agreement that lets residents move throughout the Area without needing a passport. Essentially, it’s as if they’re one country, and you can move as freely as you want. Residents of the UK and Ireland are still allowed limitless entry. For non-Schengen citizens, you’re allowed entry into the Area for 90 days within any 180-day period. These days don’t need to be consecutive—the total is cumulative. Once day 181 hits, the count resets itself.

Citizens of most countries are allowed to enter the Schengen area without having to get a visa beforehand. Your passport simply gets stamped upon your arrival and departure from Europe. You’re allowed to enter and leave from any country you want—they don’t have to be the same. I fly in and out of different countries all the time. Once you’re in, your 90-day counter starts.

However, not all travelers are allowed such freedom. Citizens from many countries need to apply for a Schengen visa ahead of time. You’ll be required to fill out paperwork beforehand and fly in and out of the country for which your visa is issued. (Even then, you still might not be granted a visa.)

You can find the specific rules regarding your country at the European Commission website. (Spoiler alert: citizens from African and Asian countries get screwed.)

Staying in Europe—The Easy Way

With so many visa rules, it’s easy to stay in Europe beyond 90 days as a tourist—you just need to mix up the countries you visit. The United Kingdom has its own rules that allow you to stay 180 days. Most non-Schengen countries such as Ukraine , Moldova, Croatia, Ireland, and some Balkan countries allow you to stay for up to 60 or 90 days. So all you need to do is spend 90 days in the Schengen Area, visit the UK, go to the Balkans, hang out in Ukraine, or drink wine in Moldova. If you align your schedule right, you can easily be out of the Area for 90 days and then head back in the Schengen Area.

That’s the easy way to stay for more than 90 days. Just vary your location. I spent three months in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and England as I waited for my clock to reset and then headed back into Germany for Oktoberfest.

PS – Continue planning your trip to Europe with my continent-wide Europe travel guide. I go every summer and can get you where you need to go. (Or keep reading if you need more Schengen help!)

Can You Stay in Schengen Longer Than 90 Days?

A map of Europe displaying the countries in the Schengen Zone in blueWhen most people ask me about staying in Europe, they mean staying longer in the Schengen Area. After all, it covers 26 countries, and visiting so many destinations in 90 days can be a little rushed (that would be an average of 3.4 days per country).

If you want more time in the Area to travel, live, learn a language, or fall in love, then the “move around” option isn’t going to work for you. You need something else. Luckily, there are a few ways to do this—and I can’t stress the importance of the word “few.” Staying more than 90 days in the Schengen Area isn’t easy.

The Schengen law states that you can’t stay in the area more than 90 days. If you do, you’re subject to a fine and deportation. How that rule is enforced, though, varies greatly from one country to another. If you overstay by a few days or even a week, you’ll probably be OK. If you overstay longer, you might have problems.

For example, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and Scandinavian countries are all very strict about entry and exit. If you overstay your visit by longer than a week, there’s a good chance they’ll pull you aside. Two Australians I know were detained leaving Switzerland due to overstaying their visa by two weeks. They were allowed to go with just a warning, but they had to book new flights.

I know of someone who overstayed by six months and now has an “illegal immigrant” stamp on her passport. In order to enter Europe again, she must apply for a visa at an embassy from now on and be preapproved. A reader sent me an email about a similar experience: “I made the mistake of attempting to leave from the Netherlands after overstaying a Schengen visa and was caught. I overstayed by about a month and they hand drew some sort of insignia in my passport to note my overstay. They told me I’d have to contact the IND and find out if I would be able to enter the Schengen states again.”

Yet if you leave from Greece, France, Italy, or Spain—the southern European countries—you won’t have any problems, provided you a) haven’t stayed over too long and b) didn’t catch the immigration officer on a bad day. When I left Greece, no one even looked at my passport. One of my friends met a boy in France, fell in love, and decided to not leave. A year later, when she finally did, the French officials didn’t even look twice. Another friend flew into France and didn’t get an entry stamp. Spain is notorious for not caring, and Americans who decide to overstay for months mention that as the easiest country to exit from.

That being said, I don’t think it’s wise to overstay. No matter where you are, you can get away with a few days. Maybe a week, especially if you’re heading home. But a few weeks? A few months? Don’t risk it.

Can you just extend your Schengen visa/stamp?
The Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums, while a mess of random posts, are good for one thing: stuff like this. I came across one great quote: “This topic has been discussed ad nauseum here on the boards for years. If someone found a way to extend a Schengen, we would have heard of it by now.”

He’s right. Simply put, you cannot extend your visa or entry stamp. There’s a 90-day limit, and that’s that.

So then what’s a tourist to do?

Three Visa Loopholes Anyone Can Use

Unfortunately, the majority of the countries do not allow long-term stay visas for visitors. In my pursuit of a long-term visa for Sweden, I found that there’s no universal long-term tourist visa for the Schengen Area. Schengen allows for a D- or C-class visa (letter varies on the country), which is a semi-permanent residence visa for up to one year. But the specific visa and requirements vary from country to country. Some countries are harder, some are easier, and others are nearly impossible despite being in the same visa treaty zone. (I don’t understand the variance either. Same zone, different rules—it makes no sense. You’d think if they were to all have the same rules they would abide by the same visa.)

But there are a few countries that do offer long-term visas, and these countries are the way into Europe:

Amazing view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in the summer
France offers a long-term visitor visa for a period of up to one year. The application process takes up to one month. According to the French Embassy, “The ‘visitor’ visa (or visa “D”) allows you to enter France and stay for more than three months. Long stay visa holders will be allowed to reside in France for up to 12 months according to the validity of their visa and purpose of stay.”

To get this visa, you must set up an appointment at the French consulate near you. You can’t walk in—you must make an appointment.

At this appointment, bring the following documents:

  • One application form filled out completely and signed.
  • One ID picture glued onto the application form.
  • Your original passport, which must have been issued less than 10 years ago, be valid for three months after your return, and have at least two blank pages left.
  • A letter certified by a notary public that promises you won’t engage in work.
  • A letter of employment stating current occupation and earnings.
  • Proof of income (you’ll need bank statements or copies of your investment portfolio).
  • Proof of medical insurance that includes evacuation insurance.
  • Proof of accommodation in France. (The French consulate never returned my emails, so I was unsure how you could have this before you even get to France. One could use a friend’s address or, lacking that, “rent” a place (one where you can get a refund) for the purposes of the interview. It’s a little fuzzy.)

Note: you can’t apply for this visa more than three months before your arrival date.

You can visit the French Embassy for links to local embassies and consulates for more information.

A river view of the city of Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden also offers a long-term stay tourist visa for a maximum period of one year. The process is easy but long—up to eight months! It’s not something to do at the last minute. You’ll need two copies of the following documents when applying for the visa:

  • Residence permit for visitor’s application form.
  • Notarized copies of the pages of your passport that show your identity and the validity of your passport as well as copies of all the other visas/stamps you have.
  • A bank statement showing means to support yourself for the duration of your stay.
  • A return airplane ticket.
  • A letter from your insurance company stating you’re covered overseas.

Applications can be delivered in person during visiting hours (no appointment needed) or mailed to a Swedish consulate.

After your documents are received, you’ll be required to have an interview with one of the immigration officers. Most people who apply for this visa have family in Sweden. If you don’t, you’ll need to have clear reasons as to why you need to stay longer and show ample proof that you can support yourself.

You can find a list of Swedish embassies here.

The colorful buildings and skyline of Florence, Italy
Like the other countries, Italy will let you in if you can afford it and promise not to work. You’ll need the following documents to apply:

  • A long-term visa application filled in and signed at the consulate. You must appear in person.
  • One passport-style photo.
  • Your passport, which has to be valid three months over the planned stay in Italy. The passport will be kept during the application process.
  • Documented and detailed guarantee of steady income. Proof of financial means, such as letters from the bank indicating the status of your account, including amount of money in the account.
  • Proof of lodging in Italy.
  • A letter specifying the reason for your stay in Italy, length of stay, and where you plan to reside.
  • A notarized background check.

This visa is issued solely to those who are planning to move to Italy and not work.

For more information, visit the Italian Embassy website.

PS – Spain and Portugal offer long-term-stay visas, but they’re geared to people who are retired and have lots of assets. They aren’t meant for people passing through, but you can always apply and try.

Additional Notes:

  • Citizens of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are eligible for one- to two-year working holiday visas, which allow them to stay and work within the Schengen Area. Applicants must apply for this visa from a specific country and be younger than 30. I would apply for this visa even if I didn’t plan on working simply to get the extended time in Europe.
  • Rules are not universal. In some cases (depending on your country of citizenship), additional documents may be required. You’ll want to check with your local embassy for specifics, but you aren’t restricted from applying for these visas from your home country.
  • All of these visas will require you to show proof that you either have income, have a high savings, or both. They’re adamant about not letting these visas be someone’s back-door way of getting into the EU and finding a job. While most didn’t give an exact number, I would say that if you don’t have at least $30,000 USD in your bank account when you apply, you shouldn’t apply. It’s hard to say for sure how much you really need as the embassy websites aren’t specific. It’s most likely at the discretion of the immigration officer, but the more money you can show, the better. This is about proving you don’t need to work. For citizens coming from developing countries, this number might be higher, and you may even need someone to vouch for you.

Because of Europe’s open-border policies, you simply need to enter and exit from the country that issued you the visa, but you can be anywhere in Europe during the length of your visa. Once a country has issued you one of these short-term-stay residence visas, you’re a “resident,” allowing you access to anywhere in Europe. Since the Swedish visa takes so long, I’m applying for a French one, but after I get to Paris , I’m simply going to fly to Stockholm.

Other Ways to Stay in Europe

Study – All Schengen Area countries offer student visas that aren’t hard to obtain so long as you’re enrolled in a recognized university program. This would require you to pay for the course, but it will virtually guarantee you a visa.

Marry – Fall in love with a European (or at least a friend) and apply for a marriage visa!

Be Self-Employed – Germany offers a “self-employment” visa. If you’re a freelancer and have some form of income, this is the visa to get. It’s perfect and will give you one to two years in the EU. This isn’t a business visa where you move your company to Germany, but a visa for contract workers, artists, web folks, and other freelance-type jobs. You need to apply for this visa when in Germany.

You can apply for this visa while you’re in Germany, and the process usually takes about a week. You simply need the following documents at your visa appointment:

  • A completed application form.
  • Two passport photos.
  • Bank statements – Like the other visas, they want to know you have money just in case you don’t find work. As before, the more money the better.
  • A copy of your resume.
  • Proof of residency – You’ll either need to be on a rental contract or be on someone’s rental agreement. You need to bring an official copy of the rental agreement to the immigration office. Adam of Travels of Adam, says, “All I’ve ever had are short sublets. You still have to register at a local city office but all I’ve done is show up with a printed-out lease from the Internet, and submitted that. Once you do that, you get the official form from the local office and that’s all the visa people want to see.”
  • Health insurance – You need to have German insurance that’s valid for at least one year. It’s easy to get once you’re in Germany, and you don’t need to be a German citizen to get it.

Bring a German speaker with you just in case there’s a need for translation. The process is pretty straightforward. You might get lucky and get the visa that day. Or they might review it over the course of a couple of weeks. But if they do that and your 90-day Schengen visa is close to expiring, they’ll give you a temporary three-month visa extension while they process your request. In theory, one could apply for the visa knowing they won’t meet all the requirements simply to get the three-month temporary visa.

It’s very rare someone is denied for this visa if they can show they have a job and proof of income. You can find out more information here.


The best, easiest, and most effective way to stay in Europe long term is to increase the number of countries you visit so you’re in the Schengen Area for only 90 days. As I said, there are a lot of countries not in the Area, so this is easy to do.

If you do want to stay in the Schengen Area beyond the 90-day limit, you need to apply for one of the visas listed above. When you go to the interview, make it crystal clear that you have enough money to support yourself, you’re not looking for a job, and give good reasons why you need to stay longer. I doubt “I want to spend more time drinking in Greece” will get you anywhere.

If you’re like me and want to stay longer than 90 days, be prepared to work the system. I decided not to apply for a Swedish visa because of the wait time and go for the French one instead. If I’m denied that visa, I’ll enter on a normal, 90-day tourist visa and head to Berlin for the independent work visa. But that’s because I can show proof of income.

In the end, it’s not impossible to stay longer in the Schengen Area. By working the system a bit and using the few loopholes that do exist, one can legally stay past 90 days and enjoy all Europe has to offer without worrying about being barred for life.

Continue planning your trip to Europe with the posts below. I’ve been every summer. I know the continent and can help!
—> 10 Ways to Get Cheap Flight to Europe
—> Continent-wide Europe Travel Guide
—> Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe
—> Is a Eurail Pass Worth the Cost?

comments 139 Comments

Awesome post Matt – very useful and very thorough. Sounds like the German freelance visa is one of the best ones for folks making a little something on the side. Any idea how much you need to be making to qualify?


Enough to live off of. What that means is up to the immigration officer but the more the better.

I have heard that there is a high monthly tax you have to pay associated with tax around 350 Euros? Do you know anything? And do you know if I can use my rental income from property in the states to prove a monthly flow of cash in?

well done for trying to tackle this subject and good luck with the process.

I would add one piece of advice: check the rules for AFTER the visa has expired as sometimes there is a period during which you cannot enter the country.

I lived in Sweden for 18 months on a work visa and while I was in Sweden I met my future husband. When my visa expired, I moved to Italy, and a few weeks later flew back to Stockholm to visit my fiance. I was denied entry into Sweden because I was not allowed into Sweden for (I think) 2 months after the expiration of my Swedish visa. As you say we are at the mercy of the immigration officers and in this case I crumpled into a heap sobbing and they let me in – but only after they’d told me to get back on the next plane to Milan.

T. Payne

I will keep that handy trick in mind. Note to self: Sob if officer is a male and refusing me entrance :)


Hey, I’m a guy. I guess if I cry it will melt the immigration officer or make him mad I’m not a man’s man.


I have been researching this for months and even still there is information in this article that I haven’t found anywhere else. Incredible job. Thank you for posting it. In your research did you find anything about taxes when using the German freelance visa? Do they expect you to pay taxes in that country, in other words?


You would need to pay German taxes on any income but you would get a credit on your US taxes so you avoid double taxation.


Thank you, Matt!

Totally agree. One of THE most informative articles I have found on dealing with Europe and Visa issues. I’m currently in Europe and planning on staying for at least 4 months. For all of May I’m hanging beachside in Croatia which helps the mood and my visa status.

That Germany loophole is great inspiration for someone who wants to succeed with the nomadic lifestyle. Make enough and you could live in a Germany for a few years. Love it!

The last time I went to Italy I almost had to beg to get the entry stamp into Italy. So if I had wanted to stay longer than 90 days there wouldn’t have been an entry stamp.


When I left Greece, the guy was so uninterested in my explanation as to why I didn’t have an entry stamp (I switched passports), he put his hand up to silence me and just stamped me out.


I have received legal visa extensions in Greece twice. Each time took about 2 hours (should have been 10 minutes but, you know, Greece….) and I did not have any problems. Just showed them my departure ticket for a future date and they allowed 2 extra months each time. No big deal…


Did you enter with a visa or did you just get the stamp upon arrival? Either way, it just goes to show you that the Greeks are happy to ignore all the rules, making it still the best country to avoid visa restrictions in!

Where did you for this visa? Was there a fee? What is your nationality? Tell us more.


i flew into london and got a 6-month UK tourist visa at airport, no question asked no document shown. next day flew

to lisboa for a wedding, entry no problem eventho no exit flight, got Schengen visa 90-day at airport. 4 days later

took train to madrid, no immigration checkpoint. studied spanish for 3 months. on the 90th day flew out from madrid

to london, my reasons were wedding, visiting friends, cousin, staying with boyfriend. this time uk immigration gave

me a lot of stick (i believe he was inexperienced – coz he thought my return departure flight (january) was before

my arrival (march)), so they swept thru my bags with rubbergloves (like a terrorist??), after i answered their

questions they gave me a “coded stamp (6-month,tourist) visa” claiming they “were worried i want to settle down with

my boyfriend”! i visited people & places, 1 month later flew to zaragoza, got Schengen entry stamp at airport – had

no idea it was wrong/illegal, neither did spanish immigration do/say anyhting at all! for 4 weeks visited more

friends & places, flew fr barcelona to berlin to uppsala, no problem at any airport entry or exit.
then into london hell happened, i was refused entry the minute they saw my coded-stamp, guilty with ice-thin chance

of proving innocent. 3am nobody answered phone when officer called my friends to check me out, so put in a square

room with 1 toilet,1 table,2 other “criminals”, no mobile network signal reception. after >8hours in the cell, they

interviewed & wrote down my story, a formality coz they had already determined to deport me. another 12hours later

i was sent back to sweden (which i thought if uk refuse me, sweden wld think i’m suspicious too right? but the brits just wanted me out so lied & assured me arlanda had been notified & expecting me), got detained again in a language i didnt understand. luckily my friends came & explained & translated, my Schengen visa had been used up all 90 days, so after staying out for 90 days i can re-enter EU no problem (i wasnt dangerous & blacklisted, Whew!). within a couple of hours sorted, officer allowed me entry provided i take the first flight out home/anywhere, all in good trust. that’s The difference between swedish & british immigration.
1 of d places so near EU but non-europe that ppl forget is morocco, north africa, etc – visitable.

so lesson learnt : Do Not Be Too Honest!!!
my mistake which maybe cld hv avoided me all the crap was : for fear of losing things while backpacking, i kept all my important documents in boyfriend’s plc london, so i had no proof of finance nor return flight out of uk. so lesson #2 : Always have ready supporting documents eventho they have never checked it before.
or maybe they have a monthly quota of deportation?
i m malaysian btw.

Be careful. At a number of entry points into the Schengen zone, I’ve watched officers scan passports. So even if they neglect to stamp your passport, there may well be a record of your entry.


Yeah, I wanted to know about this passport scanning, I got no stamp cause I got new passport (the other expired) and I’m returning a little before my 180 days period (more like 168) so I was wondering…

I’m definitely interested in studying in Spain this fall. If I’ve already enrolled in and paid for a spanish course, do you know when I have to get the study abroad visa? I’ve found so much conflicting information online that it’s hard to know.


Not an expert on Spanish visa rules but once approved for the course, I would go apply for the visa right away. The school should know information.


I am currently in Spain on a student visa. Not sure where you’re located, but you have to go the Spanish consulate in your region to apply. For some locations you need an appointment while others are on a walk-in basis.

On the consulate website (the Chicago one is pretty good), you can find a list of all the documents you need: two copies of the application, letter from your study program, etc.

I turned everything in, paid the application fee, and about a month later, I had my visa. They told me it could take up to three months though.

Hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions.


I love you Nomadic Matt! I spent hours trying to find this information and yet again you’ve made it the easiest thing possible for me.


Thought I would add my experience. I stayed in Europe about 89 days on my last Schengen visa. I left just before it expired, but wanted to come back and live in Sweden with my girlfriend at the time. Unfortunately that meant that I would have to wait for another 90 days to enter on a new Schengen visa.

Sweden (and I assume many countries) are pretty good when it comes to having family or a significant other in the country. For me, it was a couple of trips to the Swedish embassy in Buenos Aires, a couple of passport photos, some forms, and a few dollars, proof of $$ in my bank account, and proof of insurance. I would have been good up to a year if I requested it. Just to note, she had to fill out some forms as well, but it was all relatively painless, if time consuming. The process took about a month.

So if you have a significant other in the region, you may be able to apply to stay with them. We know why you’re moving to Sweden anyways Matt! :)

Thanks Matt, this is extremely helpful, as I’m beginning a 2 year masters program in Sweden this fall and my boyfriend is trying to figure out the best way to visit/live in Europe.

We were also curious if it was possible to do 90 days back to back. Say you were to enter a Schengen country for a only a day, then 3 months later re-enter to finish out your remaining 89 days, than start a new Schengen visa? (if that makes sense…)

Dustin Main – Skinny Backpacker – Where you able to work there during your visa? My boyfriend is hoping to work remotely from his current job. Was your girlfriend Swedish or on a visa herself?

Thanks again for the post!!


I didn’t work while I was there (I work via the net back to Canada) so it didn’t come up. It would likely require a company vouching for him, but you would need to ask immigration for details.

Yes, the girlfriend was Swedish, and living in Sweden. As Matt said, the “visitors permit” I received gave me access to the entire Schengen zone.


Yeah, if you have someone in the country already, you can speed the process up greatly and getting the visa is quite easy.

tell us more! do you need to get married? is a boyfriend/girlfriend enough what visa do you apply for than? HELP!


Yes, you need to get married.

Very useful Matt. I wonder if the German freelancer visa works if you’re planning to start an online business?


Very, very, very good point! I am a visible tourist by the way so this is so true.


Matt the article is dope! I mean seriously are you like reading your readers’s minds??? Thanks for sharing your knowledge here!

I am going to Berlin in August and first was going to apply for a Residency Permit while here in U.S. but decided to do it once in Germany instead (have several reasons for that). Now from what I heard, it should not be a problem obtaining a Residency Permit for (Americans at least) once in Germany. Which I hope is the case b/c that is what I am going to do. I want to stay in Germany for at least 6 months. I will be studying German while there at a Volkshoschule and not a University (so I will not ask for any student visas). Unfortunately, I am not a freelancer at this time (who knows maybe when there) either. So my plan is to apply for a Residency Permit at a local Ausländerbehörde once on the ground (within one week of entrance), and I will be living with my German family friends (so hope that helps with any possible financial complications or language barriers). In any case, I have a question regarding the Health Insurance requirements which is heavily weighing on my head.

My current US medical insurance of course won’t cover me in Germany only for emergency room visits(I will have it though while in Germany). Which is lame to say the least. Now if anyone could recommend any places for purchasing an adequate (and especially tested) insurance that would be acceptable for my purposes I would so appreciate it!


Once you are in Germany, the process is really easy. Check out as he got residency permit while he was there.


Thanks Matt!!!

I think it’s (found it through google), checking it out now :)

Hi Matt,

Great post! But I think you have to specify that only the following countries can apply for Germany’s “self-employment” visa:

Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States of America

Also, I have friends who have a Schengen visa valid for 3 years. One is a diplomat (understandable) and one is a doctor. She told me roughly what she did and submitted. I can ask if you want more info ;D

DJ Yabis

P.S. We are all from the Philippines

Did not know that the UK asks for proof you are leaving – guess I should buy that Eurostar pass in advance!


I had a difficult time getting into England without a onward ticket (ended up taking the bus out 2 months later.) eventually pleased the immigration officer with $1000 in travelers checks, but there were a few dodgy moments. Still would have been fine fine if I’d just stated decisive plans when asked. Lesson learned: don’t be flippant and vague with immigration — something I had never really considered before as an American.


Wow, what a sensational article. So well put together and organised and researched and written.

This is really helpful information. I think as a traveller it would be best to just change locations for those 90 days. I had no idea about that Chunnel loophole though. Very interesting.


It’s an unevenly applied rule.

Italy is incredibly, incredibly lax with immigration rules. I never got a an entry stamp the last time I flew directly there from the US, and many of my American friends who did overstayed by a significant amount of time (9 months) and nothing was ever said to them.

I do know, though, that trying to get any sort of visa from them the “right” way is incredibly difficult and time consuming. Italian bureaucracy is a nightmare, to say the least.

I’ve been trying to find a good way to stay in Europe long term for the past few years, but have decided it’s just not worth risking it until I can get through the red tape to get my Italian passport (something people with Italian ancestry should look into if they are serious about living in Europe for a long time).


I can confirm this. And even when you have Irish and German ancestors, you can apply for passports. Once you’re done, then there is much less fuss living in Europe – you still have to prove that you have enough means, if you stay longer than 90 days in a country which isn’t “yours”, but you can also get a job without any type of visa. Besides, this also applies to all Eu countries (UK and Ireland included).

I haven’t been through Kings X for the Eurostar in 18 months now, but I can confirm for as long as the Eurostar has been going through Kings X up until my last experience in the summer of 2010, to get onto the Eurostar in Kings X, after security, first you had to go through UK immigration and then you had to go through French immigration. Pretty positive of this as I did it every six weeks for a long time.

Same with the way back from France at Gare du Nord. French immigration first. Then UK immigration.


You are 100% right about heading back into the UK, which is why I mentioned it.

Heading into France, there is border control but the policy of issuing a stamp is unevenly applied. A lot of people don’t get one. I’ve made a note about the rules uneven application.

My friend Madeline went to France to see her boyfriend (what’s with American women and French men?) and they didn’t even give her an entry stamp at the airport.


I’m American but I managed to get an EU Italian passport :) Thanks to my great grandpa being from Italy. If you have ancestors from Italy and Spain, definitely look into it! I’ve never even been to Italy, but they have a little known law saying that citizenship is passed through blood……so I exploited it :)
The process takes a bit (took me 1 year getting papers from Italy and Argentina ahh!) but it’s worth the convenience.


The Germans are very strict. So are the Poles. The Polish immigration officer added all my days up to be sure I wasn’t over.

Lisa Ann

Hilariously, this generalization even applies within Switzerland.

I’ve noticed that they’re very lax about enforcing the visas in Geneva (Swiss-French) but extremely strict about enforcement in Zurich (Swiss-German).

A well written and informative piece, Matt.

Thanks for writing this extremely thorough and informative piece, Matt. My husband and I have been trying to figure out a way around the 90-day limit rule, but as you point out, it’s actually very difficult. As a Canadian, I could apply for the working holiday visa (I believe some European countries allow you to do so up until the age of 35, FYI), but my hubby is American so that wouldn’t work. I think we’ll just have to plan to spend 90 days outside of the Schengen area (which might be good for the budget anyway!).


I saved a good deal of money traveling in the east. Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine were a fraction of the cost of Shengen zone countries.

What is really sad is that countries should even care if you want to stay longer than 90 days. As long as you can afford to be there and not take a job what’s the dam difference.

Very interesting bit of info here.

This post makes me happy to be British! I’ve tweeted it anyway though as I didn’t know about the 90 day limit. Quite harsh for such a big area. 90 days is usual for individual countries, a continent as interesting as Europe should grant more really.

Incredible article, Matt. I know someone who will be dealing with this exact issue too and there was more information here than I’ve been able to find anywhere else. Thanks!

This is amazingly thorough…thanks for all the helpful info! I’m very intrigued by this German freelancer visa–sounds like something to look into :)

Great article! Originally I wanted to apply for a holiday working visa to Germany or the UK (I’m Canadian) but out of great luck, I’ve been offered a teaching position as an english teacher in a high school in Germany! I just graduated from uni a week ago, and now I’m making plans to move in 3 months…it’s so exciting!

The German freelancer visa is interesting…I’ve never heard of it, but it’s definitely something I’d like to possibly keep in mind for the future…thanks Matt! :)


Super helpful article. I, in the end, married to stay in Spain, but wish I knew about all of this stuff a few years ago. I’ve passed it on to language assistants in Spain who are having visa issues.

I COMPLETELY agree with your statement about grumpy customs workers. I tend to fly in from the states at the crack of dawn when people aren’t interested in talking to me, and have had no problems. This was even when my temp resident card wasn’t finished, and I carried around a crinkled piece of paper with a handwritten number on it!


Extremely useful post Matt, well done! Good call on the loophole, though I’m a terrible liar and to this day get nervous going through immigration in any country after overstaying a UK visa so it wouldn’t work for me!

This is seriously one of the best articles I’ve ever seen. I’m currently teaching in Korea, trying to save my money to stay in Europe long term and this article is PERFECT! The German freelancing visa sounds awesome. Thanks!

I am the “friend in Europe” that Matt was referring to. Might have been just random luck, but I didn’t get stamped or scanned in when I took the train from London to Berlin via the Chunnel. As I see it, they have no way of determining when I got to mainland Europe (and my passport is massive, so this will be an interesting exit). I leave from Spain in a month and so…. we’ll see.

Or see if you are eligible for citizenship to one of the EU countries via your family lines. Requirements vary, but the Irish one is pretty sweet – you only need one grandparent born in Ireland to qualify for citizenship. And lots of Irish folk moved all around the world, so check out your lineage!


I’m currently 5 months into my 12 month long stay in France. There are a few hoops to jump through for the long stay visa, and the process Matt describes is fairly standard, although some French embassies are bit flexible on the requirements. But essentially you need the documentation that Matt listed. Having a French long stay visa allows you to travel throughout the Schengen region freely. The long stay visa can be extended once in France. You need to supply similar documentation to the original visa and provided your financial position has not changed much your long stay visa will be extended (usually). This can be repeated every year.

I travelled to France from England via Eurostar about 10 years ago and my passport (Australian) was stamped on the train. They looked at all passports, but only stamped non-UK passports (and maybe Shengen). Don’t know what the story is now.

If you dig deep into documentation on French immigration websites you will find out that the onus is not on the French to prove how long you have been in France, but the onus is on you to prove how long you have not been in France and if you cannot do that, you are liable for deportation. So no stamp indicating your entry into France/Schengen means you have entered illegally. The stamp is actually your short stay Schengen visa. Don’t have that, you can’t stay there.


Matt, this is a fantastic post, thanks for doing all this research. My first trip to Ireland is coming up in September, followed by some time in both Germany and Italy (indefinite, at this point) so I’m really glad to have this information in my back pocket while I figure everything out.

So much research! I remember taking the Chunnel from England to Paris and being surprised at how relaxed they were about it. Great tips!


I’m a Canadian living now in Berlin on a one year working holiday visa.

Couple of corrections – the age restriction for this visa is not universally “30” as it varies from country to country … Some countries like Germany and France allows people to use this visa up to 35 years of age. Other countries put the limitation at 25. Also, this visa can be used not just to work, but also to study. Or better yet bum around! Some countries allow you to renew for another year as well.

And as for the freelancing visa which I am now waiting on approval for … it usually takes much longer than a week even if you have all paperwork, bring a German speaking friend etc. I’ve been waiting 6 weeks now with no word and have known others who waited more than 6 months. And it’s by no means an easy visa to get, lots of people get deny for not having enough funds etc. The Germans are pretty fearful of people leeching off their social system.

Would be good to clarify some of that above …

Great article! Good luck with settling into Europe. :)



I have already included the fact you can bum around on the work holiday visa. And, I have also included how you need to show proof of income and funds. It’s very important. No job, no income, no visa.

But thanks for sharing your first hand experience.


Great article Matt! We’ve been looking for ways to extend our time in Paris and didn’t know about the Germany thing – excellent idea! We met someone in Paris who overstayed and was nervous to leave. She also had a friend who went and got the year long visa from the embassy and said it was very easy. They never even checked any of her documentation. :)

Super good info here, Matt! However, for the German freelance visa, I’d double check on the info there. I was just denied a self-employment visa from Sweden for the following reasons: 1) I wasn’t intending to move my company to Sweden; 2) I had no Swedish clients lined up and 3) I didn’t have $45,000+ in my bank account.

When I contacted Germany about their self-employment visa, they told me you need to be willing to invest 500,000 EURO into their economy in order to get a visa like that. Maybe they understood me wrong or something, but that’s what they told me.

I also wonder if you can apply for any of these types of visas while being in the country. Someone in the comments said they were going to Germany and they wanted to apply for a residence permit while there. Every single country I’ve talked to has said that you cannot actually be in the country while you are applying for any type of legal status. Maybe your info is correct, which is great (and easier), but I would check. :)



I think you mean a regular business visa. Sweden doesn’t offer a self-employment visa (basically, a freelancer visa). The freelancer visa needs to be applied for in Germany.

With the business visas, you have to be willing to invest in the country, which is why it’s an awful option for travelers or web folks like us!


Hey Matt,

So are you saying you intend to get a German visa, enter and exit Europe via Germany, but spend your time in Sweden?

I’m trying to stay in Finland for slightly longer than 90 days, and was just wondering if this would work. Because theoretically, if you enter Germany legally and fly from Germany to Sweden/Finland, it’s still in the Schengen zone and they shouldn’t track your movements through there?

Ahhhh so confusing! Why wasn’t I just born European!

Thanks for the great post :)

Really interesting to read this. Not directly useful for me since I’m European, but it makes me realize just how convenient it is for us, not having to bother with visas when traveling or even moving to other countries in Europe. I’m glad I didn’t need to bother with visa when I moved to Britain to study last American flatmate here was deported because she didn’t have the visa in order (although that wasn’t her fault). And when she came back a few weeks later with a visa, of course they didn’t actually check it when she entered the country…

You might not have mentioned this because this post may not be geared towards ESL teachers, but any information on the Czech Republic and obtaining visas? I’m going to be getting a TEFL certificate and looking for a job in Prague for a year (if that’s even possible), but all of the information I’m getting from the people who run the course make it sound like it is very doable (if not frustrating) to obtain a work visa for Americans/non-EU citizens–provided you find a teaching job and a place to live.

Sarah: My cousin and his wife are both American ESL teachers in Prague. It is definitely possible to get ESL jobs there. One thing that did frustrate them to no end is this: At the start, the Czech Republic only issues visas for 6-month stints for this kind of work. And they can only be obtained at consulates in other countries. So, every time my cousin needs to renew, he has to take a few days (and spend the money) to go to Vienna or Bratislava to get a renewal. They also had to do this when they first got their visas.

You do *not* need to get the visa in the U.S. I think it’s better to go there and get the job, and then apply for the visa in Bratislava or Vienna. My cousin did have an experienced ESL teacher and resident help them with everything, but I’m not sure if this was someone he knew prior, or someone he met after they got there.

It’s not difficult and it’s not too annoying if you’re not a wound-up person (which you shouldn’t be if you want to travel and live overseas haha). It’s just one of those “things” that you have to get used to living with. Plus, I find nothing wrong with forced “vacations” to nearby cities!

Best of luck…I can’t say enough awesome things about living anywhere and everywhere that is not our home country.

Thanks for your reply, it was very helpful! I’m supposed to have some job support and at least have advice from the TEFL course folks, so hopefully they can help guide me a bit. However, it’s always nice to hear of actual people who have done the same thing and been successful in getting the visas. I want to go to as many places in Europe as I can while I’m there, so I won’t mind too much about having to go to another country to renew! Thanks again!

A great resource on all your European visa options: Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America (book).


Hey Matt! Thanks for some very useful information. I am from Sri Lanka and few months ago I was invited to visit Switzerland, fully sponsored for few weeks by some friends of mine who are Swiss nationals. However, even with sponsorship my visa was rejected on the grounds that they are not sure if i’d leave the country after the intended stay.
Now, I had no intention of staying and get myself black listed. I have a government job at a university here which granted me 30 days of leave for me to travel. I of course did not have anything like 30,000 $ to show :) after all this is third world. But then, the very reason I needed a sponsorship is because I am poor! My appeal was legit but i was turned down. I can appeal to swiss goverment but it takes 150CHF which is a lot. All my documents were in absloute sound order. Any ideas why they would refuse me entry? Thanks a lot for your time.

I just made a post about Schengen last week since people are always asking us about it. Looks like you’ve unknowingly taken it a step further, which is awesome. Very well done, man!

I’m going to have to do a follow-up next week and direct people to this post. We have some personal experience with longer-stay visas here in Europe (we’ve lived in Berlin for the past year and a half), so I’ll blab on about it in an upcoming post.

Great post as always!

Leona H

I have a question.
I am Macedonian, and I have been in Switzerland for almost a year.
Legally I can stay here only 90 days with my bio-metric passport. I need to leave now, cus I got accpeted to university here in switzerland, so i need to sort out my documents for my student visa. Do u know if there is a way that I can get out of here, without getting a stamp in my passport?
I have heard people saying that if i go with an airplane to Greece, its really safe and they dont check passports. But im worried that once I leave Greece,to get in macedonia, i might experience some issues.
What do u think about it?
Thank u in advance, ur reply will mean a lot to me.

Ian [EagerExistence]

We’ve all heard those same stories Leona. I would suggest Greece & Spain are more relaxed than Switzerland & Germany with the passport control. But, don’t think you can just scoot right on through. I crossed into Greece from Bulgaria (and out the same way) by bus, and my passport was checked… and that was at 4am.

Really great article Matt, it’s such a confusing topic.

I just wanted to put out there that I caught the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Brussels yesterday (9 May 12) and I had my passport stamped.

You get your ticket checked by the machine, you go through airport style baggage screening and metal detector and then you wait in line for ‘passport control’. You can’t get to the platforms without going through here, so perhaps this is something they have started recently.

You get a stamp from French immigration (regardless of destination as this is the first Schengen country to Eurostar enters when it exits the tunnel) that says Londres with a little train symbol to show you entered from London by train.

My Eurostar also stopped at Ebbsfleet International, so the procedure may be different when leaving from there.


So I’m currently living in Austria on a year-long student visa. Once I return home and my visa expires do I have to wait 90/180 days before returning, or can I return immediately? Thanks!

Awesome tips for others, how to go with different alternatives and the pro’s and cons. You really have done an impressive research in the subject, well done! – and generous of you to share it will us all! I’m sorry that it’s such a pain in the *ss to get a visa in Sweden. It simply should not take that long time! (I’m actually a bit ashamed over the in-efficiency of that in a modern country as ours…)

Fantastic post. No doubt this is going to go viral. I find it strange when people who are location independent have trouble overstaying their visas.

Immigration Official: “What are you doing here? Why do you want to extend your visa?”
Location Independent Traveler: “I’m just enjoying the weather, the culture, the language and literally importing money into your country’s economy”


This is very interesting. I am actually planning a trip from Mauritius to Europe in June and was wondering if I was to move around if I would need more paper work or not, well you just answered my question. I’ll see which country I’ll plan my visit around then! hopefully I won’t have to worry about staying more than 90 days this time, but i’ll see for next time!

Wow! Tons of awesome info in there. I have to say though, visas are the probably the biggest pain when traveling. They are so confusing and convoluted it makes it hard to understand sometimes.

This is very useful information. In a few years, after we graduate, my girlfriend and I plan to backpack around Europe for a year or so. We’re both Canadians, but I also hold a Swiss citizenship, so it will be interesting to find out what we need to do.

Ok, my girlfriend just pointed out the line:

“Marry – Fall in love with a European (or at least a friend) and apply for a marriage visa!”

My mistake for not reading carefully; looks like this will be easier than I thought!


I’m wondering how much time and research you put into this post? I really like the self employment visa that Germany has. I think that is the best and safest way to go.

Good luck with your French visa.



Good article Matt. Seems like the easiest and most legal way is to go through the self-employment option in Germany.


This is seriously helpful Matt! So many of my friends from the States want to spend more than 90 days at a time in Europe. I mean really, 3 months to cover the entire continent is kind of insane! I will definitely be sharing this article with them.


Great info Matt; I am familiar with the schengen visa and always wondered if it is also open to Caribbean nationals, do you know?


New Zealand passport holders have it quite easy, info is here:

Keep in mind, it is ultimately up to the immigration officer at the time. The lack of proof between each individual country may be an issue. I’m coming up to month 5 soon, so I’ll get to test this sometime in the future.

Regarding the Chunnel; in my experience, Eurostar immigration are very strict, particularly into UK. This is really the only place I have ever been questioned beyond my length of stay.

Ferry crossing (by car) immigration is very relaxed. It’s like a toll booth, you stay in the car and hand over passports through the window. I suggest or hitchhiking to score a ride.

Ferry crossing by coach is somewhere in between, IIRC, everyone gets off in a big shed and walks through immigration.


Obviously not the main point of the article: but is there any reason you can’t fly in to London for a weekend every 90 days? Ryanair doesnt seem to have any crazy deals like they used to, but not too bad still. Or take the euro lines bus for 10 euros or so if you’re flexible?

Fabulous and well researched, in depth post Matt. A very interesting read for me as a Brit who spends countless hours investigating the opportunities to stay in the USA for more than 90 days! I have noticed over the years that custom’s officials can vary widely in their approach, enforcement of the rules and indeed in their general friendliness. Always pays though to be polite, helpful and appear to be taking them extremely seriously – I am a model of impeccable behaviour at immigration desks throughout the world..!

Good article. Many non-Europeans are eligible for European nationality based on a parent or grandparent’s birth in Europe. If you want to stay in Europe for a long time, check into it.

If anyonw wants info on how to get a German Course VIsa. I can help you. I lived in Bremen for almost 8 months legally and learned German. It may be a little bit expensive but German is a great asset in any future. Well done again Matt. You wrote a very interesting article of what many people might want to know when travelling. Oh another tip can be to go Serbia or Macedonia (not for all countries) but it is very beautiful and very cheap. The people are very friendly and you will have a lot of fun!


Could you please share that info?


(I’ve meant info regarding German Course visa Thanx 😉


Hi Matt,

This is very thorough and informative :). I plan to stay in France or Italy for 2 years in 2-3 years from now. The only problem is I’m turning 30 in 3 years. I’m certainly not ready to move anytime soon. My other option is after 30 I might apply for a student visa?

I know someone who is from Australia, she found a job in Paris while she was still living in Melbourne and her employer sponsored her working visa until now.

This might be another option.



Oh i forgot to say that last year during my second trip to Europe, in Italy and Spain, they did not check and stamp my passport upon arrival and departure. :)


There’s no age limit on the student visa. If you are enrolled, you are enrolled.

Actually this “laxness” of the immigration people sometimes depends on your skin color too . I’ve been studying and traveling in Europe for 2 years and there were times when immigration officials actually stopped me and asked to check my passport and visa and they didn’t stop anyone else. This happened in Greece, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Germany and Netherlands.

T. Payne

Unfortunately, that’s a given around much of Europe (and the US). Brown skin = criminal/suspicious person up to something they shouldn’t be. So sick of that. Sometimes that’s different when traveling with someone white (my boyfriend) versus traveling with another minority (an American friend who’s half Arab – we’re stopped at the airports EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.) So frustrating.

Hey, I just wanted to send out a message about Spain. i came here last Fall hoping to live in Sevilla for a year (from the US). I ended up taking a trip of a lifetime down in Africa, for Christmas. So, at that point i had overstayed my schengen visa by 3 weeks. I was coming back to Spain from Africa and was stopped by immigration in Madrid and was deported!! I actually share my story on my blog: There was another american woman there, too. She had only overstayed her visa by ONE day! So beware–Spain is cracking down, too. Maybe it was because we both came in from Africa OR b/c it was a slow day?? but we got caught in the net (a risk we both knew about and decided to take, I should add). Our lawyer in the deportation office was totally shocked seeing two Americans in one day!! Thanks for the article…inspiration for returning to Europe in the future!


Coming back into Spain? Yes, they won’t let you in, especially coming via Africa. I’m referring to the fact, that when you go OUT, you shouldn’t have a problem. Coming back IN? That’s another story.


About two years ago I entered to france from train. It was the train moving from Barcelona. The name of the town was Cerbere… no officials, no stamps, no anything…


Great information and a fantastic piece. I’ve been stumped on my situation now. I was working in Denmark full-time until October last year. Since then I’ve been trying to find work without much success. I received an exit order stamp for schengen in Denmark. Of course after I received this stamp, I have been given a new contract for a job but I fear that it will be denied if I apply again. I’m planning to appease to the exit either to the UK or US before the deadline and apply from through a Danish consulate.

Is there a belief that there are no stamps at all from the UK back to DK through the channel train and other trains?


I am an Ozzie. First time stayed in EU for 30 days. Went outside Schengen zone. Came back. Got married in Austria. After 2 months (Honeymoon, preparing and collecting all the necessary papers from Oz) we went to apply for my residence visa. Been told that one of the requirements is that I must prove to have knowledge of German language at the A1 level! Which I certainly don’t have! Got half/friendly/conspiring advice to enrol in some German language course. Found one that starts two weeks later. The course is 3-months course! Meaning: I need to leave after two weeks after my language course is started! Than spend 3 months outside Schengen (meanwhile, all my papers from Oz needed for visa here are ‘expired’!!! Not valid any more). Come back. Enrol to another language course, because first would finished two weeks before I’d come back! If miracle happens, I’d enrol in second-chance course the very first day of my come back, so I’d have 3 months to study German/because the course last that long… 90th day I’d past the test…but then, to get results, I’d need to wait 10 days!!! And my 90 days are gone!!! … In short: NOW I know where from Kafka got inspired… Any advice?

Wow, you have stepped into the minefield of visa’s…NM you are a braver man than I at this moment.. (after spending 7 hours in the Indian Embassy in Katmandu).. Expect the 1001 can you help me in my situation emails 😉 Maybe a new business sideline? VisasViaMatt?


The Swedish Migration Board lists exemptions to the work permit requirement in Sweden: So you can work in Sweden without permit, but it doesn’t help you to extend your Schengen quota.

Incredibly useful information! Thanks so much!

Breanna Murphy

I have a question for you!!!! This past semester I studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain. I have a class D visa that is good until July 1, 2012. I just left Spain on May 19th, and will not be returning while my visa is “good.” HOWEVER, in August, my aunt and i want to plan a trip back so she can see the country and I can visit my host family and friends there. The only thing is, one of my friends told me that I have to remain out of the country for 90 days after I leave. Another person told me that that is not true; that I have 90 days to travel out of the next 180. So my question is: If I left Spain on 5/19/12, and I go back in August, will I have any problems? I don’t really want to call the consulate or whatever, but I probably will just to be sure. What do you know about this? Thanks for the help!!!!!


I think you’ll be fine. After 8/19/12, you would be gone for 90 days anyways.


I spoke with the French consulate in NYC a few weeks ago. They told me I’d need to schedule an interview with a consular officer. I’d need to take bank statements for the last twelve months and a letter from my health insurance company stating they will pay for all health care while in France. They also told me the consular officer would determine if I had enough income to spend time in the area of France I was interested in. I didn’t ask, but I’m not sure how they would monitor our coming and going while in France, but maybe they do. They seemed to stress the health insurance letter a lot.

This article is so helpful. I’ve honestly never heard of the 90 day restriction on the Schengen area before this. I always just thought all the countries in this area had their own individual visa restrictions. But I think you covered some smart ways to navigate this restriction. It brings up a few more questions for me though. Are there any countries in Europe where Americans can get a work visa like in Australia? Also, if you marry a European citizen and only have residency, can you still work and travel freely throughout the EU as citizens can?


Matt, if I’m trying to stay in Italy longer than 90 days could I still apply in Germany for the freelance visa and move to Italy to work? Or do I actually need to stay in Germany the whole time?



i was granted a schengen for 40days and i have over stayed with 3days, do i have any chance to extend my visa to 90days.


Spot-on advice as usual. We’re in Europe now and about to get Schengened out. Your post made us realize it makes more sense to head to the UK and hang out there awhile. Too bad because we’re sure Spain and Portugal could use our tourism dollars.


Larissa and Michael


Its an interesting tips to stay in europe for more than 90 days, Its such an awesome place to stay


can someone help me – I am an Indian national and have a valid schengen visa that expires on 21st May. I am currently in London. I have a travel need to go to Schegen countries (France, Portugal) from 18th to 22nd May. I am in UK on a business visa valid till 2014. I want to extend my schengen visa by at least one day. How can i get it done in London or Lisbon? I hear that one can apply for schengen visa only in his country of residence which in my case is India. I need only one day extension – can anyone explain whether it is possible?


hello all

I am from Australia and I am told that for most western european country I don’t need to apply for a schengen visa, just arrive at european air port and be issued with tourist visa.

so does this 90 day period thing apply here

Australian passport


another question
What are the money amount entry requirements for a person to be a gtourist and enter France

the uk has 4500 UKP requirement


One could also apply for a Working Holiday 1 year visa, the US has one with Ireland, details are here


Hi matt,

Thanks for all your tips! This is a great website.

Here is my question for you. I am currently living in Barcelona with a residence (NIE) that expires June 30th. I am planning on staying the month of July, as I have some work and then I will return to US in August. Would you suggest going to the UK before the 30th and then returning to Barcelona first week in July in order to obtain a 90 day tourist visa. Would this be helpful or harmful? I have received different advice on this topic so I am deferring to the expert. Much thanks!


Just what I needed! I’m wondering if proof of financial means should always be current when traveling around Europe for more than 90 days using one of the loopholes. Additionally, do they need to be certified bank statements or would online print outs do?


I am going into schengen zone,(Milan Italy) on Sept 26th. I leave it on Oct 22. That’s 22 days in the zone. Now, My 6 month clock from that trip should end on March 26th and then a new clock should start on March 27.. I should technically be able to return to the zone Feb 3, spend the other 68 days from the first clock that I’m still entitled to PLUS another 180 days after March 27th, when a new clock starts right.
Is this a way around this?. It seems like I should get the a total of 242 consecutive days this way.
This would only be ruined if a new clock started in Feb 3rd


No, because you only get 90 days in any 180 day period. They (the 90 days) can’t be back to back.


Total trash….

Always go through the right doors guys!!!


Hope you can help me, Matt. Or put me in touch with anybody who has done the TEFL in Prague. I am South African. I currently hold a Schengen tourist visa valid until 19th of June 2013. I want to resign my job and do a one month TEFL course in Prague from 13th May until 7th of June. After the course, the school says it will help me with the application for a work visa for the EU in order to teach English in Prague. However, I am worried about the fact that I will only have 7 working days after graduation to get this work visa before I will have to leave the EU. Do you think this could be a problematic situation? Is it better to try and do an earlier course which would allow me enough time to hang around in the EU while waiting for the work visa? Or should it not be a problem if I am forced to leave before the Schengen visa expires, and wait patiently for the work visa while Im back at home or in the UK? Do you have any knowledge of how long work visas for the EU take to be issued? Thank you and your posts have helped many people so much!


I need help, I was studying in Prague and my long residence permit was denied because I submitted my papers late. I decided to stay my 90 days and stop my studies there. I came back to my country and in august I’m going again to apply for my visa. The problem is that I’m going back a little before the 180 days period finish (something around the 168 days I guess). Since my travelling ticket was a two way one (coming back to my country and going there again) and I’m passing through Netherland I want to know if there would be problems for this 12 days I’m skipping on my 180 period.


There is always a chance but coming 12 day early shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It’s a pretty far gap between visits. They might not care but it’s really up to the immigration officer. Nothing is set in stone. If it was me, I would do it. But know that is a small risk of them turning you back.


Hi Mat,

I have a 3 year schengen visa. Not expired yet. I want to clarify, it says 90 days, multiple entry on it. Does this mean that I cannot be in a schengen state for more than 90 days in a 180 day period (starting from when i first land)? If so, does the clock “reset” after the 180 days? So then I can be there for another 90 days?

Please let me know. I am traveling soon and getting very stressed.


Also, How did you know about the 90/180 day rule? I am afraid the people at immigration in germany will not know about it and I will get into trouble since I have had the visa for 3 years. I’ve counted, and I have never been in a schengen area for more than 80 days in the 180 day period


All the visa officials will know about the rule.


Hi, I have a situation here. I’m Malaysian citizen and I’m holder of Poland National D visa (valid till 2013) as I am studying in Poland. Now, I am having summer break so i plan to spend 3months in Hungary but before this visit I had already travelled to Hungary on :-
Feb 1-Feb 10, March 29-April 09, 19April-5May and I have arrived to Hungary on 15June. And accodring to the 90days/180days rule, I have to leave Hungary on 24th July for 3months.

Do u think there will be a problem as the schengen authorities will stop me at the airport when i leave Hungary and go back to Poland on 15September?


I believe your visa allows you travel throughout the Shengen zone so the 90 day rule does not apply to you since you have a D visa. You may want to confirm that with the Polish embassy but you should be able to travel anywhere you want for as long as you want.


I asked visa for 90 days to visit Estonia trough the Finnish embassy in Bangkok. First they call me and tell that i got the visa (for 90 days) but put on the passport that duration of stay is 30 days. I discovered this when I was in airport and they did not want to let me on plane. I had to change the flight. What happens now if I still stay 90 days?


You’ll be over your visa and breaking the law.

Kristina C

This is a great article, Matt. Thank you for putting it together. I’m just wondering if you have any tricks on how to avoid paying high taxes in Europe if your income is coming from overseas. My husband and I would like to spend a year in Europe travelling as much as possible (He’s an American citizen and I am Lithuanian). We were thinking of staying in Berlin (but it can be another city or country) and taking weekend trips to the near by countries. My husband would continue his web developing job with his current American start up company. The problem is if we have to give away half of his salary to the German government we’d be left with about $ 30K a year. That’s clearly not enough to support two and be able to travel all the time. Is there any way for us to only pay the US taxes? Perhaps another country would be better with this? We’re not trying to get away with not paying taxes at all, we just would like to continue paying our American taxes if possible since they are much lower that in most of Europe.


i applied for schengeh visa but they did not reject or neither they give me the visa,it came blank just like how i sent it…why whats the problem


Go contact the embassy you sent it to. I do not know.


Hi. Thanks for great post.
I can’t find the information I’m looking for.
Can you help?
I was wondering:

If I enter Schengen on day 1 for 3 days.
Leave Schengen till day 93 then re-enter Schengen
Stay till day 180. (By which time I have spent my 90 days visa-free allowance)
Does the clock restart on day 181 automatically?
Can I then continue to stay another 90 days legally or does the clock only restart if I leave Schengen and re-enter?