Guide to Long-Term Travel in Europe

long-term-travel-europe

Long term travel in Europe is a dream that many of us have, but dealing with visa issues, travel costs, accommodation, and saving money can be quite difficult. This guide will walk you through these important steps and will help you plan your big trip abroad.

Quick Guide

Note About Staying in Europe For More than 90 Days

The Schengen Area Explained

Ways To Stay In Europe For More Than 90 Days

Money Saving Advice for Long Term Travel

Note About Staying in Europe for More than 90 Days

The very first step of planning your long term travels through Europe is to ensure that you know the laws on how long you’re legally allowed to visit. Traveling more than 90 days gets a bit tricky when you want to stay in Europe because of visa issues. Unfortunately, these visa issues often make it very difficult to travel through Europe for an extended amount of time, but there are still options for determined travelers. This guide will explain what you need to know about long term travel in Europe.

The first thing you need to know about is the Schengen Area…

The Schengen Area Explained

schengen_map

From Wikipedia…

The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders. It functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. Joining Schengen entails eliminating internal border controls with the other Schengen members, while simultaneously strengthening external border controls with non-Schengen states. — Wikipedia

When most travelers mention being able to stay in Europe for more than 90 days they are generally referring to staying in the Schengen Area — this is because the Schengen Area encompasses most of the countries in Europe. The map above is from the BBC and it does a good job visually showing the difference between all the different zones. For most travelers (American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand) you only need a valid passport to enter a Schengen Area country — but the bad news is that you need a visa (which is difficult to get) if you wish to stay more than 90 days.

How The Schengen Zone Effects You

Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, etc. can only stay in the Schengen Area (without a special visa) for a period of 90 days within a 180 day period.

If you leave the Schengen Zone the countdown clock stops and doesn’t start until you enter it again. Once you reach your 90-day limit you have to stay out for another 90 days.

List of Schengen Area countries

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

Non-Schengen Area Countries

Each non-Schengen member country has its own rules about how long a visitor can stay in the country without a special visa. Notable countries include:

  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) — 180 days
  • Republic of Ireland — 90 days
  • Romania — 90 day
  • Croatia — 90 days
  • Belarus — 30+ days (need visa but you apply for it in-country. Costs about $35.)
  • Ukraine — 90 days
  • Others — You’ll have to look up other countries’ visa requirements. The US State Department does a good job explaining the requirements for US citizens.

Ways To Stay In Europe For More Than 90 Days

I hate to say it, but traveling for longer than 90 days in Europe is very difficult — but it isn’t impossible! I’ve listed all the methods I know of, but there could be other ways. Please let me know if you know any other methods.

Split Up Schengen and Non-Schengen Countries

The easiest ways to extend your trip past 90 days is to visit both Schengen and non-Schengen countries. Once your 90 days is up, travel to the UK, Ireland or many of the Eastern European countries that aren’t part of the agreement. Once you’ve spent those 90 days there you are free to return to to the Schengen area for another 90 days. You can keep repeating this process until you run out of money.

Working Holiday Visa

Citizens of Canada, Australia and New Zealand have working holiday agreements with many European counties that usually last between 1-2 years. These visas are intended to allow young people (18-35) to work while they travel. These visas normally have a few stipulations, but they’re easy to obtain. The United States does not have a working holiday visa program with any European country. You can view a list of working holiday agreements here.

Become a Student at a European University

Full-time foreign students are granted visas to complete their studies. There are many university courses taught completely in English throughout Europe (but your options will increase if you speak the local language). Additionally, a few countries charge foreign students the same tuition as its citizens — which can be as low as a few hundred Euros a year. Once you have a visa you are free to move around any EU country without hassle. It isn’t exactly uncommon for students to pay the super cheap tuition, get their student visa, but just travel and never actually go to school.

There are many full-time foreign language courses in Europe that will enable you to get a student visa — this is a nice option if you want to learn a foreign language and travel on the weekends and holidays. These courses normally don’t follow the same tuition guidelines as normal European Universities, so they’re more expensive. For example, the intensive 25 hour/week French language course through the Sorbonne in Paris will cost about 2900€ for a semester. However, student visa holders are often entitled to work part-time. There are many options available throughout Europe, but you’ll have to scour the web.

Long Term Tourist Visa

Many countries offer a long term tourist visa that is generally valid for one year. I know France is one country that will allow you to apply for a one year visa, but you have to have a lot of money in the bank and you won’t have any rights to work. The French consulate never specifies how much money you need to have in savings, but most people say around $30,000. You have to approve a few other things, but you can read what is needed on the French Consulate of San Francisco. They really want to make sure you can fully support yourself while in France.

Language Assistant Program

I know France and Spain (maybe other countries, too) have an English language assistant program that is run by the government. You normally do need to have some knowledge of the local language, but this is a good way to stay in Europe for a long period of time. My wife did the language assistant program in France for seven months. Language assistants work 12 hours in class each week and get paid around 800€/month after taxes. Some assistants got lucky and didn’t have any classes on Monday and Friday — which allowed them to travel around Europe on the weekends.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Jobs

I’m not super familiar with this, but I know some people who were able to get TEFL jobs in Prague and they were granted 6-month visas (which could be renewed). You’ll need some type of TEFL training, but this could be a good way to stay stay in Europe for an extended period of time. This is also common in Spain.

Self Employment or Freelance Visa

If you’re self-employed and have the ability to work from anywhere in the world then you might be eligible for a self-employment visa. I know France has a version of this that can be pretty complicated, confusing, and I believe you have to get the visa before you arrive in France. Germany is another country that issues this type of visa for foreigners, but you don’t apply for it until you get to Germany. Registering as a freelancer is surprisingly simple if you meet all the requirements. You just need to fill out a few forms and you’ll get a one year visa. The most popular place to be a freelancer is Berlin since it is so cheap. This site will tell you what documents you need to get a freelance visa in Berlin.

European Passport

Do your parents (or grandparents/great grandparents in some cases) have citizenship to a European country? If so, you might be able to apply for a passport for that country. Once you have a passport from an EU country you can work in any EU country without any paperwork or restrictions. This process can take a very long time, but it is worth looking into.

Stay Illegally

While I certainly don’t recommend it, many people just overstay the 90 day limit and continue to travel. This is mainly possible because there are no border checks between Schengen member countries. For example, if you travel from France to Italy no one will look at your passport — whether you’re European or not. There will sometimes be immigration officials on trains, but they usually won’t look too closely at your passport if you look like your average Westerner tourist. BUT, sometimes they do look closely so do this at your own risk.

The biggest chance of getting caught is when you actually leave the Schengen zone (even if you’re going back to your home country) because the immigration officials will often add up the amount of time you’ve been there. After living in France for 18 months I went back to the US via Iceland and they questioned why I was in Europe for so long. Luckily, I had my valid French work permit card in my wallet because I had no other proof in my passport that showed I was allowed to stay in Europe that long.

I’ve found out that Scandinavian countries, as well as Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Poland are all pretty big sticklers about checking the length of time you’ve been in the Schengen area. Therefore, if you do overstay 90 days I highly recommend that you don’t leave from those countries.

For whatever reason France, Italy, and Greece to be the most relaxed with their immigration. They sometimes don’t even stamp passports of people entering on flights straight from the US. Additionally, they seem to never even look at the passport for outgoing travelers. If you do overstay 90 days it is highly recommend to leave from one of these countries — but make sure you don’t change planes in one of the countries listed in the previous paragraph. For example, when I flew from France I changed planes in Iceland and they checked my passport closely at the airport there.

So what are the penalties if you overstay the 90 days? It seems to vary. You might get a warning and be forced to leave the country right then. Or you might also get a big fine and be banned from entering the EU or any Schengen Area country for 1-5 years. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to risk it.

Money Saving Advice for Long Term Travel

Since most long term travelers go without an income for a long period of time, it is important to find ways to live as inexpensively as possible. The ideas below will help extend your travel money…

Quality Over Quantity

One of the beautiful things about long term travel is the ability to stay in one location for an extended period of time. Instead of rushing off to a new location every 3-4 days, you can now stay in the same city for weeks. This allows you to truly experience life like a local and you’ll develop a greater appreciation of the place you’re visiting. You won’t feel guilty for spending a few hours relaxing in a park instead of trying to visit every cultural sight in the city.

Another benefit of moving around less often is the reduced transportation costs. Taking a train or a plane every week will seriously eat your savings away — especially if you’re traveling for an extended amount of time.

Apartments and Hostels

If you stick to one location for an extended period of time you’ll also be able to save money on accommodation. Sometimes hostels will give you a better deal if you stay over a week or two (it might be best to contact the hostel directly). But the best bang for your buck will probably be renting an apartment. If you rent an apartment for a few weeks it will often cost just about the same as staying in a hostel — and it will be much more comfortable (staying in a hostel for a month does start to wear on you). Plus, with an apartment you can cook your own meals — which give you a great excuse to check out local markets. I’ve written a more in-depth article about renting an apartment in Europe.

You’ll also save a lot of money on transportation the less you travel. Here are a bunch of articles about saving money on transportation.

Couchsurfing

It is certainly difficult to travel long term without having to pay a lot for accommodation and Couchsurfing is probably the easiest way. Although you will have to be pretty flexible with your schedule and sometimes book a last minute hostel if your hosts have to bail. But Couchsurfing is still a great way to travel if you don’t mind losing a bit of privacy. For more about Couchsuring you can read my post where I go into a lot more detail.

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  • niki

    Please fix your Scandinavian countries.. If you don’t know what they are at least look it up before making an article.

    • savvybackpacker

      Hi Niki, can you point out my mistake? I’d be happy to fix it. Thanks

      • TM

        She thinks you are referring to Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Poland as Scandinavian countries I believe.

    • Michael Visser

      Way to blow a simple grammatical error off the map niki.

      “I’ve found out that Scandinavian countries, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Poland are all…”

      Should be…

      “I’ve found out that Scandinavian countries, as well as Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Poland are all…”

      James thanks for this article! I’m screwed between the end of a Danish working holiday visa (WH1 for New Zealanders/Australians 1 year max.) and switching to a self-employed visa – Denmark doesn’t have a ‘freelance’ visa… – so am providing business plans, accountant books, the works, etc… Might look at Germany or Sweden as alternatives if this falls through.

    • diki

      Too much ice in your head, niki. You need to warm up your brain with a bit of sunshine and stop eating whale blubber. Dear “Thesavvybackpacker” thanks for your informative article and don’t be put off by niki, as she or he is just a typical Scandinavian: “curt, uncouth and uncivil”, but what can you expect from someone from an area that was only civilised 1,000 years ago? Ever wondered why the plunders wore bull horns on their helmets? To gRAPE the cows and MURDER the women.

  • shushannab143

    Hello, as a Canadian I can get a working holiday visa which allows me to stay for 1 year with option of stay up to 2 years. 35 years old and under.

    • shushannab143

      Sorry didn’t read further. you already know this. =)

  • Renée

    The US has a working holiday visa/ agreement with Ireland.

    http://www.bunac.org/usa/workinireland

    • savvybackpacker

      Thanks Renee! I’ll be sure to update my article.

  • Katie

    Hey! Just a comment about the Schengen Area section – time spent outside the area does not count towards your 90 days, if the person in your scenario spent 10 days in France, then 80 days in England, they’d still have 80 days allowed in Schengen countries over the next 90 days since the “timer” doesn’t keep going when you leave the area (the dates you entered and exited will be on your passport with the stamps, I think). You don’t have to use all the days consecutively.

    • savvybackpacker

      Thanks! I’ll have to correct my article.

  • Joe

    Katie’s comment about the days allowed in Schengen area– is this so, or is it 90 consecutive days starting on arrival as the SB indicates?
    Thanks for the clarification.

    • savvybackpacker

      I think Katie might be right but I’m having a hell of a time getting the right information — I’m seeing a lot of contradictory information.

      • karen

        Thanks a lot for this article. I am very confused too. Do you have any news? I hope that Katie is right. That would mean you can stay for example 89 days in Holland, go to Bosnia for a week vacation, go back to Holland and stay 90 days again,

        • savvybackpacker

          Hi Karen, I do know for a fact that the clock doesn’t “reset” once you leave the Schengen zone. Once you use up your 90-days you will have to wait an additional 90-days before you can re-enter.

          • Brendan

            As a long-time American resident of Europe, here is my two cents:

            The European Commission (the EU’s government executive) has a short-stay calculator for the 90/180 day rule (no direct link, found on this page: http://goo.gl/jWnNSZ) and a connected user guide (here: http://goo.gl/3EvIBh).

            Any days spent outside the Schengen Area do not count towards the 90 days. So any days spent fully in the UK do not count, even if you originally flew into France. The Schengen “timer” only runs on the days when you have, at some point, had your feet on “Schengen soil”, (check the short-stay calculator for confirmation).

            What Katie was not saying was that you could leave to Bosnia for a week and then stay another 90 days no questions asked. If you stayed 89 days you would have one day remaining in your 180 day “window”. If you went to Bosnia for a week, you would still only have one day when you returned to Holland, since in the past 180 days you have still stayed 89 days.

            Hope that helps!

          • savvybackpacker

            Thanks for the clarification!

          • Ian

            So if I understand this correctly :
            I can stay 90 days in Iceland then go to Ireland for 90 days and then

            a schengen territory and back to iceland for another 90 days and that would be ok, Right?

          • savvybackpacker

            Iceland is part of the Schengen area so after Ireland you can enter the Schengen for another 90 days.

  • Marissa

    hi i am planning on living in Spain for about 60 days as a babysitter and then backpacking around the entirety of europe for about 60 days after that. If I get my visa for Spain would that allow me to legally travel throughout all of the schengen countries during the time that my visa is valid? or do i need to figure out a different alternative? Thanks for your help.

  • Paige

    My dad was born in England, so he has his EU (UK) passport. I was born in California, and I am currently in the process of applying for my EU (UK) passport. Will I be able to travel freely throughout the Schengen zone for more than 90 days with my UK passport? I know the UK is not part of Schengen, but it’s unclear on what that means for visa stuff. My fiancé and I are planning a 1 year trip, and we plan on spending the majority of that year in Europe. I have been researching visa requirements for UK citizens traveling in the Schengen but couldn’t find any reputable, trustworthy information. My fiancé will apply for his UK passport after we marry. Do you know the rules on UK citizens traveling in Schengen for more than 90 days at a time?

    • Michael

      UK citizens are free to travel to, reside in, and work in any of the EU countries (Also including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, a few others in EFTA/EEA) So yes, you can travel in Europe for more than 3 months, there isn’t a limit for you. If you choose to live in one country for more than 3 months, you must register with local authorities, but it depends on the country.

      Here is the bad news. You mention that your fiancé will be going with you, and, unfortunately, he will not be able to become a UK citizen as you plan. UK citizenship is not obtained through marriage and the only way he can become a UK citizen is if he naturalizes after you two both live in the UK together for 3 years as a married couple (costs £1000). So your major problem here is that YOU will be able to travel for the entire year, but HE will not. What you guys can do is spend the first 3 months in the Schengen area, then spend the next three months in the UK and Ireland, and then go back to Schengen for 3 more months. And back to UK/Ireland. That is your easiest bet. Now you both can stay in one of those countries for the entire year because you could apply for a family residence card for your husband based off of your citizenship. This is a little complicated because you need to apply for it and show a few things like jobs, place to live, etc. Through doing this, though, you both would be able to work while you are there if you want to. Your best bet is to mix and match Schengen and none Schengen countries if you really want to travel the whole time. You should try contacting the British consulate (or countries you wish to visit) in your area (Either SF or LA I assume if you still live in CA) to figure out exactly what your/your fiance’s rights are when in Europe.

      Also just a heads up, if you want your children to obtain EU/UK citizenship, they have to be born in either the UK, Ireland, or an EU country you have residency in. You cannot pass your citizenship on to your child born abroad as your father did to you.

      But it is very fortunate that you were able to acquire dual citizenship! A lot of people would really kill for that!

      I just became an Irish citizen from my dad (also in the US) so I have researched a lot of this

      • Paige

        Thank you for your detailed response! Very helpful and informative, I appreciate it.

  • Mary

    Hi
    I need a piece of advice please. My polish boyfriend and I will get married in his country pretty son; however, we were adviced to leave the country to get my 90 day permission reseted. At that time, 2007, the Schengen laws were not inforced, so we went to Slovakia and came back which reseted my 90 day permission. Then, when the Schengen zone laws were inforced we travelled all the wat to Switzerland to have my Passport stamped. Then I stayed in Poland for a month and left the continent. However, I entered to Europe for a second time one month after.The country of entrance was The Netherlands. At the moment I crossed customs, I wasn’t told anything. But with all the new changing now Im a bit nervious to know what may happen at the momento I enter to Europe one more time TO GET MARRIED
    Now my question is : do you think I can enter to Europe without having any problem at costums? I have my passport that proves I went to Slovakia and to Switzerland to reset my permission during the allowed time before and after Schengen
    SHOULD I BE NERVIOUS, SHOULD I TAKE IT EASY?
    Thanks

  • Jon

    Wow savvy backpacker, I think this is the only and best post I have read regarding all the options for long-stay in Europe. I would like to stay in France for anywhere from 1-5 years whilst making a living solely online not needing to tap into French jobs. I am wondering a couple things though. 1) can one get away with a long stay French visa in this case (as opposed to self-employment/freelance visa) and 2) can one get a artist/freelance visa in Germany and live in France or anywhere else in the EU?

    Also, do you know what the French Freelance visa is called? I would be doing Freelance work on my computer and not in the French market.

    Thanks,
    Jon

    • savvybackpacker

      You might want to look into a long-term tourist visa. You’ll have to prove that you have a lot of money in the bank and a steady paycheck.

  • Billie

    So I was wondering, I am going to study abroad in the Czech Republic for almost three months, and then me and my friend were wanting to backpack through the summer for about another 2 months. The program we are going on doesn’t require a visa to complete our studies at the university, but if we were to get one, could we then travel for those other two months with it?? PLEASE HELP! We have been planning this for a little while, and now I am FREAKING OUT because I didn’t know about this!! Is there any way I can make this work?? :(

    • John

      Yes, you should be able to make this work. You have to talk to your nearest Czech Republic embassy/consulate. Most countries will allow you to stay after your class is over, you just have to specify how long you intend to stay. You should definitely be able to get a student visa because you are taking a class there, and you just need verification from the class to get a student visa. You have to contact the school/university where you will take your program and they will write up something for the consulate and they can issue you the visa. Your best bet is to contact the nearest Czech Republic consulate. They will have all the info you need.

  • Julian

    hey savvy backpacker – great article!

    wanted to get your input on my (precarious) situation if possible…

    I’m American. I flew from the US to Germany in early November of last year, and then from Germany to Italy on December 27th, which is where I’m currently living. So basically I’ve been in the Schengen for a little over 6 months – and am here illegally. :(

    I’m not a student. I’m a entrepreneur with an online, US based company. Also, the only form of physical ID I have is a US passport.

    So basically, I have 3 questions, listed in order of importance…

    a) ***Is there any way I can safely get from Italy to Spain?*** (without getting deported, or blacklisted) I’ve heard that within the schengen, those two countries are typically more relaxed about the rules, particularly with Americans. Is it better for me to take a train, instead of going through the airports? Or maybe I should hire/rent a car? I just want to minimize my chances of getting in trouble.

    b) Going to Spain is my first choice, but if that option is too risky – then I will probably just go back to New York. Based on reading your article, it seems that this may have a higher risk than going for Spain…

    c) As you mentioned, enrolling in a university here is another option to get a student visa. ***Is it too late for me to do that now because I’ve stayed past the initial 90 days?***

    Your thoughts will be MUCH appreciated, as I have to make a very fast decision on my next step.

    Thanks so much!

    Julian

    • savvybackpacker

      I’d be pretty rare for anyone to stop you between Spain and Italy. I’d guess that taking the train would be the safest bet. I’m not totally sure about enrolling as a student in your case. You may have to leave the schengen area for 90 days before trying to get a student visa… I’m not an expert in this particular case.

  • Rachel

    Question. I’m currently in France on a student visa. I will be back in the US for the last month of my visa and then need to re-enter France a little over 1 week after the visa expires (only for 2 weeks). Do I need to extend my visa or will I be able to re-enter on the tourist 90 day visa that Americans are able to travel by?

  • Shivan

    I overstayed in EU for 5 months and was kicked out for 5 years from the entire EU… DO NOT overstay!

    • Zarraaaa

      Omg that’s terrible, i’m so sorry about that. Can u elaborate on what the situation was, which country, where u are from, etc.?
      Also, anybody know what one should do to go back to Schengen problem-free after an accidental overstay?

  • Andrew

    Hey mate… I have a resident permit in the Netherlands which expires soon.. I have a NZ passport but will be in France when my resident visa expires. Can i start claiming directly on the 90 days when my resident visa expires?

    I have heard i need to exit the schengen area once my visa expires then i can start on the 90 days. is this correct? This would be niggly to fly to the UK for 24 hours… surely i can just transfer over….?? hopefully…

  • Ibrahim K Tuhin

    Really an amazing article. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Clayton Knipe

    Hi, I was wondering what your experience is/was with return tickets. I don’t want to have to have a ticket of any kind ready to show officials upon entry stating that I’ll be leaving within the 90-day limit. I don’t plan to over stay anywhere, but what if I don’t know where I’d like to go next three months from when I arrive in Spain or France? Does Europe-or any part of it-require that you have a return ticket/ticket-out?
    Hard to put, hope that makes sense.
    -C

    • savvybackpacker

      I haven’t had any problems arriving on a one-way ticket. I flew into Paris on a one-way ticket and no one asked me anything (the passport official took about 2.7 seconds looking at my passport). I’ve found that the UK seems to ask the most questions.

  • KyleOlsen14

    WOW! This is an incredibly comprehensive article here, and I have to admit… even a seasoned traveller can get surprised. I doubt you have left out anything regarding long term travelling at all, and I know it’s something I have been aiming to do later this year. This post has saved me a great deal of time and trouble. Really appreciate the info!

    • savvybackpacker

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m sure I left some stuff out as I’m always learning myself. haha. I try to add new info as I find it.

      • Georgina

        More kind words from me, savvybackpacker, and a big thank you for your efforts.
        I hope to get some feedback from you on a fresh situation involving a
        friend from Slovakia, who came for his annual visit here in the US.
        He has a US citizenship, but actually overstays by months in SK every year. He has NEVER had a problem getting out of Schengen, mostly via the Vienna airport to New York. Until 3 days ago, when he was checked, questioned, fined a thousand Euros and allowed to board his scheduled flight. He arriwed all bewildered and does nor really know what consequences to expect. He actually claims he never new about any Schengen 90-day limits or rules.
        Question – do you or anyone know of a quick way to check and see what, if any, SIS entry there exists on his person? It is essential, that he returns there, but my research so far indicates that may not be possible to do legally. His return flight is in 3 weeks back to Vienna, so I doubt he can risk that. Any tips on what options he has?

  • kelsey

    hello! thanks so much for all this great information. Just for clarification: I’m a first time long term traveler and I’m going to stay in France for 90 days and then plan on going to switzerland and germany for another week, so I planned on leaving on a specific date and then gave myself and extra week of travel. So that put me at a total of 98 days in Europe. Will I have complications with this? should I just get a tourist visa? my tickets are already purchased. I’ll be flying in and out of france

    • transpar3nt

      Yes you will have complications with this. Every resource I’ve seen indicates there is no way to extend a travel allowance/visa beyond 90 days in one stretch without a good reason or ample proof that you can support yourself without working. That means many countries require you to have upwards of $30,000+ in a bank account.

      Like the blog article says, if you have to over stay, leave directly from one of the easier countries (Italy, France, Greece) and go directly back to your home country – not through other Schengen countries like Iceland which can still check your passport for being over time.

  • Mantrid

    You may want to point out the rules are different for New Zealander’s. They can stay 90 days in each of the countries (there are a few exceptions) not 90 days in the whole Schengen area.

    Schengen
    Schengen
    Schengen

  • Meli

    Hi, I have a question: let’s say I get a working holiday visa for Italy for one year starting sept 1 2014. Once sept 2015 comes around, can I just leave for a day and then go back to Italy for 90 day visa free schengen stay or do I have to leave for 90 days before going back into Italy? I am canadian btw

  • Jill

    I’m a US citizen wishing to go to Europe and the UK for 12 months. My fiance lives in the UK and we have friends in Germany, France and Italy so finding places to stay is not a problem and he also has a motor home we would be traveling in – so self-sufficient in that respect. He has been going through a divorce for 8 years and we have just kind of given up and decided we’ll do whatever we need to do to be together. He’s on a pension and I am an independent self-employed jewelry designer. The great thing about the jewelry I make is I can take my supplies with me and fulfill my wholesale and Etsy orders regardless of where I am in the world. It seems as though it’s impossible for me to get a visa to live in the UK as being self-employed and not looking needing or wanting a UK work permit. In other words, I would not need to take a job away from a UK national. My question – is there a way around this? Can I actually legally live and do my own business in the UK especially if I keep my US bank accounts? Other than Berlin – are there other cities/countries in Europe that I could apply for residence permit for self-employment? Any advice/input would be most appreciated. Thanks :)

  • Marie

    Im confused about what was said to me when I entered the Schengen region in Amsterdam. I hold a canadian passport and as the guy at customs stamped my passport he said: ” you can stay 90 days, but if you stay longer, its no problem, as long as you declare yourself” I swear he said this to me, but I can’t find anything about this online and its driving me crazy. What does he mean as long as i declare myself ?? Id like to stay 10-14 days longer than my 90 days limit…

  • yj

    Thank you for all this very useful info savvybackpacker. Do you have any more details on staying longer than 90 days working with a TEFL or similar job? I am a US citizen and want to move to Spain with this kind of job. I already have my TESOL certificate.

    • Ana Kim

      I’ve been living in Spain almost 4 years. In the south, it is almost impossible to get legal work with a TEFL qualification. Academies are desperate for teachers, but will not hire people from outside the EU, even so. I’m Canadian. They call me up, ask to interview me, I tell them I’m Canadian and they say oops, sorry, goodbye. Basically, don’t bother. The north could be different, but I doubt it.

  • juanito

    Why do you only talk about tourists from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand?

    So far, none of the things you said apply to me. I’m from South America, from a country that needs Schengen visas for any stay from 1 to 90 days.

    I’m not a student and I don’t have $30,000 sitting in a bank account.

    How do you suggest people like me (the majority of the world population, mind you) can get a Schengen visa and stay more than 90 days roaming freely throughout Europe?

    • rob

      Dear Juanito,
      yes, there is a way for you to get a Schengen visa!
      Firstly, you have to stop whining like the world owes you a living.
      Step 2. You should get down on your 3rd world knees and thank the writer of this article for putting together some quite good advice for which we are all very appreciative.
      Step 3, Go back to university, study, get a personality, seek sponsorship from a European employee, secure a job – et voila! a European work permit! Congratulations!

  • Ana Kim

    Thanks for your advice. I did not realise I could go back and forth between the UK/Ireland and other parts of the EU. One thing I would offer from my experience is that it is not common to get TESOL/TEFL jobs in Spain. It is more or less impossible. I have been there almost 4 years. There have been numerous academies who call me up (responding to my ads for private classes) wanting to hire me, some of them desperate for teachers, and then they turn an about face when they find out I am not an EU citizen. They have to actually go to the Foreign affairs office themselves, they have to show they have their taxes all paid and in order, I believe they are supposed to prove that they’ve advertised and can’t find anyone from within the EU. Even when you have a special qualification that they could easily argue there is nobody else in the vicinity can do it, the red tape takes too long (this happened to me). You would need to have some very special qualifications indeed, and not be applying to any run of the mill English teaching academy, and do it from outside the EU.

  • Eva

    This is an awesome article! Thanks! I’m going to Europe next year but want to spend at least 8 weeks in Italy.. Which only leaves 4 weeks in other Schengen countries.. I’m seriously at a loss at what to do. If I have enough money I’ll go to the UK for 3 months but that depends on how I go. Eek

  • Jane

    Hello I was wondering if someone could help me with a question. Can they tell if you have stay over 90 days in a county if they don’t stamp your passport? I spend 28 days in Greece, 30 in the UK and then 9 in Ireland. I have received stamps for all of these. And then I flew from Ireland to Prague and have been in the Schengen for almost up to my 90 days now. I have not gotten any other stamp since Ireland. Stamp wise It looks like I could still be in Ireland, but I have been taking flights around the Schengen area.
    Will it show up on a computer if I try and renter the UK from Amsterdam ? Thank you all. Hope that made sense.

  • Michelle

    Sorry if this is a stupid question. I’m a US citizen. Can I stay in England/Wales for a year with a passport/Visa since it’s not in the Schengen Zone? (Sorry if this posts twice my computer is freaking out)

    • savvybackpacker

      You can stay in the UK for 6 months w/out a visa. As you said, the UK is not part of the Schengen zone so then you can spend 3 months in the Schengen zone if you want…. but you can’t spend a full year in the UK unless you get a visa.

      • Michelle

        Ok so if I get just a regular visa would that allow the full year? Thanks :)

        • savvybackpacker

          Be aware that getting a visa is extremely difficult.

          • Michelle

            Ok thank you very much!

          • Michelle

            Sorry one more question. If I leave after the 6 months with a passport, how long do I have to wait until I’d be allowed to return for 6 more months?

          • savvybackpacker

            You’ll have to wait an additional 6 months before you can return (I believe).

    • Bianca

      Hi, This site helps a lot with many questions I have, I have a couple more!

      I am Australian on a Tier 5 mobility visa which expires mid this year.
      If I was to stay in Portugal for 90 days, then head back to the UK would they expect to see a open flight returned back to Australia? Wouldn’t the Australian Embassy noticed? If I wished to cut down my stay in Portugal I couldn’t go back to the UK until I’ve reached the 90 days?

      I’m just a little confused, would like to be clear as I wouldn’t want to get into trouble.
      I will have a place to stay for the 3 months when I return back to the UK? So within the schengen countries I will not get stamped? If I travelled many times throughout the schengen countries would they only see stamped leaving the UK? If they asked me where I’ve been what would I advise?

      Sorry for all the questions!
      Thanks

    • mediabrainwash

      No, you can not. I am getting mixed sources as to how long to. The US department of stat now says 3 mounts. The stamp on my passport when landing says 6. Therefore 6 is correct.

  • Juanito666

    You mention several ways to overstay visas but you don’t tell us how to GET them in the first place.

    BTW, the majority of people on this planet are not American, Canadian, Australian or Kiwi. Most people on the planet need visas to ENTER the Schengen area. And getting them is not easy, especially when you don’t have $30,000 sitting idly in a bank account and when you don’t plan on staying at the Ritz Carlton.

    So a little advice geared to most people on the planet is still needed, don’t you think?

    • savvybackpacker

      95% of the visitors to my site are from the US, Canada, and Australia so that is why I only mention them. If I had to tailor this to every country in the world it would take forever. Where are you from?

      • Juanito666

        I am from South America, from a country that needs visa for 90% of the world.

        I don’t know your visitors’ stats but it’s hard to take a website as a trusted source of information when it suffers from this “first-world bias.” At least 70% of the world’s population need visas to enter the Schengen area.

        So just pretending you can show up at a Schengen airport and showing your blank passport is enough is missing the entire first half of the story: how to make the consular officer in your home country approve a 90-day Schengen visa with no money in the bank and no 5-star hotel stay booked in advance for every single night of your stay (yes, that’s among the many requirements).

        Would you kindly tell us that teeny tiny piece of information? Most people on the planet would like to hear it and it would be much more valuable than how to overstay visas for the small percentage of people who can just show up at airports with blank passports.

        • savvybackpacker

          Sorry, you’ll have to find someone else to give you that information. Try this site: http://www.travelstart.co.za/blog/schengen-visas-some-basic-info-to-get-your-head-around/

          • Juanito666

            Isn’t your target market all wannabe backpackers? Or is it just first-world backpackers?

          • savvybackpacker

            It looks like the only way to visit many of these European countries is by applying for the necessary visa. I don’t know what else to tell you. You’re going to have to do a little more digging online to find the information. I’m sorry and I know it sucks but that’t the reality.

          • Juanito666

            The problem, dear James, is that backpacking has seemed to become a whole new class of traveling. However, no backpacking visa exists.

            Short-term visas, like the one that allows you to stay for 90 days in a given country, are “tourism” visas, not backpacking ones. Consular officers and decision makers have this misconception that every tourist needs at least 100 euros per day and that hotel stays should be planned in advance and paid for before starting your trip. They harbor this old-fashioned concept of organized tourism and they want to shoehorn backpackers into it.

            How could a backpacker who wants to live on just 30 euros a day show all these proofs of money, expensive hotel rooms paid in advance and fixed travel itineraries, when we know that the very essence of backpacking is serendipity and freedom?

          • savvybackpacker

            I guess you can’t.

  • Bianca

    Hi, This site helps a lot with many questions I have, I have a couple more!

    I am Australian on a Tier 5 mobility visa which expires mid this year.
    If I was to stay in Portugal for 90 days, then head back to the UK would they expect to see a open flight returned back to Australia? Wouldn’t the Australian Embassy noticed? If I wished to cut down my stay in Portugal I couldn’t go back to the UK until I’ve reached the 90 days?

    I’m just a little confused, would like to be clear as I wouldn’t want to get into trouble.
    I will have a place to stay for the 3 months when I return back to the UK? So within the schengen countries I will not get stamped? If I travelled many times throughout the schengen countries would they only see stamped leaving the UK? If they asked me where I’ve been what would I advise?

    Sorry for all the questions!
    Thanks very much

  • mediabrainwash

    This is one thing that confuses me about the Schengen thing. When does the timer restart? I landed in Germany on October 2nd, then went to u.k. for two weeks starting on the 21st, then went to Greece for 6 days, then will return in France for another four in March. My question is will my 90 days restart at the end of March? Because I plan on doing WWOOF in Ireland for three months, then doing the same in France for another 3. Will that work? Is there a time limit between visits to the U.K. or Republic or Ireland as well?

  • Karen

    Hi, my daughter is travelling to Spain and working as an au pair, however to stay longer than 90 days we had to obtain a student visa for at least 90 days ( not cheap ), she is travelling on an Australian passport with a student visa for 5 months and then going to England. She does not want to stay in England for 90 days. My question is, if she goes back to Europe within 90 days and enters using a schengen visa – does the time already spent in Spain on a student visa count or does it start again as it is now a shengen visa? Thanks for your help

    • transpar3nt

      This seems like a nuanced enough question that you should be asking the authorities about it. If I were you this is not a mistake I would want to make.

    • jana

      she should have taken the cheaper option of just using a 90 day touist visa, it is free !

  • Garth

    This is a great article. Can you please give some examples of university courses in Europe that I could apply to that are cheap. I think that is a good way to get around this rule

  • abenaa

    please can one freely move from ukriane to france or germany with a ukrainian student permit?

  • princessbuttercup

    See…I would have just said “Marry into European nobility” and called it a day.

  • Ashlee

    Hi – if I have a UK working holiday visa am I still affected by the schengen zone rules? Thanks !

  • kath

    This is a really informative article, thank you so much! Definitely one of the best I have found. I have a really quick question that I am pretty sure I know the answer to but just want to double check. I am an Australian citizen/resident and also hold a UK passport. I am not a resident of anywhere in the EU. Is there a limit to the amount of time you can stay in Europe if you are an EU citizen without a residency? Thanks again for all of the information.

    • savvybackpacker

      If you have an UK passport you can stay/work in the EU as long as you want.

  • http://www.hellopassport.com Kristin

    Hello! I’m American, 33 yrs old and with a Master’s degree (obtained in 2010). I am interviewing for an unpaid internship to do digital marketing in the tourism industry in Ireland. They want me there for 6-9 months. No problem for 90 days, but how can I extend that? Could I get a freelance permit in Germany, France or Ireland (if they have it) and then continue my unpaid internship? Would the Irish allow me to get a Working Holiday Visa even though I’m over 30? If I got a freelance visa from Germany or France, or long-term stay visa from France, could I then actually stay in Ireland? Any recommendations? Thanks, James and Susan!

  • Renée

    Amazing article! A quick question. Can one apply for a long term French visa and a Schengen visa?

    • savvybackpacker

      There isn’t a Schengen visa. There are only visas for individual countries.

      • Renée

        What I mean: can I apply (at the same time) for a long stay visit visa for France and another country for a short stay that will give me access to Schengen areas?

        • savvybackpacker

          If you have a long stay visit visa for France you should be able to visit any country Schengen member country.

  • Steph Sprecher

    Question, I know there’s a 90 day limit for Schengen countries, but I’m confused on if the time “pauses” within the 180 time frame. Say I spend 6 days in Iceland then 3 weeks in Ireland, and then I move onto the Netherlands…does my count continue from 7 or at the month mark??? Please help because this determines my course if travel this coming fall.

    Thanks!

    • Annie

      From what I have gathered through my own research once the 180 days you have 90 days to use and every half year it changes. No pauses. I would look more into it, maybe try contacting you nations government for information??

  • Holly

    Hi! I’m planning a year long European trip, and I was thinking of getting one of the long term visas from France. So just to clarify, if I got this visa I would be able to travel freely throughout the Schengen countries without worry as long as I flew into and out of France?

    • Holly

      Can anyone answer this question?

    • savvybackpacker

      If you can get a French long term visa then you’ll be find traveling to other Schengen countries — you probably don’t even have to worry about entering/exiting via France.

  • Swanny

    I had my whole schengen thing worked out……and then I find out that Croatia will be in the Schengen zone by the time I go so it has stuffed me up. It means I would be staying in Schengen for 97 days. Do you reckon I would get away with it?
    Also is it possible to get a working holiday visa from one country (Italy maybe?) and be able to visit all Schengen countries not just Italy for more than 90 days?
    I am an Aussie by the way if that helps.

  • Janzz dl

    Hi Nice article thank you for share this valuable information with us. Now I also want to travel Schengen area. But before plan my travel, need to save money :)

  • Nicki

    Hi! I’m glad I stumbled on this article. I’m a US citizen from NYC and am planning on flying to Nice, France mid August to stay with my boyfriend (french citizen) who just bought an apartment there. I don’t speak French, so will enroll in a nearby language school and do an intensive course prob about 3 months. I want to stay as long as possible but I guess I had the whole 90 day thing wrong. I thought you could leave the county (we were thinking Morocco) and come back after a few days and the period would restart. Now I see that is not the case. We will be traveling to the FWI islands, leaving mid December for about a month at least. In your opinion, do you think if I forego traveling outside of the schengen zone in November, (so now I’ll have been there 4 months) will I have problems flying to Guadeloupe from France? And moreover will I be able to get back into France in January? Any thoughts help. Thanks!