City Guides

Guide to Long-Term Travel in Europe: How To Stay Longer Than 90 Days

Discover how to stay in Europe for more than 90 days. Advice for dealing with visa issues, travel costs, accommodation, and saving money.


[Updated March 1, 2017. Originally Posted: August 2013]

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 of staying in Europe longer than 90 days 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 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 Schengen Area Explained

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


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 of visually showing the difference between all the different zones. For most travelers (Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders), 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 an 180 day period.

If you leave the Schengen Area, 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 an additional 90 days.

Think of it this way… the day you enter the Schengen zone it starts an 180-day countdown. Of that 180 days, you can only stay there for a total of 90 days. You can stay for 30 days, then 10 days, then 2 days, etc. but once you hit that 90-day total you have to leave until that initial 180 days has lapsed.

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

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 (you need a visa here, 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 of any other methods.

Split Up Schengen and Non-Schengen Countries

The easiest way to extend your trip past 90 days is to visit both Schengen and non-Schengen countries. Once your 90 days are up, travel to the UK, Ireland, or one of the many Eastern European countries that aren’t part of the agreement. Once you’ve spent 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 countries 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, and then 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 hours/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. However, 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 required on the French Consulate of San Francisco site. 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 get lucky and don’t have any classes on Monday and Friday — which allows 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 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 and 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 in 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

Important Note: With the recent immigration/refugee issues throughout Europe there have been increased border checks — even between Schengen members. Overstaying your stay is a bit riskier these days.  

While I certainly don’t recommend it, many people choose to 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 western 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, the 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 seem 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 passports of outgoing travelers. If you do overstay the 90-day limit, I highly recommend leaving 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 for 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. Here are a bunch of articles about saving money on transportation.

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 a great excuse to check out local markets. I’ve written a more in-depth article about renting an apartment in Europe.


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.


Many farmers in Europe need extra assistance during certain times of the year, so they get volunteers to help. They can’t legally pay you, but they can provide room and board. Volunteering can last anywhere from a few days to a few months (as long as you don’t overstay your visa). WWOOF and HelpX are the two biggest resources for finding volunteer opportunities.

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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.

    • 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: and a connected user guide (here:

            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.

          • Sterling Silver Gal

            I was told that once you first enter Schengen zone country the clock starts ticking the 180 days. You can come and go, but the total days “in” Schengen can not exceed 90 days within the 180 period. Once the 180 days are up, you can start all over again. In 30, then out, back in 10, then out, back in 20, then out. Can’t come back in until 180 days for the first day in.

  • 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

    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

  • 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.


    • 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!


    • 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.

    • 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.


  • 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!

    • 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:

          • 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.

          • This is internet bullying and it affects my experience on this excellent site. Do you want him to translate everything into your own language as well? I have a motto. Just say no to Internet bullies. Go find another place to spread your unkindness.

          • good job dealing with a bully

  • 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.

  • 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.


    • 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!

  • frances Simmons

    Question: Regs for 180 days time period for travel in France.
    1st 180 days – I stay 40 days return home for 30 days.
    I return for 59 days end of first 180 day period.
    2nd 180 days – I’m in France on the 89th day of my first six month time period.
    My 2nd 180 days start.
    Can I stay in France to start my next 180 time period for a stay of
    89 days?

  • jo

    I travelled one year in eastern Europe and i payed just for two nights, not too difficult, a tent or a tarp is enough and the guts to sleep in the woods or whereever. Really enjoyable actually and if you dumpster dive and use couchsurfing, and do a little streetart, travelling becomes pretty easily selfsustaining !!!

  • puzzle

    Dear all, I am a holder of UK student visa. Does it mean I can travel freely within UK and Schengen countries before my visa expires? I’ve been travelling in Schengen countries for almost 80 days and I wonder if I can take a 3 month short course further in Denmark. Your prompt advise is much appreciated. puzzle

  • puzzle

    hello, i hold a UK student visa. will i be free to travel thru Schengen and UK more than 90 days? I have been travelling in Schengen countries for almost 2 moths and I wonder if I can go back for another 3 months. Your quick response is much appreciated. best, Puzzle

    • savvybackpacker

      The UK isn’t part of the Schengen area so I would guess that having a UK visa wouldn’t allow you to stay in the Schengen area for over 90 days. But I’m not 100% certain. If you want to chance it then I would leave Europe via France or Southern Europe because they don’t pay as much attention to passports.

      • puzzle

        Thank you for your kind reply. But I need to go to Denmark for a 3 months’ short course or training. In this case, I will need a Schengen visa if I want to do the training? Can I apply in Denmark or other Schengen countries, or do I have to apply in UK?
        And did the Schengen countries have a centralised computer system that count your days of travel in the immigration? How do I know how many days have I left to in Schengen countries? Coz I’ve been in and out Schengen countries for a couple of times. Do they count by how many nights you stayed, or from arrival date to leaving date?
        Sorry for all the questions but I have to leave UK very soon and this issue was put into my attention and I might have to cancel everything if I can’t sort it out soon. Your kind advice is much appreciated. Many thanks! Puzzle

        • savvybackpacker

          There isn’t a schengen visa… only individual visas issued for each country. I guess you’d need to contact Denmark to get one. I don’t think there is a centralized computer system but I honestly don’t know.
          Will your 90 days be up before the start of the course? If so, you can probably come back to the UK (assuming your UK visa is still valid) and you probably won’t have any issues.

        • savvybackpacker

          And they should just count the number of days you’ve stayed in the schengen area… so if you left for a few days it shouldn’t count against your time.

  • Phoebe

    Hi there,

    Thanks so much for this article, very handy. I have a question (sorry if you have already answered it) about whether time spent in a schengen country on a long term visa (for work) counts towards your 90 days in schengen generally. I’m an Australian with a national visa for italy. I spent 3 months travelling in schengen, then settled for 6 months in Italy on my visa. After the visa runs out (in January), can i then continue travelling visa free in Schengen since my 90/180 has reset? or do i definitely need to leave the schengen for 3mths in between? I would ideally like to extend my italian visa/residence permit, but i think this may be asking too much.

    Thanks for your help.

    • james

      to be honest, I don’t know how it works in that situation.

  • Rhiannon

    I have dual nationality – Aus & NZ. by using both passports could I get around the 90 day Schengen visa by using say my Aus passport for 90 days, go to the UK for a couple of days and then fly back to a Schengen country and this time enter on my NZ passport and then repeat this process in reverse after the next 90 days? Cheers

  • Hi guys! Thank you SO much for this excellent post. I had a list of questions regarding my move to Europe in March of 2016 and you answered many of them. I’m especially excited about the self employment visa. I am next going to verify that I as a US citizen can stay in England for 6 months. That blows my mind and will make my move much easier. I will end up working in Europe, but for the first year I have my own work. Thank you. I’ll keep researching and will definitely use your site as a reference. Julie

  • jane from Australia

    there is a database that lists all of the information about whe you have been, which country you have stayed in. that is why you need a biometric passport to enter the schengen zone / eu.

    even if you have no stamp, then they know where you have been and hiw long you have stayed there, because it is recorded on the schengen database as you pass through airports

    so if you overstayed and left by spain, then when you try to reenter the schengenzone then it will show up, no matter whe you decide to reenter.

  • Cecil MCdog

    I have a couple questions. I am from the USA. If I visit Italy for 89
    days, then I have to leave so I guess I will go to the UK. Can I apply
    for a tourist or retirement visa for Italy while visiting the UK without
    returning to the USA. I will be traveling with my dog and I am
    reluctant to fly back to the USA as he must be crated and transported as
    cargo. Also, if I bring a vehicle with me (motorcycle registered in the
    USA with European Green Card Insurance), and if I don’t get a visa, can
    I drive it in Italy for 90 days, then drive it in UK for 90 days, then
    back to Italy for 90 days, and then back in the UK, etc. I know Italy
    allows a vehicle to be brought in for up to 6 months, then requires it
    to be registered there – but I am unsure if crossing into the UK resets
    that 6 month countdown. Me and my dog are looking to retire in Europe
    and ride around on a motorcycle 🙂

    • savvybackpacker

      First, look into the details of taking your dog to the UK… they might have some stringent rules about bringing in animals.

      You might have to be in the US to apply for those visas you mentioned — I don’t know for sure but I assume you’ll have to visit the Italian consulate in US. Contact the Italian consulate/embassy in the US. You can just call them up or check the website.

      You can travel between the UK and Italy doing the 90 day thing — I don’t know about the info regarding motorcycle registration.

      • Cecil MCdog

        Thank you for your response, I appreciate your efforts. It is unfortunate that Europe has such crazy rules for tourists. Between bringing the dog, bringing a vehicle, and acquiring extended stay requirements Europe makes it nearly impossible for financially well to do travelers to visit and spend their money. Requiring someone with say a million in assets to have a reservation to stay for a year to get a tourist visa, and if they wish to see the place before signing the lease they have to go there and then fly back to their own country before returning? That is ridiculous. One has to wonder how much money Europe loses in tourism, and how much that weighs upon their current recession and the devaluation of their currency. Hopefully I will be able to obtain dual citizenship, otherwise it would probably be wise to retire elsewhere.

        • savvybackpacker

          Well, I’m sure foreigners wanting to move to the US to retire have similar struggles. However, it sounds like you have the funds to retire in Italy so you’ll just have to follow the steps. There will be some bumps in the road but you can do it. Contact the Italian consulate and they’ll help you out.

  • Cecil MCdog

    I did some more research on the vehicle question in case anyone else is interested in this in the future. It appears to be permissible to bring a vehicle from the US into Europe for up to a year provided that you do not reside (i.e spend 90 days or less in any one country at a time) and drive on the US registration along with a supplementary Europe insurance policy.

    As for bringing in the dog, the Uk has a couple of extra requirements over Italy but it is not too difficult and there is no required quarantine period.

    Hopeful the citizenship option will materialize but I am having a hard time tracking down the 120 year old birth certs for my grandparents. I have to sell my house before leaving too, so at least it appears to be possible to still stay there for a minimum of a year with my US registered vehicle and not subject my dog to multiple cross Atlantic flights in an airplane cargo hold if the citizenship or visa option does not pan out. I am not planning on leaving for at least 10 months so I have time, but the Italian consulate here is no picnic – 6 month wait for a citizenship appointments and 1-2 years after the appointment for the results. The system and bureaucracy in Italy is nothing like here in the US 🙁

    • savvybackpacker

      Why do you need a vehicle? Can’t you sell yours and buy a new one when you get to Europe?

      • Cecil MCdog

        Possibly, but they are more expensive in Europe and it takes time to buy one, and then it needs to be modded to safely carry a dog. And also needs to be registered, and possibly without a real address there. Maybe we will stay in 90 day apt rentals, or maybe in a hotel room. How do you buy a motorcycle and register it with no address? Considering the loss on selling a bike already modded it seems like a better idea to bring it over. Also Motorcycle rentals in Europe are VERY expensive, 1 year would cost more than the bike is worth.

  • Me

    So confused. For example, if a US citizen marries an EU citizen, does she have full ability to live & work in any EU (Schengen) state? Or only live in any state? Or only live/work in the country of her spouse?

    • Me

      And what about if this couple conceives while in EU (before marriage)? Do Schengen rules still apply during pregnancy? (sounds effed up)

  • Mas

    Hello, I am a canadian travelling to 7 countries in europe. the last three countries are non-schengen countries. I have about six single pages left in my passport. I am wondering if those will be enough pages for the visa stamps?

    The last 3 countries are Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro (Day trip from Croatia).

    Would appreciate any help/insight into this.

    • savvybackpacker

      I don’t think you’ll have any problems. enjoy your trip

      • Mas

        Thanks for your input savvybackpacker! 🙂

  • Cassie

    Hello – Though this is an older post I’m hoping someone can offer some insight into traveling across borders within the Schengen zone post the 180 day period. My boyfriend and I will be traveling through Europe beginning in July. However… he just returned from a trip to France/Switzerland so his 180 day period technically began in April. Therefore, we’re more concerned with the 180 day period rather than the 90 days in Schengen territories. We’re hoping to register for a French or Italian travel visa, and hopefully travel within Schengen countries undetected. We would fly out of France or Italy back to the States so that being within the Schengen zone during our departure (more than 180 days for my boyfriend) won’t be an issue if we have the travel visa for either country. This might be a bit confusing! But if understood and anyone has any insight, please share!

    We certainly don’t want to do anything illegal, but hate that our tour of Europe might have to be cut short because of his trip in April.

  • D.

    Can I go to Italy for 90 days, then stay in Malta for 90 days and then return to Italy? I read that Malta is a non Schengen country so I thought I might be able to get around the 90 day rule that way. Thank you very much. (I am trying to retire to Italy, but I don’t think I meet the high financial requirements set forth in the U.S. I thought this might be a way to get around this.) Thank you very much. Sincerely, D.

    • savvybackpacker

      Malta is, in fact, in the Schengen Area so your plan would not work.

      • D.

        Thank you so much for the information. I desperately want to move to Rome but I am on a small pension and I am afraid I do not meet the financial requirements to be issued a long term visa. Also, I have read that you need to buy health insurance in the U.S. before you go to Italy and this can cost thousands of dollars. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you very much.
        Sincerely, Denise Damiano

        • Jo Walsh Dukarić

          My husband is Croatian (I am Australian) and lives in Zagreb. Croatia is not part of the Schengen. I moved here to Zagreb last year from Australia, and the process was kind of simple for me because I’m married to a Croatian, but would be a nightmare for a single non EU person. Here in Croatia one must take out national health insurance, not sure what the situation is like in Italy. One must have somewhere to stay and must take their landlord with them when applying for temporary residency (stays of over 90 days). One must be able to provide evidence of sufficient funds and a reason why they wish to stay in the country for longer than 90 days. The application process is done through the police station. Unless you’re married to an Italian or are wealthy, it is difficult to relocate. I was relieved to get my temporary residency for 5 years, and when it expires I can apply for permanent residency, then I hope to apply for citizenship eventually.

        • Jo Walsh Dukarić

          I forgot to mention that applying for the visa had to be done in Croatia.

  • Alejandra González

    Hi, sorry to jump in so late in the discussion. I found the information very helpful but I’m still a little confused, as I’ve on previous research that the 90 days are always in a 180-day running period, i.e. It’s not enough to leave the Schengen area for 3 months, you need to be outside Schengen countries for 180 days in order to have your “allowance” fully reset. This is what I gathered from the Schengen website and the. Schengen calculator, but many travelers and websites state that 90 days are enough to have the clock reset. Could anyone please provide updated or confirmed information on this? It’s all quite confusing. Cheers!!

    • savvybackpacker

      It is confusing. Basically, the day you enter the Schengen area starts your 180-day clock. Within that time, you can only stay in the area for a total of 90 days (in any combination you wish). So you can use it all at once or you can break it into chunks. Once the 180 days passes the clock resets. Hope that helps.

      • I don’t think that’s actually true (I’ve been doing a lot of research). In 2013, they changed the rules to say in “any” 180-day period, meaning the 180 day period keeps moving. You look back 180 days from the current day, and if you’ve hit 90 in that 180-days then you’ve reached the limit. It doesn’t automatically reset after 180 days from the first day you get there, otherwise you could come in for a day to start the clock, leave for 89 days, then do a straight 180 days with a “clock reset”, which isn’t allowed. If you came in for 10 days, then left for 90, then came in for 80, you don’t suddenly get 90 more days at day 180 (the end of those 180 days). Since you were just there for 80, you’ve now been there for 90 of the last 180 and must leave. Use the Schengen short-stay calculator to confirm your dates. It’s a great resource, even if a little confusing to use.

        • Sandy Truman

          Thanks for the info on the calculator. It’s a lot more informative than the Italian Consulate!

    • jim

      its simple…90 days in 90 days out in any 180 day cycle…the cycle starts on the first day you get your passport stamped….in the 180 day period you can spend only 90 days….after the 180 day cycle which started when you first entered….the cycle resets and you have another 90 days available for the following cycle. So if you enter on January 1st 2018….you have 90 days up until July 1st 2018 (approx)….after July 1st 2018 (if you arrive back on that day) your calendar resets and you have 90 days up until 1 January 2019. And it keeps resetting depending on the date you arrive in country.

  • ace

    so can you get a work visa to be a WOOFER?

  • ace

    if im married to an eu citizen can i reside for longer than the 90 days?

  • marcelo

    Croatia is a non-Schengen EU state

  • Shari

    so, we want to stay about 150 days in Italy. Do we or don’t we need a visa. If so, which one. Both retired. purely leisure travel

    • jim

      Long term visa…check with Italian consulate in the city nearest you

  • Olivia

    Hello! Just wanted to point out that this list indicates that the US doesn’t have a working holiday program with any European country, which is incorrect according to my research. It does indeed have one with Ireland, where I intend to apply.

  • Robert Hood

    Hello Guys!

    Great article!

    You didn’t mention one BIG country when it comes to Passport validity for US citizens……

    Albania! A US citizen with a US passport can stay up to ONE YEAR without restriction! Then, if you want to stay longer you can apply in-country for a residence permit.

    I am retiring there this Spring and in addition to having some of the lowest costs in Europe, the beaches are fabulous!



  • tim lewis

    Hey I’m going to Europe for 100 days. In the middle of my trip I’m going to UK and Ireland. Does that count toward 90day limit?

    • admin


    • jim

      UK is not part of the 90 days so you would have to spend at least 10 days in the UK and you will be fine

  • I am US citizen, if I will leave Europe for the USA in February after 3 months I am already here! Will I be Able to come back here in June or July? It is confusing

    • savvybackpacker

      If you’re out of the EU for 90 days then you’ll be fine.

  • Shivan

    I overstayed in the Netherlands by 5 months and when I went through Schiphol Immigration on the way to Bangkok I was detained and then barred from the EU for 5 years.

    Overstaying, especially now is beyond stupid.

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