For many, traveling Europe is a dream. For those who turn that dream into a reality, you’ll soon find that Europe is a broad, amazing place to travel through. We sure did, and began extending our stays in each city. However, we soon encountered a problem: the Schengen Agreement.
The Schengen Area was formed in 1985 in Schengen, Luxembourg. The gist of the agreement was to make several countries in Europe “borderless,” thus treating them as one country in regards to travel. It abolished border checks at common borders of all countries involved, making travel between countries seamless for European residents.
While this works well for residents of the EU, non-residents are limited to 90 days of Schengen Area travel within every 180-day period. Once day 91 occurs, travelers must exit the Schengen area for 90 days before re-entering or risk fines and deportation.
For most vacationers, this is not a problem. For frequent travelers who want to stay longer, there are some work around options.
Option 1: Leave the Schengen Area
This is the simplest choice. There are still countries in Europe that are not part of the agreement. These include the UK, Ireland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Cyprus, Belarus, Moldova, Turkey, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia and Croatia. See the up to date map of the Schengen Area for updated information.
The easiest option is to leave the Schengen Area and explore parts of Europe that are not in the agreement. With the countries listed above to choose from, three months won’t be enough time!
Option 2: Get a Long-Term Visa
Germany: Germany has an appealing option of a self-employment visa. If you can prove that you make sufficient income from your own business or by freelancing, make an appointment at the consulate office to get a one or two year European visa.
France: France offers a long-term visitor visa for a period of up to one year, a visa “D”. This visa allows you to stay in France for up to 12 months. To get this visa, you must set up an appointment at a French consulate office and show necessary documents.
Italy: Italy offers a one year visa for those who promise not to work whilst in the country. You’ll have to prove proof of sufficient funds to support yourself before this visa is granted.
Sweden: Sweden offers a one year visitor visa as well. Make an appointment at the consulate and bring the necessary forms. If you are approved, you’ll have to pass an interview on why you want to stay for a year before getting your visa.
Obtaining any one of these visas will allow you travel anywhere in Europe for the duration of that visa.
Option 3: Study Abroad
If you take courses at a University in Europe, the school will usually take care of all of this for you. The visa you get that allows you to study in your country abroad will allow you to travel to European countries as well during your stay.
Option 4: Get Married
While not the most practical option, it’s still an option. If you get engaged to a European national, you can then apply for a marriage visa.
It’s not impossible to stay longer than 90 days in Europe, but it is a process. Be sure to plan well in advance should you wish to use any of these options, or just leave every 90 days for 90 days and then come back. There’s a lot of world to explore, so go see it!
NOTE: This post is mainly aimed at citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand since the visa policies are similar. Be sure to check if you need a Schengen visa before traveling to Europe or whether you can travel with just a passport.