3 Legal Ways To Extend Your Stay in Schengen

Discover 3 legal ways you may be able to bypass the 90 days in and 90 days out in Schengen

Let’s be honest Schengen while great for EU locals, really sucks for digital nomads and long term travellers. It allows freedom of movement for EU residents and soft border controls meaning you can pop across to another country with no document checks or time wasted standing in a queue. However, for non-EU citizens the Schengen region causes all sorts of issues including only having 90 days to explore the currently 26 countries in the Schengen area. Then there’s the difficulty of proving when you arrived and left as many countries don’t stamp passports anymore.  

If you’re reading this, you want to know how you can extend your stay in the Schengen region without getting yourself into trouble.  

We’ve experienced the same issues and we’ve done the research to give you a better idea of your options! 

First, you should probably get up to date on your terminology. Check out The Visa Terms You Need to Know.  

So, there are a few ways which can help you extend your stay in the Schengen region, but remember there are different rules for different nationalities so be sure to check your relevant embassy! We’ve emailed numerous embassies and have more often than not received great responses. 

So, let’s get to it! 

Easiest way to extend your Schengen stay 

Be an EU citizen. I know many of you are thinking well if I had it, I wouldn’t be here. Well that may be true, however if you have any parents, grandparents or sometimes even great grandparents who were born in an EU country you may be eligible for a passport from that country. As an example, Rachs father was born in England and became an Aussie citizen in the 1980s, so she was eligible for a UK passport which allows her residency rights in all EU countries (until Brexit!). But also this allows Chris additional opportunities as her husband for extended visas from several countries. Definitely worth looking into! Rachs UK passport just required her father’s birth certificate, parents’ marriage certificate and her birth certificate. It cost a couple of hundred dollars and took 2 weeks to arrive. Not a bad investment for the opportunities it opens up.

The second easiest way to extend your Schengen stay 

Travel to the Scandinavian countries. While the northern countries of Scandinavia are part of Schengen they have special rules for citizens of some countries that mean time spent there is not included in the 90 days of Schengen. So basically, you could spend 90 days travelling through France and Germany and then head to the Norway for another 90 days and then back to Italy for another 90 days. Check your destination embassy sites for further clarification and rules and see if this is an option for you! 

The third easiest way to extend your Schengen stay 

Bilateral agreements. Now to be fair we haven’t tried this one yet because it hasn’t been required but we have been in contact with several countries’ embassies including Germany, Italy, Austria and France who have all confirmed the legitimacy of the bilateral agreements. How it works is that some countries have agreements with other countries about their citizens’ rights to stay in that country, and they override the Schengen requirements and do not count towards your 90 days in and 90 days out!

Not many people know about this, but it could allow you to stay in Europe almost indefinitely.

The rules are difficult to explain, and each country has different rules. For instance, as an Australian citizen you can spend 90 days in France under the bilateral agreement the two countries share and then spend another 90 days in another Schengen country. However, you can only do this if you enter the Schengen through France. So, you can’t go to Portugal for 90 days and then try to use the bilateral agreement to get an additional 90 days in France.

And for Australians in Germany… you can get an extra 90 days in the Schengen area if you leave from Germany. ie. Aust. > France (90 days) > Portugal (90 days) > Germany (90 days) > UK, but not Aust. > Germany (90 days) > Portugal (90 days) > France (90 days) > UK.

Some countries, such as Italy have a 90-day bi-lateral agreement with Australia which doesn’t count towards the 90 day Schengen visit and they have no rules around using it either. So, it doesn’t matter when you actually enter Italy.

Using bi-lateral agreements to extend your stay in the Schengen region requires a lot of research and trust in the immigration officers knowing about the bi-lateral agreements. But if your goal is to spend years travelling within the EU it may be worth the time to get further clarification from various embassies.

There you have it three ways to extend your stay in Schengen. Remember this is not legal or immigration advice and we would suggest you do your own research, so you don’t end up in a pickle!  

Here’s a handy Schengen Zone calculator tool we use to help determine whether we’ll be overstaying our welcome… well Chris’s anyway!

If you have any other (legal) ideas on how to extend your Schengen stay, please let us know! 

Further reading:

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