The Schengen area includes 26 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
These countries have signed an agreement that allows people to travel freely within their borders, without the need for a passport. Anyone from a Schengen Member State is automatically allowed to travel freely to another Member State. Citizens from certain countries (for example USA, Canada, Japan, Australia) are allowed to travel within the Schengen area for up to 90 days every 180 days without requiring a visa, while for other countries (for example China, India, etc.) any entry – despite the intended duration – will require a visa. Any period of stay longer than 90 days requires a visa to be issued before travelling to any of the Schengen member states.
The vast majority of the third-country nationals – irrespective of being visa required or exempt – who intend to travel to the Schengen area for a short trip, can stay for maximum “90 days in any 180-day period […]”. “
The date of entry shall be considered as the first day of stay on the territory of the Member States and the date of exit shall be considered as the last day of stay on the territory of the Member States. Periods of stay authorised under a residence permit or a long-stay visa shall not be taken into account in the calculation of the duration of stay on the territory of the Member States.”
Reference to “any 180-day period” implies the application of a “moving” 180-day reference period, looking backwards at each day of the stay (be it at the entry or at the day of an actual check), into the last 180-day period, in order to verify if the 90 days / 180-day requirement continues to be fulfilled. Calculation is often not easy and the EU has created an online CALCULATOR which can be used by any travellers.
Among others, it means that an absence for an uninterrupted period of 90 days allows for a new stay for up to 90 days.
Stays in Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Romania, Cyprus and the United Kingdom shall not be taken into account as they are not (yet) part of the Schengen area without internal borders. More detailed guidelines can be found in the USER MANUAL FOR USING THE SCHENGEN CALCULATOR.
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