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The Schengen Visa, while very handy for traveling across Europe without applying for multiple visas, can be a pain for those looking to stay in Europe long term. The majority of countries in Western and Northern Europe are part of the Schengen visa. Therefore it can be tricky to maximize the allotted 90 days available to you, and even more tricky to understand when these 90 days count and when they end. Take it from us, you do not want to screw these days up. While some countries may not pay attention to these dates others do and you don’t want to end up in interrogation at 2am.
So here are the thing you don’t know about the
S C H E N G E N V I S A
Not All Nationalities Need to Apply For the Schengen Visa
The nice thing about the Schengen visa is that not all nationalities need to apply for it. The visa will be granted automatically when you reach the border. This makes it easy for some people but also can make it difficult to know what the terms of the visa actually are. Because not all countries are automatically granted a visa please check before heading to a Schengen country.
Below you will find a list of countries currently allowed to travel around the Schengen countries without applying for a visa ahead of time.
*Please note that this can change at anytime so check the Schengen Visa website to double check.
The Schengen Visa Grants You Freedom of Movement Between 26 Countries
The best thing about the Schengen visa is that you have freedom of movement between 26 different countries. You don’t have to worry about going through passport control when you travel between these countries and it makes travel between them smooth and easy! The following 26 countries are:
The Schengen Visa is Calculated on a Rolling Basis
This is the trickiest part about figuring out your time in the Schengen countries; your visa is calculated on a rolling basis. This means that whenever your passport is checked they go back 180 days from the day they check it and calculate your 90 days from there. That means that if you have been traveling around Europe and been popping in and out of the Schengen countries you need to keep an accurate count of your days both in and out of the Schengen from everyday of your long term trip…. It’s a pain, I know, but better than being deported…
To Extend Time on Your Schengen Visa Keep an Accurate Count of Your Days
The best way to avoid being deported is to keep an accurate count of where you have been and how many days you have been in each country. It also helps to calculate back to 180 days before once you cross the 90 day threshold. Here is how we organized our days over our 11 month European trip.
While it was a headache to work backwards since we were well past 90 days when we started this calculation if you work from the beginning it shouldn’t be too difficult.
The Day You Enter and the Day You Leave Each Count as a Day in the Schengen.
This is one of the most important things to remember because it can widely skew your day count if you forget about them. Even if your passport is stamped at 11:59pm it counts as a day. If you have any doubt about what days count check your entrance and exit dates that are stamped into your passport.
The U.K. Is Not Always Happy About Being Used as a Place to “Extend” Your Schengen Visa
Just a heads up on this one. Alex and I were almost deported when we landed in the UK on day 90. If you are visiting the UK and are near the end of your 90 days I would refrain from saying that you are visiting the UK because your 90 days are almost up. Maybe mention the fact that you are more interested in seeing the Tower of London or Big Ben or to visit friends than say that you are looking to extend your 90 day Schengen visa…. Take it from us, it is not fun to spend almost 3 hours in the holding area of Stansted Airport waiting to see if you will be allowed into the UK. It is nerve racking to say the least especially after all the work I did to make sure we were within the bounds of the visa. Luckily we explained what we were doing in the UK, visiting friends and spending the holidays and that we had money and weren’t bums, and they let us in.
So there you have it; all the things you should know about the Schengen Visa and now do! If you are planning long term travel throughout Europe it definitely helps to know how the visa works especially since there is hardly any clear information on the internet. Hopefully this clears up this confusing visa situation and makes your travels around Europe waayyy easier!
Heading to Europe soon? Don’t forget to buy travel insurance! Sure you may not use it but its always good to have. We recommend World Nomads which we have been using for years and have always made us feel secure as we travel around the world!
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