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ULTIMATE GUIDE: HOW TO LEGALLY STAY LONGER IN EUROPE (SCHENGEN COUNTRIES)
How can I stay in Europe or the Schengen Area’s countries for a longer period of time?”
This is one of the most common questions that I get from readers, especially because I have been able to stay in the Schengen Area for more than the usual 90-day limit despite being an unmarried non-EU (non-European Union) national with a third world country passport.
I understand that a lot of people would want to have the right to stay for more than 90 days, since going on a complete ‘Eurotrip’ can’t really be done in such a short span of time. So with this post, I will be giving you different ideas and options on how you can legally extend your European vacation! But first, let me give you a bit of background information.
The Schengen Area & The 90-Day Limit
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 countries that comprises most of Europe. As part of a unified agreement, all of them have agreed to abolish passports and internal border controls. This means that all the Schengen countries act as if they are only ‘one country’ — every citizen of each member state is free to go anywhere they want, while outsiders who want to enter Schengen would experience border control once at the first country that they entered, but after that, entering other member countries would no longer require further immigration control.
The Schengen Visa serves as the basic short-term visa that you will need to be able to stay in all of the 26 countries. However, non-Schengen citizens are allowed to enter the area without this (their passport will only get stamped upon arrival and departure) as long as they are residents of:
3.Antigua and Barbuda
9.Bosnia and Herzegovina[*]
21.Hong Kong SAR
24. Macao SAR
37.Saint Kitts and Nevis
If you are NOT a resident of one of the countries above (which mostly comprises citizens of Africa and Asia) you would then need to apply at an embassy to obtain a tourist/short-term Schengen Visa.
If you’re from the Philippines, go here to read my visa guide for obtaining a Schengen Visa from the Embassy of Belgium; although, if you’re entering a different Schengen country or staying somewhere else the longest, do consult the corresponding embassy to find out their requirements. Most of the time, the prerequisites are the same as that in my article for Belgium, but of course it’s always important that you recheck so you don’t miss out on any documents needed.
Once you are allowed to enter the Schengen Area — with just your passport or with a short-term visa — you are ONLY permitted to stay for 3 months (90 days) per 6 month period (180 days). The 90 day span doesn’t need to be consecutive, it’s treated as cumulative; but the fact remains that after you have stayed in Schengen for a total of 90 days, you have to leave. You are NOT allowed to come back again until the 181st day from the first time you stepped in.
If you don’t leave by the time you hit 90 days, you are subject to a fine or deportation; worst case scenario, you will be banned from the Schengen Area for a period of time (1-3 years) or indefinitely.
It’s sometimes considered as ‘okay’ if you stay for a couple more days and even up to a week, but I advise that you don’t try and push it especially if you’re on a visa. And if you stay longer than a week, you should know that you’re going to be in big trouble.
Nevertheless, it’s said by most travelers (who are free to enter Schengen with just a passport) that southern countries