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Schengen agreement clarification for US citizens

2020 Camino Guides

CatPhillips

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016, Norte 2017, Primitivo 2017, Norte 2019, Primitivo 2019.
Help me out here. I think I understand but would love to have someone say, yeah, that's it. Here goes: As a US citizen, I can stay in Spain (or any of the Schengen Agreement countries) for 90 days within a 180 day period. So let's say I go to Spain on March 28th and stay until May 29th (63 days). Then I go home. My original 180 days end at the end of September, that's 6 months from March 28. Now, I want to go back. I will have been home (in the states) for over 90 days by the end of August, so my 180 days starts again, yes? if I go back in the beginning of September? This is where I'm confused. If I go back within that original 180 days then am I limited to the remaining 27 days or am I starting over?

I hope this makes sense to somebody.

And yes, I said I was done with the Camino, but I guess it's not done with me. I gotta go back. ;)
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
My original 180 days end at the end of September, that's 6 months from March 28. Now, I want to go back. I will have been home (in the states) for over 90 days by the end of August, so my 180 days starts again, yes?
It's really confusing.
Here's the official message;
"The visa 90/180 days rule means that the Schengen zone visitor or the Schengen visa holder can travel freely within the Schengen zone for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in any half year period."
"The 180-day period keeps rolling. Therefore, anytime you wish to enter the Schengen, you just have to count backwards the last 180 days, and see if you have been present in the Schengen for more than 90 days throughout that period."
So what matters is the 180 days before your next entry, and if you have stayed more than 90 days in that period.
So (say) 15 September is 141 days after March 28. You'll need 180 days from March 28, and that is September 23. So the soonest you could reasonably enter is the 24th.

Just be careful! If you make a mistake they are unforgiving, and could care less about the camino or your desire to get back there to walk.

Here are two useful calculators:
 

debra

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2010, Frances 2010
Via Francigena 2014 bicigrino
Way of St. Francis 2017 bicigrino
Help me out here. I think I understand but would love to have someone say, yeah, that's it. Here goes: As a US citizen, I can stay in Spain (or any of the Schengen Agreement countries) for 90 days within a 180 day period. So let's say I go to Spain on March 28th and stay until May 29th (63 days). Then I go home. My original 180 days end at the end of September, that's 6 months from March 28. Now, I want to go back. I will have been home (in the states) for over 90 days by the end of August, so my 180 days starts again, yes? if I go back in the beginning of September? This is where I'm confused. If I go back within that original 180 days then am I limited to the remaining 27 days or am I starting over?

I hope this makes sense to somebody.

And yes, I said I was done with the Camino, but I guess it's not done with me. I gotta go back. ;)

You have to look at 180 days and check that you are never in Spain/Schengen for more than 90 days.
So I go to Spain for 45 day and return to the USA for 90 days and return to Spain for 80 days.
That should be fine as on day 46 of the second Spain trip, the first day of trip 1 to Spain is no longer in the count for the 180 days.

The problem is when you are taking smaller breaks than 90 days between long trips.

So I go to Spain for 45 day and return to the USA for 89 days and return to Spain for 80 days.
That would not be fine as on day 46 of the second Spain trip, the first day of trip 1 is still to Spain is in the count for the 180 days so you are as 91 days and would stay at 91days in 180 until you left on day 80.
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
Hi Cat
I have worked in Embassies for many years, so first thing is: check with the Spanish Consulate in your country before taking any of the advice given here. They are the only ones that can officially say when and how long you can stay in their country.

Secondly, my take on the situation you describe, from previous consular experience (in a different country) is: your 180 days DO NOT start again if you stay 90 days at home. That's not how you count.

The way it works is that, in any 180-day chunk of time, you cannot be in Spain (or other Schengen country) for more than 90. VNWalking puts it perfectly when quoting:

"The 180-day period keeps rolling. Therefore, anytime you wish to enter the Schengen, you just have to count backwards the last 180 days, and see if you have been present in the Schengen for more than 90 days throughout that period."

I'd also highly recommend to look at your expected LAST day of the new trip and counting back 180 days. If there are more than 90 days of Spain in that interval, please give it more space, change dates a bit and do not get in trouble with immigration. It is the type of problem that can affect your travelling for the rest of your life.
 

CatPhillips

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016, Norte 2017, Primitivo 2017, Norte 2019, Primitivo 2019.
"I'd also highly recommend to look at your expected LAST day of the new trip and counting back 180 days. If there are more than 90 days of Spain in that interval, please give it more space, change dates a bit and do not get in trouble with immigration. It is the type of problem that can affect your travelling for the rest of your life."

This makes the most sense. Thanks for explaining it!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Recently I spoke to a person at our Ministry of Internal Affairs and this was being said to me.
For example if you enter Schengen on Jan 1st and leave it on Jan 30th it doesn't matter how many days (within 180 days from Jan 1st) you are out of Schengen because you still have 60 days within those 180 days from Jan 1st.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Recently I spoke to a person at our Ministry of Internal Affairs and this was being said to me.
For example if you enter Schengen on Jan 1st and leave it on Jan 30th it doesn't matter how many days you are out of Schengen because you still have 60 days within those 180 days from Jan 1st.
The bold part is the key. So if you left with 'time on the clock,' and wanted to go back within that 180 day period, you could, so long as you did not exceed the 90 day allowance: you can only be in the Schengen zone for 90 days in that 180-day period.
It. Is. Super. Confusing.o_O

 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
There is a calculator on the internet that might help for those that are making shorter stays. You enter all your trips and it tells you how you comply or not.

 

Evvie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019
There is a calculator on the internet that might help for those that are making shorter stays. You enter all your trips and it tells you how you comply or not.

I got confused with the first response! The calculator website is succinct: "Short-term visitors to the Schengen countries that do not need a visa and holders of multiple entry visas valid for at least six months and with 90 days of duration of stay, are not permitted to spend more than 90 days within 180 days in the territory of the Schengen Area." So if you leave January 1 you can't spend more than 90 days between January 1 and June 29 (180 days). So it seems to apply to all Schengen countries, not just Spain (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) Do you get a new 180-day period starting June 31?
 
Camino(s) past & future
2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 (2019) CF
2013 Arles/Aragones
2015 & 2017 HærvejenDK
Also, part of a day in the zone counts as a full day.
The day that your flight departs from the U.S. counts as a full day even if you don’t touch Spanish soil until the next day—because you ‘might enter Spanish airspace on your departure day.’
I have spent too many hours counting and re-counting days to ensure that I don’t overstay my welcome on each of my trips to Spain. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
It is confusing. Think of it more simply as picking any 180 day period. If you stay more than 90 days within this arbitrary period you're in violation. It's 90 days out of a rolling 180 period. This does apply to all countries. You are allowed 90 days in total for visits to all the countries.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
It still remains possible to apply for a more formal long-term visa, a one-year one for example, and such applications to the Spanish Embassy for reasons of a Camino that might be longer than typical could potentially be successful.

Remember, any valid travel document to one EU Nation gives travel rights into all of them.

Fundamentally, these Schengen Area travel possibilities constitute an easy extra layer, for friendly non-EU nationals, above and outside of the normal international visas system for travellers ; essentially for visa-free travel & tourism possibilities.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
The day that your flight departs from the U.S. counts as a full day even if you don’t touch Spanish soil until the next day—because you ‘might enter Spanish airspace on your departure day.’
I have spent too many hours counting and re-counting days to ensure that I don’t overstay my welcome on each of my trips to Spain. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it!
Sorry, but this cannot be possibly true. Where is that quote taken from? You get a stamp in your passport when you enter the territory of a Schengen state. The stamp shows a date. That date is the date from when the 90 days are counted. That day is included in the 90 days. That's what EU/Schengen law says.

And just think about it: when you leave the Schengen area and the border control person looks at the date of your Schengen entry stamp or the computer reads it, how would they know when you entered the airspace of a Schengen country??? They can't even tell the hour of arrival of your flight at the airport! All they know is the day you got the stamp and that's when your feet were on the ground at the arrival airport.

This is what the Schengen entry stamp at Madrid airport looks like (the date is 10th January 2018):
Schengen entry stamp.png
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 (2019) CF
2013 Arles/Aragones
2015 & 2017 HærvejenDK
I found that information on a Schengen information website a few years ago, the first time the Schengen rules were in effect....I thought it was strange at the time, and I can't find it now.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I found that information on a Schengen information website a few years ago, the first time the Schengen rules were in effect....I thought it was strange at the time, and I can't find it now.
Forget it and enjoy the fact that you now have an extra Schengen day :).

Whoever wrote this did probably not understand what it means that the Schengen border controls happen at "land, sea and air borders". An "air border" is not the border of the airspace, it's a fictional border in airports.
 
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Isobeljc

Still walking
Camino(s) past & future
Frances “2017”
Aragones “2018”
Portuguese “2018”
Just now, looking at the Schengen Region website, it clearly states that your first day in the region is the day your passport is stamped - in the Schengen Region. Oh, well! Now I have an 'extra' day.
Please be careful about the “extra day”.

A couple of years ago a friend was 12 hours over. It took some very fancy talking at the airport in Rome to be allowed in the plane home to Australia without penalty.
 

Andres Cano

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 9 - May 3 2018 on regular bicycle.
You can also just apply for a visa. As I read from the spanish embassy's website you only need to prove that you have a decent means of financial support and that you have health car coverage which includes spain. Since you aren't a citizen paying taxes technically you aren't entitled to healthcare. However, when I got very bad bronchitis along the camino in Sarria the emergency room took a copy of my passport and didn't charge me. I have heard others got very large bills. I plan to stay for 90 days in 2021 and apply for a visa while I'm there.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
I would add that leaving the afternoon or night of the 90th day could be risky; there are flights delays or cancelled, missing connections, etc. I would not take any chances...It is better to prevent any uncomfortable situation.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
It is better to prevent any uncomfortable situation
It's more than potentially more than uncomfortable, because they can stamp 'illegal overstay' in your passport and bar you from re-entry into the Schengen Zone for years. Much better safe than sorry.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I would add that leaving the afternoon or night of the 90th day could be risky; there are flights delays or cancelled, missing connections, etc. I would not take any chances...It is better to prevent any uncomfortable situation.
I can see your point, but it would be a pretty heartless bureaucrat that imposed a penalty in circumstances like that.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
You can also just apply for a visa. As I read from the spanish embassy's website you only need to prove that you have a decent means of financial support and that you have health car coverage which includes spain. [...] I plan to stay for 90 days in 2021 and apply for a visa while I'm there.
I recommend that you get really good advice on this. What you write can be easily misunderstood. I had a look at the information on the website of the Consulate of Spain in Washington. What I read there only confirms what I knew already about visa requirements for the Schengen area. It all depends on your nationality:
  • If you have a US passport or a passport from a number of other states like Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you enjoy a visa waiver for the Schengen countries. It means that you do not need to apply for a visa before the start of your trip, you will just get a stamp in your passport when you enter and leave the Schengen area. You cannot stay for longer than 90 days.
  • If you have a passport from South Africa, the Philippines, India and a number of other states such as Morocco and Russia, you need to apply and obtain a visa before your trip. And indeed you have to provide proof of health care coverage and fairly modest means of financial support for your stay in Spain. It's the passport that counts, not a residency card. So this applies to green card holders with these nationalities who live in the United States. Your visa will state how long you can stay in Spain or another country belonging to the Schengen area.
It is extremely difficult if not near impossible to obtain a visa while you are already in Spain and you also cannot extend your 90 days Schengen allowance while you are already in Spain unless there are really exceptional circumstances (prolonged hospital stay due to accident or sudden serious illness or similar).

If you want to stay in Spain for longer than 90 days for a specific purpose such a studying you will need a visa beforehand and you need to provide proof of the purpose of your stay.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I can see your point, but it would be a pretty heartless bureaucrat that imposed a penalty in circumstances like that.
Is there some other kind of bureaucrat other than heartless?

For penalities of overstaying see

I read of a case where an American staying longer in Poland legally (there is a special case where they allow stays longer than 90 days in the 180 day period) had his flight home stop in Switzerland. He was banned from the zone and he had to spend thousands of dollars to get the his case straightened out.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I'm no longer as up to date as I used to be on this ☺ but I'm sorry to say that I severely doubt that the information in schengenvisainfo is correct on this. It is not an official EU website. Schengenvisainfo say that "an overstayed visa never goes unnoticed. The immigration authorities have registered in their databases every person that enters and leaves the Schengen, and every overstaying, even just for a day, is recorded" and that "no overstaying is left unpunished".

This is not true.

There are plans to have a Schengen wide information system one day that will record every entry and every exit and put the data at the disposal of every border control post in every Schengen country. They are still far away from implementing this. There are also no Schengen wide rules on fines for overstaying. This is up to every single Schengen country and many if not most generally don't care much when a tourist leaves the country and is a few hours or a day late. That doesn't mean that one should risk it, though. And of course overstaying will get noticed by every official or machine that can read a passport page and count backwards by 90 or 180 days.

Even Wikipedia knows that data in the current Schengen Information System (SIS database) is stored according to the legislation of each participating country. The majority of the entries concerns lost identity documents. SIS does not record travellers' entries and exits from the Schengen Area.

There are persons in the SIS database to alert border control that they have to be refused entry but it's not because they overstayed during an earlier visit. It's specifically named people who are for example on travel bans issued by the UN Security Council or the Council of the EU.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Is there some other kind of bureaucrat other than heartless?
I doubt any modern public service operates on a classical Weberian rational-legal model. I suppose any discussion of whether the politicians in any particular country want their public servants to return to such a model would break at least one forum rule, and probably be of little interest anyhow. And, after all, it would be unfortunate to lose the comedic potential of the rigid and unbending bureaucrat!!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
You can also just apply for a visa. As I read from the spanish embassy's website you only need to prove that you have a decent means of financial support and that you have health car coverage which includes spain. Since you aren't a citizen paying taxes technically you aren't entitled to healthcare. However, when I got very bad bronchitis along the camino in Sarria the emergency room took a copy of my passport and didn't charge me. I have heard others got very large bills. I plan to stay for 90 days in 2021 and apply for a visa while I'm there.
In my experience (both generally, and with Spain in particular) you should plan on applying for a visa before you arrive rather than while you are there. When I was applying for a visa to stay in Spain, I had to fly home to apply for the visa. Check with your local consulate before you go so you don't get to Spain and find yourself in a similar situation. Check early enough so that if you do need to apply from home, you have time for the process to complete itself before you need to start your trip. It is not necessarily a quick one.
 

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