Ultimate Guide: How to Legally Stay Longer in Europe (Schengen Countries)

Ultimate Guide: How to Legally Stay Longer in Europe (Schengen Countries)

“How can I stay in Europe or the Schengen Countries / Area 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.

These 26 countries are namely:

  1. Liechtenstein
  2. Lithuania
  3. Luxembourg
  4. Malta
  5. Netherlands[3]
  6. Norway[4]
  7. Poland
  8. Portugal
  9. Slovakia
  10. Slovenia
  11. Spain[5]
  12. Sweden
  13. Switzerland

[1] Excluding Greenland and the Faroe islands
[2] Excluding overseas departments and territories
[3] Excluding Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Caribbean Netherlands
[4] Excluding Svalbard
[5] With special provisions for Ceuta and Melilla

Aerial View of Paris, France

From the above list, 4 of these are non-EU (or EFTA member states that may have border control) — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland — whereas 22 are part of the EU.

However, to date, there are 28 members of the EU; so what happened to the other 6? Well, four — Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania— are still pending, and two — Ireland and the United Kingdom — decided to opt-out.

TRIVIA: There are 3 additional European microstates — Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican — that can be considered as de facto within the Schengen Countries given how they don’t have border controls with the countries that surround them; but it’s important to note that they are not official Schengen member states since they have not signed documents for it.

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:

  1. Albania[*]
  2. Andorra
  3. Antigua and Barbuda
  4. Argentina
  5. Australia
  6. Bahamas
  7. Barbados
  8. Bermuda
  9. Bosnia and Herzegovina[*]
  10. Brazil
  11. Brunei Darussalam

  1. Bulgaria
  2. Canada
  3. Chile
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Croatia
  6. Cyprus
  7. El Salvador
  8. Guatemala
  9. Honduras
  10. Hong Kong SAR
  11. Israel
  12. Japan

  1. Macao SAR
  2. Macedonia[*]
  3. Malaysia
  4. Mauritius
  5. Mexico
  6. Moldova
  7. Monaco
  8. Montenegro[*]
  9. New Zealand
  10. Nicaragua
  11. Panama
  12. Paraguay

  1. Romania
  2. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  3. San Marino
  4. Serbia[*]
  5. Seychelles
  6. Singapore
  7. South Korea
  8. Taiwan[2]
  9. USA[2]
  10. Uruguay
  11. Vatican
  12. Venezuela

[*] Visa waiver applies only to holders of biometric passports
[1] Including The Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau
[2] Passport must include identity number

[3] Including Virgin Islands of The United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico
DISCLAIMER: This list is as of February 2015
NOTE: Ireland, UK and their territories are allowed limitless entry

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.

NOTE: It helps to mention that there are non-Schengen members in Europe that allow entry to their country if you have a Schengen Visa, namely: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Turkey, and Vatican City.

HOWEVER, you must check these details beforehand since their rules might have changed. Plus, customarily, only multiple-entry Schengen visas are allowed. You can check this list for more details and updates.

Schengen Countries

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.

IMPORTANT UPDATE (March 2015): Apparently, as of 18 October 2013, the Schengen member states changed the calculation of the 180-day period. To know more about this and avoid fines, deportations, and bans in Schengen, please check this article.

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 countries with just a passport) that southern countries like Greece, France, Spain and Italy are not so strict on checks. While the western countries like Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) are very firm with entry and exits (primarily at the airports or train stations, more so if you’re going to an isolated island).

Still and the same, as I’ve mentioned, you shouldn’t ‘push it‘. Follow the rules and if you really want to stay longer than the 90-day limit, below are the different ways that you can stay longer, legally!


Ways to Legally Stay Longer

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT an embassy officer nor a migration agent. I am only here to provide you ideas on how you can stay in Schengen countries longer. If you ever need any help with visas or procedures, please check the links that I have provided and contact the appropriate departments instead. Also, I do not guarantee that the information below will remain to be true, if let’s say you’re reading this in 2020; therefore, please make it your responsibility to recheck the facts. Thank you!

Each section below would have options or solutions that are ‘generally unknown’. For quicker reading, you can click to the items below to navigate to the section that you want to see best:


#1 – Study

Study Abroad

Student visas in all Schengen countries are not hard to obtain for as long as you are accepted, enrolled, or invited by a university or school. (Which you should apply for before entering a Schengen country). Naturally, you would have to pay for these courses but you can always work part-time while studying, since most student visa holders are allowed to do so. Otherwise, you could try to get a scholarship, apply to an exchange program (if you’re still studying) or simply enroll to the FREE universities.

Yes, you read that right… free! 

There are actually several countries in Europe that chose to eradicate tuition fees for both local and international would-be students and they are listed below (along with other countries who have the cheapest tuition):

    Lowest yearly tuition fee possible: FREE
    Regardless of nationality, tuition fees in Finland are absolutely free in whatever level! (Plans of putting tuition fees on non-EU students for 2016 have been totally abandoned). But as per any student application abroad, you would need to prove that you can handle your living expenses.
    Proof of ‘means of support’ per month: At least $630+ (Php 27,800+)
    For more information: See ‘Studying in Finland
    Lowest yearly tuition fee possibleFREE
    No matter your nationality, local or international, state universities and university colleges in Norway do not charge tuition fees, and much like Finland, it applies to all levels: undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. (Some specialized courses might still have fees though small, so always recheck with the university. Private institutions on the other hand, would still have fees.)
    Proof of ‘means of support’ per month: At least $1,000+ (Php 44,200+)
    For more information: See ‘Studying in Norway
    Lowest yearly tuition fee possibleFREE or $412 (Php 18,200+)
    If you’re from a 3rd world country, some universities in Austria will exempt you from paying any tuition, whereas any other non-EU resident will most likely just pay around $412 (at the lowest possible).
    Proof of ‘means of support’ per month: At least $900+ (Php 40,000+)
    For more information: See ‘Studying in Austria
    Lowest yearly tuition fee possible: FREE or $1,000 (Php 44,200+)
    As of 2014, all public German universities offer higher education free-of-charge not only to local but international students! However, it’s important to note that this is true for the undergraduate level only, and that there might still be some administration fees (but the cost would start at about $57 or Php 2,500+). Just make sure to check that the course you’re applying for is in English; however, if you’re fluent in German then that’s better.
    Proof of ‘means of support’ per month: At least $770 (Php 34,000+)
    For more information: See ‘Cost of Studying in Germany‘, ‘List of Free German Universities‘ and ‘Studying in Germany
    Lowest yearly tuition fee possible: $1,000+ (Php 44,200+)
    The good thing about Hungary is that unlike the Scandinavian countries, it is one of the European countries that has a more affordable cost of living, thus, proving your ‘solvency’ would be easier than the others.
    Proof of ‘means of support’ per month: At least $566+ (Php 25,000+)
    For more information: See ‘Studying in Hungary
    Lowest yearly tuition fee possible: $1,000+ (Php 44,200+)
    You’re lucky if you can find a cheap university in Paris, because the cheapest ones are actually found outside of it (Lyon is one example). I have actually been told that there are public universities that can only cost $300 a year but since I wasn’t provided with the exact university names, I leave it up to you to do the research.
    Proof of ‘means of support’ per month: At least $500+ (Php 22,000+)
    For more information: See ‘Studying in France
    Lowest yearly tuition fee possible: $1,100+ (Php 50,000+)
    I have tried this option before through the University of Antwerp for one of their 1-year Master Programs and the process of obtaining a student visa was fairly easy given how I was backed up by the university. The tuition was worth $2,000+ (Php 88,500+) which is almost double the lowest yearly tuition possible; so if you want to get the cheapest, try the University of Leuven, Hasselt University or University of Ghent (I didn’t manage to apply for these three since I was late for their deadlines, that’s why I resorted to saving up for the $2K through my online work to pursue the University of Antwerp).
    Proof of ‘means of support’ per month: At least $730 (Php 32,300+)
    For more information: See ‘Studying in Belgium

    » READ: Money Saving Tips to Come Up With a Travel Fund

  8. ITALY
    Lowest yearly tuition fee possible: $1,500+ (Php 66,400+)
    Italy is known for providing studies on fashion, history, and liberal arts at an affordable cost for international students. Living expenses should be easy to handle once you know the economical places to eat and stay in.
    Proof of ‘means of support’ per month: At least $390 (Php 17,200+)
    For more information: See ‘Studying in Italy

Should undergraduate or master programs remain to be too costly for you, if not the shorter courses (1-year and below), consider the language programs since these studies are often cheaper! (Italy is one example of this, as well as Spain).

TIP: For ‘means of support’, it’s always best to add more to the minimum requirement. It also helps to add a sponsor (even if it’s just on paper) even if you already can support yourself — this is what I’ve done when I applied for a university in Belgium; it’s always best to ‘overdeliver’.

Moreover, if you’re from the Philippines or Asia like me, before you can study overseas for a business or graduate school, check if you need to have a GMAT or GRE certification since most of our universities are not ‘recognized’ abroad. (GRE is said to be the easiest, which I have done. Others reviewed for months on this, but I only reviewed for a day since I was in a rush; and yet I was fine! But surely, I don’t advise that you do the same). Also, if your studies were not conducted in English, a majority of the European schools would need a TOEFL or IELTS from you.

#2 – Work

Work in Europe

There are different ways to do ‘work’, some are conventional but some are unique. Check out the list below to see what best fits you:

    This is where you go through the usual process of finding a company (in the form of a transfer, internship, part-time, or full-time work) and then applying for a work visa.
    For more information: See EuroJobs or Europa
    This is not the same as those ‘jobs on the road’ where you hold private English classes to people who don’t have it as a first language. Why? Because doing so is a risk. A short-term tourist Schengen Visa is NOT a work permit. Working can still be done in ‘secret’ though (with Spain & Italy as the most tolerant) but if you somehow attract the attention of authorities, it can get nasty. So if you really want to teach legally, secure a work visa or working holiday visa first (that will make you stay longer too) by searching for opportunities in recognized schools or institutions. (Teaching English while under a student visa is possible as well). Countries that are typically open to English-teaching jobs are Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Germany, Spain, and Italy. For these jobs, a TEFL certificate is a usual requirement.
    For more information: See TEFL or ESLCafe
    Often run by governments, it gives non-EU citizens a chance to stay in the Schengen countries or area longer in exchange for offering aid in teaching the English language (they even pay you for the services you’re doing). There are only few European countries that offer this kind of program and below are their basic requirements:

    • France: must come from one of their 60 partner countries, age 20-30, have basic level of French, completed at least 2 years of university (https://www.ciep.fr/en)
    • Italy: must be a resident of the USA, have Italian proficiency, a university graduate or undergraduate, 3.25 GPA (http://siteprogram.pacioli.net/)
    • Spain: must be a resident of USA/Canada/New Zealand/Australia/China/EU, have basic level of Spanish, a university graduate or in last year of university (https://www.mecd.gob.es/)
    • Switzerland: must be a resident of USA/Canada/Great Britain/Ireland/Austria/France/Italy/or Spain, age 21-30, have sound language knowledge of the region (can be German/French/Italian), a university student or graduate (source)
    • For openings in other countries, check by: www.europelanguagejobs.com
    Usually done for at least 6 months or more, working as an au pair is like being a domestic assistant as you live with a host family that provides free accommodation and food. Other than providing childcare, you are also typically asked to do light housework as you receive a salary for it.
    For more information: See IAPAGreat Au Pair, or Europa Au Pair
    If you are 25 to 31 and a citizen of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, you are eligible to get a working holiday visa, granting you to stay, work, or find work in the Schengen Area for one to two years .
    For more information: See Work Holiday Visas
    If you’re a freelancer, Germany’s self-employment visa is your solution. This is not the kind of visa that makes you move your ‘company’ to Germany, but a visa for being an artist, writer, digital nomad, accountant, etc. Application for this type of visa can be done while you’re in Germany and it can be approved in a week provided that you have fulfilled the necessary requirements. If however, your tourist visa is close to expiring upon application, they will give you a temporary 3-month visa as they process your request (some people take this course of action since even if they don’t get approved, they have already managed to extend their stay).
    For more information: See Berlin.de or this Get a Residence in Germany as an American
    UPDATE: Some other EU countries seemingly also provide self-employment visas like Italy, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, and Netherlands. However, I can’t find official links available to direct you to; so it’s up to you to look more into it. But basically, if you have a specific member state in mind that you really want to go to, simply ask the embassy if they can accommodate self-employment visa applications like this.
    Much like the English-teaching jobs, there are volunteer jobs as well that are ‘under-the-table’ — apart from being risky, those won’t enable you to stay longer in Europe. Examples are fruit-picking jobs, hostel work, etc. (this is why most of the time their websites advise that you don’t mention to immigration officers that you are going to work in a farm, for example). Therefore, to be able to remain or to be able to become a volunteer for a longer period of time, you would have to either get a work visa/permit, or sign up for accredited volunteer programs that could whip out a work visa for you. Unfortunately, these often come with a fee; but some can be very affordable.
    For more information: See Europa or European Voluntary Service
    This is not like the informal homestay set-ups that I have discussed in this article: [click]. This is rather a more formal arrangement between a non-profit organization and a foreign country wherein they partner with wannabe travelers like you and send you to a host family elsewhere. For instance, the organization Cultural Homestay International has a ‘World Explorers’ program wherein in exchange for your 3-months worth of accommodation abroad, all you have to do is to share your native language with your hosts for 15 hours per week. (These casual English conversation lessons usually run 5 days a week, 3 hours a day). If you want to travel for a year, it’s possible for them to combine multiple programs in different destinations to make it all sum up to 12 months!
    For more information: See Cultural Homestay Internationa (CHI) World Explorers Program

#3 – Reunion or Union


The items below are common solutions and have no ‘special’ tricks or tips but they remain to be conventional ways of obtaining a longer visa in the Schengen Area:

    Applicable if you have close kinship ties to a Schengen citizen or permanent resident.
    Self-explanatory. If you have fallen in love with a European from any of the Schengen countries this is the way to go!
    If you’re not the ‘marrying’ type, you can choose to go for a live-in visa with your boyfriend/girlfriend who is a resident/citizen of one of the Schengen countries. Customarily, applications like this become successful if you can prove that you’re in a relationship for at least 2 years or have lived in together for at least 1 year.
    There are some European families that are willing to take a foreigner in as a part of their household for a long period of time. This can usually be a part of a student’s schooling experience or as a part of an organization for cultural or language immersion (like #8 of the previous section) who would often need a fee from you.


#4 – Citizenship

Monument in Paris

This (citizenship) is more of an option for those who are really focused on staying in the Schengen Area indefinitely. Obtaining this can be done through different ways:

    With a European in the Schengen Area. On average, it takes 3 years; some can only take a year.
    For the insanely rich people, they can obtain an EU citizenship through investments or purchase of property (or even purchase of citizenship). Examples of these countries are Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, and Slovakia (price to pay can start at $320,000+ to millions!). There are also Schengen member states like Netherlands and France that can offer residency permits for a limited period of time, in exchange for payments or investments at a minimum of $300,000+.
    I call this the ‘Waiting Game‘. If you are able to obtain a long-term visa that will enable you to stay in a Schengen member state for 5 to 10 years, then your citizenship is ostensibly secured. On the other hand, if you can inspect your family tree and discover that you have ancestors who are citizens or have become residents in EU countries in the past, your years of ‘waiting’ can be shortened! Examples of these are:

    • Ireland: This is NOT a Schengen member state, but since Irish citizens are allowed to enter Europe without limits, acquiring citizenship through Ireland would be a good step and you can achieve this if you have an Irish parent or grandparent. Your citizenship immediately becomes effective upon registration.
    • GermanyThe country freely provides citizenship to children and grandchildren of former Germans who were deprived of their citizenship status between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 on racial, political, or ethnic grounds.
    • Italy: Once proven that you have Italian ancestors, you can become a citizen by naturalization if you find a way to remain in the country for at least 3 years (it seems long, but better than the norm of 10 years).
    • ★ Spain: Like Italy, 10 years is also the usual length required to become a Spanish citizen; but, it can be shortened to 2 years if your country is a former colony of Spain: these are Latin American countries, Sephardic origins, Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, and the Philippines. (But take note that you must be a natural-born citizen in these countries and aside from the 2-year required stay for naturalization, the processing of your application can possibly take 2 more years)
      Source: Spanish Naturalization

    *As with most cases of naturalization, countries would commonly require that you have basic knowledge of their language, history, and geography before fully processing your citizenship. Also, you must stay there legally; for example, staying for 2 years in Spain without legal papers does not qualify you for the naturalization.


#5 – Long-Term Tourist Visa

Aerial View of Budapest

A big part of the Schengen Area’s member states do NOT allow long-term tourist visas, except for a few which could grant you a Type D visa (maximum 1 year) with the condition that you will NOT work. These countries are:

    As long as you have a solid reason and that you have enough money for the duration of your stay (said to be at minimum $3,000 per month or Php 132,000), you can be granted a long-term visitor visa that can last to only a year (but can be subject to a renewal depending on your reason for wanting to stay longer, your financial means to prove that you’re not going to need to work, etc.) Take note that this type of visa would allow you to take residency in France ONLY starting from the 4th month of your stay (you can still tour the rest of the Schengen countries from the 1st to 3rd months). Anyhow, in a sense, you can still travel around after the 4th month because there are no border checks on land; but again, that’s a huge risk and it’s illegal. If you get caught, well… you know what could happen and it’s not gonna be good.
    For more information: See France Consulate or ask your local French embassy for more details
    If you have special grounds or reasons, Sweden is willing to give out a long-stay tourist visa but be warned that the process can take up to 8 months. It’s said that most of the people who are successful with this are those who have family or relatives in Sweden though, but it’s still worth a try if you’re willing to go through the processing time.
    For more information: See Swedish Migration or consult your local Swedish embassy for more details
  3. SPAIN
    There is a type of tourist residence visa in Spain called as “non-lucrative” geared towards retired or rich persons who can stay for 1 year in the country for as long as they can provide proof that they don’t need to acquire work in Spain, that they are not carrying out any economic activity in Spain, and/or that their clients are not based in Spain mainly — so basically, that they generate their income outside of Spain. One important proof they need is for you to show that you have monthly income of at least 2,130 EUR.
    For more information: See Spain Embassy or consult your local Swedish embassy for more details

I have found articles that mention Italy and Portugal as additional countries that can provide long-stay tourist visas; however, I cannot find information in any embassy website. Nonetheless, you can always try your chances and ask your local embassy for more information.


#6 – In-and-Out Hop

Country Hop

I have already listed out the 26 member states of the Schengen Area at the top of this article — keep these in mind very well, and once you do, plan a ‘EuroTrip’ that will make make you hop in and out of Schengen countries while managing to technically still remain within the European territory.

What do I mean by this? You can tour around different Schengen member states like France, Spain, or Germany and by the time you hit your 90-day limit, go and hop over to a non-Schengen European country like Croatia, UK, Macedonia, or Turkey to wait until you hit the 181st day so that you can come back to the Schengen Area again.

Just find the right mix for this, save up, plan it well, and you can definitely manage to stay for a very long time in Europe.

» READ: Money Saving Tips to Come Up With a Travel Fund and Change in the Calculation of ‘Short Stay’ in the Schengen Area

NOTE: Take note that this set-up works best for those who hold passports that have the privilege of entering the European zone visa-free. Unfortunately, this could be a bit tricky for those who would typically need a visa to enter any European country since most visa applications have to be done in your home country… and to the best of my knowledge, it’s customarily not allowed to apply for 2 or more similar short-term visas in one appointment. (Correct me if I’m wrong). What you can do though is to get a Schengen Tourist Visa for 90 days (3 months) and then get another 180 days (6 months) tourist visa for UK, and some other European countries and that would technically enable you to stay in the European area for a loooong time. (Best to get multiple entry visas too so that, for example, you can go in and out of UK to France as many times as you want).

TIP: Let’s say your visa is soon ending and you want to apply for another visa for a different country without going back to your home country (like heck, just think of the flight costs!). In most cases, this is NOT allowed unless you can properly justify why you’re unable to do it in your home country. I know of some travelers who have used the reason of “I’m traveling long term, that’s why” and have ended up as successful in their appeal. However, it’s still important for you to know that it’s customarily a tough case and that it might even involve a lot of pleading. But then again… there’s no harm in trying, right?

Overall, if you want to do use this method of ‘hopping’ around, just please remember to:

  • Be informed. Take note of the non-Schengen countries’ policies with regard to the number of days that you are allowed to stay in their domain (this is in connection with your passport/nationality).
  • Do your own research. Be updated. Remember that there are candidates for the Schengen Area at the time that I make this post, so it’s possible that Bulgaria (for instance) would suddenly become a Schengen member state in the future; so, hopping over to this place won’t be a solution after your 90 days limit.


#7 – Visa Extensions

Visa Extensions in Europe

This is a very delicate subject because almost all Schengen countries do NOT tolerate extensions once you get into the area with a short-term (less than 90 days) tourist visa. Be that as it may, the good news is: it’s still and always possible if you’re resourceful and creative enough. (Extensions for long-term visas for studies, work, etc. are a different matter altogether).

If you’re rather one of the nationals who are allowed to come into Schengen countries with just a passport, be mindful that it can prove more difficult, because you technically don’t have a visa on hand to apply an extension for — sure, there are chances that you can apply and obtain a visa without a need to go back to your home country; however, I seldom hear of situations that are successful in doing this. (You can try and do your research though since some embassies might be able to accommodate such requests depending on your nationality and situation).

Now the typical grounds that can grant you an easy extension can be cases of:

  • Force majuere – unforeseen circumstances that are not under your control (i.e. bad weather conditions, airline strikes, etc.); this is the only situation that does not require fees for extension
  • Humanitarian reasons – if you have fallen ill or a close family member has fallen ill or died
  • Serious personal reasons

These can allow you to stay for more days either in the whole of the Schengen Area (very rare case) or just inside the country that you are in (that you chose, that is your point of entry or the place you’ve stayed the longest — it’s a case by case basis but this is what mostly happens when you are granted an extension: you’re only allowed to stay in the country that you applied for).

But of course, you wouldn’t want to fall ill nor would you want a family member to die just so you can extend your visa, right? So what other options do you have?

Luckily, there seems to be some Schengen countries that are quite lenient with extensions and the ones that I know of are:

    Apparently, they can offer up to two extensions, for as long as you can support yourself and provide the necessary documents. (It’s said to be best done in Lisbon).
    For more information: See Immigration
    I’ve heard a lot of successful stories from friends who have managed to extend their visa on Sweden, but it’s important to note that most of them were able to do so because they had a Swedish friend, family, or ‘special someone’ to back them up. I guess it’s a way of ensuring a Migration Board that you have a local who can support you (even if it’s just on paper).
    For more information: See Migrationsverket

Note: Some people say that short-stay tourist visas can also be extended in France; however, I couldn’t find any reliable source online for this; still and the same, it’s worth looking into – let me know if this is indeed possible.

» Other Possibilities due to Bilateral Agreements with…

US Citizens
I have found some forums online saying that U.S. citizens can stay for 90 days in Poland, leave for one day, and come back to have another 90-day stay. This is said to be possible because of some sort of bilateral agreement or declaration between the U.S. and Poland. I’ve certainly read of accounts that said that they were successful in doing so and have had Polish officials confirming this set-up. However, I advice that you check with them yourself since I can’t find a reliable online source. Make it a point to verify if this is true since it goes beyond the Schengen rules; it’s even possible that the extension will only allow you to stay in Poland only and not in the rest of Schengen.

Australian Citizens
Australia has bilateral agreements with Denmark and Germany which overrides the Schengen conditions. They can stay up to 3 months or 90 days in each of these two countries. In theory, Australians can stay indefinitely by going back and forth between Germany and Denmark every 90 days. Of course, the restriction of no more than 90 days in any 180 day period in the Schengen area will come into play if they venture out to other member states.
SOURCE: Visa exemptions for Australians

I have not done an extensive research on ALL non-EU nationalities, so I hope you take the action to recheck your rights and benefits in Schengen since your home country might have these same bilateral agreements that will allow you to stay longer in Europe.

Now, if I may add, I have also discovered several ‘success extension stories’ in other Schengen countries using the methods below which are both worth a shot. But again, be aware that some countries may accept this while some others may not:

  • Register as legal partners – if you have a significant other who is a national of one of the Schengen countries, it’s possible to come into the country with a tourist visa and then immediately jumpstart a live-in or cohabitation agreement (NOT marriage) to be able to remain in the country longer even after the expiry of your tourist visa. Customarily, applications like this only become successful if you can prove that you’re in a relationship for at least 2 years or have lived in together for at least 1 year. (Countries that I know of who can take on these kinds of applications are Belgium and the Netherlands.)
  • Partner with an NGO or Tourism Board – if you can find an NGO, tourism board, or organization that can vouch for you, it’s possible to gain an easy extension. Some travel bloggers have been able to use this method as they offer their skills of writing or blog ‘reach’ to the appropriate institutions. This is definitely worth your while, especially if a certain migration office is open to other types of visa applications (i.e. I’ve read an account of someone that’s able to do this in Romania; even if it’s not part of the Schengen Area yet, some legit member states can conceivably acknowledge this circumstance).



Ultimate Guide: How to Legally Stay Longer in Europe (Schengen Countries)

How to Stay Longer in Europe

I hope this guide helped shed some light into the 90-day limit rule in the Schengen countries; plus, I certainly hope that in one way or another, I helped give you an idea on how you can prolong your European journey without breaking the law!

Should you ever have any other tips in mind that should be included in this guide, please feel free to leave a comment below. (And if there are any corrections, do kindly let me know of that too).

Before I end this post, I leave you with the following general reminders:

  • Do your own research. I cannot stress this enough. Take my advice with a grain of salt. Besides, the information that I post here is based on my own findings and experiences as of February 2015, so it’s your responsibility to ensure that the facts that I have here are still up-to-date or true at the time that you are reading this article. I say this because I certainly don’t want you to waste your money or time when you suddenly find out that certain conditions are changed, eradicated, etc.
  • Check migration rules. Be well-informed of the rules that apply to you depending on your nationality or passport. Know your limits and your benefits. Speaking of passport, always ensure that it is NOT expiring anytime soon.

Ultimately, I hope that this whole piece can also be a way for you to connect to others who have had successful experiences of staying longer in Europe; therefore, do feel free to post your questions in the comments section below. However, like I said, be reminded that I am NOT an embassy officer nor a migration agent. Any queries relating to such things should be directed to your local embassy or migration board, and NOT to me. Thank you and good luck!

How about you?

  • Do you have other tips to share that I can add to this guide for Schengen countries?
  • Do you have any experience in one of the solutions/ways listed above? How did it go?

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  1. Aileen thanks very much for your analysis of alternatives for staying longer than 3 months in Europe. I’m from the UK and my fiancee from the US is due to visit me in Poland. I’m registered in Poland for 2 years and I would like her to be able to stay beyond 90 days of course. I’ll try asking for the option for her to leave for one day only and return to Poland. Many thanks

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time and doing the research to put this all on here. It is very helpful and easy to read.

  3. Great article! I do have a further question, I am planning a trip to Europe to cruise for about six months. How were the days be counted, only the port days?

    1. From what my friends told me, as soon as you are at your starting port, your passport will be stamped and the days are counted, no matter if you’re at sea. So if it’s going to be for a whole six months, it might not be possible with a tourist Schengen visa. I highly advise asking more about this with your cruise company. Hope that helps!

  4. Thank you so much for all of the time and effort you put into this concise and easy to understand page of information. Much much appreciated and very helpful!

  5. Thank you, Aileen, super helpful and informative!

  6. Planning a trip to Europe very soon and considering my options because I’m not too excited about remaining in America so this post was much-needed Thanks!

  7. Hi Sam, I am a Canadian who has actually done the whole process of a non lucrative visa in Spain with the help of your blog and many others. So thank you. I will be applying for my 5 year visa here next year. Woo hoo!

    1. Hi Sam, are you saying that you got a non-lucrative visa in Spain without having to get it before leaving Canada?


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