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No Visa Required
Extended Stays in Europe
While some of us pursued a D7 Visa so that we could stay in Portugal longer than 90 days, there is another way. So if you want to spend a year or more in Europe, but don’t want to jump through the visa preparation hoops…read on.
If you are a US or Canadian Citizen, with a valid passport, you are permitted to travel throughout the Schengen Area for 90 days without a visa.
Schengen Area signifies a zone where 26 European countries, abolished their internal borders, for the free and unrestricted movement of people…
I recall a five-week trip to Europe some years back. We landed in Ireland and completed the Passport Control process. We then flew to Scotland, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, and back to Ireland without ever having to stand in one of those pesky passport lines again. At first, we were shocked…but at the same time pleased, as it gave us so much more time to sightsee.
Keep in mind, the EU and the Schengen Area while largely the same are not exactly the same. For example, today Croatia is not part of the Schengen area. Other European countries that are not part of the Schengen Area include Bulgaria, Cypress, Ireland, and Romania. Their status may change in the future, as countries apply for status…so check before you plan your trip.
Hop, Skip, and a Jump
Perhaps you want the time to get the feel of a country before making the leap to live there. Perhaps, like our friends in California, you have rented your house for a year and want to spend the entire year in Europe but don’t want to go through the visa process. Well, you can. The law states that you can stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days within a 180-day period.
Many people get confused when it comes to the 90/180 rule. But, the rule is very simple. 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 there for more than 90 days throughout that period.
So perhaps you start your trip in Paris. After a month you take a high-speed train to Barcelona. After a month in Barcelona, you take one of the many inexpensive flights to Rome. (Before the pandemic we found it was cheaper to fly than to drive or take a train to many cities within Europe.) You spend a month in Italy and then drive to Croatia. If you wish, you can spend 90 days in Croatia (perhaps you need the rest after all that traveling) and then return to the Schengen region 181 days after you arrived in Paris. You can now begin your Schengen region visit anew…I would, of course, recommend you spend a good part of it in Portugal!
Some of Us are Planners
Some of us are planners. I recall when we had our motorhome, Denise insisted that we plan every day of a 2-month excursion…securing campsite reservations at every destination before we left. Others prefer not to plan ahead. During the aforementioned trip to Europe, we traveled with a couple that was more comfortable “flying by the seat of their pants”. I recall us staying up at night deciding on which Airbnb we would stay at the next night. Sometimes we were pleasantly surprised…one time, not so much. But isn’t this what makes travel memorable?
It is entirely up to you how much planning you put into it. Perhaps you want to experience the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona or visit St Andrews to partake in the 150th Open Championship. Perhaps you want to plan your trip around the 70/21 rule...always staying in places likely to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit/21 degrees Celsius. Or perhaps, you want to spend the next few months planning each destination and reading historical novels about each place you will visit. The good news is you can do this again, very soon.