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I'm an American citizen working and living in Germany on an EU Blue Card. My family (wife and 2 children) is here with me. We were all issued standard German Aufenthaltstiteln (residence permit cards) by the Ausländerbehörde in our district. My card has an "Art des Titels" (permit type) of Blaue Karte EU (EU Blue Card). My wife's card and children's cards have an "Art des Titels" of Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit).

I know that as an EU Blue Card holder I can travel freely in the Schengen Area. Can my family also travel freely in the Schengen Area, and if so, can they travel by themselves or do I have to be with them? I asked the Ausländerbehörde agent during our appointment and she answered yes to both questions. But now that we have the cards, I'm confused, because I thought the right to travel freely in the Schengen Area beyond the visa-free 90/180 rule was granted by the Blue Card program, while a "regular" residence permit in an EU country does not grant this right. (At least that was my understanding, any part of which may be totally wrong!)

My Aufenthaltstitel says:

Art des Titels

BLAUE KARTE EU

Anmerkungen

19A I.V.M 2 ABS.1 NR2A BESCHV PASS(-ERSATZ)-NR. XXXXXXXXX PASS GÜLTIG BIS XX-XX-XXXX SIEHE ZUSATZBLATT

My wife's Aufenthaltstitel says:

Art des Titels

AUFENTHALTSERLAUBNIS

Anmerkungen

32 ABS. 1 NR. 5 PASS(-ERSATZ)-NR. XXXXXXXXX PASS GÜLTIG BIS XX-XX-XXXX ERWERBSTÄTIGKEIT GESTATTET

My children's cards are the same as my wife's.

  • Sorry, I needed to delete my answer. The page I linked to was explicitly about family members of EU citizens. – DCTLib Apr 18 at 12:00
  • "answered yes to both questions": either there are three questions or the second question isn't a yes-or-no question. What was the answer to "can they travel by themselves"? What was the answer to "do I have to be with them"? – phoog Apr 18 at 12:24
  • @phoog Her answers were that they can travel in the Schengen Area and that I don't need to be with them, i.e. consistent with your answer. Your answer adds the explanation I was looking for as to why this is the case. – TypeIA Apr 18 at 13:02
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I thought the right to travel freely in the Schengen Area beyond the visa-free 90/180 rule was granted by the Blue Card program, while a "regular" residence permit in an EU country does not grant this right. (At least that was my understanding, any part of which may be totally wrong!)

You are indeed mistaken. Any residence permit or national visa (type D) issued by a Schengen area country allows its bearer to spend up to 90 days in any 180-day period in other Schengen area countries without a visa. The fact that the residence permit was issued on the basis of a family member's employment doesn't change this.

See for example this question and answer from an official list of frequently asked questions (pdf):

15. I have a valid long stay visa/residence permit for a country that is part of the Schengen area. Do I need another visa to travel to other Schengen states?

No. A long stay visa or a residence permit issued by a Schengen State allows you to travel or stay in other Schengen States, while respecting the maximum duration of a “short stay” (a stay of "90 days in any 180 day period").

Furthermore, if your wife and children are also citizens of the United States (or any other visa-exempt country), they can anyway spend up to 90 days in any 180-day period in other Schengen countries without a visa because of their nationality.

  • I see, thank you! So effectively, we can all travel in the Schengen Area subject to the 90/180 rule, with the key difference that days spent living in Germany don't count toward the 90 day limit because we have long-stay residence permits for that country? – TypeIA Apr 18 at 12:55
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    @TypeIA precisely. The Schengen Borders Code, at article 6(2), says "Periods of stay authorised under a residence permit or a long-stay visa shall not be taken into account in the calculation of the duration of stay on the territory of the Member States." – phoog Apr 18 at 13:01

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