I originally was going to post a follow up question on this question / answer but wasn't sure if that was bad etiquette. What does the spouse of an Italian citizen need in order to stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days? Our situation is very similar.

I am hoping to travel this May to Europe with my EU spouse (Italian / British Citizen) returning in October. I am a British Citizen. Subject to Covid restrictions being lifted we would like to travel by car from the UK to Europe in May this year. We would proceed directly to Italy, passing through France, and Switzerland. We would like to spend up to 90 days in Italy, leave for a another EU country (likely Spain), then return to Italy, for up to 90 days before returning to the UK. My questions are

  1. Provided we do not exceed 90 days in any single EU country can i travel visa free in Schengen area for circa 7 months, or do i need to apply for a visa?
  2. Does this still apply in Italy given that my spouse is an Italian citizen? And
  3. How long would we need to spend outside of Italy before we are able to return?

If there is any feedback from the original poster on how their travel worked in practice that would be great to hear about. Was she able to travel in this way? Did she encounter any problems?

  • You've fundamentally misunderstood the Schengen 90/180 rule. It applies to the whole zone, not per country, and its not about a "limit" of 90 days, but "no more than 90 of the past 180 days" considered on every day you are there. Afaik, there is no tourist visa that is applicable for what you want to do either. Your spouse as an Italian citizen can pretty much go wherever they want in the EU, although they do face some additional requirements if staying anywhere other than Italy for more than 90 days. There may be some scope with family member of EU citizen permits, I'm not clear on details
    – CMaster
    Feb 10, 2021 at 16:52
  • 3
    I understand that the 90/180 rule applies to the whole zone. Where I have quoted 90 days, this is in reference to directive 2004/38/EC which provides the family member of a mobile EU citizen with freedom of movement but requires EU citizens to register for stays exceeding 3 months in any one state. (Points 9 through 13 of the directive) In other words, the mobile EU citizen can move freely in the Schengen area with family, but for stays longer than 3 months member states may require the mobile EU citizen to register.
    – nahe123
    Feb 10, 2021 at 17:16
  • What's your goal here? Living in Italy without applying for a residence permit? Why?
    – Relaxed
    Feb 10, 2021 at 18:26
  • (+1) Posting a new question is the way to go, thanks.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 10, 2021 at 18:26
  • As we will be travelling in a car registered and insured in the UK, this would be complicated / invalidated if we took residency in an EU country, otherwise we would apply for residency. Also, as we will be travelling around, both inside and outside of Italy, we will not have a fixed address which further complicates applying for residency. Our purpose for travel is travelling around europe / italy by van for tourism.
    – nahe123
    Feb 10, 2021 at 19:20

1 Answer 1

  1. Provided we do not exceed 90 days in any single EU country can I travel visa free in Schengen area for circa 7 months, or do I need to apply for a visa?

As you note in a comment, directive 2004/38/EC provides that EU citizens can stay for 3 months (and not 90 days) in another EU country without any requirement. You can indeed hop between countries. In practice, securing a residence permit as family member of an EU citizen in one of these countries can however makes things easier (no questions asked at border checks).

  1. Does this still apply in Italy given that my spouse is an Italian citizen? And

No, it doesn't, usually, but there are some caveats. EU citizens who made use of their right to free movement in another country (which might be your spouse's case before Brexit?) are covered even in their country of citizenship (that's the Surinder Singh route) and I believe Italy extends similar rights to its nationals anyway (maybe someone else can provide more details about that).

  1. How long would we need to spend outside of Italy before we are able to return?

There is no predefined cooling-off period, the rule is really 3 months, not 3-months-in-a-6-month-period (old Schengen visitor rule) or 90-days-in-any-180-day-period (current Schengen visitor rule). On the other hand, if you leave for a day every three months, you could presumably be treated as a resident so what counts as enough time spent out of Italy is a bit of a gray area.

It's mostly unrelated to EU law and immigration/visa issues but if you end up spending about six months in Italy in 2021 (give or take, even without going over the 180-day threshold), you may very well be deemed a resident, e.g. for tax purposes. Other facts can also play a role (do you keep a home in the UK, etc.)

  • Thanks. We will be keeping an address in the UK, and don't think we'll spend 6 months in total in italy this year.
    – nahe123
    Feb 10, 2021 at 20:56
  • @btw123 I mentioned this based on the two periods of up to 90 days mentioned in your question. Just something to be aware of.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 10, 2021 at 21:59
  • Italy has a law that explicitly says that family of Italian citizens must be treated at least as favorably as family of EU citizens. I don't have the reference handy, but I've posted about it a couple of times at least.
    – phoog
    Feb 11, 2021 at 1:58
  • Thanks. It is the reference you posted in this thread. travel.stackexchange.com/questions/64260/… Do you know of anyone who has successfully tested this in Italy?
    – nahe123
    Feb 11, 2021 at 6:49

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