My wife is Chinese and I’m Romanian. We currently live in Beijing, but are planning to fly to Romania in February, where she will get the residence permit. After that, we want to travel for 6-12 months within the EU, by car. The issue is that with that document, she still won’t be able to travel within the Schengen area, Romania not being part of Schengen. As far as I’m aware, only Sweden is issuing visas right now. She received tourist visas in the past from France (last one was for 1 year) and I’m not sure if it matters, but we lived in the UK for 2 years, until the pandemic came.

From the Europa.eu website, I could find that she still needs a Schengen visa to enter the zone from Romania. Also, it’s stated there that there shouldn’t be any issues if she doesn’t have a visa, because the customs authorities are able to grant it on the spot, if shown proof of marriage. Now, we don’t prefer this option, as we would like to have everything in check 100% and get a visa beforehand. Also, it’s stated on the website that she would only be able to stay 90 days out of 180 days in the Schengen countries with a short stay visa. Would it be possible to stay longer with a long stay visa? How do we apply for that? We definitely don't want to spend only 90/180 days.

The French government website states this: "A foreign national who holds a long-term resident permit-EU from a state of the European Union" is exempted from visa. Many other websites state that she needs a visa, even though she has a residence permit for family member. It is quite confusing. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  • 1
    The close vote is unwarranted, this is specifically about travelling around Europe (as opposed to settling in any one country), there is no reason to move this question.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 29, 2021 at 13:16
  • Does your wife already has a residence permit as a family member of an EU citizen? From which country? I suspect not but your question is a little unclear about that.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 29, 2021 at 13:17
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    I would just note that the long-stay visa's long-stay property, if you will, applies only in the country that issued it. For example, someone with a long stay visa issued by France is still subject to the 90/180 rule with respect to the rest of the Schengen area. Furthermore, France won't normally grant such a visa unless the applicant plans to spend more than 90 days in France. Fortunately for you, none of this matters, as explained in Relaxed's answer.
    – phoog
    Aug 31, 2021 at 13:21
  • Rolled back, as destroying questions is not allowed.
    – Willeke
    Jul 30, 2023 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


Several sets of rules (specifically the Schengen Borders code and the Free movement directive) interact here so it can indeed be a little confusing. A lot of material available online, when not outright wrong, is also concerned with the rules that apply to regular holders of Schengen visas or other documentation (i.e. people who are not married to an EU citizen) but other rules apply to your wife.

While she does need some visa or residence permit to cross the border, your wife is definitely entitled to stay with you in the EU for longer than 90 days, even without any long-stay visa. That means that even if your wife enters the Schengen area with a short-stay visa, she wouldn't be doing anything illegal by staying longer than 90 days (as long as she is travelling with you, an EU citizen).

Technically, you might need to register or otherwise prove you qualify for residence and then apply for a residence permit for her if you stay in any one country for longer than three months but there is no such requirement if you move between countries within the EU/Schengen area.

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    One point of confusion that I have encountered fairly regularly is that people point to the Schengen Borders Code and say "people with a short-stay visa are subject to the 90/180 rule." This overlooks the fact that the code's definition of "third-country national" explicitly excludes family members exercising a derivative right of free movement, so the SBC's provisions concerning the 90/180 rule don't apply.
    – phoog
    Aug 31, 2021 at 13:00

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