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Citizens of most countries do not require a transit visa when transiting through an airport in the Schengen area (Source). Schengen transit visas are also discussed extensively in this question.

However one thing is not clear to me: In case I do not need a transit visa, what is the maximum amount of time I may spend in transit at the Schengen airport? Is there any time limit?

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  • If you don’t need a transit visa, and in the absence of a specific rule (which could be country-specific), in theory the maximum amount of time is the limit on visa-free entry, one would imagine. However, the typical stance is likely to be based on the reasonableness of the journey and the use of a particular transit airport. Looking at the timescales for TWOV in general might be a good guide.
    – Traveller
    Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 13:09

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The Visa code is has nothing on this but it's instructive:

In the examination of an application for an airport transit visa, the consulate or the central authorities shall in particular verify:

(a) that the travel document presented is not false, counterfeit or forged;

(b) the points of departure and destination of the third-country national concerned and the coherence of the intended itinerary and airport transit;

emphasis mine

(c) proof of the onward journey to the final destination.

The examination of an application shall be based notably on the authenticity and reliability of the documents submitted and on the veracity and reliability of the statements made by the applicant.

As always: trying to outsmart the authorities will not work. Their decision power is wide and (almost) absolute. (Almost: there are legal remedies but good luck winning a legal battle that your planned one month stay inside Frankfurt Airport was a "transit".)

There's no set amount of hours but I'd strongly suspect more than 24 hours would require extensive documentation and more than 48 is very near impossible. Extremely weird edge cases always exist -- if you are coming from some place with flights only every few days and your destination is also such and they mismatch then there's a chance you can gain an ATV visa stretching several days. I would even carefully say it's not unlikely this is the very reason why hours were not set. Once again: document extensively. But do not try to pull a Mehran Karimi Nasseri, it won't work.

Another guideline: the Type B visa abolished in 2009/2010 (see this answer ) was five days and so the ATV is very likely to be intended to be no longer than that.

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  • Thanks a lot. For Morocco -> Ecuador, the only sane option seemed to be a 20 hour layover in Madrid, which is why I was asking ("sane" being very relative here!).
    – Vincent
    Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 8:07
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    I am not a visa official but that can't be a problem in itself. That's totally normal. Once a day flights are normal for transoceanic trips and so this can easily occur. In a similar vein, for example, the Rio De Janeiro - Amsterdam flight lands at 2:25PM while the Amsterdam - Nairobi flight leaves at 1:05PM so a similarly long layover is in the cards and there are quite a few reasons why would one choose this routing to get from Rio De Janeiro to Nairobi.
    – user4188
    Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 8:52
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    Just for coherence, the original question is about the case where the traveller does not need a transit visa. Though I would think the the reasoning is about the same.
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 12:52

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