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I have a friend who claims that you can leave the Schengen area for 1 night, and re-enter, to reset your 90 days. For example, an Australian could enter Europe and then go for a couple of nights holiday to Morocco, Andorra, or London (any place outside of Schengen), and then return to Paris and have the passport stamped for another 90 days stay in Europe. They swear by this and claim they know guys doing it for years. My understanding, which admittedly is just from reading online and not real-world experience, was that we could only spend 90 days out of any 180 days in the Schengen region.

I've also heard other people say, no, you can't do that and if you are caught overstaying then you can be banned from re-entering schengen region for 5 years. But, I've heard similar stories from several other people about leaving for 1 night making me think there is something to this story even if it's a loophole or a legal grey area (e.g. maybe the person checking at the border when you re-enter has to actually notice a previous stamp in your passport?)

So what are the real rules and facts about tourists staying in the Schengen region on these visa waiver agreements?

marked as duplicate by Ankur Banerjee Sep 6 '13 at 22:49

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    The only scenario in which this could work is if you are coming towards the end of the first six month period after your first entry. For example, imagine you entered on January 1st and left immediately (to start the six month period). You could reenter in April and leave on June 30th, spending about three months counting toward the first six month period. Since this period is coming to an end on this date, you can leave and reenter the next day and your new stay will start a new six-month period. This is formally allowed but could invite scrutiny regarding the real purpose of your stay. – Relaxed Oct 16 '13 at 13:01
  • Also, this won't work more than once because after staying three more month (say July, August and September), you have to wait for the end of the second six-month period (i.e. end of December in my example) to avoid breaking the rule. – Relaxed Oct 16 '13 at 13:03
  • @Annoyed Thanks for coming back to this. Are you saying the 90/180 rule is not actually about limiting to 90 days in any 180 day period, but a set of fixed periods somewhat arbitrarily defined by the time of first entry into Schengen region? This seems a bit strange to me. – wim Oct 16 '13 at 15:17
  • Yes, that's what I am saying. With one small nuance: if you stay out of the Schengen area long enough, you will “reboot” the series, as it were, and a new six-month period will start when you enter again. This answer also explains it and I have cited the decision of the EUCJ that established this interpretation elsewhere. – Relaxed Oct 16 '13 at 16:02
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    I'm adding this comment for anyone who comes to this page and decides not to follow the links: The rules changed a couple of days after Relaxed's most recent comment, as reflected in his answer at travel.stackexchange.com/a/21461/19400. – phoog Jul 12 '16 at 20:46
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This explained reasonably well in the Wikipedia article. You can stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period either with a short-stay visa or with a visa waiver depending on your nationality. Beyond that, you need a long-stay visa.

There's a twist: 180-day periods are counted from the date of your first entry to Schengen, thus repeating every 6 months. So if you arrive in Schengen on January 1 and leave on March 30, you can't reenter until July 1. But if you spend one day on January 1, then come back on April 2nd, you can leave on June 30 and come back on July 1 to stay until September 30. In a sense, you can make a visa run, but only if it's exactly the right number of days since your first Schengen entry.

More precisely, the rule is Article 11 of the Schengen Convention:

The visa provided for in Article 10 may be:
(a) a travel visa valid for one or more entries, provided that neither the length of a continuous visit nor the total length of successive visits exceeds three months in any half-year, from the date of first entry;
(b) a transit visa authorising its holder to pass through the territories of the Contracting Parties once, twice or exceptionally several times en route to the territory of a third State, provided that no transit shall exceed five days.

Article 10 introduces the mutually-recognized Schengen short-stay visa, which can be valid for up to three months.

Thus the answer is no: you cannot make a visa run for Schengen. Your passport will be stamped and your name will be entered in a database, so if you try you run a good chance of being detected. You might get lucky, but you might also get fined and barred from entering the Schengen area for several years.

  • The language in paragraph 10(a) confuses me.... provided that ... the total length of successive visits [does not exceed] three months in any half-year, from the date of first entry. So if I enter for 89 days, then leave for 89 days, when I re-enter, will I be allowed 90 days, or 1 day? The way I read that, I would be given only 1 day; which seems a bit illogical... – Flimzy Sep 6 '13 at 21:54
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    This answer is no longer correct; the rules changed a little more than a month after it was posted. See travel.stackexchange.com/questions/13183/…. – phoog Jul 12 '16 at 20:47
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    @phoog Since the answer ins't correct, how many days is it now? 1 or 89? The linked question does not answer that – Timo Huovinen Apr 26 '18 at 19:37
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    @TimoHuovinen If you enter for one day and then enter more than 90 days later, you can enter for 90 days. I think you mean 29 June. So if you enter on 1/1 and leave on 1/1, and then enter on 29/6, you can stay for 90 days until 26/9. That's because on 29/6, your total presence in the previous 180 days is 2 days. On 30/6, it's 2 days. On 1/7 it's 3 days. On 2/7 it's 4 days. ... On 24/9 it's 88 days. On 25/9 it's 89 days. On 26/9 it's 90 days. – phoog Apr 27 '18 at 6:12
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    @TimoHuovinen perhaps looking at it this way would help: there's no 180-day period that contains both 1 January and 29 July of the same year, so there's no way your 1 January entry can affect the allowed duration of your stay when you enter on 29 July. If you meant 29 June (non-leap year), then there's only one 180-day period that contains both dates, and you used 2 days of the allowed 90 in that period. If you stay until the next day, you must consider the 180-day period from 2 January to 30 June. 1 January no longer counts, and you've used 2 days of the 90 allowed, namely 29 and 30 June. – phoog Apr 27 '18 at 16:46

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