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I am a Schengen (and EU/EEA) citizen, and I am taking a sabbatical. I would like to travel across Europe and I was wondering how long I can stay in each of the other Schengen/EU/EEA country as a tourist (i.e. without being considered a resident).

I will not work in any of the countries I'll visit, the only thing is I do not want to have to register as a resident (e.g. get an Anmeldungbescheinigung in Germany) or fulfill any duty specific to residents.

I a priori do not expect to stay for longer than 90 days in any of the countries I will visit, but it might happen. I know inside Schengen there is no passport stamp so no real proof (beside train tickets) that I have stayed longer, but I prefer to comply with the laws.

I am hoping there is a general rule applying to all Schengen (or EU/EEA) countries, but in case it is specific, I am a French citizen and I intend to visit Germany for a long time.

EDIT: I am interested in rules regarding any of the European areas Schengen/EU/EEA, depending on which applies.

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    Schengen has nothing to do with it. Your movement rights are derived from the Treaty of Rome and further legislation in Directive 2004/38/EC. Also the 2006 regulation. Essentially, 90 days unless you are exercising treaty rights as a so-called 'qualified person'. – Gayot Fow Nov 30 '14 at 19:12
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    @GayotFow You are right that the Schengen treaty has nothing to do with the question although it may be a valid question (as EFTA countries are covered by different treaties than the ones you cited). EU member states are allowed to impose registration rules if they do not discriminate against EU/EEA/CH citizens (e.g. Germany requires all residents, including German citizens, to register at a local office within a few days of moving). – neo Nov 30 '14 at 19:28
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    A small detail: “Anmeldungbescheinigung” is the name of the document you get, the registration itself is simply called “Anmeldung”. – Relaxed Nov 30 '14 at 19:37
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    @Vince, in the general sense, you are "EEA". That covers everything having to do with your rights, etc etc. – Gayot Fow Nov 30 '14 at 19:44
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    @chuck I suppose you could share your knowledge if so much here is "plain wrong". Official and reliable information is welcome here. – Vince Jan 23 '17 at 9:26
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In general as a EEA national, you have the right to stay in all EEA countries, no matter how long if fulfilling certain conditions. However some countries ask you to report your stay, even if it is shorter than 3 months. As a general rule in the EU the same requirements apply to citizens of those countries as well.

These countries according to the EU job mobility portal are:

  • Belgium You are required to report your presence within 10 working days at the local town hall.
  • Czech republic You are required to report you stay within 30 days of arrival.
  • Germany You are required to report your non-tourist stay within around one week after arrival at the local Meldebehörde. The exact details vary by state and can normally be found on the cities' website.
  • Slovakia Your are required to report your stay within fifteen days, even if staying with friends.
  • Switzerland You must register within 14 days. Note that Switzerland may be imposing additional restrictions in the near future.

Although it is not explicitly stated on the site, you don't need to report your stay in Denmark.

You might be exempt from this rule if you stay for touristic purposes (as in Switzerland) or for a shorter time (less than two months in Germany).

Sometimes it may be beneficial to register your stay even if it is shorter than three months (for example if you want to work or open a bank account).

Please note that these are just formalities and the countries are required by EU law to issue all documents and that can only be refused in some serious cases (such as imminent danger for national safety or health).

For stays longer than three months almost all member states require registration and some sort of documentation, sometimes even just after arrival if you intend to stay longer.

In general you cannot be expelled for not following those rules, but fines can be imposed.

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    It's not quite true every EU citizen has a right to stay in other EU countries, no matter how long. You need to qualify in one of four ways (working, being a student, being the partner of an EU citizen who qualified or having sufficient financial means to cover your needs). – Relaxed Nov 30 '14 at 19:35
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    @GayotFow: At least in Germany all persons are required to register their residence (this includes residence for less than 90 days). There is no provision in the treaties to forbids such laws. – neo Nov 30 '14 at 19:44
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    @GayotFow From May 2015 a new federal law (Bundesmeldegesetz) will allow persons permanently living outside Germany to stay for up to three months without registration. Up until then however most states require registration for any non-short stay (which is in many states defined as over two months as they follow the Melderechtsrahmengesetz). – neo Nov 30 '14 at 21:07
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    I am not sure this really addresses the question. For example, the rule for Switzerland is “You must in any case register with your commune of residence within 14 days of your arrival”. So if you are a resident, you must register quickly but when under what conditions are you deemed to be a resident? It's not quite the same question. – Relaxed Nov 30 '14 at 23:03
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    @Relaxed: According to eda.admin.ch/dam/eda/de/documents/publications/… you don't need to, if you in the country for touristic or health care related purposes. – neo Nov 30 '14 at 23:08
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The key limit is three months. It has nothing to do with Schengen but is part of general EU law. As such, it also applies outside the Schengen area (i.e. to the UK, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia – and to Switzerland through a distinct agreement that was implemented even before the country became part of the Schengen area).

Even in countries where there is no special formality to register yourself, stays longer than 3 months do not follow the same rules. You have a very strong right to travel for tourism and to stay for less than 3 months but no unconditional right to stay elsewhere in the EU for longer than 3 months (see this answer to another question for the legal basis for this distinction).

In most places, you don't need to do anything for short stays but even though it gives you the right to visit other countries, EU law does not strictly forbid requirements to report your presence, even if you don't intend to become a resident. Europa.eu provides practical information on this but even this site (based on information submitted by the member states themselves) is incomplete and at times vague so it's difficult to know exactly what the requirements are country by country.

Also note that residence is often defined by intent and by other factors like the location of the “center of your interests” (income, property, family…). So residency does not necessarily start after the first three months have elapsed nor does it depend solely on the length of stay.

For example, if you sell your house in France, move your stuff to Germany and rent a flat there, then you are required to register within a week or two of moving in your new home, even if you are careful to never spend more than three months in the country. On the other hand, if you have a house in France and stay at a hotel in Germany for two months, you will probably not be considered a resident.

If you would do the same the other way around (i.e. move to France), you would not be required to register at all (because that's not necessary in France in the first place) but you would still be deemed a resident from the date you actually entered the country (and could e.g. have to pay taxes based on that).

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