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I know that this question has been answered to some degree through other posts, but my question is this:

If my type-D visa to Portugal is valid as of April 16th, 2017, may I enter Portugal or any other Schengen country prior to this date under the terms of the 90-out-of-180 day tourist visa waiver granted to US citizens? That answer seems to be a relatively straightforward "yes" - anyone disagree?

Specifically, if I were to enter Portugal or another Schengen country before my type-d visa was in effect (let's say March 15th, for example), and got my passport stamped at port of entry as a normal US tourist, how then, come April 16th, would I "activate" the visa? Would I need to leave the country/Schengen zone and come back in order to have border control see and stamp/activate my visa or would it be assumed, if I was already in the country, that as of April 16th the visa becomes valid and I would have to do nothing? If I was in a different Schengen country - Spain for example - how would I then register my presence in Portugal as of April 16th since there are no border checks between Schengen countries?

If anyone understands and can explain the mechanics of this, I would be very grateful. I can understand the legality of coming in advance because I have that privilege anyways in the Schengen zone as a US citizen, but how to then migrate from tourist status to active visa status - do I need to do anything? Thanks.

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We have an extremely similar question already about switching from a C visa to a long-term D visa. The consensus is that these sort of switches are not regulated anywhere, so there's no reason for border officials to deny you entry.

Experience from people on various forums also confirms it:

My country doesn't need a visa to enter the EU/Switzerland, but I did need one to be a student. I took a leap of faith and came in exactly 14 days before it was valid, because I was told I need to register with the Kreisburo within 14 days. I am still not sure this is the exact number of days, but I believe it was at the time. I phoned the Swiss Embassy in my country before and they said FOR CITIZENS OF MY COUNTRY there should be no problem. I asked them for some kind of proof, article to support my claim but they didn't have anything. I wrote down the number of the Embassy who told me this, in case I ever needed it.

My port of entry was Amsterdam. The guy looked at me and said "Your visa is not yet valid..." I said I knew. He talked to his colleague and they agreed I was allowed to enter Europe as a citizen of my country regardless of this student visa business. I honestly think they could have said no just as easily but they were probably having a good day or something.

and

I had a similar experience as avita, I arrived to CH about 4 days before the start date on my visa since the people at the Swiss consulate told me it would not be a problem since citizens of my country don't need visas for short time stays. The Federal migrations office confirmed that. So, I arrived 4 days earlier and registered two days before the start date of my visa. The lady at the registration office didn't bat an eyelash, everything was smooth.

Also see our related question on moving from a Residency visa to a Tourist visa, in case you will need to stay longer at the end of your visit to Portugal.

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Old question but I see it linked a lot so I'm going to add some information I believe is pertinent. I received the following email from the Austrian BMI regarding entering visa-fee before a Visa D is valid. Keep in mind this is a translation from the original email in german and from an Austrian governmental agency:

"If the visa-free stay is short or the travel purpose for the visa-free stay is different from the one for the visa D stay (eg first tourism, then study/employment), the entry would be lawful. Whereby a visa-free entry (observing the rule: 90 days per period of 180 days) and the subsequent stay with a visa D is seamlessly possible."

Suggesting that a third-country national with visa-free privileges may enter before validity date on the D Visa and that a "Visa Run" to the UK is not technically necessary

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