News & Insights

Staying in Schengen – How Long Can I Holiday in the EU?

The European Union’s 90/180 rule restricts the amount of time British passport holders can spend in the Schengen Area in any 180-day period.

Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, the UK is treated as a “third country”. This means that British passport holders are limited to spending 90 days out of a 180-day period in the Schengen Area. This means that, when planning a trip to the Schengen Area, British passport holders must ask themselves how many days they have spent in the Schengen Area in the previous 180 days. Travel will only be permitted if they would not go over the 90-day limit during their trip. The calculation can be quite complicated to explain; the EU’s travel days calculator is a helpful tool for determining whether you are at risk of breaching the 90/180 rule.

The Schengen Area includes almost all of the EU countries, plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and the Vatican City. Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania are all EU countries that are not in the Schengen Area, but they have their own, individual 90/180 limits. You therefore cannot stay in these countries for an unlimited time on a British passport either, although time spent in the Schengen Area will not count towards the Bulgarian, Cypriot, or Romanian limits.

Despite being a member of the EU, the position in Ireland is different. The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have a separate agreement, called the Common Travel Agreement, which guarantees the rights of UK citizens to freedom of movement and unlimited length of stay in Ireland.

If you would like to stay longer than is permitted under the 90/180 rule, you will need to apply for a long-stay visitor visa. These visas vary by country. France, for example, has the VLS-T, which allows the holder to use the 90/180 Schengen allowance twice in a year. The VLS-T requires you to attend an interview, have your fingerprints taken, provide evidence of finances and accommodation, and pay a visa fee of £87 and a processing fee of £30.

Moving forward, it is expected that, from November 2023 at the earliest, British visitors to the Schengen Area will need to apply for an ETIAS permit. It will cost just £6 for a three-year permit, although the 90/180 rule will continue to apply – so having an ETIAS permit will only grant you access to the Schengen Area and will not grant you the right to unlimited stay.

If you require any immigration advice, please get in touch at [email protected]