The 90/180-day Schengen Area rule explained and how to calculate your stay

The 90/180-day Schengen Area rule explained and how to calculate your stay

Image - Ben Gingell/shutterstock

Due to the ramifications of Brexit, where the United Kingdom left the European Union, British and non-EU citizens now have a limit on how long they can stay the ‘Schengen Area’. These new rules have proven to be difficult and confusing, with many people contacting the Euro Weekly News in hopes of shedding some light on the situation.

So, we have written this comprehensive guide that will make sure none of our readers are caught off guard while travelling in these countries.

Brexit has caused many complications for Brits living and travelling in the EU, from residency issues to health insurance and customs problems to confusion surrounding how long British nationals can spend in the EU. With so many people previously spending the majority of the year in an EU country such as Spain, many of us are now unsure about the rules and how long we are legally allowed to spend in a Schengen country without running the risk of fines – or worse.

Brits, who prior to Brexit were able to move around the European Union freely, have found themselves restricted to 90 days in any 180 days unless they apply for residency or any other available visa that might allow them to stay longer. Take a look at our guide on the various visas here.

Luckily, the Euro Weekly News has put together this handy explainer, answering all of the questions we have been receiving.

What is the ‘Schengen Area’ and what does it mean?

The Schengen Area began in 1985 as an intergovernmental project between five EU countries– France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – and has gradually expanded to become the largest free travel area in the world. Schengen is a small village in Luxembourg, on the border between France and Germany, where the Schengen Agreement and the Schengen Convention were signed in 1985 and in 1990 respectively.

Being a part of the Schengen area carried benefits such as free movement across internal borders and harmonised control of external borders. This set of rules is called Schengen Borders Code.

The 90/180-day Schengen Area rule explained and how to calculate your stay
Image – Harvepino/shutterstock

Which countries are part of the Schengen Area?

The 26 member countries in the Schengen Area are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

What is the Schengen visa?

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any member of the Schengen Area for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. It is the most common visa for Europe and enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries.

If you are visiting more than one Schengen country with equal stay duration, you must apply for a Schengen Visa at the Embassy or Consulate representing the Schengen country you will enter or visit first. If you want to stay in the Schengen Area for more than 90 days, you must apply for a residence permit (long-stay visa), not a Schengen visa.

However, if you are planning to study, work, or live in one of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days, then you must apply for a national visa of that European country and not a Schengen visa.

The 90/180-day Schengen Area rule explained and how to calculate your stay
Schengen visa – Credit MA8

How does the 90/180-day rule work in Europe?

In short, your total stay in the Schengen area must be no more than 90 days in every 180 days. The 180-day period keeps ‘rolling’ and it doesn’t matter how many countries you visit in the area. At first glance, it seems a very simple rule, but it’s often misunderstood, and many people overstay it, resulting in penalties. This is why it’s important to know how exactly the 90/180-day rule works.

At the bottom of this article, we have added an extremely useful tool to calculate your stay and ensure you are not breaking any rules, regulations or laws.

There are two main components to this rule:

  • Staying for 90 days: This means that as soon as you enter any Schengen area country, your 90-day clock starts. This includes every country in the zone. For example, if you spend 30 days in France then 30 days in Spain, and 30 days in Germany; you’ve spent 90 days in the Schengen zone. Your 90 days count stops the moment you leave the area. So, let’s say you spend 30 days in France, return to your country for a few days, and then spend another 30 days in Spain – that means you only spent 60 days in the Schengen zone, and you have 30 more days left.
  • Spending your 90 days within a 180-day period: The 90 days you are allowed to spend in the Schengen zone are eligible for a 180-day period. This period is commonly referred to as a “rolling timeframe” because it’s constantly moving— each day you spend in Schengen advances your 180-day period. This period is counted backwards from your most recent entry or exit dates. So, if you enter the Schengen area on July 1, 2022, you count backwards for 180 days from this date and calculate how many days you have spent in the Schengen area during these 180 days. If you’ve already spent 60 days, you have another 30 days left.
The 90/180-day Schengen Area rule explained and how to calculate your stay
Image – ArtWell/shutterstock

Can I leave the Schengen area after 90 days and come back?

The 90 days can be spent during one single stay or in a series of short stays. After the 90 days have passed, non-EU citizens need to leave (not just move to a different EU country) and wait for at least 90 days before returning.

How do you get around the 90-day rule?

To put it bluntly – you can’t get around this rule. You must only spend 90 days consecutively in Schengen Areas, or 90 days out of 180 days. If you do overstay, you are likely to be caught out at the airport when you do leave, most commonly when your passport is being stamped.

What happens if I stay more than 90 days in the Schengen area?

If you spend more than 90 days in Spain within a 180-day period – violating this rule – you will face penalties. You may be required to pay a fine, leave the country, and be banned from entering the Schengen Area for a specified period.

For Spain in particular and according to its immigration bill, overstaying the 90-day limit could be considered a serious violation in the eyes of the law. Possible fines can range from €501 all the way up to €10,000, expulsion from Spain is possible, and so is a potential ban from the Schengen area for six months to five years.

How do I calculate the 90 days?

You count backwards for 180 days from the date you entered the Schengen Area and calculate how many days you have spent in the Schengen during these 180 days. If you’ve already spent 60 days, you have another 30 days left. If you’ve spent 70 day, you have 20 days left and so on.

The easiest and most simple way to calculate your 90 days is by using an online calculator like this one on the Schengen Visa Info website. Using a tool like this will ensure you do not overstay.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories. Remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at