WHAT IS THE 90 DAY RULE?
SCHENGEN TRAVEL LIMITS
HOW DO THEY WORK?
If you are British the idea of limiting your stay in Europe might be new.
If you are from elsewhere outside Europe it might seem more normal.
But whatever your situation, it’s important to understand your allowance when it comes to staying in the Schengen zone – which includes Switzerland.
You might have heard about 90 days but not realise how it’s calculated, or perhaps which countries are included.
So lets’ start at the beginning…
The Schengen zone is a free travel area that includes EU and non-EU nations.
The thing they all share is that they have signed an agreement that allows their citizens to travel freely around other Schengen states.
There are barely any border controls – it’s almost as if it was one big country in this respect.
But they also agreed limit the amount of time non-Schengen and non-EU citizens can stay in the region.
The 26 nations are:
- Czech Republic
THE 90 DAY LIMIT
The limit to staying in the Schengen Area if you are a non-EU and non-schengen national is 90 days in a 180 day period.
It is not 90 days per year.
So the calculation is simply “have you been in the Schengen Area for over 90 days in the last 180 days?”. If the answer is yes then you need to leave or apply for a permit (if you can).
Crucially it is a rolling 180 day period.
So whatever happened over 180 days ago is effectively forgotten.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR COURSES?
For a start the vast majority of our courses are under 90 days so there isn’t a direct issue.
You don’t need a permit for a course that is nine or ten weeks. In fact we have now been told the authorities will not issue any Permit (or Visa) for a course under 90 days.
But if you are on a longer courses that’s over 90 days – one that includes Level 3 training for example – then you will need to apply for a permit.
You can’t apply for a permit if you do a ten week (70 day) course but just want to stay longer than 90 days.
WHAT HAPPENS IF HAVE ALREADY TRAVELLED A LOT?
If you have been in Schengen a lot prior to your course then you could ‘run out of days’.
But don’t forget the only thing that matters is what happened within any 180 day window.
So a really, really long holiday that ended on July 1st would be completely ‘forgotten’ after December 27th – because July 1st is outside the 180 day window.
And any days in Schengen in August, for example, are ‘forgotten’ in February.
Days in September are ‘forgotten’ during March, and so on…
As a result you need to consider if any past summer holidays – or future holidays – will actually have any impact whatsoever.
But if you do find you cannot complete your course within your Schengen allowance, there are only two options.
The first option is that you would simply have to leave the Schengen Area until your past visit was ‘forgotten’. This is simply the law and something that all travellers must consider – especially UK citizens for whom this is all new.
The second option is to perhaps choose a longer course that would require a Permit but allow a longer stay. But you must book onto this before you start your course.
Perhaps a third option is to simply book a later course – perhaps choose the February course.
WHAT IF IS SIMPLY WANT TO STAY LONGER?
If you stay right up to the 90 day limit then that’s fine – and we offer extended accommodation options for anyone wanting to do this.
But you cannot go over 90 days without breaking the law.
Once again an option is to stay for a longer course and get a Student Permit.
SO ARE THESE STUDENT PERMITS EASY?
They cost extra (and of course, a longer course itself costs more than a standard 70 day course).
But they are also not guaranteed. This is new territory for the authorities who are simply telling us that they will judge each application individually and it is certainly not a formality.
This differs fro previous advice we received, but it is now what we are being told – and the people telling us are the ones who make the decisions.
We wish we could tell you it was a walk in the park, but it looks like it will not be and there is risk attached.
As a result we have a number of applications currently being process and that should set a precedent – one way or the other.
WHAT DO PEAK LEADERS SUGGEST?
If you are on a longer course (over 90 days) you have to get a permit. Whilst that is not a guarantee, it’s currently the only way to legally stay over 90 days.
But we do not recommend applying for a permit as an insurance policy against possible future travel. The permit office are very serious about these permits being issued only when 100% required and for its that means for anyone selecting a course over 90 days.
WHERE CAN I GO TO CHECK MY DATES?
Just click below if you want to see what your holiday and course dates mean for you course. We will help as much as we can so you can also get in touch.
But this is a legal requirement and if you are not sure it is worth checking with the immigration authorities website.