Confused About the EU’s 90/180 Day Rule? Here’s How it Works

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Confused About the EU’s 90/180 Day Rule? Here’s How it Works

British second-home owners in France after Brexit are now bound by the rules of non-EU citizens. This means that you can only visit France for up to 90 days within any 180 day period. But how is this 90-day rule calculated and what impact does this have on your travels to France?

How does the 90-day rule work?

The 90/180-day rule applies to the whole Schengen area, not just France. That means the total number of days that you spend within any of the 26 Schengen zone countries (including Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland). The count starts from the day you enter the Schengen area to the day you leave.

So, for example, if you flew from the UK to France (entering the Schengen area), spent 5 days in France, then drove into Spain for a further 5 days before returning to the UK (leaving the Schengen zone), you would have spent a total of 10 days in Schengen zone.

If you flew from the UK to France (entering the Schengen area), spent 5 days in France before returning to the UK (leaving the Schengen zone) for 5 days, and then flew to Spain for a further 5 days, you would still have spent a total of 10 days in Schengen zone.

It’s the total number of days spent within the Schengen area that is taken into account.

Calculating the 180 days

Where it gets slightly more complicated is the EU definition of ’90 days within any 180-day period’. Here, it’s best to think of the 180 days as a moveable timeframe rather than a fixed 180-day period. The 180 days are counted backwards from the date of arrival or departure from the Schengen area.

Each time you enter or leave Schengen area, a new 180-day period would be calculated from that date. You do not need to concern yourself about dates of previous arrivals and departures, only the total number of days spent within the zone during that particular 180-day period.

If you arrived in France from the UK on March 15th, it would be the 180 days before March 15th that would be taken into account. If you had already spent the whole months of November, December, and January in France (totalling 90 days) and hoped to return on March 15th, you would be refused entry.

Planning your trip to France

If you are planning multiple trips to France, it can quickly get confusing! Using this short stay calculator can help. Enter the dates of entry and exit, and it will calculate the total number of days (and remaining days) within a 180 day period. The ‘control’ option allows you to calculate the length of previous stays or your current stay. The ‘planning’ option lets you set the date you plan to return to the Schengen area and will inform you of how many days you have left to use.

Remember that travel restrictions and Covid regulations are currently in place. See our article on Travel Between France and the UK in 2021 for the latest details.

What are the penalties for overstaying?

For Brits or other non-EU travellers who overstay the 90 days, the penalty is typically a fine and an order to leave the country within 30 days. If you failed to leave the country after that order expires, the penalties would be far more severe.

For frequent travellers and second-home owners, the biggest consequence of this is receiving an ‘over-stay’ flag on your passport. Not only can this make it more difficult to re-enter France in the future, it could affect your chances of receiving a visa in any other country you choose to visit. If you ever chose to apply for a long-stay visa or seek residency in France, this over-stay flag would almost certainly make your application more difficult and could be grounds for refusal.

Throughout 2021, we’ve heard reports of Brits who have overstayed their 90 days (by even just two days) and have received a €198 fine as well as an over-stay stamp in their passport. It appears that border controls in France and elsewhere in the Schengen zone are strictly monitoring Brits entering and leaving the zone. Our advice is to make sure you fully understand the 90-day rule, always stay within the limits (do not assume that overstaying by one or two days will be overlooked – it won’t!), and make sure that your passport is correctly stamped whenever you enter or leave the zone.

Staying in France for more than 90 days?

If you plan to stay in France for more than 90 days in a 180 day period, or spend over 90 consecutive days in France, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa or visa de long séjour temporaire visiteur. This allows you to stay up to one year, but not to work or study. Visa applications are considered on an individual basis, and you must prove that you have sufficient funds and healthcare coverage for the duration of your stay. If you are not sure what kind of visa you need, our complete guide to French visas is the best place to start.

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FrenchEntrée's Digital Editor, Zoë is also a freelance journalist who has written for the Telegraph, HuffPost, and CNN, and a guidebook updater for the Rough Guide to France and Rough Guide to Dordogne & Lot. She lives in the French countryside just outside of Nantes.

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Comments

  •  Paula
    2022-01-14 01:06:00
    Paula
    Ifleft the France on the 28/08/2021 after a 57 day stay....I intend to return to France ion 01/02/2022. Will I get a new 90 day window?

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  • Bryan McMahon
    2022-01-13 06:23:43
    Bryan McMahon
    We are seriously considering buying a holiday home in France If we commit to buying ,is the Long term VISA , after the first year and reapplying ,automatically renewed, if “all’s well “after the first year

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    • Zoë Smith
      2022-01-17 10:47:50
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Bryan, Take a look at our articles in our Visas & Residency section for more on this: https://www.frenchentree.com/category/living-in-france/moving-to-france/visas-residency/ One that might be of particular interest if you are looking to move to France would be this one: https://www.frenchentree.com/living-in-france/moving-to-france/the-road-to-permanent-residency-in-france/

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  •  Linda deehan
    2022-01-10 03:31:23
    Linda deehan
    Hi I was in Spain from 1st June /12 july42days 25th sept/9th nov 46 days 8jan And plan to go home 19th feb is this ok ? And when can l come back again and for how long ?

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  •  Ann shaw
    2022-01-10 01:26:23
    Ann shaw
    I went to greece aug 2021 for 1week due to go spain feb 2022 till april 7 weeks and back to greece 2 weeks in aug can i book for spain jan 2023. So confused

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  • peter Robinson
    2022-01-08 10:09:07
    peter Robinson
    if we went to France on the 1st of February returning to the UK 30 days later, then decided to visit again on the 1st of June leaving on the 15th of July which would constitute a total of 75 days within a 180 day period starting on February 1st. Is this within the rules?

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  •  Carol kiteley
    2022-01-07 09:49:38
    Carol kiteley
    Hi my name is carol, my question is I am in France at the moment February 5th I will have been here for 90 days I then go home to England, on the 13th February I will be flying to Cyprus for a 21day holiday is this allowed? as I’ve just been advised by a friend that it’s not. Thankyou for your time Carol.

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  •  Patricia Bollans
    2022-01-06 12:25:30
    Patricia Bollans
    I have worked out that I spent 28 days from September to October in Spain and 42 days from Nov to December in 2021 in Tenerife so will I be able to visit Spain for 2 weeks from 30 Jan to 13 Feb and Tenerife from 22nd February until 17 th March. Your help in calculating this would be much appreciated as I am having difficulty in calculating this.

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    • Zoë Smith
      2022-01-06 13:25:09
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Patricia, If your proposed entry date to Spain is the 30th Jan, you need to count back 180 days from then - how many days have you spent in the Schengen Zone during that period? You then need to do the same thing for 22nd February. The calculator linked in the article may also be of help. All the best for your travels! Zoe

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  •  Paul Harwood
    2022-01-04 11:45:54
    Paul Harwood
    Hi Zoe, As I understand it, someone with dual UK and Irish (Republic) passports and having a wife with a UK passport only, is not affected by the 90/180 rule by virtue of one being an EU citizen. This applies when both travel to the EU but would not enable the wife to travel alone to the EU. Can you verify this information for the benefit of those readers who might be in the situation as described. Many thanks.

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    • Zoë Smith
      2022-01-06 13:21:46
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Paul, If you travel using your Irish (EU) passport you will not be subject to the 90/180 day rule as you are an EU citizen. Be aware though that this won't be the case if you use your UK passport - it will be stamped and subject to the 180 day rule as you will be opting to enter the EU as a UK citizen. Unfortunately, if your wife is travelling with a UK passport, she would be subject to the 90/180 day rule. If she wanted to accompany you for longer, she would need to apply for the relevant visa. Hope this helps clarify things!

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      •  Pamela
        2022-01-18 01:41:04
        Pamela
        His wife would not be subject to the 90/180 day rule as long as she was travelling with her Eu husband, the only time that she would need to apply for a vis is if they stayed in Spain longer than 90 days.. As long as they do not over stay the 90days they can leave and keep returning as many times as they wish .

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        • Zoë Smith
          2022-01-19 15:12:21
          Zoë Smith
          Pamela, I'm afraid that is incorrect. Unless you have applied for a spousal visa/residency permit for that country, you are not automatically given a right to stay longer than the 90 days based on being married. In the case of seeking residency, you may enter that country with your spouse and then apply for residency (a right not afforded non-married foreign citizens who must apply for a visa first in their home country). However, for travel purposes, while she would not need a visa, her passport will be stamped and she will be subject to the 90/180 day rule. Remember a "right to EU citizenship" is not the same as "EU citizenship". She has a right to EU residency and citizenship through marriage, but if she has not applied for either of these things, is resident in the UK and only has a UK passport, she is still legally counted as a UK citizen and UK resident regardless of being married and therefore will be treated as such when she travels. I hope this helps clarify things. Best of luck to all of you in your travels.

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  •  Louise
    2022-01-02 02:42:38
    Louise
    Hi, thank you that was very clear. I have a question. We have a carte de séjour for France. How many days are we allowed in the Uk. Many thanks

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    • Zoë Smith
      2022-01-03 12:38:27
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Louise, If you are a French/EU citizen you can stay for up to six months in the UK without needing a visa - the 90/180 rule doesn't apply. If you're a British citizen (but resident in France), there are technically no limits on how long you can spend in the UK, as you are a citizen, but of course it's still important to consider the rules of residence for tax purposes, healthcare, and legal matters (while there may be some exceptions, a good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't be spending more than six months a year in the UK if you are resident in France). I hope this helps!

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  •  Tony. Roberts
    2021-12-27 10:13:09
    Tony. Roberts
    Hi Zoe , We need a little help please , We traveled to Tenerife on November 15 th 2021 and fly back to the UK on January 29 th 2022 a total of 75 days in the Schengen zone . We previously had 7 days in August 2021 in Spain . In June 2022 we will be attending a football game in France & Spain spending 7 days in those countries and in July I will be away again in France with a 3 day football trip . Could you please explain and guide us through the confusing process. Have I enough days to do my planned trips ? . Thank you for your help and time.

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    • Zoë Smith
      2021-12-30 09:29:47
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Tony, You need to count back 180 days from the dates you plan to enter the Schengen zone (so each time you enter this will be a different 180-day period). If you have not reached your 90-day limit within those 180 days, then you will be free to enter the zone for the remaining period.

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  • julian
    2021-12-27 07:44:03
    julian
    Zoe, How long can I stay or work in the UK for on a 5yr Carte Sejour. My domicile is in France?

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  •  Doreen Thomas
    2021-12-22 11:33:27
    Doreen Thomas
    Dear Zoe, we just do not seem to be able to get the gist of this calculation 90/180. We went to Crete on 28/08/2021 and return on 25/10/2021, if we went back for our remains 90 out of 180 would we be able to go back to Crete for 3 months at the beginning of March 2022? Please help shareholders understand. Thank you.

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  • Michael Richard Lewis
    2021-12-19 06:25:45
    Michael Richard Lewis
    I left Spain in October and going back now does the 90 days have any affect on my holiday

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  •  John Bibby
    2021-12-07 10:00:29
    John Bibby
    Zoe, As usual your well informed articles about the 90/180 travel restrictions or allowances plus the travel documents needed is extremely useful - thanks for the information which we can use as a checklist. Wishing you a Very Happy Christmas and New Year Best wishes Jean & John BIBBY

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  •  Andrew
    2021-12-03 05:40:07
    Andrew
    Hi Zoe, Thanks for your article. My query relates to when the 90-day allowance resets. I was in Spain 22 August - 15 September, and have spent the 3 months since outside of the Schengen area. My understanding is that on 15 December, my allowance resets and I will have another 90 days, but my partner’s lawyer has informed us that we need to count 6 months from my initial arrival in Spain (22 August), which would mean reset would occur in February/March 2022. Many thanks

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    • Zoë Smith
      2021-12-09 12:44:59
      Zoë Smith
      The 180 days is always counted BACKWARDS from the day of entering or leaving the Schengen zone. It never 'resets' as such, it constantly keeps moving. For your situation, the most important date is the date you plan to re-enter the Schengen zone. Let's say you plan to arrive in France on January 15th 2022. The 180 days will be the 180 days BEFORE January 15th 2022. How many days out of 90 will you have already spent in the Schengen zone during that time? The difference is how many days you have left. Does that make sense? Best, Zoe

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  • Jeffrey Noble
    2021-11-25 04:35:46
    Jeffrey Noble
    Hi Zoe, As the calculation is based on a rolling 180 days, does the calculation change for every day you are in the Schengen zone? For example if I have already spent 60 days in the Schengen zone from 1st October 2021 to 30th November 2021, and then I want to travel again from 01st April 2022 to 15th May 2022, then at 01st April 2022 the rolling 180 day calculation would give me 30 days (90-60) further travel in the Schengen zone (i.e. valid to 30 April 2022). However by 30th April 2022 the rolling 180 day calculation would mean I only count back 180 days to 1st November 2021, so the total time in Schengen would be 30 days in November 21 plus the 30 days for April 2022, total 60 days in the last 180 days. Does this mean I can then extend my stay until 30 May 2022?

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  •  Pauline Bell
    2021-11-18 12:54:40
    Pauline Bell
    If I get a 6 months visa, December to May, can I make multiple trips to my holiday home? Can I travel to France on the 90/180 days rule for the rest of the year?

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  •  HBo Max
    2021-11-18 08:40:29
    HBo Max
    You are such a life saver... I never would have fully understood the 90/180 rule if not for your article. Keep up the good work

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  •  Andy T
    2021-11-16 05:19:41
    Andy T
    Hi Zoe, Still a bit confused on the 180 day rolling period. So if you were refused entry on March 15th when would you be able to return? I’m confused about the date of entry and leaving, which is it that really matters. Many thanks Andy

    REPLY

  •  Susan Leech
    2021-11-11 09:39:47
    Susan Leech
    Hi. We have sold our house in England and are looking forward to buying a house in France. I have Spanish nationality, but my husband is English. ( my husband has an apartment in Mallorca) . He is wondering if taking on residence in Spain, will give him some sort of immunity to the 180 days . Do you advise buying a house in France at the present time. Thank you.

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  •  Nick Lewis
    2021-11-08 02:46:40
    Nick Lewis
    Is it possible post Brexit, for a UK citizen to spend 90 days out of 180 days in France, but also to travel to Switzerland within that 180 days ? Switzerland is not in the EU, but is in the Schengen zone

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    • Zoë Smith
      2021-11-10 08:26:46
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Nick, Yes, the 90/180-day rule applies to the whole Schengen area, not just the EU.

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  •  Delphine Harrison
    2021-11-07 01:06:55
    Delphine Harrison
    Do I have to use all of the 90days before I can start to count back to 180 days

    REPLY

    • Zoë Smith
      2021-11-10 08:28:18
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Delphine, The 180 days is a rolling time period counted back from the day of arrival or departure from the Schengen zone - the 90 days can be used at any time within that time period.

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  • MARTIN WITHERINGTON
    2021-10-28 01:16:32
    MARTIN WITHERINGTON
    Long stay visa's in France. are these also the Rolling backward looking date type run in the same manner as the 90/180? FRENCH VISITOR VISA'S. 1. VLS-T 3-6 MONTHS. are these described this way because they are piggy backed into the standard 90/180 allowance? i.e. Does this men up to to 6 months depending on how much of your 90/180 you have used? 2. VLS-TS 6-12 MONTS. Does this mean up to 12 months and once again, is it piggy backed onto the 90/180 as described above? 3. Finally, are these visa's working in the same look back (also described as 'Rolling' period) way. that is you can leave and return ?

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    • Zoë Smith
      2021-11-01 01:45:01
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Martin, The above article applies only to the 90-day 'visa on arrival' issued to citizens of the UK, United States, and many other countries when entering the Schengen Zone. This is a short-stay visa. These rules do not apply to any type of long-stay visa - you can read more about those types of visa in our visas and residency section - https://www.frenchentree.com/category/living-in-france/moving-to-france/visas-residency/ Thanks!

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  • peter brack
    2021-10-23 04:52:42
    peter brack
    so if we go to spain for 6 week and dont go back for another 3 month dose that mean we can stay for another 6 weeks

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    • Zoë Smith
      2021-11-10 08:30:58
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Peter, Yes, that would be allowed, providing the total time calculated isn't more than 90 days out of the 180.

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  •  Joyce Bainbridge
    2021-10-22 11:46:30
    Joyce Bainbridge
    Hullo. After using your calculator we have 13 daysl left of our 90 day allocation and we plan to use these from November 14 and return 26 November. Our first visit to France was 29 June for 45 days and then 12 September for 32 days. When can we return to France and for how long. Thanks.

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  • Jackie hall
    2021-10-06 06:41:20
    Jackie hall
    Please can you explain to me the 180 days I flew out to spain on the 30th of June and have been back and forth since using 62 days so far have I got till November to use the rest and wat if I don't use the rest dose my 90 days start again and when would that b many thanks

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    • Zoë Smith
      2021-11-10 08:35:12
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Jackie, The 180 days is a rolling time frame counted backwards from the day you enter or leave the schengen zone. So, if for example, you flew back to Spain in November, it would be the 180 days before your arrival date that would be concerned - i.e. have you spent 90 days in the Schengen zone between June and November? If you decided to fly to Spain in December instead, it would be time period from July through December that would be taken into consideration, and so on.

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  • Carole Sanderson
    2021-09-29 01:14:10
    Carole Sanderson
    I arrived in France on 13th June2021 departed 19th August and returned on 23rd September 2021. I am planning a 7 day skiing trip on 22nd January am I ok to go??? I really would appreciate a reply.

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  •  Alan bolding
    2021-09-24 11:44:09
    Alan bolding
    Hi Zoe, advice if you can please. On the 14th June we flew to Crete, on the 20th July we got a 5 yr Greek residency card, we then returned to UK on 3rd September total of 81 days, meaning we only have 9 days left, my question Is as we got our residency on the 20 July does that time until the 3rd September count as part of of the 90 days if not that would mean we have 45 days left 🤷 Kind regards Alan

    REPLY

    • Zoë Smith
      2021-11-10 08:39:10
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Alan, If you have a Greek residency card, you no longer need to worry about the 90/180 day rule when travelling to and from Greece. I am not sure about the rules regarding Greek residency cards specifically, but if it is the same as France, it typically wouldn't grant you the right to unlimited time in other EU countries however. If you took a holiday from your home in Greece to France, for example, you would only be allowed to stay 90 days out of 180.

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    •  Graham
      2021-10-20 10:36:38
      Graham
      Alan, Sorry not related in the slightest to your question, but are you an old friend from Chelmsford. Graham.

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  •  M.J.Sharman
    2021-09-17 02:48:50
    M.J.Sharman
    I have a question but then don't we all where this 90/180 days is concerned. I and my wife (both retired) are UK citizens with permanent residency permission to live in Sweden, whilst we have a second home in France. Prior to moving our permanent residency (mine was UK) my wife had lived and obtained a carte de sejour for France which she has not renewed following Brexit due to our (both) removal to Sweden and permanent residency there. The article is very explanatory and helpful (thanks) and I can see that we are able to satisfy the conditions for the long stay visa, that is, if simply visiting our second home is an acceptable reason to the French authorities. The main reason for an extension (long stay visa) is to avoid the restrictions of the 90/180 due to a wish to spend the winter in France away from the winter in Sweden and not be bound by the 90 days. I.E mid December to mid April. which will give us flexibility for travel and stay times and allow for a return without complications. At last the question ... can a second year be applied for once the first year has expired.

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  • Mark Devonshire
    2021-09-09 10:38:06
    Mark Devonshire
    Hello Zoe I am married to a French lady and am British. I have been told that if we are in France visiting/ being with family then my day count is exempt; do you know of this exception ?

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    • 2021-09-20 08:26:47
      Mark Only if you apply for a long stay visa which for a spouse of a French citizen is relatively straightforward, takes two weeks from the interview and costs nothing. However, if you were married in the UK don’t make the mistake of relying on the UK marriage certificate as proof of your partnership. You need a french marriage certificate issued within 6 months of your application or you will be turned away. Good luck

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  • Diana Hayward
    2021-08-30 12:49:01
    Diana Hayward
    I have tried to apply your theory above to my travel plans and cannot understand it at all. Is there an official calculator that a traveller can use to be able to keep within the EU law? I wish to travel to the EU for less than 180 days in a calendar year but need to know if the dates I have booked/wish to book are within the law. Please can you help me, I am going absolutely berserk?

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  •  Dot mcgowan
    2021-08-30 06:02:53
    Dot mcgowan
    When would a second 90 day period start in relation to the ending of the first period

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    •  WilliamRelph
      2021-09-24 05:13:11
      WilliamRelph
      I arrived in France on 26/08/21 to 06/10/21. I am coming back again on 30/11/21 until 15/01/22. When will I be clear to come back again.

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  •  Frank Gavin
    2021-08-27 08:34:50
    Frank Gavin
    Zoe I entered Italy on August 1, and will leaving on Oct 28 (89 days). Can i go to Ireland to stay for a month ? Thanks

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    •  Geezer
      2021-10-12 09:56:40
      Geezer
      Ireland is not privy to schengen. My 90 days are up on october 29th. Im shipping bilbao to Roslare on the 28th. This will not be included in my 90, or i would be refused entry. I will travel in Ireland🇮🇪 then ship back to the uk mid November. This will be part of my non schengen 90 in 🇬🇧 uk

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  •  Linda greenwood
    2021-08-10 10:19:13
    Linda greenwood
    If i used my 90 days by December 2nd when can i go again please

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  •  Lauren
    2021-08-04 03:41:17
    Lauren
    Hello Guys I went to Spain in January via France and the Euro Tunnel. I was not stamped into France, but i was stamped out of Spain in July, where i over stayed my welcome. If I were to fly back to Spain, as i only have an exit stamp, what is the situation. Would they know I outstayed or could i say i flew in the week before?

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  • CHRISTINE ELIZABETH
    2021-07-14 05:21:01
    CHRISTINE ELIZABETH
    when can i start a new 90/180 period after finish my last 90 /180 day ruling

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  • ANNIE F
    2021-07-07 11:13:30
    ANNIE F
    Hello , Does the 90-180 day rule apply to French people living/ residing in the UK? I look forward to your reply Many thanks Best wishes Annie

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  •  Anna Whitehead
    2021-07-04 04:35:50
    Anna Whitehead
    I am also confused about the 180/90 day rule. I was in France from 1st January to 4th April ( I couldn’t get a ferry on the last day of March) I then spent over 90 days in U.K. and am hoping to go back to France on 7th July. Until the end of September thus using up my 180 days in France.

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  • Alan Rhys-Thompson
    2021-06-13 11:11:29
    Alan Rhys-Thompson
    I think the most confusing thing is the calculation of the 180 days. For example, should I open a moon in France from July, then a second in October, are you saying a new 180 days starts at the start of the October visit? That seems unfair. Why shouldn't the 180 months be from July to end December then a new 180 days begin from January 1? Alan Rhys-Thompson

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  •  Nicolas
    2021-06-06 08:44:07
    Nicolas
    Hello, I’m so confused and wondering if you could help me: I entered Spain December 23,2020 left via paris March 4th, 2021: total of 72 days, and re entered today June 6th. Now do I have 90 fresh days again or start with 18 ? Thank you so much

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