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

 
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.

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.

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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

  •  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

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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

    REPLY

    •  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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  •  zach
    2021-08-13 01:03:42
    zach
    This is untrue. The 180 day rule does not restart. I have been a digital nomad for 4 years straight and am often in Europe, very familiar with the rules. From the date you enter the schengen, the 180 days start. In that 180 days, you can spend 90 days at any point in that time period in the schengen. Any days that you travel in or out of the schengen also count as a day in the schengen. You could spend 10 days now and then come back in a month and spend 20 days, that counts as 30 days out of your 180 days. To calculate the 180 days, you count forward from the date you first entered. The great thing is, you can go to the UK, Croatia (for now), Romania and others that do not count towards the schengen as they are not a part of it. The above article is false information.

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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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  • Michael Nicholls
    2021-07-31 10:17:52
    Michael Nicholls
    Here’s a graphical tool to help https://michaelnicholls.github.io/schengen/

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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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  • Annabel Ahluwalia
    2021-06-23 02:44:08
    Annabel Ahluwalia
    Hi Zoe, I've read your article on the 90/180 rule, and found you to be contradictory to your example of how the 180 day would restart. Which you would go on to say, that if you had previously gone away for 3 months that you wouldn't be able to, as you would be going over the 90 days. How so confusing.. Hope this suggestions helps you writing furtue articles Many thanks Annabel ,

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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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    •  zafar
      2021-08-21 10:23:57
      zafar
      Yes i am totally agreed with this article and i just want say that this article is very nice and very informative article.I will make sure to be reading your blog more. You made a good point but I can't help but wonder, what about the other side? !!!!!!THANKS!!!!!!

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