The hidden nuances of the requirements of a visa-free regime: how to avoid mistakes by counting the days of stay in Schengen

2019 | 10 | 18 1421

For more than a year, Ukraine has had a visa-free travel regime in the EU countries. Over this short period, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian fellow citizens crossed the EU border without hindrance, motivating compatriots to travel actively in this direction.

Speaking about the rules of a visa-free format for crossing the border, it is impossible not to mention an important nuance - this is a requirement of “90 to 180”. The essence of this provision can be reduced to the fact that in the Schengen zone you can stay a maximum of 90 days from the existing 180-day period.

However, when considering this rule in more detail and deeply, difficulties almost always arise ... How to calculate 90 and 180 days? Do border guards take into account previous trips? Are there states whose cordon crossing is not taken into account? What threatens the occurrence of force majeure situations: when the flight of the aircraft was delayed, and the citizen flies away for 91 days? Does the rule “90 to 180” apply to citizens who study or work abroad?

How did the principle of "90 to 180"?

In the official documentation of the European Union, the short term “visa-free” has a longer name and is called liberalization of the visa regime for short-term trips of Ukrainian citizens to EU countries. Rule 90/180 was enacted in order to control trips that are not too long, not like permanent residence.

In other words, the duration of a citizen's stay in the Schengen zone should be less than his stay outside the specified territory. A similar requirement applies to a number of other states not included in the Schengen format: Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania. In the territory of these countries, the considered time principle also functions, however, within the territory of each power individually.

To avoid mistakes in practice, let's look at how this Schengen requirement applies to our compatriots who travel to the European Union in a visa-free format.

In general, over a period of 180 days, our compatriots have the full right to stay in the territory of Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days. If you plan a longer stay, you must apply for a visa or other authorization document.

Naturally, there is a small percentage of travelers who stay in the EU for more than 90 days. But making 10-15 voyages to Europe, you can easily violate this limit without knowing it.

Exceeding the allowed time period in Schengen even by one day, you can become an offender of the visa regime. The border services will be forced to carry out your deportation and put a mark prohibiting entry into the territory of the European Union as a whole and into Schengen in particular.

Layfak from non-Schengen countries

Naturally, for our tourists are also important those countries that are not included in the Schengen agreement area. These include Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Croatia. Are there any restrictions in these areas that apply to citizens traveling on a visa-free basis?

We hasten to please, the answer for the Ukrainians in this regard is extremely positive. Once again, we emphasize that the visa-free regime for our compatriots applies to travel to all EU countries, but this list does not include only the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Thus, for travel to the above non-Schengen countries, a visa is not required. Ukrainians are free to travel with biometric passports to Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. At the same time, for Ukrainian tourists, rest in non-Schengen resorts may be more preferable in terms of time restrictions. After all, the time spent on the territory of these countries is not the time spent in the Schengen zone.

It is important to mention such a nuance that each of the non-Schengen states also set a limit of 90 to 180. But at the same time, the countdown of stay is carried out by the country only on its own area, regardless of neighbors.

We will provide a good example - a simple scheme of moving around Europe - you can plan an 80-day stay in Austria or another Schengen country, after that you can go to Cyprus for 80 days, then another period for Bulgaria, and then you can again rush to the Schengen states . And although such a trip formally means that a tourist has been living in the European Union for more than 180 days, this tourist schedule does not in any way contradict the restrictions on visa-free travel. Naturally, provided that during this period you will not work in the visited powers.

How to calculate the time spent on the principle of "90 to 180"?

According to the legislation of the European Union, the calculation is carried out using a “floating window”. In other words, for 180 days there should not be a single period during which you have been in the Schengen zone for more than 91 days. The essence of the principle only offhand seems simple. In practice, calculations are more difficult and confusing. For correct costing

When you can legally be in the Schengen zone, use the following methods.

1 Method - consists in calculating the period starting from the day of return
Of course, law enforcement officials will not “hunt” you in European cities to find out if you have crossed the time limit during which you are allowed to be in the Schengen zone. Counting will be performed by border guards when leaving the Schengen country. The method under consideration is based on this.

Take a calendar, pen and piece of paper, and then “turn back the clock”, counting 180 days from the planned day of departure from Schengen. Then carefully count the days in this period during which you were in the Schengen states. To ease your task, you can calculate the number of days by focusing on the stamps in the passport that the border guards put at each crossing of the Schengen border.

If in the end you have less than 90 days, you can safely plan a trip to the Schengen area. If the counting result has exceeded 90 days, then the voyage should be postponed. In this case, it is necessary to plan an earlier moment of departure and certainly make the calculation again. Due to the nuances of the “floating window”, there is a possibility that even with a new date, the trip may be prohibited.

Ignorance of the day of departure is one of the common problems when calculating. And the point is not only that in this case it is more difficult to calculate 90 days. It is important to note that in order to travel to the European Union and not only within the framework of visa-free travel, a citizen must know at least the estimated date of departure from Schengen. Better yet, if you have on hand a ticket for the return trip. Please note that European border officials are authorized to prohibit citizens who do not know the exact day of departure from this zone from entering the Schengen zone.

2 Method - calculation is carried out using a computer


The use of technology only slightly facilitates the task. The European Commission web resource has a special online calculator. It has a convenient interface in several languages, including the Russian and English versions. Using the calculator is very simple: you must enter the days of trips to the Schengen zone in the appropriate fields. But pay attention, you must indicate past trips and the date of the proposed entry into the EU. After processing the information, the system will show how many days you can enter Schengen without violating the time limit.

But as practical experience with the calculator shows, it has an uncomfortable, complex calculation algorithm. Therefore, it will be much more rational to count the days manually, armed with a leaf and a pen.

However, you should not be disappointed, there are many alternative online services on the Internet that make it easy to count days on a 90-by-180 basis. To do this, enter the phrase “Schengen calculator” in the search box and select the best option. There are also special handy programs in Google Play and the AppStore. But whether they will give the correct result - the question remains open.

When every day is worth its weight in gold
Despite the fact that this was already mentioned in the review, even one overdue day is enough for the official deportation of the violator and execution of a ban on entry into Schengen and the European Union. Therefore, it is necessary to determine in detail which dates are taken into account for the considered limit, and which are not taken. The date of crossing the border of any Schengen country is considered a full day. No matter what the total period of time you have been in the European Union.

For example, you arrived at the territory of the Schengen state at 23:00, and at night you returned back, home - to Ukraine. Being in the EU only a few hours, this period counts as 2 days to the general Schengen period.

When planning trips, please note that the calculations are carried out according to the time zone of the state whose border the Ukrainian crosses. For example, if you leave Ukraine at 24:00 Kiev time, in Poland, the clock will show one hour less. Therefore, in this situation, a citizen receives another 1 day of legal residence in the EU.

For most travelers, this is not so important. But for active tourists, for whom every day is of great importance, it will be a nice bonus to get an extra day in the Schengen area.

Are there exceptions to the rule?

Among foreigners there are categories of citizens for whom the principle of “90 by 180” does not apply. These include those who have had or are currently holding a residence permit, have an official work or study permit, a national long-term visa or other document giving them the right to stay in the Schengen area for a long period of time. It is important to note that at the end of the validity of such a permit, days are counted from scratch, and days spent in the Schengen zone are not taken into account.

Another recommendation: when you go back to your homeland - to Ukraine, have all the supporting documentation with you. It is also preferable to travel across the edges 

tsu with that state which has issued you the permission. The argument in favor of this recommendation is simple: it is not a fact that the border guards of Germany or Austria will understand documents that are not written in their native language.

Also, in some cases, you can exceed the limit of stay due to force majeure. For example, the regular bus was delayed due to a malfunction and arrived at the border with Schengen not in the evening, but at night. And the driver can give documentary evidence of this fact.

Another example - 90 days according to the 90 by 180 rule ended yesterday, but the flight was delayed, and the tourist beat was forced to stay at the airport, in confirmation of which he was ready to provide the appropriate papers. There are many, many situations of force majeure regarding Schengen ...

It is important to note that in such circumstances, the border guard makes decisions individually. The more convincing the alien’s arguments are, which are confirmed by the availability of relevant documents, the more likely the border guard will let a citizen pass through the border with Schengen.

As practical experience shows, there are often situations when border guards on the Schengen border may not reveal that you have ended a 90-day corridor. This is due to the fact that data is not displayed in the electronic system in automatic mode. In addition, there is no unified database in Schengen that reflects the dates of arrivals and departures of foreign citizens. Each state keeps records separately from neighboring countries.

For example, in the Hungarian border service there is no information when you flew to Vienna or crossed the Polish border. To date, the only way to count the number of days spent in the Schengen zone is to count the number of stamps of arrivals / departures in the passport of a foreigner.

This is the real situation, but these flaws in the border accounting system should not be abused. The authorities of the European Union are now actively working to improve the system of accounting for border crossings of the EU as a whole and Schengen in particular. Currently, European experts are just working on the development of such a system. It is planned that its implementation will happen in 2020, and before that it will work in test mode. It is likely that information from the systems of all countries that are members of the European Union will fall into a single database.

Often violators of the requirements of “90 to 180” use two identification documents. But such foreigners are easy to identify: by name, even if they are written differently, by photos and date of birth. Schengen offenders who use existing holes in the law will soon receive unpleasant news. Despite the existing flaws in the legislative system, the key basis for a visa-free regime is our truthfulness. It should be strictly observed if we really strive for European standards - honest, fair and transparent!

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