• Regulation Changes How Short-Term Stay Limits Are Calculated
  • August 8, 2013
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • A European regulation taking effect October 18, 2013 will change how the maximum cumulative stay period is calculated for short-term non-EEA visitors to the Schengen Area - an issue that had been subject to varying interpretations and inconsistent application across Schengen countries and ports of entry.

    Foreign nationals making short-term visits to Schengen countries, whether with a visa or visa-exempt, are generally limited to a maximum possible stay of 90 days within a 180-day period. After the regulation takes effect, border officials will calculate the 180-day period by counting backwards from the date the traveler enters a Schengen country. The length of the traveler’s proposed stay plus the duration of all prior stays within that 180-day period must equal 90 days or less. Days spent in the Schengen Area under a residence permit or long-stay visa will not against the 90-day maximum. (Visa nationals may be granted a stay period shorter than 90 days, as immigration officials have the discretion to grant a shorter duration of stay that is consistent with the purpose of their trip.)

    Under European case law a traveler’s maximum stay is currently calculated by counting 180 days forward from the date of his or her first entry to the Schengen Area or from every new entry after the expiration of 180 days from an earlier date of first entry. When inspecting frequent travelers, border officials face difficulties in determining the date of first entry and the number of days already spent in the Schengen Area. As a result, travelers are sometimes unexpectedly denied entry by Schengen countries for exceeding the 90 days within a 180 days limit. The greater clarity provided by the new regulation would become increasingly important if the European Union adopts a proposed electronic entry and exit tracking system.

    Passport Requirements for Non-EU Nationals

    The regulation also formalizes passport requirements for non-EU nationals traveling to the Schengen Area. Travelers must present a passport issued within the previous 10 years and that is valid for at least three months after a traveler’s intended departure date. The regulation should not have a significant impact on travelers, because similar requirements are already in place in most, if not all, Schengen countries.