How To Stay In Europe Longer Than Three Months

You want to know how to stay longer in Europe than three months with a Schengen visa? Or, want to apply for a long-term visa and travel Europe unlimited? Here you will find how we managed to get a long-term visa in France and how to get a residence permit.

How to stay in Europe longer than three months with a Schengen visa or a long-term visa. Visa requirements and provisional residence permit in France.

Applying for visa’s is such a pain. Every time we traveled to Europe during the last few years we had to get a Schengen Visa. The amount on paperwork and fees was extensive! And, what are a little quarter of a year when you want to see large parts of Europe?! We needed to find out, how to stay in Europe longer than three months!

How To Stay In Europe Longer Than Three Months With A Multiple Entry Schengen Visa

The EU and a few additional countries made up the Schengen Zone Visa System. Non EU citizen can spend a total of 90 days within half a year in the Schengen Zone Countries with the exception of England, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

Map Of The Schengen Area

There is no way you can extend your Schengen visa. After you stayed a maximum of three months in the Schengen Area you HAVE TO leave.

But, no worries! We figured out how to stay in Europe longer than three months! Check out which country or countries outside of the Schengen area admit you easiest with your nationality as by visa and what duration you are allowed to stay as a tourist.

We decided in 2015 to apply for an additional visa to visit Great Britain, because the UK visa is for half a year and the country is big enough to enjoy for that amount of time. Also Ireland is just a short ferry trip away. For South Africans like George, no visa is required for the first three months.

Of course you can do the same with a total of three months visit of Croatia, enjoying the countries stunning Adriatic coastline, a trip to Bulgaria or an extended stay in Romania. After three months you can return with your multiple entry Schengen visa and continue your European journey within the Schengen area for another three months, before you have to leave again.

How To Stay In Europe Longer Than Three Months With A Long Term Visa

I have to admit that the solution to stay in Europe with a Schengen visa for more than three months is not very flexible and quite exhausting. You have to check your schedule meticulously so not to overstay your Schengen visa. Possibly you need to apply for additional visas for countries outside of the Schengen area. We got tired of doing the whole visa application marathon over and over again and searched for an other solution of a long term visa for Europe.

Which Countries In Europe Allow Tourists To Stay Longer Than Three Months?

Although in the same visa treaty zone, visa requirements vary from country to country. Only a few countries offer long-term visas and these are the countries you have to go for. Because of my ties to France with a holiday home we decided to try France for a long-term visa. At the time that we were looking for a stay in Europe longer than three months, also Sweden and Italy offered long-term visas for tourists. Spain and Portugal were an option for retirees.

Visa requirements change occasionally.

To find out how to stay in Europe longer than three months, you will need to check the actual visa information of the respective countries. It is more likely that requirements will become stricter in the future.

How To Stay In Europe Longer Than Three Months: Get A Long-Term Visa For France

Get ready for a lot of paperwork for the French visa application! Normally it’s required to apply from the relevant French embassy or consulate in your country of residence. It is not possible to come to France without a long-term visa and then to apply within the country for a residence permit. The French authorities will require such persons to return to their country of residence to apply for the appropriate visa.

Exceptions are made though, for example if you are accompanying a relative who is an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen. In this case the visa is free-of-charge and you can apply directly for a provisional residence permit (carte de séjour) at the local préfecture in France within two months of your arrival.

An extensive guide in English what long-term visas are available in France and to what requirements you find on EXPATICA.

Requirements For A Long Stay Visa For France

The French embassy or consulate in your country of residence needs following documents and papers:

  • Passport signed and valid 3 months after the last day of stay + 3
    photocopies (The consulate will not keep the passport, only the
    copies)
  • 4 Application Form Long Stay Visa
  • 5 identity photographs (3.5 cm wide / 4.5 cm high)
  • Financial guarantee* such as:
    – formal letter of reference from your bank showing
    account numbers and balances or recent bank, savings or
    brokerage account statements (3 copies)
    – if you wish to retire in France, proof of sufficient income:
    pension, dividends, savings, band and brokerage account
    statements (3 copies)
  • Proof of medical insurance with coverage valid in France (3 copies)
  • Police clearance: document obtained from the Police Department of
    the place of residence with no criminal record (3 copies)
  • Letter certifying that you will not have any paid activity in France
  • Visa fee

More documents may be required due to your individual situation and changes.

*Proof of Financial Resources

Proof of financial resources or support can take the form of bank statements, letters from banks confirming arrangements for regular transfers of funds, letters from family or friends guaranteeing regular support or a “certificat d’hébergement” from a French family or friends with whom you will be staying in France. (Letters and documents should be notarized).

How to apply for a provisional residence (carte de séjour) permit in France

George is South African passport holder and entered France with a Schengen visa. As mentioned above, he was able to apply directly for a provisional residence permit (carte de séjour)  at the local prefecture because  I’m a Swiss citizen. Most of you won’t have that option and have to start the visa process in your home country, unless you get married or PACSed with an Europeen citizen.
You need the following basic documents (others may be required in individual cases):
  • Valid passport with long-stay visa (with photocopy of passport title page and French visa page)
  • A Birth Certificate or equivalent. George couldn’t get a birth certificate from South Africa in time. We provided proof that we had applied for it more than half a year earlier
  • Three black & white passport-type photographs (3.5cm x 4.5cm)
  • Proof of financial resources (applicable in all cases)
  • Medical Insurance/Medical certificate issued by a doctor approved by the French Consulate; full translation of a medical insurance made by a sworn translator (in some cases)
  • Proof of place of residence (utility bill or confirmation of the mayor, where you live)
  • For those who are married, a marriage certificate or if married in France “livret de famille”.
  • proof of French bank account (in some cases)
  • Two self-addressed and stamped envelopes.

If the authorities want more documents they’ll return all your transmitted papers to you and you will have to add the required information to the pile to return it by mail. It sounds awfully complicated but it’s how the authorities keep all the documents together.

It’s important that you add always a sufficiently stamped, big envelope to proceed.

The Préfecture in Mâcron which belongs to the department where we live, was pretty well organized with friendly employees and average waiting times. But then, we are used to the worst organized governmental offices in Africa and are easy to please.

Travelling Europe unlimited

Now you know, how to stay in Europe longer than three months. It is possible but it needs quite a bit of preparations. With a Schengen Visa or any long-term visa for an European country and Switzerland you are able to travel the whole of Europe unlimited! Most of the countries don’t have border controls anymore and you are allowed to stay as long as your visa for the other European country lasts. The visa is worthwhile the effort. And with every time you practice to apply for visas, you’ll get faster!

Read what beautiful places in Europe you will be able to visit. The anticipation will decrease the annoyance of the visa application process!

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Author: Marcelle Simone Heller

I’m searching for natural beauty and wilderness, while I’m travelling relentlessly to find delightful places and encounters with wildlife. I try to capture the thrill of the moments in photography and words, hoping to inspire others with the love for animals and nature.

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