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 of 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!
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.
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. Here you find Federico’s advice about what to do if you overstay your tourist visa.
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.
For Informations how to stay a year in Australia, check out The Atlas Heart's guide.
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 another solution of a long-term visa for Europe.
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.
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.
The French embassy or consulate in your country of residence needs following documents and papers:
More documents may be required due to your individual situation and changes.
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.
Now you know, how to stay in Europe longer than three months. It is possible but it needs quite a bit of preparation. With a Schengen Visa or any long-term visa for a 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!
And here a recommendation from World in Paris: Day Tours near Paris
Join us and get a Rental Car Checklist with your subscription for our Newsletter.