Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

For the majority of Australians who are travelling to Europe on holidays, visas won’t be necessary as their holiday won’t be longer than two or three months, however there are rules on how long Australians can stay in Europe.

 

Australian Passport holders are, in most cases, not required to obtain a visa to visit the majority of countries in Europe as long as they don’t stay in any one country for longer than 90 days.  But, just like each individual country has its own visa requirements, so does the Schengen zone of Europe.

The Schengen Zone is a group of 26 countries that encourage free movement (and therefore no border checks) within this area as if it were a single country. Here's a list of the countries that are part of the Schengen Zone. You might be surprised to learn that the United Kingdom and Croatia are two countries that are NOT part of the Schengen Zone.

Citizens of non-Schengen member countries, in some cases, require a Schengen Visa to visit the Schengen countries.  At the time of writing, Australian Passport holders DO NOT require a Schengen Visa provided they meet some STRICT rules that apply as to how long Australians can stay in the Schengen countries.


I strongly recommend reading the European Commission's definition of entry and stay in the Schengen area HERE.

how long can australians stay in europe on holidays

 

 

How long can Australian Passport holders stay in Europe?

Generally, if you are planning on spending less than a total of 90 days within a 180 day period in the 'Schengen area'  you will not require a visa for countries which are parties to the Schengen Zone. This means that you can enter the Schengen area and move between the member countries with a single Schengen visa (in this case, it’s usually just the stamp you receive in your passport at immigration on arrival into the first Schengen country of your trip). 


If you are planning on an extended visit to Europe, though, and are likely to exceed the 90 day limit, you must apply for a Schengen Visa or be sure to leave the Schengen area so that you do not exceed the limit.

The Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website has more info for Australians visiting the Schengen Zone including details on where to apply for a Schengen Visa.

As I mentioned above, most individual European countries don’t require Australian Passport holders to obtain a visa if they are staying in the country for less than 90 days but if you are planning an extended holiday in a single country, this article explains more about visa requirements for travellers to Europe.


Turkey is an exception as Australian travellers are required to obtain a tourist visa to the country.  Find out more here.

Rules and regulations can change, so my advice is to check the Smart Traveller website when you start your Europe holiday planning, regardless of how long you are intending to stay, just to be sure you won't require a visa.

 

UPDATE 4 August, 2017:  After receiving the comment below from Austraveller, I contacted both the Swedish and Danish Embassies in Canberra to find out more about their bi-lateral agreements for Australians.  They replied:


“Dear Carolyn,
 
We do not have any information on our website that can confirm this and I have asked for information regarding this. We normally state to individuals that wish to travel an extended time in Sweden the following, please note that each person SHOULD contact the Embassy of Sweden or the Norwegian/Danish Embassy to get this confirmed before they travel as these agreements could change.
 
We inform the following;
All Australian/New Zealand citizens are visa free to the Schengen Zone (all countries signed in the Schengen agreement, see this link; http://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy/schengen_area_en.pdf) for 90 days within a 180 day period.
 
Sweden and Australia/New Zealand have a bilateral visa wavier agreement with which allows Australian/New Zealand citizens to enter into Sweden for an additional 3 months once the 90 visa free days have been used. The agreement states that you can only claim the bilateral 3 months if you have not used any of the visa free 90 Schengen days in Sweden (or Denmark and Norway). You might be asked to prove that you have used your 90 visa free days in other countries when you enter into Sweden so it is of importance that you either have your passport stamped or save proof of travel.”

 

Dear Carolyn,
 
Thank you for your enquiry.
 
On the “New to Denmark” website you will find all relevant information regarding visas to Denmark. Please see the following link: https://www.nyidanmark.dk/en-us/coming_to_dk/visa/visa.htm.
 
There is a bilateral waiver agreement between Denmark and Australia. Please see the Embassy’s website: http://australien.um.dk/en/travel-and-residence/short-stay-visas/bilateral-visa-agreements/ (Note: Link updated 7 November, 2017) For any questions regarding the bilateral visa agreements, the Danish Immigration Service can be contacted on tel. +45 35 36 66 00.
 
If travellers are not governed by the visa-free travel and bilateral agreement conditions, they must seek a visa to enter Denmark through VFS Global.
 
If you have further questions regarding visas to Denmark, we kindly refer you to VFS Global who handles all visa enquiries to Denmark. (See the above link for further information.)

 
I encourage anyone who plans to overstay the regulation 90 day limit to get written confirmation (before they travel) from an Embassy that offers a bilateral visa waiver agreement to Australians that they won't be breaking any rules.

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Comments   

# Kylie OReilly 2018-04-30 19:28
Hi, my husband and I are planning a 6 to 8mth trip in a van throughout Europe. We will be departing from Switzerland (Currently residing here). We plan to hand in our Swiss permits and travel to
Italy, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, France, Morrocco, Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland, Scotland, Belguim, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland Norway.

I understand that with the Schengen Visa we have up to 180 days in a Schengen visa area, however, If we leave this area and then return a few months later will the 180 days start again? eg: 2mths Italy/Greece then we leave and head into Croatia, Montenegro for a 1mth and then head back into Schengen country would the 180 days start again?
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# John W 2018-05-02 13:07
Hi Kylie.

The advise from Carolyn is incorrect. The 90 days starts when you enter a Schengen Country and is paused when you leave a Schengen Country, it restarts when you reenter a Schemgen Country again. So if you go to France lets say for 80 days, you go to the UK (Non-Schengen) for a month, now it's longer than 90 days since you first entered france but because the schengen 90 days was paused when you left for the UK, you still have 10 days left on your Schengen visa.

The easiest way to look at it is this, take the day you want to enter or re-enter the Schengen Zone, then look back on a calendar 180 days, count how many days in that 180 days you have been in the Schengen Zone. 90 minus the number of days you have already been in in that period is how long you have left.

Sounds confusing but here's an example.

5th of May you enter the Schengen Zone, you stay for four weeks (28 days) and leave 30th May. You go to the UK or another 28 days, then you want to want to go to Germany on 27th of June. So count back 180 days from 27th June, and see how many days you have been in the Schengen Zone and its 28. So 90-28 =62 days left.

Say though that you stay for another 12 days and have 50 days left, you leave the Schengen Zone on the 9th of July for 60 days. Now it the 9th of September. You want to know how long you have left, so its the 9th of September minus 180 days which is the 11th of June. So now you see how many days between the 11th of June and the 9th of September (your proposed return date) you have been in the Schengen Zone. In this example the first day you entered in this 180 day period is 27th of June and you only stayed for 12 days, so now you take 90 day minus 12 days and you have 78 days left.

I hope that made sense, I made it sound more confusing that it is. To help with addition and subtraction of days go to https://www.timeanddate.com/date/dateadd.html
There are apps to help with this too, just search Schengen in the app store. Good luck :)
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# Carolyn 2018-05-02 13:43
Hi John,

Thanks for the explanation, however I think Kylie was referring to when the 180 day period starts and finishes, not how to calculate the 90 days within that 180 days that she is allowed to stay in the Schengen zone.

This article on the European Commission website is useful - if you click on the 'User's guide' link it explains the 180 day period, which appears to now be a 'Moving' 180 day period:

https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy/schengen_area_en

If it were me, I would be contacting the Italian Embassy/Consula te (if that is the first Schengen country you will be visiting) and asking for written confirmation about the 180 day start and finish period.
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# Carolyn 2018-05-02 11:47
Hi Kylie,
Wow, your European trip sounds great! My understanding is that the 180 day period commences from the day you first arrive in a Schengen country and even if you enter a non-Schengen country before the 180 day period is up, it is still accumulating (ie. it does not stop). I am not qualified to advise on specific rules about travelling in the Schengen countries, this is just my interpretation of the rules. Hopefully you can determine the correct answer on the official website: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/
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# Eunice 2018-02-18 21:00
Hi Carolyn,

I will be taking a gap year and travelling mainly around Europe for the whole year (buying a van and driving all around). As I will definitely be staying in Shengen countries for more than 90 days in the 6 month period, what way do I have around this? Should I be strategic and plan to go to non schengen countries for the other 90 days and then return to the schengen countries once the new 6 month period rolls over? Or research countries that have a special agreement with Australians that allow further stay after the 90 days? Would a 2 year UK working visa (even though I have no intention of working) allow me access to all of schengen and non schengen countries without any barriers (and not have to worry about the 90 day limit)?
I have an Australian passport.

Thanks, Eunice
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# Carolyn 2018-02-20 17:43
Hi Eunice,

Your trip sounds great. 12 months travelling around Europe in a van sounds like a fabulous way to explore the continent.

As far as staying in the Schengen zone goes, my advice would be to consult the embassies of some of the Schengen countries to see if they have any bilateral agreements with Australia (such as the Scandinavian countries mentioned above). This article (http://www.traveller.com.au/how-the-schengen-and-bilateral-agreements-between-australia-and-europe-allows-travellers-to-stay-almost-indefinitely-h0ufui) also mentions that Germany has an agreement with Aussies, so that would be worth investigating, too. I'd definitely recommend getting any advice you receive from the embassies in writing and carrying that with you when you travel. An Aussie traveller I know was recently deported from the EU for over staying the 90 day period - it caused him plenty of grief.

Likewise with the UK working visa, I'd suggest you contact the British High Commission/Emba ssy in Australia as only they can give accurate advice on the conditions of a working visa.

All the best for a great trip.
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# Eunice Ng 2018-02-20 20:43
Hi Carolyn,

Thank you so much for your reply. I will look into individual countries to see if there are any bilateral agreements.I understand this is a way to avoid having to purchase any visa.

However, if I got a Schengen Visa, what does that give me access to after the 90 days? Can I travel in the Schengen zone for as long as I like?

Thanks,
Eunice
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# Carolyn 2018-02-21 17:06
This website can (hopefully) answer your questions, Eunice:

https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-types/
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# Eugene 2018-01-20 22:39
Hi everyone, trying to get precise information on the Schengen visa is like trying to round up cats. I am an Australian. In the last three years I have walked the France, Spanish & Portuguese Caminos. Each time I was under the 90 day period. I had never heard of the Schengen visa until this year in which I plan to walk the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome (France, Switzerland & Italy). I intend to be in Europe for a total of 5 months. Straight question: do I need a Schengen visa?
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# Carolyn 2018-01-22 15:28
My understanding is that yes, you will need to obtain a Schengen visa unless you plan to leave the Schengen countries after your initial 90 day stay or can obtain a long stay visa for one of the three countries you will be visiting.
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# Davif 2017-12-19 16:50
Just to clarify, if I start a 6 month period on lets say, January 1 it will last until July 1st, or until 180 days later?

And if so, I exit the Schengen on June 30 and come back on July 2nd, I am okay because I'm effectively starting a 'new' 6 month period?

Thanls
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# Carolyn 2017-12-19 17:24
I'd recommend you clarify this with the Embassy of the country in which you plan to re-enter the Schengen zone after your original 90 day stay to avoid any confusion or penalty. There's also a short stay visa calculator on the European Commission's website (link following) that may be helpful: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/content/visa-calculator_en
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# Thea 2017-10-24 18:20
Hi everyone! I have been in incredible amounts of stress on this topic as I will be overstaying my long stay visa type D with France by 6 days. The reason I was extending was to stay for Christmas in Denmark (the day my visa expires). Reading this information (and some of my own), I am reassured that I can legally stay in Denmark for Christmas! Thank you so much for this very helpful information!
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# james 2018-01-13 12:34
Hi Thea,
was it easy to obtain a long term visa for France?
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# Carolyn 2017-10-25 10:44
Hi Thea,
Glad this info helps. I would strongly recommend contacting the Danish Embassy nearest to you to confirm your specific situation with them. It's better to be safe than sorry.
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# Dennis 2017-09-11 16:19
Very informative Carolyn.

Just to clarify, I want to spend 6 months in Germany next year as a cycling tourist. This visa can be obtained from the German Embassy in Australia?

Thanks, Dennis
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# Carolyn 2017-09-13 10:31
Glad you found the article helpful, Dennis.
Yes, I think the first step in order to obtain the Schengen visa would be to contact the German Embassy and discuss your situation with them. Simon has provided some contact details below.
I'd love to hear how you get on.
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# simon 2017-07-28 21:04
This is true for Denmark and also Germany! Very little amount of people know this but I have confirmed as of july 28 2017 that there is bilateral agreement with German Australia that over-rides Schengen Visa free rules. See email and contacts below to confirm for your self If you don't believe it.

''First, please find the bilateral agreement between Germany and Australia attached.
According to the agreement Australian citizen may stay in Germany for 90 days after every entrance into Germany. Theoretically it does not matter if you enter Germany via a third country (non-Schengen Country, e.g. United Kingdom, Ireland) or another Schengen country (e.g. France). Nevertheless you have to proof that you did not already stayed in the Schengen countries for longer than 90 days continuously. As there are no bourder controls within the Schengen area, this can be really difficult to proof!!
So, you need to be able to proof exactly where you stayed for how long. You may proof that with Hotel bills & train tickets (all in your name), but the easiest way is to exit the Schengen area altogether before the 90 days run out and re-enter into Germany for another max. 90 days stay (in Germany). With the border crossing stamps (receiving when leaving and arriving to/from outside of the Schengen states) you may proof easily that you did not extend you stay more than 90 days.
You may print this mail and use it while being checked within Germany.

Please be aware that this special regulation applies for your stay in Germany only, so make sure that you leave Europe from Germany after entering for your extended stay!!!

In case of further questions please do not hesitate to ask at either:
Federal Police Headquarters – Bundespolizeipräsidium
Section 22 (Border Police Affairs) - Referat 22 (Grenzpolizeili che Aufgaben)
Heinrich-Mann-A llee 10 in 14473 Potsdam
ph.: +49 (0)331 97997-2213
fax: +49 (0)331 97997-1010
email: [email protected]
www.bundespolizei.de

or
Consulate-General of the Federal Republic of Germany Sydney
http://www.australien.diplo.de/Vertretung/australien/en/01/GK-Sydney/Anschrift-Oeffnungszeiten-Erreichbarkeit/0-Address-Opening-hours-etc.html
email: [email protected]

If it is still unclear you might give us a call. Best time to call is Monday to Friday 7-8am or 12-1pm.

Please feel free to contact me for further assistance.
Kind Regards,''


They even sent a pdf from German embassy in Australia completely confirming it. And to top it of I spoke on the phone to German federal police in Berlin and they also confirmed that technically you could fly into Germany and spend 180 days straight in germany with no Visa as an Australian citizen!
Its even better if you hold New Zealand passport as they have more agreements with other EU states!
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# Tony 2018-06-10 01:00
Hi Simon, Would it be possible for you to forward me that pdf from the German embassy confirming all of this? It would be a big help!
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# Carolyn 2017-08-04 14:31
Thanks for this info, Simon. It sounds like there are a few options for Australian travellers who wish to stay in Europe's Schengen states for more than 90 days.

(I've just updated the article with details I received from the Swedish Embassy in Canberra, too.)
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# Austraveller 2017-05-24 02:09
I was recently coming to the end of a long stay in Europe where I expected to exceed the 90 days but found this:

https://www.nyidanmark.dk/en-us/coming_to_dk/visa/Visa_free_travel.htm

which says that Denmark allows Aus citizens to stay for 90 days regardless of how long they have spent in other Schengen countries.
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# Carolyn 2017-05-25 13:58
Thanks for the link. It sounds like there is a bi-lateral agreement in place with the Scandinavian countries. I contacted the Swedish embassy in Australia and am waiting for them to get back to me with further details. Once I have the confirmed information, I will update the article accordingly.
Hope you had a great trip.
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# Kim 2017-05-17 18:48
Things change but as of today (17/5/2017) I've had advice from the Swedish/Danish & Norwegian embassy in Canberra that an Australian passport holder can spend 90 days in the 180 day period in a southern Schengen country (Italy) then head north and spend a further 90 days in total in the above countries.

Everything I have read said this wasn't possible along with advice from the Australian embassy in Rome however, my travel agent contacted these embassies directly and they came back with confirmation via email.

If you want to spend more than 90 days in a 180 day period do 90 days south and then 90 days north. I only checked for 90 days in Italy then further time in Sweden, Norway & Denmark, others maybe different.

Happy & safe travelling
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# Carolyn 2017-05-18 17:29
Thanks for this update, Kim. I have never heard of this before and the official Schengen website still states that "The Uniform Schengen Visa stands for a permit of one of the Schengen Area Member Countries to transit or reside in the desired territory for a certain period of time up to the maximum of 90 days every six month period starting from the date of entry." From what you've been told, I can only assume that Sweden, Norway and Denmark have their own interpretation of the visa requirement.

For my own peace of mind (and that of my readers), I will also ask the Swedish/Danish & Norwegian embassy to confirm this, and I'll update this post when I have an answer.

Have a great trip.
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