We often heard about European Union or in short called the EU, but to travel long term, EU is not really the subject or concern that we need to know.
In order to travel long term in Europe, all you need to know is which countries are in the Schengen Zone and which are not, simple as that.
Schengen Zone makes traveling in Europe easier but at the same time makes it difficult if you plan to travel long term.
28 Countries under the Schengen Zone are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
A country in the European Union does not mean it is in the Schengen Zone and vice versa.
You are only allowed to stay 90 days in a 180 days period in Schengen Zone.
Lets say a year has 360 days so every half a year you can travel 90 days in countries under the Schengen Zone.
The counter starts when you first enter a Schengen country and paused when you travel to a non Schengen country then continues again when you enter another Schengen country.
The counter restarts when the first 180 days period is reached, you should leave a Schengen Zone few days to a week before the 180 days period expires and enter again when the new 180 days period starts.
So in one year you can only travel long term in Schengen Zone for 180 days.
If you do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone, then you have the multiple entry privilege else you need to check the conditions stated in your visa.
Countries that do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone are Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela and person holding a BNO passport from Hong Kong or Macau.
United Kingdoms and Ireland are in the EU but not the Schengen Zone, so they both have their own maximum length of stay and visa requirements.
Most passports are allowed to stay 6 months in a 12 months period in United Kingdom and 3 months in a 6 months period in Ireland.
Under the Common Travel Area agreement, one of the two above will be used.
If you first arrive in UK by air you will be granted to stay 6 months in the whole Common Travel Area, which includes UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and other Channels Islands.
Example if you already spend 4 months in UK and decide to travel to Ireland, you can only stay 2 months in Ireland instead of 3 months.
Another example will be if you first arrive in Ireland by air you will be granted to stay 3 months. You stayed 2 months in Ireland and decided to take a ferry (does not have passport control) through the English Channel to UK.
You can now only stay 1 month in the UK! You can stay 4 months if you fly over.
To simplify things, just plan your first arrival to be in UK so that you have 6 months staying allowance in the Common Travel Area.
The Balkan States is the place you can go to when you run out of staying allowance in the Schengen Zone and Common Travel Area.
Balkan States consist of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Kosovo and Serbia.
Most passports are allowed to stay 90 days in a 180 days period in each Balkan country.
The Balkan States alone allows you to travel 1 year in Europe; you can also strategically mix them with Schengen Zone and Common Travel Area to give you more stay allowance in the whole of Europe /: )
This sounds like playing a game wahahaha but anyway, the below passport holders can pause their Schengen Zone Counter when in the respective Schengen Zone countries.
New Zealand Passport: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Israel and South Korea Passport: Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland.
United States of America Passport: Denmark and Poland.
Chile and Malaysia Passport: Czech Republic and Denmark.
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Singapore Passport: Denmark only.
Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay Passport: Czech Republic only.
PS: Time spent in other Nordic Countries will count against the time permitted in Denmark. Nordic countries are Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland.
Microstates like Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City and Andorra are not under the Schengen Zone but all have open border with neighboring Schengen countries like Spain, France or Italy respectively.
Entering microstate from the open border does not require you to have additional visa but the days spent will be counted in your Schengen Zone counter.
Turkey and Cyprus are good choices to do so. I specially recommend Turkey as it is vibrant and gives you a different experience in terms of culture, food, people and sceneries while you are in Europe.
Best is that it is cheaper than most European Countries.
Other common choices are Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Israel as they are destination of some European budget airlines.
When traveling between countries under Schengen Zone, you do not have to pass through passport control just like flying domestic, but there are exceptional.
Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are under the Schengen Zone but not an EU member, therefore you need to go through passport control on arrival regardless of where you depart from.
If you are flying into the Schengen Zone or Europe from countries outside the Council of Europe, then it is advisable to prepare an outbound ticket.
Example when I am flying from Malaysia to France, the airline demanded for an outbound/return ticket or else I cannot board the plane.
So before your journey, check which airline offers the lowest ticket refund charges, buy the ticket on the spot if you are being refused from boarding and refund it afterwards.
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