Schengen Zone – Welcome to Borderless Europe
The Schengen Zone comprises of 26 European countries that have created a borderless system. The system is loosely based on the United States whereby allowing allowing freedom to travel between states/nations. At present there are 27 members, with 3 expected to join in 2019. They are: France, Spain, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Greece, Hungary and Portugal.
There are also 4 unofficial members: Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and the Vatican City. The Schengen Zone comprises of 4 non-EU countries: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. While two members of the EU: (currently) UK, and Ireland are not included.
The Schengen Zone allows travelers to spend 90 days out of 180 days as a whole. This implies that you can travel to any of the member countries for a total of 90 days, but then you must leave for 90 days to another country before you can return. However, this is where things get complicated: Many Western Countries have special bilateral agreements that are still in-effect.
For more general information: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/
The Schengen Zone: US and Canada
The Schengen zone for Americans and Canadians is generally a similar story. The 90/180 day rule applies to both, while there are a few exceptions to this. Americans can spend 90 days EACH in the following countries: Poland, Denmark and France. However according to Nomadic Matt: https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-legally-stay-in-europe-for-more-than-90-days/, these agreements specifically prohibit US citizens from flying to another Schengen country.
For Canadian citizens, at present we are unable to clarify which countries have bilateral agreements that would allow you this privilege so applying for a visa may be necessary.
If you wish to stay for longer than 90 days, then you will have to apply for a long-stay visa in your home country.
The Schengen Zone: NZ and Australia
While Americans and Canadians may have difficulty in spending extra time in the Schengen Zone, New Zealand and Australian citizens are with a privilege that very few are aware of.
Australian citizens are entitled to spend 90 days in each of the following 12 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway. This allows Australians to spend months, or even years within the Schengen Zone. However, if you visit a non-member of this list, you will be required to follow the 90/180 day visa rule. By virtue, if you are leaving the zone, you may be presented with difficulties as an overstayer if visiting a non-bilateral country. For further information on the rules: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Australian_citizens.
New Zealand citizens are the luckiest in the world. As a citizen of New Zealand you have access to 17 countries. These include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Furthermore, NZ citizens are entitled to apply for residence visas from within the Schengen zone. While some countries allow New Zealanders to apply for their visa from within country: Germany, Austria, Denmark and Hungary. New Zealand citizens must leave through Hungary if they wish to use their bilateral rights. This will protect them from any hostility, such as being accused of overstaying.
It is recommended that Australian and New Zealand citizens keep all evidence of travel, accommodation, etc to present to authorities in case of issues.
For further information about Schengen visa rules for New Zealand citizens, please read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_New_Zealand_citizens
Visas for the Schengen Zone
There are various ways to live in the zone. For New Zealand citizens, they are able to obtain a category D visa from within the Schengen Zone (a short stay 90 days visa), and then apply for residency within the country they intend to settle in. For Americans and Canadians, they must apply for a category D in their home territories, then in Europe.
While the D Visa is the principle short-stay option, each country has its own independent immigration system still. These can be complicated to maneuver so contact your local consulate for more details. And be aware that as a New Zealand or Australian citizen you may be subjected to confusion around your rights.
New Zealand and Australian citizens can approach their bilateral agreements. For example: Germany allows New Zealand citizens to apply for residency without leaving the country. Estonia and Norway allow for you to work for up to 6 months (but you must approach the police within the first 3 months), while Hungary which is not within the 90 day rule for New Zealand and Australian citizens allows you also to apply for residency within the country.
While many of these bilateral agreements are old, they are still legally in existence. Be aware that you may be challenged as the awareness of such agreements is not publicly known in general. While you may be challenged, you should be insistent and try to provide as much detail as possible.
For residency, you will be asked which category you wish to apply for. Please note that each country has a national visa option. While one nation may allow you to work as a Freelancer (France, Germany), others will not (Greece).
The Schengen Zone: Future Changes
While these rules apply now, on January 1 2021, things will change. The introduction of ETIAS, a system already in place in the US, Canada, and Australia will allow travelers to spend up to 5 years in the Schengen zone at a cost of 7 Euros.
The Schengen zone is adapting to recent changes in migrant population growth, and to ensure that it’s borders remain open, and security ensues. The adaptation of ETIAS will allow for more free flowing travel, whereby an unlimited entry will supersede the current 90/180 day rule. To learn more, visit the following official page: