Unlimited visa in Europe. For Free. Maybe.

I spent nine out the last 12 months in Europe. 90 days in the Schengen area. Then 95 days out of the Schengen, in Belarus. Then 90 days in the Schengen. Words cannot describe how much I love Europe, in summer, in winter, anytime, always.

Owing only to my lack of resourcefulness at the time, I left the continent altogether after 270+ days. I didn’t want to leave, yet I couldn’t see the way forward, legally speaking anyway. My personal innovation in the important fields of cash flow + visas were at a standstill.

So. I’m now back in Australia half-planning my return to Europe later this year. I did some more research. I wrote to Embassies and Consulates. I read many forums on this very topic. Most were very helpful. Many were not so recent. But that’s ok, they helped too. I wanted to somehow add value to this body of information and hopefully help a few more people in the process. So the least I could do (for now) was offer the information I have found:

  1. Australia has in place bilateral visa agreements with approximately 17 countries (TBC) within Europe (listed below), predominantly formed after World War II, in the 1950’s and 60’s. These agreements differ from, and remain separate from the visa laws under the Schengen Agreement;
  2. In summary, these bilateral agreements generally allow visa-free travel for Australians for ‘a period of up to 3 months’ (now widely written and accepted as 90 days).
  3. In theory, these agreements mean that an Australian passport holder can legally move between the countries (listed below) continuously (potentially indefinitely) staying a maximum of 90 days in each.For the countries (especially Nordic countries) that limit the agreement to ’90 days in every 180 day period’ (akin to the Schengen ruling, but wholly separate), this means (in theory) that an Australian passport holder could spend 90 days in Norway, then 90 days in Germany, then 90 days in the Netherlands, (then return to Norway) OR, then 90 days in Spain, then 90 days in Italy.. and so on. By this time, the 180 day period clearly ‘refreshes’ in the Nordic areas, or indeed in any other the countries visited earlier on that enforce the 180 day period (again, wholly separate from the Schengen ruling).Again, in theory, these agreements allow for an unlimited time to be travelling amongst their respective countries, without the necessity to leave the Schengen area.If one spends time in the listed countries (on the premise of the bilateral agreements), then travels to a Schengen country that does not have a bilateral agreement with Australia, it stands to reason that the conditions of the Schengen Agreement commence at that point (the rule also being 90 days in a 180 day period, which is a ‘rolling’ calculation that counts backwards 180 days from today’s date).Ultimately, these bilateral agreements are visa treaties. Just as the Schengen Agreement is a visa treaty. They are interpreted separately. They carry legal weight. They possess their own powers and functions, which are only enforceable and honoured by the participating countries. Travelling under the terms of the bilateral agreements means precisely that. The Schengen rules are separate, and essentially ‘not applicable’ (I use that term judiciously) if the travel remains amongst countries Australia has bilateral agreements with. However, travelling to a country within the Schengen (without a bilateral agreement) then means that you will then be under the terms of the Schengen visa (unless you have another visa option based on age, study, work etc).
  4. As I understand (and will gradually confirm, as correspondence from the various Embassies arrives), most of the bilateral agreements follow the intended meaning of the arrangement with The Netherlands as follows…

This information was received from the Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ministry of Affairs, Sydney Australia (emailed dated 21 April, 2015):

a). …”the Australia and Dutch government have made an agreement which states that Australian passport holders can stay in the Netherlands for an extra 90 days without the need for a visa, AFTER visiting other Schengen states. However, these 90 days are only vaild/applicable if the Netherlands is the last Schengen state to be visited.

b) This means that an Australian passport holder can stay in the Schengen zone for a time limit of between 1 and 90 days and after that can spend an additional 90 days in the Netherlands

An example of what is possible/allowed: 

– An Australian passport holder flies to London and continues to Germany. He travels through Schengen (outside of the Netherlands) for the first 90 days. After this trip he can stay another 90 days in the Netherlands and fly out of the Schengen zone using a Netherlands airport or by boat from a Netherlands marine port. 

An example of what is not possible/not allowed:

 – An Australian passport holder flies to the Netherlands, travels from there through Schengen and then returns to the Netherlands. This person cannot stay an additional 90 days in the Netherlands.

 To summarise; it is not possible to have a (connecting) flight into the Netherlands, from there travel to any of the Schengen states and subsequently stay an extra 90 days in the Netherlands. The first entry point and the first 90 days of stay in the Schengen zone have to be outside of the Netherlands if you want to make use of this special agreement….”

It should be noted that this explanation does not acknowledge that Australia has similar agreements with other countries within the Schengen. (Simply put, separate countries’ visa laws are not required to reference each other).

Stuff…

Given the technical nature of the content, I decided not to paraphrase, summarise or condense any of the information. However, the details and conditions of the agreements appear quite straight forward.

Maybe someone more diagrammatically-skilled can to do a picture diagram or flow chart to better explain it… I will give it a try!

I’m happy to forward on the email correspondence I have received. Yet I always recommend confirming the Embassies yourself, just to be sure that the information you act upon is current.

I will endeavour to keep this information updated. And of course please offer any ideas or comments on my interpretations. Passing forward my gratitude.

Country Agreement / Notes Days Confirmed via Consulate/Embassy

 

Austria 1 April, 1956:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1956/8.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Austria)

90 Yes (via Dutch Consular advice)
Belgium 25 August, 1951:

‘Two months.’ (60 days).

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1951/6.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Belgium)

60 Yes (via Dutch Consular advice)
France 1 August, 1999:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1999/11.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(France)

NB. The French-Australian agreement was made after the Schengen Agreement. Therefore, it is the only one I am aware of that makes reference to the Schengen convention. The agreement could be interpreted as such that entry to France after having spent 90 days in the Schengen is not permitted. However, it should be noted that the agreement does not ‘have to’ acknowledge other bilateral agreements held between other European countries and Australia. Therefore, remember to consider the wording and meaning of the Dutch agreement (above) in deciphering this one. (i.e. The 90 day bilateral agreements stand distinctly separate from the Schengen laws).

“…Citizens of Australia shall be allowed to enter metropolitan and overseas French departments, on presentation of a valid national diplomatic, official or ordinary passport, not bearing a visa, for stays of up to three months per period of six months. When they enter the European territory of the Republic of France after having stayed in the territory of one or several States party to the Convention on the Application of the Schengen Agreement, dated 19 June 1990, the three month period shall take effect from the date of crossing the external frontier delimiting the area of free movement constituted by those States…”

 

90 TBC
Germany 1 January, 1953:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1953/1.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Germany)

“There is a visa waiver agreement between Germany and Australia which allows Australians to spend up to three months in Germany, without reference to time spent in other Schengen area countries. Citizen from other countries needs to wait 90 days to be able to re-enter the Schengen states, but the agreement is a special agreement between Germany and Australia and is designed for Australians travelling through the Schengen states, who want to stay another 90 days in Germany. You just need to make sure that you leave the Schengen area before your first 90days are over. You need to leave the Schengen area to a non-Schengen Country such as England…then you are able again to enter Germany for another 90 days (but Germany ONLY and DEPARTURE from Germany!).”

(email from German Consulate in Australia 9/6/2015).

90 Yes

(via email 9/6/2015)

Italy 1 August, 1951:

‘…three consecutive months… may re-enter Italy without a visa only after an absence of a period of one month…’

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1951/5.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Italy)

90 Yes (via Dutch Consulate advice)
Luxembourg 5 October, 1951:

‘2 months’ (60 days)

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1961/18.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Spain)

60 Yes (via Dutch Consulate advice)
Netherlands 1 April, 1951:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1951/4.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Netherland)

syd@minbuza.nl

90 Yes

(21/04/15)

Portugal 1 May, 1963:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1963/9.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Portugal)

 90 Agreement no longer valid (via Dutch Consulate advice)
Spain 27 October, 1961:

90 days.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1961/18.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Spain)

90 Agreement no longer valid (via Dutch consulate advice).
Nordic Countries
Denmark 1 May, 1952:

Similarly, this is the information received from the Danish Immigration Service in Australia via email (dated 21 April, 2015):

“….citizens of Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the US can freely enter and stay in Denmark for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, regardless of whether they have stayed in another Schengen country prior to entry to Denmark. The 90 days are counted from the entry date into Denmark or any other Nordic country. If you have previously spent time in Denmark or another Nordic country within the previous 180 days, that time will be deducted from the 90-day maximum…”

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1952/3.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Denmark)

visa@us.dk

90 Yes

(21/04/15)

Finland 1 March, 1961:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1961/3.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Finland)

90 Yes (via email January, 2017)
Iceland 1 May, 1969:

90 days (total for all Nordic countries).

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1969/10.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Iceland)

NB. Excerpt from above link: Australian citizens possessing valid Australian passports who desire to enter Iceland as bona fide non-immigrants may enter Iceland without a visa. Those who wish to stay in Iceland for more than three months after their entry into one of the countries party to the Convention between Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway dated 12 July 1957[1], to which Iceland has acceded with effect from 1 January 1966, regarding the abolition of Passport Control at Inter-Nordic Boundaries, from a country not a party to the said Convention shall apply for a residence permit in Iceland.

90 TBC
Norway 19 November, 1951:

90 days (total for all Nordic countries).

Based on the wording received from the Norwegian Royal Embassy in Australia via email (dated 23 April, 2015) :

“… please be advised that there is currently a separate bilateral agreement between Norway and Australia allowing stays for up to 90 days visa-free in Norway in addition to any days spent in a non-Nordic Schengen country. As a consequence Australian citizens will not be refused entry to Norway due to time spent in e.g. Spain. Whether or not non-Nordic countries such as Spain will disregard time spent in Nordic countries before entering Spain must be confirmed with the Spain immigration authorities… “ 

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1951/16.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Norway)

NB. This agreement actually makes reference to a visa-free period of ‘2 months’. I am investigating.

However, Norwegian Immigration confirmed (as above; April, 2015) that an agreement is in place for a 90 day period, regardless of time spent in non-Nordic Schengen countries prior to arriving in Norway.

 

emb.canberra.consular@mfa.no

90 Yes

(23/04/2015)

Sweden 11 November, 1951:

From email received from the Swedish Embassy in Australia via email (dated 24 April, 2015):

“Australians may use the bilateral agreement after the 90 visa free Schengen days has been used and must not have been spent in Sweden. You are then eligible for 3 months in Sweden visa free. Once you enter into Sweden the 3 month period will start and you cannot like the 90 Schengen days stop them from “ticking” away by leaving.” (from the Swedish Embassy, 24 April, 2015).

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/treaties/ATS/1951/10.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Sweden)

ambassaden.canberra-visum@gov.se

90 Yes

(24/04/15)

 

*Czech Republic, Greece, Switzerland: Agreements not yet found / directly confirmed. (NB. An email from the Dutch Consulate in January 2017 advised these country agreements are no longer in place).

 

Additional info and UPDATES:

The Schengen Area:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy/schengen_visa/index_en.htm

Schengen Short Stay Calculator:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/schengen_calculator_en.html

 

December 2016 UPDATE:
The following invaluable information was provided by a kind reader of this site (December, 2016):

– The European Commission and The Council of the European Union have acknowledged that it is possible for third country nationals (eg: AUS/NZ) to stay in Europe for longer than 90 days as a result of the various visa waiver agreements.

“The Schengen Convention (Article 20(2)) currently allows for Member States to “extend” the authorised
stay of nationals of visa-free third countries (US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, etc.)
beyond 90 days on the basis of bilateral visa waiver agreements concluded in the past. This
leads to a situation where certain third-country nationals can stay for practically unlimited
periods in the Schengen area under short-stay visa waivers without applying for a residence
permit or any other authorisation. For instance, New Zealand citizens can remain 51 months
in the territory of the Schengen area (3 months Schengen visa-free stay plus 48 months on the
basis of 16 bilateral visa waiver agreements).”

The Council of the European Union is trying to introduce a “Touring Visa” to manage this situation. The proposed amendment appears to be still under consideration.

Sources:
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/relations/relations_other/npo/docs/latvia/2014/com20140163/com20140163_saeima_reply_en.pdf (Dated: 28.7.2014)
http://www.statewatch.org/news/2016/oct/eu-council-exit-entry-bilaterals-12114.en16.pdf (Dated 20 September 2016)
http://www.statewatch.org/news/2016/nov/eu-council-entry-exi-touring-visa-13397-16.pdf (Dated: 25 October 2016)
http://www.statewatch.org/news/2016/nov/eu-council-easo-ees.htm(This provides a brief explanation of the implications of the amendment.)

 

January, 2017 UPDATE:

The following is an extract from an email from the German Consulate in Australia (January, 2017). Importantly, this advice is somewhat contradictory to that previously provided by the same consular office. Essentially I believe it is very good news, and provides somewhat of a precedent for a more favourable interpretation of the bilateral agreement with Germany. Notwithstanding, I recommend seeking your own written advice to this effect, just to be sure!:

According to the agreement Australian citizens may stay in Germany for 90 days
after every entrance. It does not matter if you will enter Germany via a third country
(e.g. Russia) or a Schengen country (e.g. France). Nevertheless you have to prove
that you did not stay longer than 90 days continuously during the exit check.
Therefore it is more easy to exit e.g. after 85 days Germany to London, re-enter
after 1 day and stay another max. 90 days. With the border crossing stamps
(receiving when leaving and arriving to/from UK) you may prove easily that you did
not extend your stay more than 90 days in Germany. Due to the fact that you won’t
be checked when leaving to a Schengen state it might be difficult to prove your
necessary absence (however this would be also possible with e.g. Hotel tickets/bills
etc.).

Please be aware that this special regulation applies only for your stays in Germany.
Therefore it might happen that in another Schengen state you will be
 required to hold a visa after 90 days within any 180 days period.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Kind regards

Vice-Consul
Consulate General
of the Federal Republic of Germany
Sydney”

 

February, 2017 UPDATE: 

Good news! The following confirmation has arrived from AUSTRIA:

 

“Dear Nathan,

as an Australian passport holder you can stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days without a visa. The bilateral agreement between Austria and Australia allows you to spend an additional 90 days in Austria if you can prove that you have “left” the Schengen Area after the first 90 days and have not had any stay in other Schengen countries during the second 90 days.

Usually there is no border control on the internal borders between other Schengen countries and Austria, therefore it is hard to prove when you have “left” the Schengen Area and entered Austria on the bilateral agreement. If required by the authorities you will have to provide proof when and where you entered Austria.

Please note that some Schengen countries do not honour bilateral agreements between other Schengen countries and third countries, therefore another entry to a Schengen country (even for flight transit) might be considered an overstay.

Kind regards,

Visa and Consular Office
Austrian Embassy Canberra
12 Talbot Street, Forrest A.C.T. 2603, Australia
(Post: P.O. Box 3375, Manuka A.C.T. 2603, Australia)
Office: +61-2-6295-1533 | Fax: +61-2-6239-6751
http://www.austria.org.au | canberra-ob@bmeia.gv.at

 

 

February, 2017 UPDATE:

More good news! Confirmation from Belgium received!

 

“Dear Mr Riley,

Referring to your email below I can inform you that an Australian
passport holder does not need a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in any
180 days period in the Schengen area.

The notion of “any”, implies the application of a “moving” 180-day
reference period, looking backwards at each day of the stay (be it at
the entry or at the day of an actual check), into the last 180-day
period, in order to verify if the 90 days/180-day requirement continues
to be fulfilled.
Please find the link to the calculator for your reference
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-vis
as/border-crossing/index_en.htm

In addition the Embassy can inform you that, according to the SPF
Foreign Affairs of Belgium, the actual bilateral agreement formally
confirmed through an exchange of Notes on 25 July 1951 between the two
countries, entitles Australian citizens to stay for two more months
without a visa in Belgium after 90 days spent in any other Schengen
country. When entering Belgium you will need to be able to prove you
have not stayed in the Schengen area for more than 90 days. At the end
of the 2 month period you will need to leave from Belgium and cannot
visit another Schengen country.

Countries belonging to the Schengen area are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark,
France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the
Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Estonia, Czech Republic,
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and
Switzerland.

I trust I have informed you sufficiently.

Yours sincerely,
Femke Goossen
Consular Section

Embassy of Belgium
19 Arkana Street
Yarralumla ACT 2600
Australia
Tel+61 (0)2 6273 2501
Fax+61 (0)2 6273 3392
Email canberra@diplobel.fed.be
http://www.diplomatie.belgium.be/australia”

 

(Originally posted: 24/4/2015).

67 thoughts on “Unlimited visa in Europe. For Free. Maybe.”

  1. The French bilateral visa waiver agreement is, as is everything to do with staying in France, so unjustifiably unclear and confusing. I emailed the Australian embassy a week ago and got a reply simply saying: “Contact the French authorities.” Seeing as this was posted nearly a year ago, I was wondering if there was any more information on the French agreement? I’ve read it over and over again, and it just seems to me to be the same as the Schengen Agreement. After staying in one of the Schengen States, “the three month period shall take effect from the date of crossing the external frontier delimiting the area of free movement constituted by those States”. So, the three months you can stay in France start when you enter into the Schengen zone? I don’t get it. If this is the correct interpretation, why make this agreement if it is effectively coextensive with the Schengen Agreement, which was concluded almost 10 years before?

    1. Hi Norberto. Yes, I understand your confusion. The wording of the agreement is somewhat awkward. However, I note the agreement’s emphasis on the words ‘after staying in one of the Schengen States’…
      The wording (and specifically the word ‘after’) suggests to me that if you stayed somewhere in the Schengen area, then departed the Schengen area (and/or travelled to a non-Schengen State), and only then entered French territory, the three month period under the bilateral agreement would then take effect.

      In summary – my interpretation is that you would have to enter France from a non-Schengen country to take advantage of the three month agreement (as opposed to heading directly to France from a Schengen state). For example, you could hypothetically stay one day in Croatia after being in the Schengen area, and then fly into France. In my opinion, the word ‘after’ is the pivotal clue to interpreting the agreement ‘correctly.’
      Essentially it is the same as the German agreement. The advice from their Consulate was as follows:
      “You need to leave the Schengen area to a non-Schengen country such as England…then you are able again to enter Germany for another 90 days.”
      Another option would be to commence your ‘stay’ or travels in France or Germany, and then move on to other countries that have a bilateral agreement with Australia that do not stipulate that one must only enter from a non-Schengen state.
      I hope that clarifies.

      1. Great post, thank you so much for sharing your considerable efforts! Am wondering if you could send me any emails you did get from the French Embassy? I have tried various channels (French Consulate in London, in Sydney; Australian Consulate in France) and they all simply refer me to the website which has a bunch of 404 page errors and only refers to the typical Schengen rules which I’m quite familiar with … super helpful!
        I’ve been in Schengen countries (Switzerland, Spain and France) for 65 days so far since mid April and out for 30 days. I want to do two courses in France between Sept-mid November and while I would be happy to go to Aus to get a short study visa, of course they have no appointments available until September!! AAGGH!
        My plan was to arrive in France from Morocco as you suggest but really unsure as to whether immigration would look at the 90 day bilateral agreement as you suggested above or simply rely on Schengen day counts and be very upset with me on departure which I would not like to risk given the current situation in Europe.
        Love to know if you have any ideas and if you ended up heading back to Europe in 2016!

      2. Hi Belinda, happy if the info has helped somewhat.. So, France wasn’t a country I wrote to originally, unfortunately… but its great to hear that you’ve been trying. I definitely recommend you keep persevering!! Its worth it! I also agree… I don’t think its a good idea to risk staying if you aren’t 100% convinced that your interpretation of the bilateral agreement is 100% correct. (I do think the wording of the French agreement can seem quite ambiguous, when compared to others).

        If a short study visa is an option… is it possible to apply for that when you arrive in France? (instead of flying back to Aus)… If you keep a few Schengen days up your sleeve, then go to France, apply there… and confirm that you are able to stay while they assess your application (common in most countries). Just a thought anyway. I’m sure it will work out perfectly for you! As for me, I was actually fortunate enough to get back to Europe again a couple of times in 2015, with the US and Canada in between. Ironically, I was offered the opportunity to go for a sponsored visa in the Netherlands, but at the time it just didn’t feel right… so I declined… and decided to have some solo time exploring in West Oz for summer instead. Its never long before I’m missing Europe again, so I’m working on a plan to get back there as we speak! Good luck Belinda.

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the time and effort to share information regarding Unlimited visa in Europe. For Free. Maybe.But has only added to my confusion !
    Looking at
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Australian_citizens#Visa_exemptions_for_Schengen_states

    Australia has individual bilateral visa waiver agreements with the following Schengen signatories:
    Belgium [349]
    Denmark[350][351]
    Germany[352][353]
    Netherlands[354]
    Norway[355]

    Consequently, Australian citizens can visit the above Schengen member states visa-free for periods of up to three months in each country.

    If you are a New Zealander it says
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_New_Zealand_citizens#Visa_exemptions_for_Schengen_states

    New Zealand has individual bilateral visa waiver agreements with the following Schengen signatories:
    Austria
    Belgium
    Czech Republic
    Denmark
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Greece
    Iceland
    Italy
    Luxembourg
    Netherlands
    Norway
    Portugal
    Spain
    Sweden
    Switzerland

    Consequently, New Zealand citizens can visit the above Schengen member states visa-free for periods of up to 3 months in each country.

    So I would think Australia should be the same as New Zealand , Is wikipedia’s information for Australia wrong or incomplete ?
    Would be one thing to travel the EU continuously but another to prove where and when you were without Passport stamps , yes Flight tickets if you flew , if not accommodation/shopping receipts, and then again there own authorities probably don’t know what the rules are . Hope some one will sort this out .
    PS . How do you get a New Zealand Passport . ha ha

  3. Hi Paul. From my research and travel over the years, its very clear that New Zealand citizens are afforded very different visa rules to Australian citizens (and that is not only limited to these bilateral agreements).

    I definitely recommend always confirming with the respective embassies yourself, prior to making the call to stay (or potentially overstay) under the premise of a bilateral agreement. Regularly checking their validity is just being a smart and responsible traveller in my view. I also recommend taking copies of the agreements with you as a back-up, as well as keeping as much evidence of your entry and departure from the Schengen areas as possible (especially if you are going to stay for an extended period).

    Also, the local authorities in certain countries may not actually be aware of these old agreements, yet that is not grounds to say that you are breaking the law. It simply means that you’ve legitimately done your homework about how to legally stay in their countries the ‘non-standard’ way.

    Regarding Wiki, I think its a great tool… yet I personally would never ever 100% trust the content there… especially when related to legal interpretations and documents, visas, international agreements etc such as these… (and especially when there is so much at stake if the content is incorrect). In a nutshell… question everything! (as you’re doing)… even the info I have provided. Check and check again! Question everything until you are satisfied that its water tight.

    I hope that helps Paul.

  4. Hello! I’m just trying to get my head around this visa waiver business. How did you go about getting the information about these treaties? Did you write to the embassies of the countries concerned? I am trying to work out if I can stay in the Czech Republic for extra time after spending 90 days in other Schengen areas. How would you recommend that I research this. I found one reference on the Dutch Embassy site to a bilateral agreement between Czech and Australia but no other information about it.

    Thanks for any insight or advice that you can offer.

    1. Hi Anna,
      I searched on the Australasian Legal Information Institute Website for information about visa agreements between Australia and the various European countries.
      http://www.austlii.edu.au.

      To be absolutely confident you are within the bounds of the law/s, I definitely recommend getting confirmation (about the details of any bilateral agreements) from the country’s embassy that you wish to spend time in. Whilst there are many useful references, clues, anecdotes regarding visa agreements hidden all over the internet, I recommend being cautious about how much faith you place in them… (especially if considering staying longer in a country that you have no formal/ legal proof of being able to do so).

      So my advice is.. search the above website for any Czech agreement/s; contact their consulate or embassy in Australia, and their local offices; receive confirmation in writing (if any).

      As with all reference material on the net… including even my post on these bilateral agreements… it is just another ‘stepping stone’ or clue for people to use in gaining their own up-to-date, written confirmation from the respective countries about the legal standing of any agreements with Australia. Europe is far too amazing to risk being kicked out of! I hope that helps! Good luck! Nathan

      1. Sorry I missed your reply to my questions until now.

        Czech doesn’t have a bilateral agreement with Australia, I discovered from correspondence with the Czech Embassy in Australia. (Nor does Italy.)

        And Germany and Austria’s agreement is made a bit useless to touring cyclist by the requirement that you leave the Schengen Zone and then enter and leave by plane.

        Still it’s all good knowledge and I’m very glad to have stumbled across this information! Thanks for posting.

      2. That’s great information Anna, thank you also for the update! Happy if some of my stuff helped! Its all starting to make a lot more sense! (Overland travel seems to make the agreements difficult to use!). I hope you make it nonetheless! 🙂

  5. Oh, and another question. Did you carry documentation about these visa waivers with you? I imagine that a lot of immigration officials have the Schengen agreement at the forefront of their minds and might not know much about these other agreements.

    1. Yes Anna, I definitely did carry all the details with me. My view is that if I have up-to-date written correspondence from a country’s own consular office (in Australia and locally) confirming the law/s, as well as simple evidence of my travel/entry/exit dates, then I will have no problem (if I adhere to the rules).

  6. I just have a question about the Netherlands, Nordic countries and Germany. Do the days we spend in these countries count towards our Schengen 90 day visa limit? Or do they only count towards the 90 day visa for their respective country? Or both?

    1. Hi Tim, my recommendation is that it would be best to consider that any time spent in these countries accrues under both the Schengen laws and the bilateral agreements (simply to ensure consistency with regards to travel into/through other Schengen countries that may not have a bilateral agreement with Australia, or understand the legalities of such. Basically, keep count, just to be absolutely sure and for completeness.
      I think the information from the German Embassy outlines the case best, as they instruct Australians to enter and exit Germany via a non-Schengen state in order to ‘make use’ of the 90 day bilateral agreement.

      Ultimately, if one makes use of this 90 day period under the bilateral agreement, then I would consider that in Germany’s eyes the Schengen ‘clock’ effectively stops, or is irrelevant for that period, given the terms of the bilateral agreement… However, of course in reality (and in your passport) their could be a clear period of ‘overstaying’ in the Schengen area, IF another country chose to interpret it that way, without honouring the legal context in which you were permitted to stay in Germany. So, I believe if you have written confirmation regarding the ability to stay under a bilateral agreement.. great! However, still keep count under the Schengen also, just to be sure of where you stand if corresponding with consulates, border controls on trains, planes, anywhere, anytime. The more info and evidence (of everything!) the better!

  7. Hi Paul,

    This is an absolutely brilliant resource and exactly what I’ve been needing – thank you so much!

    I’ve got a question for you…

    I am a so-called “digital nomad”, earning my bucks working as a freelancer for an Australian company, I just need internet to work etc.

    Do you have any information about the legality of carrying out such work while being on an extended stay in the EU? From my understanding, it is illegal in the UK, but i’m not so sure that such conclusions could be reached about the Schengen states? Until now, I’ve always “played the tourist”.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Danny,
      Technically, if you are working for an Australian company… and also adhering to the visa laws in each country you visit (in terms of how long you stay)… then I don’t necessarily see a problem with working wholly online in the EU, or anywhere else in fact… especially if you are being taxed in Australia as a sole trader or employee (and are completely supporting yourself from Australian-based funds while abroad).

      The difference would be if you were in Europe directly conducting a business with/for Europeans, gaining clients, taking work/fees as an employee or business etc… Because in that case other local laws come in to play…eg. taxation, visa/residency, insurances etc.

      The above is simply my view Danny… so perhaps not a full response regarding the hard and fast legalities on the topic. Trust that helps a little, nonetheless. Regards, Nathan

  8. A search of Austlii on ‘Visas and Visa Fees’ reveals the following for Greece:
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1954/13.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=%22on%20Visas%20and%20Visa%20Fees%20%22
    and
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/bi/greece19540701.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=%22on%20Visas%20and%20Visa%20Fees%20%22
    So seems like Greece cancelled back in ’75.

    Importantly, it appears to be the same for Spain:
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/other/dfat/bi/spain19611027.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=%22Visas%20and%20Visa%20Fees%20%22
    So definitely check with their embassy.

    Apparently we have a bilateral agreement with Monaco though I’m unsure of Monaco’s status in relation to France…
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1959/29.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=%22Visas%20and%20Visa%20Fees%20%22

    Here’s the amendment to the original Swedish agreement:
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1958/9.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=%22Visas%20and%20Visa%20Fees%20%22
    It’s the same for the other Nordic countries

  9. Hello Paul – a very big thank you for the information. I’ve down loaded the agreements and take on board your advice. My plans are for four 9 month trips coming back to Aus for our summer each year. Along the way I have discovered there is a 12 month long stay visa for France. Needs a truck load of information along with the application. Can I ask you to confirm please – do I have it right that as there aren’t border crossings for many of the European countries, the issue is highlighted when departing the Euro Zone? I’m thinking that if I have a 1 year visa for France and fly out from there that would help? Also, if I get “illegal stay/immigrant/naughty person” stamped into my passport, I could apply for another passport and start over?
    You have put together the most comprehensive and detailed information. Thank you. I follow a few facebook groups that would love this information – how do you feel about me putting your details up? Best wishes and warmest regards, Clare

    1. Hi Clare, I’m happy if the information has helped you a little. Regarding your question about entry/exit… (I’m assuming you mean the Schengen area, so will answer based on that ok)… Firstly, if you are granted a visa in France, perfect… that will allow you to come and go quite easily, based on the terms of the visa of course. However, if you were just to move about or stay based on the bilateral agreements I have mentioned, then definitely definitely definitely get written confirmation from the relevant embassies before you do so (if you don’t want to risk being kicked out). Basically, the more information and evidence you can travel with, the better… it makes for far smoother sailing. Of course, you might have to explain yourself occasionally… that’s normal anywhere in the world… but explaining yourself and providing clear, valid evidence to support your stay is far far better than having to defend yourself, or ask for forgiveness if you’ve knowingly overstayed. As I understand, from other bloggers, if you are ‘black-marked’ for overstaying, it is normally a case-by-case thing… i.e. Some people get off with no penalty, while others are refused entry for months/years. Not worth the risk in my view.. I love Europe too much!! 🙂 If you think it will help others, feel free to share the link to this article if you like. Good luck. Kind regards, Nathan.

  10. Paul – great article
    We are an Aussie retired couple buying a motorhome in the UK and then planning on touring Europe for a year. We have spent days and days trying how to figure out spending more than 90 days in the Schengen area. You said you would be prepared to email some of the replies you have recieved from the various Consulates. If you could forward to us that would be greatly appreciated. Any additional info we find out we will send to you. We believe there is a new agreement being established between Australia and Greece for 12 month working holiday Visas – should be legislated soon
    Thank you
    Regards Rob

    1. Hi Rob, sounds like a great plan!
      I agree, the rules can be quite complicated to figure out. I found the best way was to map it out on a whiteboard; drawing a circle for each country and dot-pointing the respective bilateral agreement rules (if available). That way you can piece together the puzzle and create a strategy via diagrams… much easier I found!

      Happy to provide the emails I received from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway. [I note that this correspondence was received over 12 months ago, so it would be prudent to contact them again for up-to-date confirmation.] How/where would you like them sent?

      As I understand the Aus/Greece agreement is for 18-30 year olds… so I do hope you are young retirees! Ha! Kind regards, Nathan

  11. Nathan
    Thanks very much for the info you sent me – a bit more research is required by us
    BTW in our efforts to be able to extend our time in the Schengen area the following are some of the hurdles we came across:-
    1 I am Australian, my wife was born in Germany, her father born in Poland and her mother born in Austria – as she was born in Germany we first tried the Germany Embassy to try to get dual citizenship and a German passport but were declined because her father was not German
    2 We approached the Austrian Embassy but were declined because her father was not born in Austria, just her mother, however they informed us that had my wife been born out of wedlock (which she wasn’t) then she would have qualified.
    3 We are now attempting to get a Polish passport, however there are a stack of forms all of which are only available in Polish and must be completed in Polish and several of the documents must be “apostille certified” and the fee for the certification is $250 for each document (for both of us) – so probably $2000 or more and we don’t know whether we would be successful or not.
    Will update you on the Bilateral Agreements after I have approached some of the Embassies

    Regards Rob

  12. Hi all, I’m a Dutch citizen traveling Europe with my Aussie partner and our Dutch/Aussie kids. We’ve been on the road since December last year and are currently using the bilateral agreement with the Netherlands to catch up with friends and family over summer. I’ve been contacting embassies as well to see if we can make the visa situation less stressful. Not going so well though. So far I’ve been informed that Spain and Portugal no longer have a bilateral visa waiver agreement with Australia…

    1. Hi Mcdeg – I am an Aust. passport/citizen. Hoping to use the bilateral visa waiver agreement to get a further 90 days in Holland (after flying to UK and back before 1st 90 day period expires) Can you tell me if there is any time period that must elapse before returning to NL using the B V W agreement ? Your reply soon would be very appreciated thanks Pixie

      1. Hey pixie, I’m no expert, but as far as I know, you can stay in the Netherlands for 180 days, but then you’ll have to leave the Schengen for 90 days. You better check with the IND though and get that in writing.
        PS. I thought my blog was private. How did you find me and were you not asked for a password?

  13. Thank you so much for this information. I only just managed to get someone from the german consulate in Sydney to advise me of this extra 90 days. They do not post it on their website, because ” people may take advantage of it” I was told. I did not know about the other countries, so thank you so much for this website. We will fly into Kroatia and then back to germany after our 90 days in the Schengen area.

    1. My pleasure Pam. I’m very happy to hear that you received confirmation from the German Consulate.. and more importantly that you will ‘take advantage’ of this great agreement! (That’s what its there for, I believe!) Enjoy!

  14. G’day Nathan,

    Unfortunately your assumptions may be correct.

    I’ve been doing an unpaid internship as a dive master in Malta, which makes it difficult, because I have been unable to apply for a working visa due to not having a contract. I was originally in Sweden to be with my now ex-girlfriend, get a working visa as an engineer, or a partner visa. But we broke up and I changed plan from getting a partner visa to where I am now.

    My understanding is that Malta and Australia have a very good relationship, with lots of Maltese immigrating to Australia after the war. I thought there to exist a bilateral agreement between Malta and Australia which would have a similar or better waiver agreement than other European countries as we are both part of the commonwealth. However, I cannot find the agreement online, nor can I get a straight answer out of the Australian embassy, who told
    Me over he phone that it seems to operate only under the Schengen Agreement – this makes no sense, because we should have a bilateral agreement in place. I think they are just a little lazy and say that to most people. However, I can’t confirm this without seeing an agreement or a obtaining a proper answer about rules, or other documentation.

    Denmark seems to be a little more lax than Sweden about this, saying that we can stay there for 90 days regardless of time spent in other Schengen countries. Whereas Sweden says that we cannot stop the clock by leaving. Then there is the additional agreement between Scandinavian countries which further clouds it.

    If I were to say when I leave Denmark that I have either been in Sweden for the days I was there, or in Denmark for those days, I could leave through Denmark to a non-Schengen country (I’m thinking UK) and re-enter through Germany to take advantage of the agreement there. (I may also return to Malta as I have a lease here until November and a possible chance at getting a working visa when I complete my course – or as an engineer for a blue card)

    So from what I can tell, right now I may not have broken any law as I have been in separate countries which don’t add up the the total 90 days in one country.

    I suppose my other options are overland or out through Malta to a non-Schengen or UK, as Malta are also quite lax, from what I’m told – especially since I’m Australian 😉

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks

    Sam

    1. Hi Sam, just to clarify… (because you stated something slightly different)… the Schengen rules outline a maximum of 90 days total time spent in the Schengen area. So simply moving from one Schengen country to the next does not matter; the time does not ‘reset’ by directly switching between Schengen countries. The borderless Schengen zone was created for that reason. (i.e. No borders, for ease of travel, but a 90 day maximum stay in the entire Schengen territory applies for most non-EU citizens without other visas). Hence my previous reply, which suggested that you’ve definitely overstayed in the Schengen area.

      The bilateral visa agreements I’ve summarised in the original post are generally only enacted when one exits the Schengen area via air or ship, and then returns via air or ship (based on consular advice). (So, if you wanted to spend time in Germany, you could fly to Croatia or UK for example, then into Germany for a 90 day period. ‘Technically’ speaking, you could continue this exit/entry process to any of the countries that we have these bilateral agreements with, until you arrange a long-term visa somewhere if that’s what you’re after, as the original post hinted at).

      My understanding is that while there is several bilateral agreements between Australia and Malta, none of those relate to travel visas (only working holiday visas for 18 – 30s).

      When/where you exit the Schengen from is a personal choice for sure, based on what you feel comfortable with… (and of course your appetite for risk if you continue to ‘overstay’. Not worth it in my view man). As you say, if you feel Malta will be ok, go with your instincts. I’m sure it will work out for you. Nathan

  15. Thanks Nathan.

    From my understanding of the above on Denmark, it says:

    “….citizens of Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the US can freely enter and stay in Denmark for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, regardless of whether they have stayed in another Schengen country prior to entry to Denmark. The 90 days are counted from the entry date into Denmark or any other Nordic country. If you have previously spent time in Denmark or another Nordic country within the previous 180 days, that time will be deducted from the 90-day maximum…”

    Could that not be interpreted as I can leave Denmark or another Nordic country like Sweden to another Schengen country, and then return there without leaving Schengen? So that I could have stayed there for 80 days, left for 90 days, then returned for the final 10 days and have it deducted?

    Or am I misunderstanding that?

    Thanks again

    Sam

    1. Yes Sam, I think that is a correct interpretation. Come to think of it, that opens up a can of worms, because ‘technically’ speaking your initial time spent in Denmark/Nordic territory could be viewed as being on a ‘Visa’ (under the bilateral visa agreement) which is separate to the Schengen visa. Therefore, ‘technically’, it would be fair to say that your time spent there has nothing to do with the Schengen rules. Yes you were in the Schengen area, but ‘technically’ on a legitimate (bilateral) visa agreement… just as would be the case for any other particular visa. So any country you went to after that time in Denmark/Nordic would technically have to respect any specific visa arrangements Australia has in place in Europe. That being the case, proof to support your bilateral visa is key. (Apologies I could not find that Danish Immigration email). Also, I must note, the above is still ‘technically’ speaking. I’m not an immigration lawyer (yet)… so I definitely always recommend to check and double check for yourself, to make sure you’re confident in your own interpretation of the rules/laws. I trust that makes sense; and apologises also if this contradicts any previous replies above. I will go back and change any inconsistencies, to help future visitors to this thread. Cheers, Nathan

  16. Hi Sam,
    From the look of your itinerary, it looks like you’ve yet to cross a Schengen external border. I suspect if you’d have been spot checked in Malta, Italy, France or Switzerland, you’d have had a difficult time of it.

    I’d be interested to hear how you go leaving Denmark as by my reckoning you’d only be at 77 days in the last 180 according to the Bilateral agreement but way over the Schengen 90 days.

    And for what it’s worth, I was in Ireland and France for 8 weeks back in 2006. French authorities didn’t stamp my passport when I left. Went back in 2012 and the Italian authorities didn’t stamp my passport on the way in. Left the Schengen area via train from Slovenia into Croatia and the Slovenian Border guards were a bit taken aback as it looked like I’d been there for over 6 years! Lucky I’d kept the airplane tickets. So definitely keep evidence of your travels and make sure they stamp your passport each time. Not everywhere has ePassport readers. Besides, the stamps make good souvenirs…

  17. Hi Nathan.

    Thank you for your time spent blogging. It is a wonderful resource.

    I’m currently in Denmark and waiting for a work permit to be processed. Timing is tight with the 90 day rule, so I need to consider a back up plan (where to wait). I have a cousin in Stockholm, which would be a pleasant trip.

    At first it appeared that I could spend an additional 90 days in Sweden after Denmark (reading your blog), then Robin posted an update in June 2016 that appears to annul this (reading the blogs thread for the first time today).

    Would you mind if I requested the correspondence you had with the Swedish Embassy?

    I also hold a New Zealand passport (expired). It is therefore possible to utilize this passport if I renew it within the next 3 weeks, but until further notice I have only considered movement on a valid Australian passport.

    Thank you for your time and expertise.

    Best wishes,

    S.D.R
    Copenhagen

  18. Hi Nathan.

    My visa is running out shortly, and just thought I would stop you a line to see if you received my last mail. Would love to get a copy of your correspondence with the Swedish Embassy.

    Best regards,

    Shane

    1. Hi Shane,

      (Further to our email discussion)… As a reference for future readers, are you able to confirm/clarify that the Swedish Embassy did in fact allow you to enter Sweden (under the Bilateral Agreement with Australia), after being in Denmark directly prior (for a period of 90 days)? Many thanks.

      I’m glad it worked out for you.

  19. Hey. Thanks so much for all this information, it has been a real help is trying to figure the whole area out.
    May I just ask though when you emailed the consulates what exactly did you ask? I’m getting a lot of “push back” at the moment and I’m hoping there may be a clearer way for me to word the questions.

    Thanks

    1. Hey Kellie, my pleasure, glad it has helped!

      No worries… I’ve pasted the email (and response) from the German Consulate below FYI. I’m sure you can improve on it, but I hope this helps towards getting the confirmation you need.

      …….
      “Dear Consulate General,
      I am writing to seek the official details of the bilateral agreement between Germany and Australia. If this agreement is still current, are you able to provide any information regarding duration and conditions for Australians visiting Germany?

      I am an Australian passport holder and will be travelling to Europe (and Germany) this year.
      As I understand, this agreement (from 1953) may provide special conditions to Australians, including the ability to stay in Germany for 90 days (as a separate agreement to the Schengen).
      It would also be much appreciated if you may clarify how long a visitor must leave Germany, before re-entering the country under the rules of the bilateral agreement?
      Many thanks in advance.”

      “Dear Nathan,
      Thank you for your email.
      Australian citizens may enter the Schengen area as tourists or on business without a visa and stay for up to 90 days within a period of six months. You may not engage in any type of gainful employment. Please make sure your Australian passport is valid at least three months longer than your intended stay.

      There is a visa waiver agreement between Germany and Australia which allows Australians to spend up to three months in Germany, without reference to time spent in other Schengen area countries. Citizen from other countries needs to wait 90 days to be able to reenter the Schengen states, but the agreement is a special agreement between Germany and Australia and is designed for Australians travelling through the Schengen states, who want to stay another 90 days in Germany.

      You just need to make sure that you leave the Schengen area before your first 90days are over. You need to leave the Schengen area to a non-Schengen Country such as England…then you are able again to enter Germany for another 90 days (but Germany ONLY and DEPARTURE from Germany!).
      Please note that this type of visa is only for holiday or visit purpose.

      If you plan to work or earning money in Germany you need to apply for a residence permit for Germany which you have to apply either at our German Consulate General in Sydney or with the local Immigration Department (Ausländerbehörde) in Germany after your arrival.”

    2. I’m curious, Kellie, what exactly you mean by ‘push back’.
      I’m wondering how long these loop holes are going to exist, as more and more people are aware of them and start enquiring about this. I got reasonably clear but quite unethusiastic responses from the various embassies and consulates I contacted. The only one that sounded vaugely encouraging was the Netherlands.

      1. This may be of interest and provide some clarification as to the current state of play and what is being proposed to the existing situation where it seems it is possible to stay in the Schengen area traveling between member states for longer than 90 days:

        The European Commission and The Council of the European Union have acknowledged that it is possible for third country nationals (eg: AUS/NZ) to stay in Europe for longer than 90 days as a result of the various visa waiver agreements.

        “The Schengen Convention (Article 20(2)) currently allows for Member States to “extend” the authorised
        stay of nationals of visa-free third countries (US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, etc.)
        beyond 90 days on the basis of bilateral visa waiver agreements concluded in the past. This
        leads to a situation where certain third-country nationals can stay for practically unlimited
        periods in the Schengen area under short-stay visa waivers without applying for a residence
        permit or any other authorisation. For instance, New Zealand citizens can remain 51 months
        in the territory of the Schengen area (3 months Schengen visa-free stay plus 48 months on the
        basis of 16 bilateral visa waiver agreements).”

        The Council of the European Union is trying to introduce a “Touring Visa” to manage this situation. The proposed amendment appears to be still under consideration.

        Sources:
        http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/relations/relations_other/npo/docs/latvia/2014/com20140163/com20140163_saeima_reply_en.pdf (Dated: 28.7.2014)
        http://www.statewatch.org/news/2016/oct/eu-council-exit-entry-bilaterals-12114.en16.pdf (Dated 20 September 2016)
        http://www.statewatch.org/news/2016/nov/eu-council-entry-exi-touring-visa-13397-16.pdf (Dated: 25 October 2016)
        http://www.statewatch.org/news/2016/nov/eu-council-easo-ees.htm (This provides a brief explanation of the implications of the amendment.)

  20. Hey Nathan,

    Thanks once again for such a fantastic resource.

    Could you please confirm my understanding that it’s technically legal for an Australian citizen to move continuously between Belgium*, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, in 90 day blocks, and leaving Schengen briefly before re-entering again where required, on an indefinite basis?

    (and have I left any countries off the list?)

    * my correspondence with the Belgian embassy said only two more months are allowed there and also stipulates that no more time can be spent in Schengen after – so perhaps it’s best to leave that one for last

    I’m planning my 2017 travels and the future’s looking bright (notwithstanding terrorism, the dawning of the Trump era, bad pop music etc. etc.)

  21. in fact (i’m sorry, my head is spinning as it’s so full of possibilities), it would appear that the schengen tourist visa might ‘possibly’ reset each time you spend 90s days in one of ‘bilaterial visa agreement’ countries, much like if you were (rich enough to) go back to australia every 90 days, for 90 days, and then come back again…. so the continuous travel need not specifically be between those countries we have the bilaterial agreements with.

    You could possibly interpret it as it being ‘ok’ to spend 90 days in the netherlands, then 90 days elsewhere in schengen (let’s say italy), then 90 more days in the netherlands, then 90 more days in Italy, and on and on and on.

    I wonder at what point the Australian tourist would have to leave Schengen altogether for a lengthy period of time, and not just the day that it would take to, say, reenter Germany from UK?

    1. Hey DM, I’m glad if the post has been of some help!

      So based on my interpretation of the bilateral agreements, yes, ‘technically’ you could move continuously between those countries, as along as the agreements with Australia are honoured correctly by the respective countries you visit. The ‘indefinite’ part, well, in theory I believe, yes it is possible. (I think leaving the Schengen in between certain counties when required and/or for added peace of mind, is a very good idea).

      Also, I believe that you’re technically correct in saying that if you visit one country on the basis of a bilateral visa agreement, then the Schengen rules do not apply for that period (because you were actually on another legitimate visa). In saying that, I would definitely recommend making sure that each country you stay in (under the terms of a bilateral agreement) confirms this in writing, so that if/when you are questioned about your length of stay in the Schengen down the track somewhere, you will have proof that you were visiting certain countries under a specific bilateral visa which is entirely separate from Schengen rules (just the same as if you were on a work visa, study visa, marriage etc).

      (Out of interest, you will note that Glen recently posted a few great links in this thread, which refer directly to this notion of ‘indefinite’ travel in Europe… and that the bilateral agreements create confusion/a loop hole for certain nations, such as Australia. Worth a read, for more background knowledge and general understanding, if nothing else).

      One small technical thing to remember is the overlap day. That is, if you want to jump between only 2 countries like you mentioned, remember that most of the time you will depart country ‘A’ and arrive in country ‘B’ on the same calendar day. For example, if you spend 90 days in country A, then move on to country B and then return to country A, you’ve actually only been out of country A for 89 days (because on day 1 in country B, you were also in country A. So your counting technically should begin on day 2! This creates a problem. [I experienced this firsthand when leaving Netherlands after 90 days to stay in Belarus for 90 days, then return again… When arranging my flights back to Netherlands, I realised that I would be one day short. The cheapest solution was to extend my visa in Belarus, to ensure I didn’t overstay there, and make sure I didn’t return to NL one day too early). I hope that makes sense].

      With regards to Aussies staying or going from the Schengen altogether for a while… well it’s a good question. I think the bilateral agreements are still quite a grey area, so leaving intermittently, or better yet, having very solid evidence to legitimately support any ongoing stay is a great idea! Not every immigration officer you meet is going to be aware of the agreements, so I believe the onous will always be on the tourist to prove their innocence!

      Best wishes with the planning and your trip!

  22. Hi,
    Thanks for your wonderful informative site, it has been great help planning our 18 month trip by camper in Europe starting next month. Wanted to let you, and anyone else reading this know, that I have reconfirmed with the consulates of Sweden, Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark, that these bilateral agreements are still being upheld as of January 2017.
    I do have one question though and appreciate any thoughts. The German consulate sent me the exact same email as you posted in the table above, stating we can enter Germany for an additional three months, after the original 90 days in the shengen zone. They did state that we must enter from a non-shengen country, such as the UK. This is really difficult for our plans, as we are traveling by camper. We had hoped to enter Germany from Switzerland on about day 85. Do you think we will need to park up the camper and fly to the UK and back to initiate the 90 days?
    Our current plans are to travel up through Germany to the Nodic region for a few months, then back down to Germany (all within the 90 days) and then take a ferry over to the UK for three months, to ‘reset’ our shengen 90 days.

    1. Hi Carlie, thanks for the update re those countries still honouring the agreements. Great news. And I’m happy that the info has helped! Excited to hear you’re heading off on a Euro adventure!

      Re your question… My honest opinion is to follow what the consulate advised, just to be safe. I think the cost of a few cheap flights & a quick stopover somewhere, versus potentially being punished for not following consular advice is a no brainer. (Sorry that’s probably not what you wanted to hear.. haha.. But I love Europe too much to risk being kicked out!). Anyway, I’ll put my thinking cap on and look at other possible options.. There’s always another way!

      Hope that helps. Have fun!

  23. Hi All,

    Just in case my above blog updates didn’t find you… The following is an extract from an email from the German Consulate in Australia (January, 2017). Importantly, this advice is somewhat contradictory to that previously provided by the same consular office (to myself and several other readers). Essentially I believe it is very good news, and provides somewhat of a precedent for a more favourable interpretation of the bilateral agreement with Germany. Notwithstanding, I recommend seeking your own written advice to this effect, just to be sure!:

    “According to the agreement Australian citizens may stay in Germany for 90 days
    after every entrance. It does not matter if you will enter Germany via a third country
    (e.g. Russia) or a Schengen country (e.g. France). Nevertheless you have to prove
    that you did not stay longer than 90 days continuously during the exit check.
    Therefore it is more easy to exit e.g. after 85 days Germany to London, re-enter
    after 1 day and stay another max. 90 days. With the border crossing stamps
    (receiving when leaving and arriving to/from UK) you may prove easily that you did
    not extend your stay more than 90 days in Germany. Due to the fact that you won’t
    be checked when leaving to a Schengen state it might be difficult to prove your
    necessary absence (however this would be also possible with e.g. Hotel tickets/bills
    etc.).

    Please be aware that this special regulation applies only for your stays in Germany.
    Therefore it might happen that in another Schengen state you will be required to hold a visa after 90 days within any 180 days period.

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
    Kind regards

    Vice-Consul
    Consulate General
    of the Federal Republic of Germany
    Sydney”

    *In addition, recent confirmation re the validity of other country agreements has been issued by Finland, Sweden, Netherlands.

  24. Hi Nathan,
    I am so grateful for the information you have provided and the conversation you have started by posting this article!

    My boyfriend and I are Australian Passport holders planning a van trip around Europe . After some research we are now thinking we could do three months in the Schengen zone under the Schengen Agreement then go to a non-schengen country such as the UK. From here, we would take a ferry to Norway or Denmark and travel for a further 90 days under the Bilateral Visa Waiver Agreements that exist between the nordic countries and Australia. If we were then to leave the Nordic zone through the same port that we entered then hopefully we would encounter no immigration issues!

    I have emailed the Nordic embassies for further confirmation on this and will post the responses I get. However I am interested in your own opinion based on your own correspondence and findings with these embassies- can you see any holes in my plan?

    Thank you!
    Fiona

    1. Hi Fiona, you’re welcome!… I’m glad the info has helped!

      Sounds like a nice trip! Definitely seems like a good plan to keep things straight forward and head to UK then onto the Nordic countries. All seems ok to me! (Interestingly – You might actually find those embassies advise that they allow you to use the bilateral agreement when entering from any country).

      Ultimately, the bilateral agreement is a type of visa that provides special conditions, just like a study or work visa would. Therefore, you have every right to make use of any specific visa available to you, in any country, regardless of Schengen etc, (in my view!), especially when the host nation has confirmed its validity cand granted Aussies the ability to use it! The key thing, as with any visa, is to simply maintain evidence of its validity! (Eg. If you were on a study visa, and the Schengen border patrol questioned your length of stay, you could simply give evidence of your specific visa with the host country. I consider that this technically applies for the bilateral agreements also, being that they provide seperate/special conditions, that are legally recognised by the host and Australia).

      Hope this helps!
      Nathan

    1. Hi Nathan – I am an Aust. passport/citizen. I am currently in Holland living on my boat with partner (UK) To stay a further 90 days the authorities say I have to get a residence permit but without an address (floating cottage only) this does not work for us. I am hoping to use the bilateral visa waiver agreement to get a further 90 days in Holland (after flying to UK and back before 1st 90 day period expires) Can you tell me if there is any time period that must elapse before returning to NL using the B V W agreement ? I see Aust. says “good for unlimited number of journeys into Aust within a 12 months period “, but the Dutch part of the Agreement just says visa free for less than three months and no further clarification.
      Your reply soon would be very appreciated thanks Pixie

  25. Hi Nathan,

    Thanks for your hard work and well done on all the leg work. I have just spoken with three consulates so far and just had brick walls put up (once I was finally able to speak to someone). You must be a very persistent person.

    Our situation should be simple (so I thought) as I hold an EU passport (Irish) as well as NZ. My wife is on an NZ passport. We are going to Italy later this year for three weeks, then UK for three weeks then back over to campervan around Europe for two years.

    As an EU citizen both I and my wife are supposed to have the free right of movement within the EU and the Schengen area, however the Italian consulate was adamant that she was still going to be bound by the 90/180 day Schengen restriction because we were tourists, and that we would need to get a residents permit to stay longer (which would require us to have a lease on an Italian property).

    Other posts I have read say that we should be able to front up to a border with my EU passport, her passport and proof that we are married and they have to let us in or expedite any visas required free of charge. Entry can only be refused on grounds of health, security etc. They recommend that we obtain visas to make it easier but there don’t seem to be any visas apart from the Schengen, and country specific resident, study or working visas.

    I am sure we can do what we want – just need to work out the details and any hooks.

    If you have uncovered anything relevant in your investigation I would love to hear it.

    Cheers

    Alan

  26. Hey Nathan

    Have been reading all the content on here and it is definitely the most comprehensive collection of information I have come across on the subject anywhere on the internet, so thanks for compiling such a thorough amount of data on this complicated subject.

    I am planning to do busabout this year and would like to do it for the full six months, and am currently flying into Amsterdam in the Netherlands before heading to;
    Germany
    Czech Republic
    Poland
    Austria
    Slovakia
    Hungary
    Croatia
    Italy
    Slovenia
    Switzerland
    France
    Spain
    Portugal &
    Belgium

    I have read some of the agreements stating you can go to a country AFTER you have spent your 90 days in the schengen region, but i was wondering how or what you do if your continually travelling through these countries. I have rang the Dutch embassy in Australia and spoke to them about this and they told me about the visa waiver agreement there but couldn’t give me any other information relating to other countries or how i could get verification from them. Is there an easier way to get confirmation then emailing every embassy i plan to visit and attempting to get some sort of clearance from them regarding my travel plans? And also would you have any preferred destinations for countries to use for my exit flight, as this will probably be the only place i encounter border security during my visit.

  27. Hi Nathan, thanks for such an informative site! I’m an Australian citizen who is planning to tour only Germany for 90 days, and then the rest of Schengen areas (except for Germany) for another 45 days afterwards. What I am wondering is, when I first fly into Germany could I request the immigration officials to accept me based on the bilateral visa waiver agreement rather than Schengen visa?

    The point being that I stay in Germany only for 90 days under the bilateral agreement. Then I exit Germany to UK for a few days. Then fly from UK to Netherlands and wondering if Netherlands will then give me a Schengen visa i.e they recognise that my previous stay of 90 days in Germany was under the Australian German bilateral rather than Schengen. I can then tour rest of Schengen areas, without passing through Germany again, using that Schengen visa?

    On a related note, when you enter and they stamp your passport, is the stamp/marking differential between Schengen visa and the Bilateral visa waiver?

    Thanks!
    Julian

    1. Hi Julian, from my understanding if you spend 90 days in Germany and then go to another Schengen country eg. Netherlands, they will not recognise the bilateral with another country ie. they will stamp you ‘in’ to Schengen. Your issue will be when leaving from somewhere else in Schengen and they will calculate based on your entry into Schengen which will be the Germany entry date. You really need to do the bi-lateral country last

  28. Thanks for this information! I’ve spent the past 14 months in Europe bouncing between Schengen and non-Schengen countries, but had no idea about these bilateral agreements.

    I have a question for my own clarity: I entered Hungary by air on March 2. I plan to stay until May 2, after which I will travel by train to Croatia. Are exit stamps provided when traveling by rail? I was thinking of then going from Croatia to Italy in June or July and staying for 2-3 months. Does the exit from the Schengen zone need to be by air in order to get an exit stamp, and then entry to Italy by air to get the entry stamp (kicking off the 90-day period)?

    1. Nathan:

      The following may help some of your readers:-

      We had heard lots of rumours about Aussies travelling to Europe and all the dramas

      We were told that we needed a return ticket to show immigration when entering the UK otherwise we stood the chance of a lengthy interrogation

      We are planning 2 years in Europe by motorhome and have been here just over a month and we had no return ticket to Australia

      At Heathrow Customs we were asked 2 questions:-

      What is the purpose of your visit – “Holiday”
      How long will you be in the UK – “1 week”

      Bang went the stamp – that was it

      We picked up our motorhome, went to Dover to cross the channel, had our passports stamped by a French official, crossed the channel and landed in Dunkirk

      So we have since crossed through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Poland and haven’t seen a border or a checkpoint

      Most of the time apart from the signage you aren’t even sure which country you are in – most countries so far don’t even announce with signage that you are entering a different country, however we have been travelling v ia the small country roads most of the time

      Still waiting to hear about Polish citizenship for Krys

      Regards Rob and Krys

  29. I’ve just received a response from the Italian consulate:

    I regret to inform that the agreement signed between Italy and Australia in 1951 is not considered in force by our
    Government because overruled by the E.U. Schengen rules, therefore a maximum stay of 90 days for tourism purposes in the Schengen Countries is authorized starting from the date of first entry in the Schengen area.

    Nevertheless some European Countries (i.e. Germany, Holland, Belgium, Scandinavian Countries), have also signed bilateral agreements with Australia and they are valid. The said Countries therefore allow Australian citizens to spend further 60 up to 90 days in their territory but conditions applies (do refer to their Consulates in Sydney for any further details).

  30. Hi Nathan

    My question is very similar to Julian’s. Is there a way to enter a country using the Bilateral Agreement and keep the Schengen days in reserve?

    I am planning a trip to europe where i first spend 3 months in Nordic Europe (over summer) then head down to the rest of Schengen Europe for Autumn. According to the information you’ve posted on this website, it’s only possible to access the Bilateral Agreements after you’ve exhausted all your Schengen time, which i don’t want to do.

    Thanks for all the info so far. It’s fantastic

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