Reader question: Can Brits stay more than 90 days in the EU if they have a spouse with an EU passport?

As British nationals get to grips with the 90-day rule that now governs all trips to EU and Schengen countries, readers are asking if having a European spouse makes any difference to the limit?

Reader question: Can Brits stay more than 90 days in the EU if they have a spouse with an EU passport?
Is having an EU spouse useful for more than love and companionship? Photo: AFP

Question: I have an Irish passport but my wife has a British one. I am therefore able to visit France for more than 90 days out of every 180, but can she do the same as my wife?

This question is one of several The Local has received on a similar theme as British nationals face life under the EU’s 90-day rule.

90-day rule

This rule applies to all non EU-nationals travelling into the EU or Schengen zone for whatever reason – holiday, family visits or visit to second homes.

It has therefore long applied to visitors from American, Canada, Australia etc but since January 1st 2021 has also applied to Brits.

If you intend to do paid work while in the EU, you will probably need a visa even if you stay less than 90 days and there are some countries whose nationals need an entry visa even for a stay of less than 90 days – find the full list here. The overseas territories of France and the Netherlands have extra restrictions in place.

The rule says that people who are not resident can only spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU. So in total over the course of a year you can spend 180 days, but not all in one block.

This Schengen calculator allows you to calculate your visits and make sure you don’t overstay.

It’s important to point out that the 90-day limit is for the whole Schengen area, so for example if you have already spent 89 days in Spain you cannot then go for a long weekend in Berlin.

People who want to stay longer than that have to get a visa – either a visitor visa if they simply want to make a prolonged visit or a long-stay visa for people who intend to make their home in an EU country.

But what about people who are the spouses of EU citizens?

Having an EU spouse is useful in a number of ways to do with immigration (plus if you pick a good one they might put the bins out) but unfortunately not when it comes to the 90-day rule.

The EU’s immigration guidelines state that non-EU passport holders can join their EU spouse in a European country for three months, but after that must apply for a residency card (if they intend to stay) or a visa.

The good news is that applying for both residency or a visa can be simpler if you are applying as the spouse of an EU passport holder.

For visas the system varies between countries but generally you won’t need proof of financial means if your spouse is working, while for pensioners the income and health cover requirements are generally more relaxed. 

Member comments

  1. As always the Local has provided a useful overview. However, when to comes
    to visas the devil is in the detail. The article would be *really* useful
    if links were included to application processes.

    People who want to stay longer than 90 days in 180 have to get a visa – either a visitor visa or a long-stay visa. This article was sourced in
    France but is referenced by The Local in Spain. I am still looking for
    details of how to obtain a visitor visa – clearly a Spanish matter as
    the EU extension visa does not seem appropriate.

    Can anyone assist with clarification of what visa is needed to stay
    in Spain for 180 days en bloc – and how to obtain such? Information
    is needed by September for those UK nationals who habitually spend
    their winters in Spain over the five colder months of the year.

  2. The french government’s website guide to visas explains very clearly how to stay longer than 90 days, if required. And, for those with 2nd homes who want to spend more time in the summer (more than 90 days in a stretch) a ‘short long-stay’ visa is possible. Interestingly, Crete, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania have chosen to stay out of the 90 days in 180 day rule. Visa application to french consulate appears pretty straightforward. It’s a nuisance, and I wish we didn’t have to do it, but not as bleak as the press make it out to be.

    1. The article does not give nearly enough detail on this matter of 6-month stays for Brits with an EU spouse. These will normally be people with 2nd homes. I understand that the Brit has to go to the prefecture within 3 months of arrival and then apply for a “Carte de Séjour de membre de la famille d’un Européen”. But do the prefectures make a difference between (a) people wanting a CdeS because they wish to become permanent residents; and (b) people wanting a CdS in order to say for 6 months? As I say above, most 2nd home-owners will be in category (b). I’ve looked on the website of the prefecture du Var but all I see are references to applications for a VLS-TS, and this is for permanent residents. We would like to stay for 6 months but do not want to be mistaken for permanent residents. Hopefully ‘The Local’ will clarify this point for all of us.

  3. In the article there is a mention of a possible need to apply for a ‘residency card’. What is this?
    I am particularly interested in the situation in Italy.
    I have seen it written that a Carta d’Identità is NOT proof of residency and in that case would not be the aforementioned ‘residency card’.
    In fact, what would be proof of residence in Italy? I understand that it is such residency that means that the 90/180 rule does not apply.
    I find this very confusing! There isn’t more than one meaning of the term ‘residency’, is there?

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Swedish travel rules: What are your new rights if your train is delayed?

New travel protections for passengers on public transport in Sweden come into place on June 7th. What are they and what do they mean for you?

Swedish travel rules: What are your new rights if your train is delayed?

What are the new protections?

Starting on June 7th, passengers travelling via train or bus will have extra journey protections in place covering delays which result in missing the next leg of a connecting journey.

How have the rules changed?

Current rules on missed connections vary depending on the mode of travel, which can make it difficult for travellers to know their rights. There are different rules for long and short journeys, meaning that travellers have different rights depending on the total journey length of the bus or train they used, even if they weren’t on board for the full journey.

Now, the so-called kom-fram-garantin or “arrive guarantee”, offered by almost all public transport companies in Sweden through the Resplus network, has been strengthened, making it clearer what rights travellers have and in which circumstances.

The original guarantee means that companies within the Resplus network are responsible for solving any issues which may occur throughout your journey, in order to guarantee that you reach your destination in time. This could be through advising you to take a different route, paying for a taxi or hotel stay if you miss your final connection, or refunding your ticket and paying for a free return journey if your train or bus is so delayed that you miss the meeting or concert you were travelling for in the first place.

Travellers will now be able to see at the booking stage whether the ticket they buy is covered by the guarantee, as well as gaining the right to rebook a trip themselves via bus or train, if the company they booked through has not offered to rebook their ticket within 100 minutes from the original scheduled departure time.

“This is very positive for travellers,” Swedish Consumer Agency lawyer Maja Lindstrand said in a statement. “It’s clearer and much easier to keep track of what qualifies.”

Those affected by delays will also gain the right to be reimbursed for food and drink related to their delay.

This means that you will more easily be able to understand your rights if you miss a connection due to a delay on an earlier leg of your journey, and you will no longer have to keep track of which rules apply in which situations in order to claim compensation or rebook your journey.

Why is this happening now?

The background to the new rule changes is a new EU law for train travel, which also came into force on June 7th. The Swedish rules are now being updated to match this EU law.

“I’m proud that [public transport company] Samtrafiken and the Swedish Consumer Agency have made this agreement,” Samtrafiken’s chairman Göran Hägglund said. “The Swedish Consumer Agency planning ahead with the public transport industry before the introduction of the new EU law is an example of Sweden working at its best.”

Samtraviken is a company within the public transport industry promoting co-operation between different transport providers, the company’s CEO Gerhard Wennerström explained in a statement.

“We aid connections within the industry in a non-competitive manner which benefits travellers. It should be easy to travel in a climate-friendly way,” he said.