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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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AUSTRIAN TRADITIONS

Why Nikolaustag is celebrated before Christmas – and where to see him in Austria

Each December 6th, children in Austria celebrate 'St. Nikolaus Day'. But why does the Santa look-alike come so early and why do all the children place their shoes outside their front doors the evening before?

Why Nikolaustag is celebrated before Christmas - and where to see him in Austria

Is Nikolaus the same as Santa Claus?

Though they have similar outfits, Nikolaus (also known as Nikolo) is not to be confused with Santa Claus, who is not a figure of Austrian Christmas celebrations. Many religious families focus more on Nikolaus earlier in December to ensure that Christmas is actually about Jesus’ birth and not presents from an Americanised and commercialised Santa.

Who is Nikolaus, then?

Each year on December 6th, Austrians (and Germans) remember the death of Nicholas of Myra (now the Anatolia region of modern Turkey), who died on that day in 346. He was a Greek Christian bishop known for miracles and giving gifts secretly and is now the patron saint of little children, sailors, merchants and students.

READ ALSO: Austrian Christmas traditions: The festive dates you need to know

Why do children set their shoes out on the night of December 5th? 

The custom began because the historical St. Nicholas had a reputation for leaving secret gifts, such as coins, in people’s shoes overnight. Kids traditionally put out their boots, though shoes or stockings will suffice for those without boots.

And the boots have to be polished first?

Definitely. Dirty boots are unacceptable. Children polish their shoes to show they’ve been good. They usually place just one boot outside their door, so they don’t appear too greedy, though.

What do naughty children get?

This depends on different family traditions. Sometimes Nikolaus only leaves a switch (of wood) in the boot, ostensibly for spankings, to show that the child doesn’t deserve a treat. In other families, a man disguised as St. Nicholas will visit the family or the child’s school alone or with his sinister-looking alter ego, Knecht Ruprecht, to question the children about their behaviour.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in December 2022

What does his outfit look like?

He is usually pictured with a long white beard, a bishop’s mitre and a red cloak, sometimes with a sack over his shoulder and a rod in his hand.

Does Nikolaus come again on Christmas Eve, then?

No. There is no Santa Claus or Father Christmas in Austria. Instead, it is the “Christkind” (literally Christ Child, or baby Jesus) who brings the presents on Christmas eve.

He looks much like a Cherubin and children are told that he brings the presents, rings a bell and lights up the Christmas tree. 

The whole experience may seem curious to those watching for the first time: kids are lured into a separate room and the adults run to get gifts from the secret hiding places, set up the scene, turn on the tree lights and turn off other lights. Some then ring a small bell and the children are surprised to learn that they barely missed the winged baby who brought all the gifts.  

READ ALSO: 8 things to know if you’re visiting Austria in December

Where can I see St Nikolaus?

Many cities organise walks and parades with St. Nikolaus, so it’s not uncommon to see him on his day or around it. For example, in Vienna, the city promotes the St. Nikolaus visits to markets. This is where you can find him:

On December 6th:

10-11 am Rochusmarkt, 1030 Wien

10-11 am Viktor-Adler-Markt, 1100 Wien

11:30-12:30 Naschmarkt, 1060 Wien

11:30-12:30 Hannovermarkt, 1200 Wien

01-2 pm Meidlinger Markt, 1120 Wien

01-2 pm Brunnenmarkt, 1160 Wien

02:30-3:30 pm Floridsdorfer Markt, 1210 Wien

02:30-3:30 pm Meiselmarkt, 1150 Wien

On December 7th:

01-2 pm: Vorgartenmarkt, 1020 Wien

02:30-3:30 pm  Karmelitermarkt, 1020 Wien

02:30-3:30 pm Kutschkermarkt, 1180 Wien

04-5 pm Volkertmarkt, 1020 Wien

 On December 15th:

02-03 pm: Matznermarkt, 1140 Wien

Frohen Nikolaustag!

READ ALSO: What are Austria’s last posting dates for Christmas 2022?

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