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SECOND HOMES

CALCULATOR: How to work out your 90-day allowance in France

If you're visiting France and you're not a citizen of an EU country, your visits may be limited by the '90 day rule' - here's how it works, who is affected and how to calculate your trips so that you don't overstay your allowance.

CALCULATOR: How to work out your 90-day allowance in France
Photo by Eduardo Soteras / AFP

Who?

If you have the passport of an EU country – including dual nationality – you are not covered by the 90-day rule and are free to come and go from France as you please.

Non-EU citizens fall into two categories – those covered by the 90-day allowance and those who are not.

Citizens of certain countries, including India, need a visa for any visit to France, even just a long weekend, but other countries allow up to 90 days of travel without the need for a visa.

Brits, Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders are all covered by the 90-day allowance – find the full list here

Blue marks the EU/Schengen zone, green is countries covered by the 90-day rule and citizens of red countries require a visa even for a short trip. Map: European Commission

What?

The 90-day rule states that you can spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU or Schengen zone without needing to get a visa or residency card.

The allowance is for the whole Schengen zone, so if you’re travelling to multiple European countries your tally is for all the days you have spent within the Bloc.

For example, if you spent 85 days in France and then travelled to Spain for a fortnight, that would take you over your 90-day allowance because both France and Spain are Schengen zone countries. 

The allowance means that in total over the course of a year you can spend 180 days in the EU/Schengen zone without needing a visa – but the crucial point is that your 180 days cannot be all in a single block.

This means that, for example, you can’t spend the summer in France and the winter in the UK, or vice versa.

How?

So – the crucial bit – how do you go about calculating your allowance?

The people most likely to be affected by this are second-home owners and freelance workers or contractors who make multiple short work trips to the EU.

If you travel for work, it’s important to note that your 90-day allowance covers all trips for all reasons – so you need to add in any European holidays as well as work trips to your total. 

It’s when you’re making a series of short trips that things can get complicated, because the 90-day rule is calculated on a rolling calendar, so that at any point of the year you need to be able to count backwards by 180 days, and have only spent 90 of those days in the Schengen zone.

You also need to be aware that any time spent in the Schengen zone counts as one day – so even one-hour stopovers take one day off your allowance. 

The easiest way to keep on top of this is to keep a diary (paper or electronic) with your travel days marked in it, and then use the online Schengen calculator to check that you’re within your allowances.

Short stays and stopovers can add up more quickly than you might think.

The online Schengen calculator can be found HERE – simply input your travel dates and it will tell you how many days you have left. 

What if you have a visa?

People who want to spend more than 90 days at a time in France have two options – get a visa or move here full-time and get a residency card.

Visa – for second-home owners the 6-month visitor visa is a popular option. This allows you to keep your main residence in your home country, but spend plenty of time at your place in France. 

For the dates when your visa is valid, your trips to France do not count towards your 90 day allowance – but trips to any other EU/Schengen zone country still count towards that 90-day allowance. Once your visa runs out, the 90-day clock starts again, unless your get a new visa – more details here.

Residency – if you take up permanent residency in France any time spent in France obviously does not count towards your 90 days. However, it’s worth pointing out that you are still bound by the 90-day rule when travelling to other EU/Schengen zone countries – full details here.

Overstaying

Many readers, especially Brits who were previously in the happy position of not having to worry about calculating 90 days, have asked us whether they really need to go through all this hassle.

The unfortunate answer is yes – passports are checked regularly as you enter and leave the Schengen zone, and upcoming technical changes mean this will only get stricter.

People who spend more than 90 days at a time in the Schegen zone without having a visa are classed as overstayers, and passports are likely to be stamped or flagged.

Overstaying is usually punished by a fine, but having that ‘overstay’ on your passport also means that future travel is likely to be a lot more difficult, and you may also have trouble with any future visa applications.

People who travel for work should note that keeping track of your 90 days is your personal responsibility, not your employers’. It seems that many UK employers are still pretty clueless about post-Brexit changes, so don’t rely on your company’s HR department to calculate your allowance.

At present passport checking and stamping at the border is varied and variable, but changes to EU travel coming in later this year will mean that the process becomes more automated, and overstayers will have nowhere to hide. 

READ ALSO Passport scans and €7 fee: What changes for EU travel in 2022

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For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

Overstaying, working without a permit and polygamy – what can get you deported from France?

From committing a crime to overstaying your 90-day limit and even having multiple wives - here is a look at all the things that can get foreigners deported from France, and how likely this is in reality.

Overstaying, working without a permit and polygamy - what can get you deported from France?

If you’re living in France and you’re not a French citizen, there are certain scenarios in which you can be expelled from the country, and although this isn’t an everyday occurrence there are quite a wide range of offences that can see you kicked out of France. 

Process

In France, there are a few different deportation procedures for foreigners.

Expulsion – The first, which you may have heard about before, is “expulsion”, which means you must leave the country immediately.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin recently made headlines after calling for the expulsion of an Imam for making anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist comments, as well as speeches that were “contrary to the values of the Republic.” 

For the average person, being expelled from France is very unlikely.

Under president Nicolas Sarkozy, a 2003 law was passed allowing for three possibilities to expel foreigners who are already “integrated” into France – if they have engaged in “behaviours likely to undermine the fundamental interests of the State; that are linked to activities of a terrorist nature; or constitute acts of incitement toward discrimination, hatred or violence because of the origin or religion of persons.”  

In most cases though, “expulsion” only occurs if a person is living in France illegally (ie without a residency permit or visa) and they represent a “serious threat to public order.” 

Notice to quit – The more likely scenario for the deportation of a foreigner living in France is an OQTF (Obligation de quitter le territoire français) – an obligation to leave France.

The decision is made by your préfecture. You will be formally notified, in a document which outlines which country you are to return to, as well as the time limit for when you must leave France. 

This can occur following a prison sentence, or if your residency permit has been withdrawn (again, the most common scenario is following a criminal conviction) or if your application to renew a residency permit has been denied.

You can challenge an OQTF. In most cases, the administrative court responsible for handling appeals should offer a response within six weeks.

Barred from returning – if you have committed an immigration offence such as overstaying your visa or overstaying your 90-day limit, this is often only flagged up at the border as you leave France. In this circumstance, you are liable to a fine and can also be banned from returning to France. Bans depend on your circumstance and how long you have overstayed, but can range from 90 days to 10 years.

In practice, being barred from returning is the most common scenario for people who have overstayed their visa or 90-day limit, but have not been working or claiming benefits in France.  

You can be ordered to leave France within 30 days if you are in one of the following situations:

  • You entered France (or the Schengen area) illegally and you do not have a residency permit or visa. You can be immediately ordered to leave France under specific scenarios such as representing a threat to public order or being a “risk of fleeing.”
  • You have entered France legally, but you have overstayed your visa or overstayed your 90-day limit. If you stay more than 90 days in every 180 in the Schengen area without a valid residency permit, then you can receive an OQTF, although in practice this is not the most common response.

READ MORE: What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in France?

  • Your residency permit application or your temporary residence permit has not been renewed or has been withdrawn.
  • Your residence permit has been withdrawn, refused or not renewed or you no longer have the right to stay in France (more on this below). 
  • You failed to apply to renew your residency permit, and stayed after the expiration of your previous permit. Keep in mind that once your permit expires, you can stay an additional 90 days in France if your home-country does not require a 90-day visa. However, in order to do this you must exit the Schengen zone and come back in to re-start the clock. 
  • You are working without a work permit and have resided in France for less than 3 months. A scenario where this might apply would be coming to France for under 90-days as a tourist (ie without a visa) and take a seasonal job. If you are found to have done this, you can receive an OQTF.
  • Other scenarios include being an asylum seeker whose application for protection was definitively rejected, or being categorised as a threat to public order (for those who have resided in France for less than 3 months).

Why might my residency permit be withdrawn or refused?

For those with a valid temporary or multi-annual residency permit, you might have your titre de séjour withdrawn in any of the following scenarios: 

If you no longer meet one of the necessary conditions for obtaining the permit in the first place. Keep in mind that if you have a salarié residency permit or a passeport talent, these cannot be withdrawn if you become “involuntarily unemployed” (meaning – you do not need to worry about potentially being deported if you lose your job). The best advice for this would be to request a change of status as needed rather than staying on a permit that no longer applies to you.

If you did not fulfil all the criteria for renewing your permit – this could involve failing to appear for an appointment you have been summoned to by the préfecture. 

If your permit was issued on the basis of family reunification, you could lose your titre if you have broken off your relationship with your spouse during the 3 years following the issuance of the permit. This does not apply in the case of death or spousal abuse, and there are exceptions for couples who have children settled in France. 

Other reasons might include:

  • Living in a state of polygamy in France
  • Serious criminal conviction (drug trafficking, slavery, human trafficking, murder etc.)
  • Illegally employing a foreign worker
  • Having been deported or banned from French territory previously
  • Being a threat to public order (usually terrorism related)

If you have a residency card, you can also lose your right to residency if you are out of France for a period of between 10 months and two years – depending on the type of card you have.

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