Schengen Travel: What to Know about Visa-Free Travel Post-Brexit

British citizens’ free movement rights ended when the Brexit transition period expired on 31 December 2020. However, British people don’t need to apply for a visa for a short visit to the Schengen area.

What does post-Brexit travel in the Schengen region look like, and how can you calculate your day count for tax purposes? In this article, we’ll go over the following topics:

Understanding Schengen Visa Basics

You can travel to the Schengen Area with a Schengen visa. Different types of visas are available, and we will cover them briefly below.

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is a collection of 27 European Economic Area countries, with Bulgaria and Romania joining partially on 31 March 2024. 

The area differs slightly from the EU; not all EU countries are part of Schengen, and some non-EU countries are. The name comes from a town in southern Luxembourg. France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg signed the original agreement in the town in 1985.

Please note that visa-free travel applies only to the European territories of France and the Netherlands. Their overseas territories, such as Martinique or Aruba, are not under the Schengen Area.

Types of Schengen Visas

There are three different Schengen Visa categories in use today. These are:

  • Type A: Airport transit
  • Type C: Short-Stay 
  • Type D: National Long-Stay

The Short-Stay Visa is the most common. The visa allows the holder to stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days in any 180 period. You don’t need to apply for this type of visa if you’re British. Many other countries have similar agreements. However, citizens from some countries may need to apply for a short-stay visa.

If you plan to live or work in a Schengen country for up to a year, you need to apply for a Type D visa. The application requirements differ from country to country.

The 90/180 Rule

The 90-day rule, or the 90/180 rule, is one of the most critical elements to understand about travelling in the Schengen area. The rule limits your travel to the region to a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period.

The rolling basis for calculating the 180 period is vital to understand the rule.

What does ‘on a rolling basis’ mean?

The 180-day rolling period doesn’t need to correspond to a calendar year or any other fixed timeframe. Instead, you must look back at the previous 180 days to determine how much time you’ve spent in the Schengen area.

The 90 days also don’t need to be consecutive. You can spread them out over the 180-day period.

After you’ve spent 90 days within 180 days in the Schengen Area, you must leave. You can return once you’ve spent enough time away to be eligible to stay for another 90 days.

The day count starts from the first day of stay and ends on the last day of stay. The time of your entry and exit doesn’t matter. You could arrive in the Schengen area at 10pm on 4 March, and the day would count as your first day towards the limit.

The detail is significant, as countries sometimes have different ways of determining what counts as a ‘present’ day. We’ve written about the complexities of deciding a day for residency and day count purposes, if you want to learn more. You can read more about it here.

But in the Schengen Area, your 90 days start at the entry date and end at the exit date, regardless.

Case Study: 90/180 Rule in Action

Let’s say you were in Belgium for three weeks in early November. You returned to the UK for a month before you decided to go Christmas shopping in Milan for a weekend with the family. You greet the new year on a ten-day holiday in Marbella.

For February, you take the family for a seven-day skiing trip in Austria – not to forget the two days spent in the Netherlands at a conference.

If these are your only Schengen trips, you are within your limit. You’d have spent 43 days in the region – well within your maximum.

However, you start planning a trip to Germany at the end of March and early April. You might think you haven’t been in the Schengen area in a long time. Surely you could spend as much time in Germany as you want – maybe even visit your friends in Switzerland? You must calculate back 180 days from when you intend to land in Germany to be certain. 

Let’s say you’re thinking of going to Germany on 1 April. If you count 180 days backwards, you’ll end up all the way back on 5 October 2023. However, your start of the 90 day period begins on 3 January 2024. If you land in Germany on 1 April, your stay may be authorised for up to 68 days. 

Brexit’s Impact on Schengen Visa Rules

After Brexit, all UK citizens fall under the 90/180 rule for short stays in the Schengen area. You won’t need to apply for a visa for these short stays if you’re:

  • Staying for 90 days or less in the 180 rolling period.
  • Visiting as a tourist.
  • Travelling for business, such as attending a business meeting or conference.
  • Travelling for media activities.

You may require a visa for certain work activities. Always check the rules of the country you’re visiting when travelling for work.

The visa-free short-term visits cover all British nationals, including:

  • British Nationals (overseas)
  • British Overseas Territories Citizens
  • British Overseas Citizens
  • British Protected Persons
  • British Subjects

However, the exemption doesn’t cover non-EU family members of British citizens. Any non-EU family members and non-Brits should check if they are subject to visa requirements.

What are the Penalties for Overstaying?

Each Schengen area has its own set of standards for penalties for overstaying. You’ll typically be issued a fine and an order to depart the country (if you’re still in the area).

The fines may only be an inconvenience. However, non-compliance with the 90/180 rule could result in future difficulties. You could have issues entering the Schengen Area in the future.

You must also consider any tax implications arising from overstaying. Overstaying or breaking the rules can leave you exposed to local tax laws.

Calculating your Day Count in the Schengen Area

How to stay on top of your day count in the Schengen area? You could consider the traditional day-counting tactics. However, the conventional methods have a few problems we want to solve at Daysium.

Let’s consider the most obvious example: online calculators. The European Union has a calculator, along with a plethora of websites with various takes on logging your days.

The calculators work by allowing you to enter your travel days and even planned travel days. They’ll provide a day count on how long you’ve spent in the region.

The problem? You have to take the time to visit the website and accurately remember your past travel days.

Logging data this way takes time and effort. Manually inputting dates also comes with the risk of inaccurate information.

Alternatively, you could turn to a few other mobile apps. The apps calculate your days for you, similar to online calculators. The apps might once again rely on your input.

Some offer further help by logging in the days using information from your phone. They might draw on geotagging or dates from your travel itinerary in your email.

The apps can provide a real-time account of your days that’s easier to access. But the apps miss a crucial aspect: personalised day counting. You don’t receive support related to your day counting requirements. You also don’t receive supporting evidence to present to tax authorities in the event of an enquiry.

We’re convinced of a better way.

The Daysium Way to Day Counting

Daysium wants to help you stay on top of your day counting when travelling in the Schengen area. Our platform enables you to automatically log your travel information, including supporting evidence

More importantly, you can personalise the platform around your requirements. Our platform knows the ins and outs of local tax laws, including what counts as a day for tax purposes. If you have concerns, you can check for answers with our AI advisor, Daysi.

We’re more than just an app to count days.

As a globally mobile HNWI, you’re under increased scrutiny by the tax authorities. Governments worldwide are increasingly interested in the tax affairs of the wealthy. They want to ensure HNWIs are compliant and paying the correct tax.

An investigation of your tax affairs can be time-consuming and complex, even when there’s nothing to see.

With Daysium, you can prepare for these situations. Our platform expedites compliance and builds credible proof to back your day count. You can add geotagged pictures, location data, and receipts. These can smooth the enquiry because you can provide the authorities with all the proof your day count is correct.

The Bottom Line

Brits should understand the Schengen Visa rules in the post-Brexit world. On paper, the 90/180-day count seems simple enough. But calculating and staying on top of the day count can be tricky. If you want to guarantee you’re aware of the latest regulations and your personal day count, the Daysium platform can help.

Join the Daysium Revolution and make Schengen travel stress-free!