It’s actually pretty easy to (legally) stay in Europe without a visa, we’ve been doing it for over two years.
That said, there are a few rules you might want to follow in order to avoid trouble at the border.
What Is The Schengen Area? + Rules:
The Schengen area is comprised of 26 European countries, and the general rule, for Americans, Australians, and Canadians, is that you can stay a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period.
Schengen Area Countries:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein
Non-Schengen Area Countries:
Albania, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus, Ireland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, UK, and Ukraine.
Consecutive stay: Allows for 90 consecutive days within the Schengen area, during which you are free to move around as long as you leave once the 90 days are up, and you will have to wait another consecutive 90-day period to re-enter the area.
Non-consecutive stay: Allows for 90 non-consecutive days within the Schengen area, during which you are free to enter and exit the area as much as you want as long as you don’t exceed 90 days over a period of 180 days from the first date of entry. You don’t have to to wait to re-enter the zone once their initial 180-day period is up.
If you’re in the Schengen Zone for 90 days consecutively, you must leave after 90 days and can’t return for another 90 days. Remember, the 90 days in a 180-day period don’t necessarily have to be consecutive, but they are cumulative. The clock doesn’t start back every time you re-enter the zone within that same 90-day period. It only starts back 180 days after your first entry.
What About Ireland And The UK?
You can stay in Ireland for 90 days in a 180-day period and the United Kingdom for 180 days in a 360-day period.
What About Albania?
You Can Stay In Albania for up to 1 Year.
Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond your stay. You may enter the Republic of Albania as a tourist without a visa. You may stay up to one year in Albania without applying for a residency permit.
What If You Overstay In The Schengen Area?
Obvious answer: do not overstay the 90 days. But, if you do overstay the 90 days, I would leave from Spain which is much more lenient with the 90 days in a 180-day period. Scandinavian countries are strict about enforcing the 90 days in a 180-day period. If you are caught violating the Schengen tourist visa, you could be fined or banned from entering the Schengen area for a certain period of time.
How To Get Around The 90/180 Rule?
Besides getting a long-term visa or overstaying your visa, there really isn’t a way to get around the 90 days in a 180-day period. This is how we live. After spending 90 days inside the Schengen Area, we travel to a Non-Schengen Area for 90 days before (legally) heading back into the Schengen area.
Crossing Borders With Pets?
We have crossed 7 borders with Walter & Olive. Cats, and dogs, need a pet passport to cross countries, which is a collection of documents proving they are free from diseases and fit to travel. In some borders nobody wants to bother checking the documents, but it is worth to keep the passport up to date to avoid problems with quarantine.