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Travelling in Europe beyond 90 days - Schengen or Long Term Visa?

Gazing hopefully towards the future, past the plethora of current travel restrictions, to a time beyond Covid-19........... Best guess but it looks as though its going to be 2023 earliest before Trans Africa travel might be a practical proposition. But it is anticipated (another best guess!) that overland travel should be possible in Europe during the 2022 travel season. The best option currently for Tip Toe appears to be mobilise from the UK, complete the North Cape circuit in 2022, winter back in the UK then either travel across Europe again to ship vehicles to Egypt (or Djibouti) or ship direct and fly to South Africa for the 'best bit'. To get the most out of the trip in Europe, it would be good not to be constrained to 90 days travelling in the Schengen area (in every 180 day period). It would be good at least to have the option to extend to a total of 120 days.

Post Brexit, it appears that the Schengen VISA requirements for UK Citizens have become punishingly onerous. The following list are some of the documents required in order to obtain a Schengen visa in the UK:

  • A valid passport or Travel document:

- Your passport has been issued within the previous 10 years,

- Your passport has 2 full blank pages, one for the visa stamp and an additional spare page,

- Your passport should be valid for at least three (3) months after the date you exit the Schengen Area.

  • One application form filled out completely and signed by the applicant.

  • One photo, which must be glued to the application form. Applications with stapled photographs will be rejected. The photo must also comply with the other photo requirements and specifications

  • A cover letter explaining the purpose of the visit to the Schengen area

  • Proof of travel arrangements: Round trip flight/travel reservations or other proof of intended transport and complete itinerary (if the several Schengen States will be visited or if the trip covers the several Schengen States and non-Schengen countries).

  • Travel Insurance stating that you are covered in case of a medical emergency and repatriation in the Schengen Area (minimum coverage of € 30.000). The Insurance policy can easily be purchased online from MondialCare, Europ Assistance or AXA Schengen.

  • Hotel reservations or proof of participation in group travel.

  • A recent statement of UK current account or traveller’s checks showing funds of a minimum of £55 per person per day spent in the Schengen area. Photocopies of the original documents also to be submitted. Documents should not be more than one month old. Find more information about proofing financial sufficiency when applying for a Schengen visa.

  • .............. and there's more!

For stays in the Schengen area beyond 90 days, the rules require application for a residence permit (Long-stay visa), not a Schengen visa. However we will be touring across multiple countries so its not really clear whether we should apply for a Schengen VISA or a Long Stay visa. As Norway is the country we intend to spend the longest time in during the trip, it's to the Norwegian Government that we must apply.

This process is pretty draconian and much more challenging to organise than travelling through Africa! I guess it says something about the lack of goodwill and imagination by both sides of the Brexit negotiation. It certainly does not encourage tourism and is a lot of work for a 30 day extension. Maybe we would be better to just 'bite the bullet' and cut the trip short to just 90 days in Europe? Based on the calculation of daily spending by the Schengen countries / EU (GBP £55 per person per day), this will cost the EU about £3300 in lost revenue for a couple. This 'sillyness' is going to cost the Schengen nations millions of euros per year in lost income and will certainly frustrate travellers from the UK, but maybe that's the aim.

When will common sense return?

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