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Brexit: If I spend 90 days in France how many days until I can return?

We explain how the 90/180-day rule works for British people looking to travel to France without a visa

British citizens can spend 90 days out of 180 in Schengen area countries without a visa Pic: Jeanette Teare / Shutterstock

Reader question: If, as a British citizen, you stay 90 days in France in one block…..is it just another 90 days wait until you can return, or is it 180 days?

British citizens have been subject to the 90/180-day rule when travelling to Schengen area countries since Brexit came into force on January 1, 2021. 

It means they only have the right to stay in the Schengen area (which includes France) for a maximum of 90 days in every 180 days without a visa.  

The count takes into consideration the 180 days prior to the date you enter a Schengen area country. 

For example, you enter France on April 1, 2022. It means that all the days that you were in any Schengen area country since October 3, 2021, will be taken into consideration. 

Note, the Schengen area comprises the EU states with the exceptions of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. It also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus and Croatia, have a different approach – they apply a 90/180-day rule within their own countries but do not combine it with visits to the Schengen area states, so you could, for example, spend 90 days in France and then go to Romania for 90 days.

British citizens can come and go between the UK and Ireland freely as long as their passport is valid for the duration of their stay, as there is a ‘Common Travel Area’ between the two countries.

Read more: British visitors to France: €198 fine over 90/180-day rule

Going back to our example. Between October 4 and October 11 you spend seven days in France, and then return to the UK and stay there. Then, between January 1 and March 31, you spend another 83 days in Schengen area countries. In this case, you will not be allowed to travel to France on April 1 having used up all your 90 days in the past 180 days. 

But, if you planned to travel to France on April 11 instead, then you would be allowed to stay in France for a total of seven days before you reach your 90-day total again. 

In this way it is more like a rolling 180 days. 

This can be hard to keep track of, so there are various online calculators available for free to work out how many days you have left in Schengen area countries. 

If, as our reader asked, you spend a full block of 90 days in France, then you will not be able to return until 180 days after the first day of your last trip to France. This is the equivalent to 90 days after the last day of your trip. 

It is possible in exceptional circumstances to apply to a prefecture to extend the right to stay in case of emergencies such as illness requiring ongoing treatment in France.

This is called an autorisation provisoire de séjour and it cannot exceed 180 days.

Read more: Can the 90-day stay limit in France be extended for medical reasons?

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