France 90-day stay: is the 180-day period rolling or fixed at entry?

Third country nationals are allowed to stay in Schengen countries for up to 90 days in every 180. We look at this rule in detail

We look at the 90/180-day rule for stays in the Schengen zone
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Reader Question: We typically have multiple stays in France of two to four weeks at a time and we want to check that the 90/180-day rule does not affect us. The application of the 180-day window looking back from the date of each new entry to Schengen is straightforward. However, does the 180-day window roll forward during the period of each stay or is it fixed at the date of entry?

We foresee a situation where we arrive for a 21-day stay in France when our total in the previous 180 days would be less than 90 days, but greater than 69 days (i.e. we would have less than 21 days left before we hit 90). If the 180 day window rolls forward during the 21-day period of that stay and the 90/180 rule is next applied at exit, all would be well. Am I correct in thinking that the 180 days window moves forward from the date of arrival to the date of departure?

Third country nationals entitled to visa-free travel in the Schengen zone – including Britons and Americans – may stay in the bloc for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

You are correct in thinking that this period rolls continuously onwards, and is not fixed at the point of entry into a Schengen country.

The 180 days is a moving window and is not paused.

Let’s consider, for example, a period of 72 days spent in France between March 1 and May 11.

If you then return for a further 21 days from August 13 – making for an overall total of 93 – you will still be within your 90-in-every-180-day allocation as those extra three days will ‘fall off the end’ of the last 180 days while you are in France.

However, if your first stay in France was from April 1 until June 11, and then you went back on August 13 for 21 days, the total number of days spent in the Schengen zone over the last 180 days would be 93, and you would have overstayed your allowance.

There exist several online calculators designed to help you calculate the number of days you can remain in the Schengen zone.

One of them can be found here.

It should be noted that most people who overstay their allotted time in Schengen countries can be fined, and may find it more difficult to enter the bloc in the future. There is a limited list of circumstances under which a person would be allowed to stay for a while longer, but they would normally have to apply for an autorisation provisoire de séjour.

Read more: What happens if I cannot help but overstay my 90 days in France?

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