American citizens can enter Spain many times within a year. This is as long as they do not spend more than 90 days total in a period of 180 days. Meaning, in six months, your total days spent in Spain should not be more than 90 days.
The country of Spain is part of the Schengen Agreement.
What does this mean?
This means one thing. And that is when citizens from non-Schengen countries visit the country, they need a visa. The visa is something you can use in 26 countries. This includes Spain.
The Schengen visa, however, has exemptions for a few countries. The United States, South Korea, and Venezuela are some of them.
This exemption allows citizens from these countries entry to Spain. This also includes entry into other Schengen countries without a Schengen visa. But there are regulations to follow despite the exception.
First of all, your passport should have a validity of at least three (3) months. This is three months beyond the period of your stay in Spain.
The second thing that you need is enough finances. You also need a return airline ticket.
Citizens of certain countries need not apply for a Schengen visa. Some of these countries include South Korea, Brazil, and the United States.
Passport holders from these countries can enter Spain or any other Schengen country. This is without a visa. But the stay should not be more than 90 days in total.
Any person from these countries can return to Spain many times each year. As long as the total number of days they stay does not exceed 90 in 180 days.
The Exceptions to the Rule
There are, however, exceptions to the rule as mentioned above.
Students aiming to study in the country, as well as athletes, need a Spanish visa. This is despite holding an American passport.
There are many citizens from these countries that were unluckily denied entry. This is for lack of the needed documents.
Some educational institutions will inform you that there is no need for a Spanish visa to study. You can confirm this information. The same is true if you are participating in a sports training program in the country.
The Spanish consulate in your country would be your best bet.
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How can I stay in Spain longer than 90 days?
Anyone can stay in Spain for more than 90 days. One only has to get an extension of stay. This extension, you can get from the Spanish immigration authorities. One should file a request at least three weeks before the 90 days is up.
As you already know, citizens from certain countries can enter Spain visa-free for up to 90 days.
Upon entry, one is to present a return or ongoing ticket. Immigration also asks for proof that you have the financial capacity for your stay.
But let’s just say you don’t want to go back home to the States yet.
You can extend for more than the initial 90 days.
An extension of stay is something you need to get from Spanish immigration. The extension you apply for should not be more than 90 days.
Also, one should remember to apply for such an extension three weeks before the first 90 days are up.
One should remember that immigration authorities may or may not grant the extension. There are a few exceptional circumstances when one gets approval for an extension.
Before filing for an extension, you can inquire at the Spanish embassy near you.
You can also write your queries to the Spanish National Police. This is at Calle Moratin, 43, 28014 Madrid.
Or better yet, you can check the website of the Spanish Ministry of Interior. Head on to interior.gob.es for further details on the extension requests.
What happens if I overstay in Spain without the approved extension?
Overstaying without an extension approval can result in repercussions. Spain can deport you. You may also pay a fine or a penalty. Or you will no longer be able to travel to Spain or any Schengen country in the future.
Traveling to Spain is easy.
There are a lot of flights from the US to many parts of Spain. You are not required to obtain a Schengen visa.
But staying for more than 90 days without approval for an extension can mean a lot of things. It can mean deportation and/or paying the penalty. Or it can also result in Spain banning you from entering the country for a specific period.
Overstaying is tempting. This is especially true if you are enjoying every little bit of your stay in the country.
But know that the Spanish Immigration authorities will always see if you overstayed. Even for just a day, no overstay is actually left unseen.
There is no common policy when it comes to fines and consequences for all Schengen countries. Each country has different policies. But if there are common denominators when it comes to overstaying, there are three.
The first is a penalty. The second is a ban for a specific period. And the third is deportation.
Deportation procedures depend on the case as well as on the country you overstayed in.
Some deport ASAP, like about a few hours. Some countries deport after a few days.
If Spain deports you to your home country, chances are you will also be paying a fine.
Different Schengen countries have different fines.
In the case of Spain, there is no specific available figure when it comes to the amount one pays. But when caught overstaying, the amount would vary on how long you overstayed in the country.
The longer you overstay in the country, the more expensive it will be.
When you overstay in Spain without approval, the country will also ban you from coming back. This would be for a specific period.
Some will face a ban of three years. Others face longer bans from Spain and other Schengen countries.
Not all cases of overstaying get punishments. There are those that the Spanish Immigration authorities let through.
Minors do not usually face sanctions. The same is true with incapacitated individuals.
But in such cases, Spanish Immigration would most likely ask you to apply for an extension.
What is the 90/180 rule?
The rule applies to non-Schengen tourists visiting all Schengen countries. This means that in a span of 6 months, your total stay does not exceed 90 days. Day 1 starts on the day you enter the Schengen zone.
Citizens from non-Schengen countries have limitations. The limitation is always when it comes to the length of visit. Whether there is a need for visa processing or not, the requirement is all the same.
One can only stay in the Schengen zone for up to 90 days within 180 days. The stay can be in any country that belongs to the Schengen zone.
One can stay for ten days in France and 80 days in Spain. As long as the total number of days is 90, that is still allowed.
Here, we will discuss more on the 90-day rule of the Schengen countries, including Spain.
What is the 180-day timeframe? How do you calculate for such a period? And what impact does this have on your travels to Spain and the other Schengen countries?
Read on to find out more.
Calculating the 90-day rule
The 90/180-day rule applies to all Schengen countries as a whole.
This means that whenever you travel to any country in the Schengen zone, you are only allowed 90 days of stay.
The Schengen zone has 26 countries. This includes Spain.
So, for example, you first went to Norway and stayed there for ten days. You then went to Switzerland and stayed for an additional ten days.
This means that you only have 70 days remaining in the Schengen zone.
If you plan on going to Spain after Switzerland, you only have the remaining 70 days that you can spend in Spain.
The 90-day rule starts on the very day that you enter the Schengen area. This is despite whatever country you visited first. The count starts the moment you enter a Schengen country.
Let’s go back to the example above. Let us say you only spent an additional five days in Spain after Switzerland. Your total number of days in the Schengen zone would be 25.
In the same example, let’s say you spent ten days in Norway and ten days in Switzerland. After Switzerland, let’s say you went to Mongolia, which is a non-Schengen country.
You stayed in Mongolia for three days, went back to Spain, and stayed in the country for five days. The total number of days in the Schengen zone is still 25 days. This is actually computed as Norway (10 days) + Switzerland (10 days) + Spain (5 days).
This is because they count the number of days you stayed in the Schengen area. This is within the 180-day timeframe.
Now, how do you determine the 180 days?
Calculating the 180 days
Most of the confusion comes from this.
But to clear up this confusion, one should know the calculations.
First off, let us clear everything with a definition. As per definition, this should be 90 days maximum within any 180-day period.
When looking at the 180-day period, think of it as something that is movable. Do not think of the 180 days as a stagnant period. It is not a fixed timeframe.
We will explain this a bit further.
The 180-day period should be something you count backward. You count backward from the date of arrival or departure from the Schengen zone.
What does this mean for you as a traveler?
This means that whenever you enter or leave the Schengen zone, you have a new 180-day period. We will give you an idea of how the calculations are really done. This is to make things a bit easier to understand.
You do not have to concern yourself about the departures and arrivals in the previous year. You only count the number of days you were in the Schengen zone during the 180-day timeframe.
To make it easier to understand, here is one example.
Let us say you arrived in Spain from the US on June 1. The period you will be considering should be 180 days before June 1.
How many days have you spent in the Schengen zone from 180 days before June 1? If you have already totaled for more than 90 days in this 180-day period, they will refuse your entry into the zone.
Count backward for 180 days from the date of your arrival. That should be your 180-day period. If you have not spent more than 180 days in the Schengen zone, you can proceed with your visit.
Now, we already understand the repercussions of overstaying.
For citizens of non-Schengen countries, they are overstaying for more than 90 days. The overstay is always without the needed approval.
Either they deport you, fine you, or ban you from entering for a specific period.
When you always travel, the worst is getting an overstay flag on your passport.
This would make it more challenging to enter Spain in the future. It could also affect your chances of easily getting a visa in another Schengen country.
If you ever plan on going back to Spain in the future, this may be more difficult for you.
To summarize, Spain is a beautiful country.
It is no wonder people always go back to the country. And no matter how many times you go back, just make sure to calculate.
You have to ensure you do not go beyond an accumulated of 90 days in a 180-day period. Otherwise, they may refuse your entry into the country. Not only that, but the refusal is applicable even in other Schengen zones.
There are protocols to follow when you want to extend beyond the 90-day period. While these may require documents and extra steps, they will always be worth it.