I'm American who came to Europe to spend about 24 months looking around. I Wasn't aware I needed a Visa, so I have none for EU. I hope to circumvent the problem of 90 days in/90 days out by taking refuge in non Schengen countries. My question is, after research for several hours, I find it difficult to determine which countries qualify for being 'out' of Schengen area because of the confusing designations. Some sites say Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia are not yet part, but being considered. Norway, Switzerland, Brit isles leave me confused as to their acceptability. I also see Bosnia/H, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo are not considered (yet) Schengen.
QUESTION: What countries are available for me to spend 90 days out of Schengen now? Hope you're able to help me and thank you.
BTW: consulate in Madrid was 0 help
Paul, I'm not in immigration, but here's my best guess. This does depend on what country you are from. I can't tell from your profile, so my answer is for U.S. Citizens only.
The short answer is that there really isn't a great list for determining this. We know which countries are Schengen, but not which ones are about to be, or which ones strictly enforce Schengen even if they aren't legally recognized as such.
The Schengen Zone (based on http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/) is the following countries:
You can spend up to 90 days in any/all of these countries without needing a visa as a U.S. Citizen. On your 91st day, you must leave the zone and cannot reenter until another 90 days have passed. Another way to think of it: you can spend a maximum of 90 days in the zone, in any given 180 day period. So if you spend 30 days in, 60 days out, you can only spend up to another 60 days in before you have to leave again.
Also, the following countries are currently in the process of becoming subject to Schengen rules, so it's best to avoid them since the rules could change while you're in the country and it would be your responsibility to know this:
Any country NOT on the above list is a good candidate for you to visit, but you should be aware of that country's visa requirements for visiting too -- for example, the UK operates by the similar rules to the Schengen Zone, but it should be considered a separate "zone..." that is, of course, unless you get some unpleasant immigration office who decides to grill you on why and where you're going.
When you're doing the 90/90 rule you will nearly always need to show "proof of onward travel," meaning you have to have your flights/trains/boats out of the country/zone booked before you enter it.
That all said, I would head to the nearest embassy and confer with them on the issue if possible, and be sure to do research online before traveling to any country. There are strict penalties for overstaying in any country beyond your tourist "non-visa" window or visa.
I've just researched this question specifically for Bulgaria. Here's the most official and current document I could find:
"Stays in Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Romania, Cyprus and the United Kingdom shall not be taken into account as they are not (yet) part of the Schengen area without internal borders. At the same time, the non-EU Member States Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland belong to the Schengen area; short stays in these countries count in when assessing the compliance with the 90 days / 180-day rule."
So there you have it. Valerie's answer is the list of countries that will count towards your "Schengen" limit, and countries like Romania or Bulgaria don't. They plan to, though, so it's best to stay informed.
By the way, when transiting from a Schengen-Area country to a non-Schengen-Area one or vice-versa, make sure to get your entry and exit stamps, so you have evidence of leaving the Schengen Area!
Mentioned in this answer:
Iceland 100% absolutely is part of the Schengen Agreement. So do not try to spend 90 days out there. But I highly recommend visiting there while you are in Europe. It is one of my favorite countries ever!
Get a UK 2 year visitor visa then you can spend up to 6 months at a time in England , Scotland, Northern Ireland costs approx $500. Amazing amount of places, things to do and the comfort of not having to understand a foreign language.
Great answer from Valerie! We will have the same problem traveling this next year so we intend to spend time in Croatia & Serbia to "reset the clock" on the 90 day limit. After some research I have found that there is a LOT to do in these 2 countries and I'm quite certain it will keep us busy. I have previously visited Zagreband loved it there! A large city with culture, art, food, wine, beer, outdoor pursuits & more. I would highly recommend spending a couple of weeks there when you need to exit the Schengen zone!
For some more info about my previous stop over in Croatia check out http://thesportysightseer.com/category/croatia/
I hope you enjoy your time in Europe both in & out of the Schengen area!!