How Long is the Schengen Visa Valid For? What Happens If I Overstay?

When traveling within the Schengen Area, it’s important to check your Schengen Visa’s validity to ensure you don’t have an expired visa. You will not be permitted to stay in Europe after the expiration of your Schengen Visa, unless you extend it.

How to get a Schengen visa? 

How long is the short-stay Schengen Visa valid for?

Short-stay Schengen Visas are only valid for a maximum of 3 months (90 days) within a six-month period.

Although multiple-entry visas are valid for longer periods - six months to five years - you may only spend 90 days (duration of stay on your visa sticker) in the Schengen Area within a rolling 180-day period (known as its validity period).

The validity period of your visa indicates how long you can use your visa. The dates are mentioned on your visa sticker. It will have a ‘From’ date, from which you are permitted to enter the Schengen Area, and an ‘Until’ date - the date on which you must leave - the end of its validity period.

Validity period on different types of visas and the number of entries

A short-stay Schengen visa (type C) can be delivered for several types of entries. The validity period of your visa can depend on this criteria.

  • A single-entry visa (« 1 » on the visa sticker) authorizes the holder to enter the Schengen area once and for a certain period of time. Once they leave the Schengen area, the validity of the visa expires, even if the authorized period to stay in the area is not yet over.
  • A double-entry visa (« 2 » on the sticker) authorizes its holder to enter the Schengen area twice during the validity period of the visa. It is therefore possible to leave the Schengen area and enter it again during that time. After the second exit, the visa expires.
  • A multiple-entry visa (“MULT” on the sticker): this multiple-entry visa allows its holder to enter and exit the Schengen area an unlimited number of times. This authorization remains valid for a maximum of 90 days over a 180 day period. It is possible to obtain a type C MULT Schengen visa with a validity period of 6 months to 5 years maximum. This visa is mostly granted to those who have valid reasons for travelling often to the Schengen area, who have no negative precedent in their visa history, who have a healthy financial situation in their country of origin and who truly intend on leaving the Schengen territory before the expiration date of their visa. 

However the rule remains the same: no stay exceeding 90 days in the Schengen area over a 180 day period

What happens if I overstay my Schengen Visa?

The first thing to know is that now, with computerized visa checks in place across the Schengen Area, an overstayed visa never goes unnoticed. Immigration authorities have registered in their databases every person that enters and leaves, and if you overstay, even for just one day, it will be recorded. Authorities will also punish you whether your overstay beyond your Schengen Visa’s validity was intentional or unintentional. You could receive a fine, immediate deportation or even get banned from entering the Schengen Area for a period. It is also important to remember that the 90/180 day rule also applies to countries with a visa waiver agreement with the Schengen Area.

How long can I stay in Europe after Brexit?

Since the U.K. left the EU, British passport holders traveling to the EU, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland have been subject to the same EU rules of entry and stay for third-country citizens – so you can stay for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period.

Consequences of overstaying in Schengen Zone

Each Schengen state applies different penalties for overstaying beyond your Schengen Visa’s validity, and the sanctions you will face will depend on the country you are caught in. For example, Germany is known to have the strictest immigration laws in the Schengen Area.

Will I face deportation? 

If you are caught staying illegally in Europe, and are not in the process of leaving of your own accord, you will face deportation. You may be deported immediately, or if caught flouting rules by taking paid work or engaging in criminality, you may be taken into custody and face a trial that could result in prison time or a fine. You will then be deported after serving your punishment. Deportation is almost always followed by further sanctions like a travel ban except in the most minor cases of overstaying your Schengen Visa’s validity.

Future travel bans for overstaying your Schengen Visa’s validity

If you face a fine or deportation, you are likely to be banned from traveling to the Schengen Area for a period of time. Even those who escape these sanctions could face a ban - while overstaying is also likely to affect your chances of getting a Schengen Visa in the future.

What fine could I face?

The most regular penalty for overstaying a Schengen Visa’s validity is a fine that will be applied by the member state where you are caught. These vary depending on each state - but will be more expensive the longer you overstay and lack mitigating circumstances.

Could I face a ban from entering the Schengen Area?

This sanction is most commonly applied to those overstaying their Schengen Visa’s validity and working or engaging in illegality. You can be banned for three years, or in some cases, even longer.

Are there ever no consequences to overstaying a Schengen Visa?

Minors or those requiring a caretaker may not face sanctions, or if you are incapacitated by an illness or injury. But in these cases, you are advised to apply for an extension.

Applying for an extension to your Schengen Visa validity

If you wish to apply for a Schengen Visa extension, you need to decide which reason you wish to use to apply for renewal and apply before the expiration of your current visa. If you apply after your visa expires, even just a day later, then you will be deported for overstaying your visa, whatever your reasons.

To do this you will need your passport, which must have the current visa under which you entered the Schengen Area, an application form for a short-stay Schengen Visa extension, a photo that fulfills the visa photo requirements, proof of income that demonstrates you can support yourself during your extended stay, travel and medical insurance covering the whole Schengen Area for the duration of your Schengen Visa extension, as well as documents proving your need to get an extension.

Related topics on Schengen visa

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Schengen Visa validity

I’ve accidentally overstayed my Schengen Visa - can I get an extension?

No. If you’ve overstayed your visa you should leave the Schengen Area immediately to avoid deportation.

I think I am in danger of overstaying - how much does it cost to extend my Schengen Visa?

The cost is the same as your initial visa - €80 for adults and €40 for minors.

What is a short term Schengen Visa?

The Schengen short-stay visa allows you to enter and remain in a country in the Schengen Area for a maximum period of 90 days - or multiple stays totaling 90 days within a  180-day period.