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Reader question: Can Brits stay more than 90 days in the EU if they have a spouse with an EU passport?

As British nationals get to grips with the 90-day rule that now governs all trips to EU and Schengen countries, readers are asking if having a European spouse makes any difference to the limit?

Reader question: Can Brits stay more than 90 days in the EU if they have a spouse with an EU passport?
Is having an EU spouse useful for more than love and companionship? Photo: AFP

Question: I have an Irish passport but my wife has a British one. I am therefore able to visit France for more than 90 days out of every 180, but can she do the same as my wife?

This question is one of several The Local has received on a similar theme as British nationals face life under the EU’s 90-day rule.

90-day rule

This rule applies to all non EU-nationals travelling into the EU or Schengen zone for whatever reason – holiday, family visits or visit to second homes.

It has therefore long applied to visitors from American, Canada, Australia etc but since January 1st 2021 has also applied to Brits.

If you intend to do paid work while in the EU, you will probably need a visa even if you stay less than 90 days and there are some countries whose nationals need an entry visa even for a stay of less than 90 days – find the full list here. The overseas territories of France and the Netherlands have extra restrictions in place.

The rule says that people who are not resident can only spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU. So in total over the course of a year you can spend 180 days, but not all in one block.

This Schengen calculator allows you to calculate your visits and make sure you don’t overstay.

It’s important to point out that the 90-day limit is for the whole Schengen area, so for example if you have already spent 89 days in Spain you cannot then go for a long weekend in Berlin.

People who want to stay longer than that have to get a visa – either a visitor visa if they simply want to make a prolonged visit or a long-stay visa for people who intend to make their home in an EU country.

But what about people who are the spouses of EU citizens?

Having an EU spouse is useful in a number of ways to do with immigration (plus if you pick a good one they might put the bins out) but unfortunately not when it comes to the 90-day rule.

The EU’s immigration guidelines state that non-EU passport holders can join their EU spouse in a European country for three months, but after that must apply for a residency card (if they intend to stay) or a visa.

The good news is that applying for both residency or a visa can be simpler if you are applying as the spouse of an EU passport holder.

For visas the system varies between countries but generally you won’t need proof of financial means if your spouse is working, while for pensioners the income and health cover requirements are generally more relaxed. 

Member comments

  1. As always the Local has provided a useful overview. However, when to comes
    to visas the devil is in the detail. The article would be *really* useful
    if links were included to application processes.

    People who want to stay longer than 90 days in 180 have to get a visa – either a visitor visa or a long-stay visa. This article was sourced in
    France but is referenced by The Local in Spain. I am still looking for
    details of how to obtain a visitor visa – clearly a Spanish matter as
    the EU extension visa does not seem appropriate.

    Can anyone assist with clarification of what visa is needed to stay
    in Spain for 180 days en bloc – and how to obtain such? Information
    is needed by September for those UK nationals who habitually spend
    their winters in Spain over the five colder months of the year.

  2. The french government’s website guide to visas explains very clearly how to stay longer than 90 days, if required. And, for those with 2nd homes who want to spend more time in the summer (more than 90 days in a stretch) a ‘short long-stay’ visa is possible. Interestingly, Crete, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania have chosen to stay out of the 90 days in 180 day rule. Visa application to french consulate appears pretty straightforward. It’s a nuisance, and I wish we didn’t have to do it, but not as bleak as the press make it out to be.

    1. The article does not give nearly enough detail on this matter of 6-month stays for Brits with an EU spouse. These will normally be people with 2nd homes. I understand that the Brit has to go to the prefecture within 3 months of arrival and then apply for a “Carte de Séjour de membre de la famille d’un Européen”. But do the prefectures make a difference between (a) people wanting a CdeS because they wish to become permanent residents; and (b) people wanting a CdS in order to say for 6 months? As I say above, most 2nd home-owners will be in category (b). I’ve looked on the website of the prefecture du Var but all I see are references to applications for a VLS-TS, and this is for permanent residents. We would like to stay for 6 months but do not want to be mistaken for permanent residents. Hopefully ‘The Local’ will clarify this point for all of us.

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Is abortion legal in Austria?

With the debates on women's rights again in the spotlight worldwide, readers in Austria have asked what the rules are in the alpine country.

Reader question: Is abortion legal in Austria?

The leaked US Supreme court draft document that shows the highest court in the United States is now in favour of overturning the ruling, known as Roe v Wade, which made abortion legal across the country, has brought the issue of reproductive rights back to the centre stage worldwide.

Austria has been put particularly in the spotlight, as Reuters reported that a company headquartered in the country has seen a spike in interest from American women this week.

The company, nonprofit Aid Access provides prescription pills used to terminate pregnancies at home and sends them by mail.

To get around restrictions in some US states, the Austrian-headquartered company works with European doctors who prescribe the abortive pills for patients using a mail-order pharmacy in India.

READ ALSO: Violence against women in the spotlight in Austria after horrific killings

While women in many countries need to go through such schemes or even resort to illegal and dangerous abortion clinics, rules in Austria, where abortion has been legal since 1975, make the procedure much safer for women.

Is abortion legal in Austria?

It is decriminalised. Since 1975, optative abortion is not a crime in Austria. Women can discontinue a pregnancy per choice within the first three months – before the 16th pregnancy week, counting from the date of the last menstrual period.

Women must go through a consultation with a doctor, but they don’t have to disclose the reasons for the abortion. Instead, the consultation will usually decide which abortion method is better for the patient’s case.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which European nations have the highest (and lowest) percentage of women MPs?

The so-called “late abortions”, after 16 weeks, are possible in some instances.

These include if there is a severe danger to the mental health, physical health, or the life of the pregnant woman; if the child is expected to be born with severe mental or physical disabilities; or if the woman was under 14 years of age when she became pregnant.

Teenage pregnancy

Girls in Austria can give their own consent to an abortion from the age of 14. However, some hospitals in Austrian provinces would still require a legal guardian’s consent for minors.

The consent of a legal guardian is also necessary if the adolescent is not legally capable of giving consent (for example, as a result of a learning disability), according to Austrian authorities.

If the girl is under the age of 14, then the consent of a parent or legal guardian is always required before an abortion can be performed.

What are the methods available in Austria?

Women who have decided to have an abortion can do so with a surgical method (usually suction, but curettage is also possible in some cases) or using drugs. This will usually depend on how far along with the pregnancy she is and is decided together with a doctor.

READ ALSO: Does Austria have a problem with violence against women?

The surgical option can be done either in a hospital or an outpatient clinic, with general or local anaesthesia. It is a safe surgical procedure, and women are usually discharged after a few hours.

With a drug-based abortion, doctors use the Mifegyne pill, which has been approved in Austria since 1999 and is considered a very safe and reliable method, especially in early pregnancy. However, the drug must be taken in the presence of a doctor or after written medical order.

Where can women go to get information on abortion?

For information or to get the procedure, women can go to general practitioners, gynaecology clinics, special abortion ambulatory clinics, and gynaecological departments of hospitals.

There are also advice institutions such as family counselling centres and women’s health centres that women can visit to get more information.

Austria has many private women’s clinics that offer advice, do the procedure in a safe environment, or just provide implantation and recommendation for contraception methods.

Most of them will see people seeking abortions without a previous appointment, on short notice, and even on weekends. Most clinics have doctors and receptionists who speak English. They don’t require women to give much personal details or be Austrian citizens or residents.

Who pays for the costs of an abortion?

Optional abortions are not covered by social insurance in Austria and must be paid privately. Costs can range from €550 to €915 for a surgical abortion in Vienna or €535 to €560 for the pharmacological option in the capital.

The costs of abortion will only be covered by social insurance if the abortion is necessary for medical reasons.

READ ALSO: Austria’s top court legalises same-sex marriage

Some municipalities offer financial support through the social welfare office of district authorities, subject to certain conditions.

Is the morning after pill allowed?

Yes. Emergency contraception is not free, though, but can be bought without a prescription in pharmacies or in women’s clinics, which usually open late.

What is “anonymous birth”?

In Austria, there is also the legal possibility of giving birth anonymously, free of charge, in any hospital. The Youth Welfare Office becomes the child’s legal guardian as it is adopted by parents in the system.

This is legal in Austria, and women can follow the route without concern for criminal prosecution – they also don’t need Austrian health insurance or residency. After the birth, women have six months to change their minds and revoke the decision to give up the child.

There are also hospitals in Austria that anonymously care for and receive babies. In addition, mothers can anonymously inquire about the child’s condition anonymously and change their minds in six months before the child is released for adoption.

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