Does Portugal effectively count as non-Schengen when it comes to the 90/180 rule?

As an American, the 90/180 rule for visiting the Schengen area applies to me.

As a GV holder, I’m considered a resident of Portugal.

Looking around, my understanding is that if I enter Portugal, the 90/180 counter doesn’t start for me.

Now if I enter a non-Portugal country, say, Spain, then the 90/180 counter starts.

Suppose I hit 90 days in Spain now. My question is, can I go back and stay in Portugal for 90 days to reset the 90/180 counter?

In other words, as a resident of Portugal, can I use Portugal as a non-Schengen country in which my stay would count as being outside of Schengen?

Or must I go to a real non-Schengen country (e.g., Ireland, UK, home/US, etc.) to reset the 90/180 clock?

Was looking around but couldn’t find a direct answer to this question. Any help appreciated!!

I believe so. Basically the 90/180 Schengen limit is really a Schengen tourism limit. Since your status in Portugal is resident, not tourist, it counts as outside your Schengen tourist limit.


I believe it is the latter - go to a non-Schengen country for 90+ days.

Having said that, what happens is for now, and it is about to change once ETIAS is implemented, some countries are less stringent in enforcing this rule. I am also an American, and I have travelled in and out countries like Spain and France by car, and Italy by plane, on “over-stayed” tourist visa. Travelling by car, there were no border checks of any kind. Nor were there ones travelling by plane.

However, twice I had to resort to my SEF papers to provide the right to enter and stay in Portugal. Once I was requested to show such a proof by TAP in Heathrow, and the other time - by SEF in Humberto Delgado upon passport control. In both cases, showing my SEF certificate of bio completion was sufficient.

And so, the morale is that you might be asked to present supporting documents that you can legitimately enter and stay in Portugal. However, these do not provide you with an exemption from 90/180 rule within other Schengen countries as technically speaking you are an “irregular resident” until you have a card and should remain only on national territory. Your passport stamps at any point of Schengen entry/exit determine your presence within Schengen.

There is an interesting twist exists to the 90/180 rules that has to do bi-lateral treaties signed prior to formation of Schengen area. Thus you can legally stay in France (and technically - only in France) additional 90 days past your 90-day Schengen limit. In Portugal, it is additional 60 days, and I never investigated other countries. Beware that many “young” border control officers are unaware of their existence, and have supporting documents to direct their attention to this matter. Fortunately, I have not had to resort to “educating” them yet. FYI, I posted details on US-PT bi-lateral treaty here: Moving to Portugal right after pre-approval - #48 by PCERoman

After almost year-and-a-half of living in limbo in Portugal, I stopped worrying about these things… :slight_smile:

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Makes a lot of sense when you phrase it this way.

Effectively with the GV card in hand, I’m not a tourist in Portugal, so it wouldn’t make sense to count my stay in Portugal as days of being a tourist in Schengen. But if the tourist days aren’t incrementing, then by necessity the non-tourist days must be. Hence being Portugal is contributing to the non-tourist days of the 90/180 rule.

Would your answer change if I already have a card?

This is a great point. So effectively the set of non-Schengen countries (for the purpose of resetting the 90/180 counter) is actually larger and includes France and perhaps other countries that have a similar bilateral treaty with US!

Absolutely! At that point, you ARE a resident of Schengen, and the whole point is moot.

Well, not quite. You are not “resetting” the Schengen visa, but you are extending your stay the 90-day limit. Consider that you always wanted to attend couple of performances in Wiener Staatsoper (and managed to sculp couple of tickets), ski in Alps, and sample some good vino Toscano, and you spent 90 days enjoying the good life! Now, you crossed over to France… and bingo! You have another 90 days to indulge in bon fromage, crêpes sucres, and boeuf Bourguignon. Then, you MUST exist and re-set your 90 day out counter…

If you sneak across the border to Spain… probably that is fine as well as nobody really cares, but technically you aren’t allowed to do so. No Manchego para ti, Señor!

In reality, I was flying for two weeks in England, and six weeks in Australia, and… was politely waved right straight through!


Ohhh I get it now. So in your example technically you can’t enter Spain because in the last 90 days you were in France and that still counts as Schengen. OK then to reset that would you now need to wait 180 days outside of Schengen (since in the past 180 days you were 90 days in Schengen and then 90 days in France aka also Schengen)?

How convenient that Americans can stay in the UK for 180 days…

Like you said in practice probably it’ll all be fine since there are no border checks within Schengen. But if need be I suppose 180 days of fish and chips and tikka masala will cure all ills. :laughing:

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Oh there sometimes is - especially going into Germany. See other threads like:

I live and work in an EU/Schengen country (not Portugal). When I enter the EU/Schengen, I always show my passport and the EU residency card for the country I live in, which they scan into their computer. Living close to the border, I usually use airports in other countries around the one I’m resident in. I’ve never been questioned about how long I’ve stayed or other EU/Schengen visits that I’ve made. When driving to neighbouring countries, there are border police almost always at the border but I haven’t been checked and those who are just have their IDs looked at. I’m too busy working to be staying more than 90 days in other EU/Schengen countries, but I think I could and the authorities wouldn’t know. There are no internal checks, even when flying.

My point is sometimes there are checks - I would never say “There are no internal checks.”

Especially going into Germany, where I sat on a bus from France for half an hour in December as border control picked through every page of everyone’s passport. For a few people they also took their docs into the station for further computer checks.

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