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Business Trips to Schengen Countries: The 90 Days Rule and Other Compliance Issues
| Arwa Aulaqi and Andreia Ghimis

Business Trips to Schengen Countries: The 90 Days Rule and Other Compliance Issues

The maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen zone rule applies to both travellers holding Schengen C visas and travellers of visa-waived countries. As there are no separate business and tourist visas, short-term stays in the Schengen Area are collectively calculated for both tourism and business purposes in the maximum 90-day allowance. This can put frequent travellers at risk of using up their stay allowance for one purpose (such as tourism) and not having enough days left over should an urgent trip come up for another purpose, such as business. For frequent business travellers this can also mean that spending a significant amount of time in one country’s business entity would limit their ability to visit other entities within the Schengen area.

So are there any solutions for individuals who need to spend more than the allotted 90 days in the Schengen zone, particularly for urgent business purposes? Currently, it is not possible for citizens of visa-waived countries to apply for Schengen C visas for urgent business purposes if they’ve already used up their 90-day allowance. However, alternative solutions may exist. Some non-EU countries (such as Australia, Canada) have bilateral visa waiver agreements pre-dating the Schengen Agreement with individual Schengen countries, and some of these agreements are still in force. Depending on the text of the agreement, and the country it was signed with, the bilateral agreements can offer these non-EU citizens between 30 to 90 days of additional stay in the particular Schengen country signatory to the bilateral agreement, provided certain conditions are met.

It is important to ensure that the activities undertaken under visa waived status remain compliant. Checks must be conducted to verify if these activities and the duration of the stay in a certain country require work authorization. It should be taken into consideration that extended business travel can also have social security and tax implications.

It will be interesting to see how additional stays due to bilateral agreements will be enforced or allowed with the upcoming implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and the Exit and Entry System, foreseen, for 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Contact Fragomen’s EU Advisory Group should you need support creating compliance strategies for your frequent business travellers from a Schengen, work authorization and social security perspective.