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How long can I stay in my motorhome in France? Long-stay French Visas

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Planning to travel to France in a motorhome for longer than the usual tourist travel period? You’ll most likely need a visa if you plan a long travel duration. Understanding visa requirements for travel in France can get quite confusing, as there are various rules depending on your nationality, type and the length of time you want to spend there.

UK residents were significantly affected by the change in 2021 due to Brexit. Once able to go back and forth across the channel to Schengen countries without limits, UK travellers must now adhere to the rules that other non-EU countries must abide by.

This guide is written for motorhome travellers who wish to travel for over 90 days in the Schengen zone. However, the visa application process and many tips and tricks will also apply to general travellers wishing to stay longer. The only difference will be in the provision of some documentation. Long-stay visa requirements do not affect short-term and infrequent travellers to this zone.

The visas discussed here relate to the Schengen Zone, a zone with a 90-day short-stay visa applicable to many (without requiring an application) and long-stay visas provided via an approval process. Further, it concentrates on the basic requirements, traps and pitfalls of the long-stay visa in France.

We have put together this guide because we know that trying to get a visa when travelling in a motorhome with no fixed address can sometimes make the process more complicated when being assessed by administrative personnel with limited knowledge of this form of travel. It can be even more difficult if your motorhome travel does not involve staying at official campgrounds where you have advance bookings, for example.

More than 506,000 visa applications were refused in 2023, according to provisional figures from France’s Interior Ministry.

Just under 3 million visas requested across the year, meaning that a little more than one in six were refused. 

The figure includes short-stay visas for those without visa-free access to the Schengen Zone, which accounted for the vast majority of applications.

French Connexion 20.02.24

Disclaimer: We are providing some basic guidance, tips and hints to try and assist in the process to ensure you have a successful outcome. As visas and their associated rules are legal requirements legislated by their issuing country, please refer to their official website for the latest and most accurate details on visa requirements. In the case of the French visa, this is their website. This guide does not set out the specific process to go through from online application to interview, as there are many other websites where this information is available, and it differs depending on where you are applying from. We also do not discuss any impacts that staying for certain amounts of time might do on your residency or tax status in your home countries. You should seek professional advice on this matter.

Why is Schengen important to travellers?

Before we discuss applying for a long-stay visa, it’s important to understand the rules and application of the short-stay visa requirements in the Schengen Zone. Once you understand this, it will clarify why a traveller wanting to spend more than three months in these countries might need to consider other options.

What are the Schengen countries?

There are currently 27 countries in the Schengen Zone.

FranceItalySpain
PortugalGermanyThe Netherlands
BelgiumAustriaFinland
SwedenDenmarkEstonia
LatviaLithuaniaLuxembourg
CroatiaHungarySlovenia
SlovakiaPolandCzech Republic
GreeceMaltaLiechtenstein*
Norway*Switzerland*Iceland*

*These countries are not part of the EU but are part of Schengen. Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus will likely join the Schengen Zone in the future.

Like something a bit more visual? Click here to see the Schengen countries on a map.

The critical rule for the short-stay allowance

Depending on your nationality, travellers can be provided with an automatic visa into Schengen States for a period of up to 90 days in a 180-day period. This is a simple but important rule, as it is often misunderstood, and ultimately, it determines if you stay legally in a country.

The 90 days do not have to be continuous nor in one country (or Shenghen state). Rather, it is an accumulation of 90 days. However, it applies within a rolling or continuous 180-day period. This is tricky to interpret, understand and then calculate correctly, especially if you are a regular traveller in these areas.

Our tip: Use 180 days as the lead benchmark number in your calculations; it will be much easier to calculate and understand. The 180 days should be counted backward from your arrival or departure date, depending on whether you are trying to calculate a previous or future travel period, and you should add up all days travelled in a Schengen state to see if you are within the 90/180 rule.

While this rule specifically applies to those travelling short-term, its relevance to the long-stay visa can’t be underestimated. While it is not necessary for the long-stay visa itself, many travellers append the short-stay allowance onto a long-stay visa term, so it’s important to understand how it all works. More on that later.

Biggest mistakes in applying the short-stay visa rules

The most common mistake is simple; it relates to a lack of understanding of how the 90/180 is calculated, but the assumptions below are just plain wrong.

  • Travelling out of the Schengen States resets the clock, irrespective of how long you’ve already been in the Schengen Zone or when you do it. For example, travelling outside the Schengen for one day resets the clock to start again from 0/90.
    Incorrect. You can only travel for 90 days in any rolling 180-day period under a short-stay visa arrangement. If you have travelled 90 days in 180, you can’t just leave the zone for a day, a few days, or a week. Under these circumstances, you must use the 180 day calculator to see when your time resets. e.g if you did a continuous 90 day block all at once, you must exist for at least another 90 days. If your travel is intermittant over the 180 days, then based on the rolling time period, your allowance will come back bit by bit over time.
  • You must only be out of the Schengen States for a day or two before returning to satisfy the visa requirements.
    Incorrect. As per the above, you need to calculate how many days in the last 180 you have spent in the Schengen to work out when you can come back.
  • You can travel as much as you like in these areas as long as it’s never more than 90 days.
    Incorrect. You can only travel 90/180, not 90 at once. So you can’t travel for 90, leave for a month and come back and do another 90 as that is more than 90/180.
  • The 90 days must be continuous.
    Incorrect. While many people might do 90 in one hit, many travellers come back and forth. The 90 is calculated by adding up the number of days in the Schengen Zone in a rolling 180 days,
  • The 180 days is a static number that starts after the arrival or departure date.
    Incorrect. The 180 days is a calculation done on a rolling basis and is applied depending on when you have travelled to show your allowance for future travel.

This gets quite confusing, so here is an example explaining it further. The easiest way to check the number of days you have spent – or are planning to spend – in a Schengen state in a 180-day period is to count backwards.

Example A

Person A is travelling to several Schengen States, with a side trip to a non-Schengen state in between.

  1. Arrive in France on 18 March. Leave 21 April. *35 days
  2. Arrive in Ireland on 21 April. Leave 29 April.
  3. Arrive in Italy on 30 April. Leave 23 June. *55 days

If person A didn’t travel at all in the 180 days prior to arriving in France on 18 March, then person A has the full 90 days available. Person A travelled for 90 days in a short period – albeit with a break- within the 180-day days. This means person A can’t go back into the Schengen States until at least 14 September, as this is when the first part of the trip falls outside of the 180 days.

If, however, you do re-enter on this date – the date the rolling 180-day clock resets – you would still only be able to stay another 35 days, which is the time ‘freed up’ by the first leg of the trip. Leaving the Schengen for a short period did not reset the clock.

The calculator still includes the 55 days spent in Italy as part of the rolling 180 days. Therefore, the 55 days are still counted towards the traveller’s 90 days in 180.

You can't re-enter the Schengen Area until at least 14 September, when the Spanish leg of your trip falls outside your 180-day period. If you re-enter on 14 September, you can only stay another 35 days as your time in Greece is still counted towards your current 90 days.

If you re-enter on 22 September, you can stay another 90 days, as you haven't been in the Schengen Area in the past 180 days.

To be completely ‘clear’ of any issue, you should add the 90 days to the end of your last day in the Schengen Zone.

So, the last day was 23 June, in Greece.  Therefore, 90 days after this date would be 22 September.

If you arrived in a Schengen State on 22 September, you would have another full 90 days to spend here (in a 180 day block).

Technically though, you could arrive back in a Schengen State 90 days after you arrived in Spain on 18 March.
Note the control date: resetting the 180-day clock from the first entry date.

However, if you wait to enter on 22 September, it will have been 180 days since person A arrived in the Schengen and 90 days since the last travel on 23/6, so the travel days will have been reset to the full 90 days.

Date reset on 180 day schengen clock
90 days clear on 22/9/23 from last day of travel on 23/6 and 180 days from 27/3/23

When planning future travel, make it simple by subtracting 180 days from your planned travel dates.

Example B

Here’s an example that is typical of a question asked on many Facebook forums. Nine out of ten times, the answer is not correct. Many comments suggest that it is okay to do 30 days on and 30 days off or that the clock resets if you leave the Schengen country. None of these comments are correct.

The rule is 90 days to be spent in a Schengen Zone country in 180 days. The 180 is a rolling number. So, to see if the below can be done, you need to count backwards from the later travel date.

Person B wants to travel from 1 April to – 30 April (approximately one month) and from 1 June until 31 August (approximately three months) in the same year. Does this comply with the 90/180 rule?

If you use the control date of 31 August, this traveller will have spent 122 days in the Schengen Zone in a 180-day period (calculated as 31/8 – 180 days = 4/3), so this travel won’t comply. The fact that the traveller wasn’t in the zone for all of May does not matter in this instance.

calculating the 90:180 schengen rule
Using the end of travel date as the control date to show the travel is outside the 90/180 allowance.

Need more help? This Schengen online calculator can help you determine whether you will be under or over the 90 days in 180. If you are having trouble working out the number of days between two sets of dates, use this online date calculator or if you want to quickly calculate 180 days retrospectively from a proposed end date try this.

There is also a raft of apps online for both iPhone and Android phones. We use SchengenCal on iPhone. It allows us to set up past and future trips, clearly showing how many days are being used and how many more are possible within the 180-day period. It also clearly shows when you are trying to add a trip that will overstay the visa allowances. Many of these apps are available on the app store.

Schengen Cal app trip planning
Schengen Cal app trip planning

Can I overstay my visa?

The answer to this question is one only you can answer. However, seeing it is law, and severe penalties can apply to anyone breaking visa conditions, we certainly do not advocate doing so.

Perhaps the lack of vigilance that occurs at internal road borders these days, especially within the Schengen, makes people think that it’s ok to run the gauntlet of (not) being caught. After all, the Schengen States were set up to allow for border-free travel, amongst other things, for those who live there. Countries will administer this process differently; some are extremely to the point, while others may be slightly more relaxed.

But the authorities can review your documents whenever they wish. The possible consequences are huge and can range from fines to being deported or banned from ever returning to the Schengen States. For us, this is something we aren’t ever prepared to do.

Remember, your passport will be reviewed upon entry and exit if you enter the Schengen Zone from the UK (e.g. via ferry with your motorhome). Records are kept of when you enter and exit each time, and the authorities will be able to see very clearly how long you’ve been in the zone.

The same extends to travellers who arrive via air (and those who then go on to use their own motorhome or hire one). Border officials have a wealth of information at the ready and know everywhere you’ve been.

Our tip: Be sure to get passport stamps at your point of entry and departure in the Schengen zone. It’s not always easy, and getting stamps is less likely in this digital era, but it’s worth asking if you can.

How can I travel (legally) for longer than 90 days?

Many motorhome travellers are on the road for long periods – months, sometimes years – so there needs to be other avenues for staying legally. For example, some countries have bilateral agreements that allow for longer stays. This guide, however, does not deal with these types of agreements or subsequent visas that may apply.

There are two main ways of extending a tourist stay in the Schengen zone: planning your travel carefully and staying on the move (going in and out of the zone as required to achieve the 90/180 rule) or applying for a long-stay visa.

Travelling out of Schengen zone

The most obvious and easiest course of action is to spend 90 days in one block in a Schengen State and then 90 days in one block out of the zone, thus achieving the 90/180-day threshold. Any move into another country is subject to their rules, many of which have similar requirements about a maximum stay of 90 days.

As per the explanation and examples above, if you don’t stay for 90 days in a block, you’ll need to know how the 90/180 allowance is calculated on a rolling basis.

Note that the day you leave a Schengen State and the day you arrive at the new non-Schengen location is effectively double-counted – one by the departing country and one by the destination country. This means that it is both day 90 and day 1. It is advisable to give some flexibility around these allowances so that you don’t get caught overstaying your visa in either location.

Whether this option is suitable will depend on each traveller’s personal circumstances. If you are a UK resident, going home might be simple enough. For those travelling from much further away – e.g. Australia and New Zealand – it might be time best spent on the road seeing as much as possible. Some might store their motorhomes until they return another time. Budgets will also be a factor.

For those who live far away from Europe, it won’t always be as simple as just moving to another country.

France long-stay visa

Long-stay visas are available in other states, but this guide focuses on the temporary long-stay visas issued in France.

  1. Temporary long-stay visa – VLS-T
  2. Regular long-stay visa – VLS-TS – includes a resident’s permit

Temporary long-stay visa

This visa is also known as the Visa de Long Séjour Temporaire (temporary), the VLS-T Visiteur or Visitor D. This is the most common long-stay visa used by longer-term travellers, as it is the easiest, has slightly fewer requirements (and therefore information to provide). However, it cannot be renewed, but subsequent visas can be applied for at appropriate intervals.

Even though this visa is issued in France, it is still valid for travel more broadly in the Schengen zone (see notes further on about the calculation of the 90/180 rule). You can also leave the Schengen (to go home, for example) during the duration of your visa; just don’t overstay the final date.

Basic process

Quick summary of visa conditions

  • Allows for a stay of up to six months.
  • Visitor/tourist visa – must note the reason for the visit.
  • Visa holders cannot work – either physically or remotely, on paid or unpaid work.
  • Evidence of self-sufficient financial position.
  • Health insurance – The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and/or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are satisfactory for UK residents; they do not include repatriation. For other visitors, you must have comprehensive travel insurance that covers all medical costs that could be incurred in France, including repatriation costs or costs incurred if death occurs while in France/Schengen zone. All insurance must comply with the Schengen insurance terms: at least €30,000 coverage and covers all Schengen countries for the period of the visa.

Do I need a visa?

If you are reading this, you are probably sure you require a visa. If you want to do a quick check, you can do so here via the online wizard. The visa discussed here is the tourist/visitor visa.

  • Only use official government sites for visa applications to avoid possible scammers and fraudulent transactions. For the French visa, this is their official site.
france visa online wizard
France visa online wizard

The visa process (high level)

French long stay visa flow chart

The actual job of completing the required information online for the visa application is quite straightforward. However, the real devil is in providing the comprehensive and accurate additional documentation that the French government requires to assess your application.

To complete the visa application, you must create an account here. If you are applying as a couple or family, one person can create an account and add all related parties from there. You don’t need to establish an account for each person.

If you are English-speaking, be sure to toggle the English selector in the visa application form first.

Once the application has been lodged, you must make an appointment for the interview. In the UK, appointments are made at TLScontact locations. TLS, as they are commonly known, has offices in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. In Australia, VFSGlobal is the consulate’s agent. Locations are in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. VFSGlobal is also an agent in the USA. There are 10 locations available for appointments.

While the process for checking and approving the visas is standard, do not assume that all locations conduct their interviews in exactly the same way. Do your research on your own country’s requirements to avoid frustration and disappointment.

Note: Appointment times can fill up fast. At the UK-based TLS outlets, available appointment times are released in blocks. There are certain months during the year when appointment times are in high demand, so be proactive to ensure you get your preferred dates.

You will need to give your passport to the officials at the interview for them to send away. The passport could be gone for up to two weeks (give or take). Don’t plan anything for this time when you also might need a passport.

Tips and tricks to assist the application process

What not to do

Before we give you some extra tips, here are our quick tips on what not to do. Even if you make this your bare minimum, you’ll be starting off the process in the right way.

Sure-fire ways to have your application rejected at the interview.

  • Wrong visa choice and mismatched purpose: stay 90-180 days are the temporary long-stay visa (VLS-T), the regular long-stay (VLS-TS with residence permit addition), or applying for a visitor permit when you will be working, for example.
  • Information on the application and supporting documentation do not match. It is critical that the information you enter on your application form matches your supporting documentation exactly, particularly that of your passport. If your application name and passport name are different for example, you will most certainly have an issue if you can’t support the reason why this is so. For example, many years ago, I travelled using a passport in my maiden name. I needed my marriage certificate to prove that my name had changed. Ultimately, the passport is the control document.
  • Not all required documentation provided as per the checklist, and therefore unable to satisfy all requests for information or documentation at the interview.
  • Providing false documents, e.g., hotel bookings or flight tickets. You are submitting information to a government entity and its agents. The surge of AI online has opened up a world of opportunity for people wanting to do the wrong thing. Don’t do it here.
  • Poor visa photographs or photographs that are too old.
  • Passport issues: insufficient validity to match the visa being applied for, too few blank pages, in poor condition.
  • Not using the correct application to match your passport’s nationality.
  • Not having a ticket that shows where you will land. Motorhomers will need a copy of their ferry tickets. You should also be able to show a return ticket.
  • You must submit your application to the relevant consulate, embassy or agent in your legal country of residence. Note there are some emergency exceptions to this.

Appointment

Have ready access to your appointment confirmation – either digitally or a printed copy – to show anyone who might need to see it before they give you access to the building. Some security personnel have been known to be overly officious.

The appointment system can sometimes work similarly to that of a medical centre, whereby the early timeslots are more likely to run on time than those later in the day. It’s not a proven science, but if waiting isn’t your thing, we recommend getting an earlier slot.

Good to know: Appointment slots are usually for individual interviews. If you are grouping more than one person together, e.g. family, couple, etc., it might be wise to check if any group slots are available at your preferred location before creating one single account.

Visa photographs

This is one area where an issue often happens. The interviewing officials can be very pedantic with respect to the quality of the photographs. There are specific guidelines for the visa photographs; see attached. If the interviewer deems them to be incorrect, they will direct you to get more done; usually at their machine where they make commission.

There is a certain line of thinking here that the interviewers reject photographs for this reason – to force new ones to be taken to inflate their revenue. If you have had your photos taken by a professional who understands the guidelines for the French visa, then you should stand your ground and advise the interviewer that the photos should be accepted.

If you aren’t willing to have the fight or aren’t sure of whether you’re on solid ground, then it will be best to acquiesce and get your photos redone so as not to jeopardise your visa approval.

It’s probably best to just get your photos done onsite to avoid any issues.

Understanding motorhome travellers

The visitor’s visa is accessible to all travellers who wish to avail of more time in France (or the Schengen). There is no specific visa for motorhome travellers. As such, it is possible to encounter an interviewer unfamiliar with long-term motorhome travellers who may find it difficult to understand the lack of a permanent address.

Therefore, the information provided below is a general guide to some of the different situations and scenarios you might encounter as a motorhome traveller.

To be clear, this is not a completely exhaustive list and while we try to have as much current information as possible, it really is a moving feast. Why? Because all of the interviews conducted for a visa are done by individuals. As such, individuals assess things differently, focusing on different parts of the process.

Individual questioning is subject to different influences and nuances, none of which you can anticipate or control. Are they having a good day? Has there been an issue with certain items on the application that require closer attention? Who knows?

Even though the interviewers might only be acting as agents, there is enough evidence to show that sometimes they are a little more officious than is perhaps necessary. While some may not care that you have provided your vehicle registration, others have requested to see it, take copies, and forward it with the visa application.

The bottom line is that you just never know what they might ask for. If a few minutes spent at home gathering information expedites your interview and, therefore, likely a favourable visa response, then it’s probably time well spent.

Ultimately, the level of preparation comes down to an individual response and preference and how much effort you are willing to put into it. There is no requirement to hand over anything they don’t want to see, but it’s just a good idea to have it on hand.

The person doing the interview has it within their remit to stop the processing of your visa application. Further, when the French Consulate is in possession of your application – via its agent – it may still request further information or even an additional interview.

For motorhome travellers, we recommend having your purchase documents, registration, insurance and V5 details on hand.

man and lady sitting on chairs outside a motorhome in a green grassy paddock
Living the motorhome life in France

Must have documentation

  • As a motorhome traveller, the purpose of your stay will be as a visitor.
  • Passport photos that meet the French Visa guidelines. Note this might be different to the normal passport photo conditions.
  • Statements confirming medical insurance, GHIC or EHIC health card provision, or comprehensive travel insurance that meets the Schengen requirements.
  • Provide a brief summary and/or itinerary of your planned travel. For people like us, who rarely travel with any planned itinerary, a brief outline is all that is necessary, including an overall duration. No one will check on it to see that you went where you said you would go. Give some approximate timings for each location. It’s a good idea also to explain how you will travel in the motorhome; i.e., as you move around, you’ll be staying in various campgrounds, aires, France Passion sites, etc (whatever fits your situation). It might also help to show any relevant memberships you have: ASCI, France Passion, CampingCar Parks etc.
  • Statement of why you want the visa – As regular travellers to France, we also comment on why we are returning, why we love France, why we want to travel here etc. The itinerary will be useful as supporting evidence here as well. Use Google Maps to draw up a rough map to show your plans. This app is also great for route planning.
  • Statement confirming your financial situation. Provide copies of bank statements and any other relevant financial statements to prove you will be financially independent during your extended stay. If you are retired/earning a pension, then show the necessary documents. If you aren’t earning a pension, provide enough detail of your financial independence. My husband and I don’t work for an employer (can’t show employment records), don’t receive a pension and aren’t old enough yet to access our personal superannuation. We are fully self-funded, but this kind of thing often raises questions about how we can afford to travel. We ensure we have all of our financial records on hand to prove we can. If you can make it abundantly clear that you are financially self-sufficient, then this will come across well.
  • Statement noting you will not be seeking work, paid or unpaid. It’s a good idea to note that you won’t be seeking to work remotely, not just in France. While the visa is French, it allows access into the Schengen zone, where they also don’t want you working.
  • Statement noting that you will be travelling and living in your motorhome for the entire duration of the trip.

Good to know: They love signed letters and statements. Sometimes, even though you’ve written one, they’ll make you rewrite another one. If this happens to you, don’t worry about it; just go with the flow.

motorhome parked beside stone buildings
Show the officials images like this of overnight stopovers. This one was at an apple orchard in Vincy-Manoeuvre

Additional documentation that may assist

Have as much paperwork as possible to identify your vehicle and prove the type of travel you will be doing. e.g. take photos of your motorhome parked up at a campground, aire or France Passion location. Include a plan of where you might travel, key towns, costs of fuel, tolls if applicable, camping sites and so on. Don’t include any dates unless there are specific dates where you have things pre-booked e.g hotel, food tour, theatre etc.

If you are a couple, for example, applying on separate accounts/applications, ensure your information supports each other. For example, make sure your itineraries/maps/routes, etc., are identical, and make sure you both include the same location for your first night in France. Don’t give them any reason to find discrepancies in two pieces of information for two people supposedly travelling together.

Have a current passport that meets the exact requirements of the visa you are applying for. Do not assume they are all the same. Note that France requires at least three months of validity before the expiration date of any short stay but 15 months remaining following the expiration of a long-stay visa.

Driver’s licence – this is not mentioned anywhere in any official paperwork, but we know people who have been asked for it.

Birth and marriage certificates are the most unlikely evidence required, but they have been asked for before, depending on the interviewee’s situation. One example might be when two people are applying together – a married couple – and only one name is registered as the owner of the vehicle being taken into France.

Have a few photos of your motorhome in a travelling / overnight scene. For example, when trying to show how you might live in your motorhome for extended periods of time, you can show photos of it parked up at campgrounds, aires, CampingCar Park or France Passion locations.

Copies of all vehicle paperwork, including the V5, insurance and any breakdown cover you may have that applies on the continent.

Be careful!: Note that the country (or member state as it is technically referred to) where you are applying for the visa should be where you plan on spending the most time. i.e. when applying for a French long-stay visa, you should plan for most of the time spent in France, and subsequently, your travel documentation should support that. If you are only planning on spending a few weeks in France and then in other member states, you can expect this to get picked up at the interview if your documents aren’t clear. In this instance, you can be refused a visa and directed to apply for one with the member state where you will spend the majority of your time.

Following submission of your application

Once your interview is completed and all of the documentation has been sent away, it’s just a waiting game until your passport returns.

Our tip: If you have done your interview via TLS or VFSGlobal for example, it’s a good idea to check the online portal regularly. Additional follow-up questions can often be posted here, and if you don’t see it and respond, it will likely delay your application, with possible impacts on your travel.

Applying for further visas

Once your visa expires, you need to wait a further three months before you apply for a new one and it can’t start until six months after the previous one has expired. Note also that if you do not need to apply for back-to-back visas, you can’t apply more than three months before your intended start date.

Combining the Schengen 90/180 with the long-stay visa

We’ve already discussed the 90/180-day rule above, but can you combine the two, allowing you to stay longer all in one hit? The answer is yes, but first, let’s reiterate again the rules. This part is greatly contested and discussed online. Note – this is the rule according to the French Consulate. However, due to the border infrastructure and deployment of resources at Schengen borders, the actual rule may not be strictly applied nor administered.

To be clear, these are the French temporary long-stay visa rules.

  1. The time spent in France during the period of the temporary long-stay visa does not count towards the 90/180 day Schengen short-stay conditions.
  2. Any time spent in the Schengen zones during the period of the temporary long-stay visa does count towards the 90/180 Schengen short-stay conditions.

In reality, if you are travelling by motorhome around France and into other Schengen States, then because there are no border controls, you will be able to move freely about these countries without any official record of your being there; thus, this is why you will see most people state that you can travel in France and within the Schengen as much as you like within the six month period of the visa, without it being calculated towards your 90/180 allowance.

It’s important to know and understand the difference between the rules of the visas – both short and long-stay – and the actual (possible) application. Of course, if you fly in and out of Schengen zone airports during the visa period, then this will be considered part of the 90/180.

Currently, the French consulate advises that you can add the Schengen 90/180 to the beginning or end of your visa. Historically, most people exit the country for 24 hours at the end of their 90/180 short-stay visa days to trigger the new long-stay visa date. At the end of the long-stay visa, they have also left for 24 hours to delineate clearly the end of the long-stay visa and to restart the 90/180 short-stay terms.

In December 2023, the consulate made some statements indicating that a traveller could simply roll from the long-stay visa to the short-stay conditions without getting a stamp on their passport. While there seem to be some recent examples of this being so, the cautious approach, at this stage, would be to complete the visa terms by leaving the country first.

Example: Visa period is 1 May to 31 October. On 1 November, you can use the 90/180-day temporary rule to stay until 31 January. Note, however, that you must leave France (Schengen) for at least 24 hours for the temporary 90/180 rule to start. Following on from a long-stay visa negates the need to leave for 90 days. The new application process for another long-stay visa can be commenced three months after the end of the previous long-stay visa on 1 February for a long-stay visa to be approved with a start six months after the end of the long-stay visa on 1 May again.

mann in green top and mustard pants and girl in black pants and stiped top drinking tea on the edge of the river
Long term travel means slow travel

What happens if it is rejected?

The only option for a refusal of a visa is to lodge an appeal within two months of the decision.

More guides to help plan your trip

One-way motorhome hire in Europe – our review of Anywhere Campers

Our guide to everything you need to know about crit air stickers in France

Our motorhome packing list for owned motorhomes

More guides and all of our motorhome itineraries can be found here and our destination guides for France and beyond are here.

 

Book your flight: Flights are an important part of travel and we’re always looking for the best deals. If you can travel mid-week and be flexible, you’ll often find great deals on flights. We also use Skyscanner and Expedia for flight bookings. Dollar Flight Club is a great resource for getting special advance offers and even error fares directly to your inbox.

Book your accommodation: We all love to stay in different places, from the comfort of a self-contained apartment or house to a resort or luxury hotel. Sometimes we need something quick, easy and comfortable for an overnight stay. 

We use all of the following online booking portals depending on where we want to stay and the type of accommodation we are looking for.

  • VRBO and Stayz (in Australia) – great for holiday rentals of more than seven days and often have discounts for longer periods.
  • Booking.com and Expedia – two of our favourites due to their cancellation and refund policies.
  • Trip Advisor – perfect for getting reviews, checking availability and pricing comparisons all in one place.

Book your rental car or motorhome: We always use Discover Rental Cars anywhere in the world for car hire. Anywhere Campers is our preferred motorhome hiring company in Europe, especially if you want to be able to pickup and drop off at different locations (even countries) in Europe. If you’d like to buy your own motorhome in France, we use and recommend France Motorhome Sales. Use our code FMS1022 or tell John we sent you!

Book a tour:  We travel independently, but when we do book we book them with reputable companies who have a great cancellation and refund policy. If you are looking for advance tickets to an attraction, group or private tours, we use and recommend Get Your Guide and Viator. Both have a great range of tours and flexible cancellation policies. If you are looking to do a food tour in Europe, we also recommend Eating Europe Tours.

Be covered: We always travel with travel insurance. We did it before the pandemic and it’s even more important for us to do so now. We use Cover-More in Australia. SafetyWing has great rates for travellers who are away from home for extended periods. 

Be ready: Make sure you pack a few essentials: universal adaptorpower bank and noise-cancelling headphones

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