If you are a citizen of a third country and you want to travel to the European Schengen area, you get one tourist visa that lets you travel to all 27 Schengen countries. It allows you to spend up to 90 days in the Schengen area every 180 days. If you have a visa, for example, a digital nomad visa, for one Schengen country, there are similar limits on how long you can spend outside that country in the rest of the Schengen area.

It can be difficult to track how many days you have left in your quota as you cross over borders and enter and leave the Schengen area as you travel around Europe. Flamingo is a new application that automatically tracks how long you have spent in different countries using your phone’s GPS. You can also enter your visa information, and Flamingo will track how long you have spent, and how long you have left. It is incredibly useful for the Schengen area when you are regularly crossing borders. But it can be used anywhere in the world with any type of visa.

In this article, I am going to look at what the rules are for the Schengen area, and how to keep track of your stay with Flamingo to ensure you don’t overstay, and therefore don’t risk being denied entry in the future.

What Countries are in Schengen?

The Schengen area was created in 1985 to limit the need for border controls in Europe so that EU citizens could travel more easily between countries. This meant creating a Schengen visa, since once a third-party national enters the area, they also benefit from border-free travel across the region.

But Schengen becomes complicated because it does not include all of continental Europe, it does not include all countries in the European Union, but it does include countries that aren’t members of the EU. So, it can be complicated to know when exactly you are in Schengen and when you aren’t.


So what countries are in and out of Schengen?

This map, provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website (Portugal), shows you exactly which European countries are included in the Schengen area and which aren’t. But for the geography enthusiasts out there, let’s take a closer look.

All the mainland European Union countries are in Schengen, with Bulgaria and Romania having joined in March 2024. Of the EU island nations, Malta is in Schengen and Cyprus should be joining later in 2024, but Ireland is not in the area. The United Kingdom was not part of Schengen before leaving the EU in 2020 and remains outside the area.

In addition to EU member states, the non-EU countries of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are also part of the Schengen area.

Those are the countries that are in, so what European countries are out? In mainland Europe, the countries that are out are the Balkan states, specifically Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, and the Russian bordering countries of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Europe also has quite a few microstates and overseas territories. The micro-states of Vatican City and San Marino in Italy, Andorra on the Spanish border, and Monaco in France aren’t technically in Schengen, but they share open borders with the Schengen countries that surround them, effectively making them part of Schengen.

When it comes to overseas territories, these align with their parent state. For example, the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Faroe Islands are self-governing kingdoms and dependencies of the UK, so they aren’t in Schengen. The Canary Islands are a nationality of Spain, so they are part of Schengen, as are Madeira and Azores as part of Portugal and Jon Mayon as part of Norway.


Schengen Tourist Visa Conditions

If you want to travel to any of the countries in the Schengen area, you need a Schengen tourist visa. This allows you to stay in the area as a whole for up to 90 days in any 180 days.

The 90 days do not have to be consecutive. It is calculated by looking backward. So, if your visa is being assessed today, it looks at how many days you have spent in Schengen in the last 180 days. Any time you spent in Schengen on a residence permit or other long-stay visa does not count towards the 90 days.

Once you have met your 90 days, you must be outside of the Schengen area for an uninterrupted period of another 90 days before you can start a new visa.

Many third nation nationals can enter Schengen visa-free under these conditions. However, you must have a passport issued within the last 10 years and it must have at least three months of validity after your intended date of departure from the Schengen area.

A list and map of countries whose citizens have visa-free tourist travel to Schengen is available here. It includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan in Asia, most of South America including Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, and most other countries in Europe excluding Turkey, Belarus, and Russia.

Citizens of most African and Asian countries need to apply for a Schengen visa in advance. An application requires submitting an itinerary and showing that you have sufficient funds to support your stay. Full details on how to apply can be found here.


Long-Stay and Temporary Residence

If you are in a country in the Schengen area on a long-stay or temporary residence visa, such as a digital nomad visa, there is little to stop you from moving around the Schengen area freely as a tourist.

However, officially, you can only spend 90 days in any 180 days outside of your country of temporary residence in other Schengen area countries.

While borderless travel within the Schengen Area makes it challenging to track these regulations, it’s essential to adhere to the rules. If you’re found to have violated them, it could lead to complications when renewing your visa.


How To Keep Track of Your Schengen Days?

If you are consistently staying within the Schengen area for a continuous period, it shouldn’t be too difficult to track when you reach your 90 days. But what if you are traveling and decide to spend a month in the United Kingdom, two weeks in Albania and Montenegro, and another week each in Georgia and Turkey? Suddenly, it can become quite complicated to keep track of how much time you have left.

Rather than flipping through your passport and doing the math, there are several apps out there that can do this for you. Some automatically track your movement using GPS, which you can then verify, while others ask you to manually enter your travel dates. But of all the apps I have tried, I’m going to recommend the. I find it to be the most accurate, comprehensive, and easy to use. 

Download the Flamingo app onto your phone and it will travel with you. It automatically records when you cross borders and enter different countries and can give you a running count of how many days you have spent in Schengen and how many days you have left. If you are planning a trip for the future, you can enter for how long you plan to travel and the app will tell you the earliest date you can enter the Schengen area based on your previous trips. Alternatively, enter the date of your intended arrival and It will tell you how long you can stay there. 

If you are on a digital nomad visa or something similar, you can set it up to exclude your country of temporary residence. For example, if you have a Portugal digital nomad visa, it is valid for one year, regardless of how long you spend in Portugal. But it also gives you the right to travel for up to 90 days in any 180 days in other Schengen countries, though cannot work or claim residence in those countries.

Of course, the app doesn’t just work for the Schengen area, and you can use it to track your time spent in and out of any country, as well as monitor your residency and domicile status for tax purposes. 

While it is most useful for visa and tax compliance, if you travel a lot, you can just use it to keep a record of your adventures.

The app values your privacy and only records your data locally on your device, so you can be sure that it will not be stored on a server being crunched or sold. It is free to try, but you need to upgrade to Pro if you want to add more than five trips, create reports and sync your data via the cloud across various devices. Currently only available on Apple, so if you have an iPhone, it is useful, fun, and easy to use. New features are added regularly, so be sure to check out Flamingo.