28.6.2023 | Haulage

Schengen 90/180 Rule and the impact on the road haulage sector

Warning issued over post-Brexit 90-180 rule as lorry driver guilty of EU overstay.

Under the terms of Schengen, non-EEA nationals cannot spend more than a total of 90 days within a total period of 180 days without obtaining a visa.

One of the overlooked issues stemming from the UK’s exit from the EU is that our citizens are no longer freely able to move about in, and work, in the EU. Furthermore, once you’ve used up your quota of 90 days, you cannot return to Schengen until 90 more days have passed.

It is relevant to note that the 90-day quota includes both work and other reasons such as holidays etc. To date, this regulation has not caused the industry any significant issues, particularly as enforcement has been with a “light touch”. However,  the Netherlands is imposing the first “on the spot” fines for commercial drivers exceeding the 90-day limit in a 180-day period.

Industry body, BIFA, has looked further into this matter and discussed it with the RHA, there is a specific problem for drivers, who, by definition, are mobile. Having investigated the websites of three EU Member States, in order to apply for the visa, a permanent address has to be provided alongside any supporting documentation.  This problem will not simply go away and is likely to involve representations to the UK government.

HGV driver penalised for breaking the 90 in 180 rule

 The Schengen 90/180 Rule

The 90 days in 180 rule are part of our legal agreements with the European Union, which means exceeding the limit is breaking the law. Some border points may not appear to enforce the rules as much as others, but that doesn’t mean controls aren’t in place. It should also be noted that a company sending a driver who has exceeded their allowed entry days is asking, or possibly even inducing, the driver to break the law. There could be come back not only on drivers but also on their company.

  1. To work out if your stay is within the 90-day limit, use the following steps.
  2. Check the date you plan to leave the Schengen area on your next trip.
  3. Count back 180 days from that date to get the start of the 180-day period.
  4. Add up the number of days you have already spent in the Schengen area in that 180-day period (you can use the dates stamped in your passport showing when you entered and left a country).
  5. Work out how many days you will spend in the Schengen area on your next trip. Add this number to the number of days you worked out in step 4.
  6. Check that the total number of days is not more than 90.

The countries in the Schengen area are:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

EU countries Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania are not in the Schengen area.

You can find out more here.

If you are a BIFA Member and have been impacted by this issue, please email Robert Windsor at r.windsor@bifa.org.