Australians can enter EU-Schengen zone without a visa for up to 90 days. Your 90 days start from when your passport is stamped upon entry at customs. When these 90 days are up, you will need to exit the EU-Schengen zone for 180 days before the 90 days is reset.
The EU-Schengen zone covers 22 of the 28 European Union member states with the exception of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania. The Schengen zone includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland and three European microstates – Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
The Visa Information System (VIS) supports the implementation of the common European Union visa policy and is being rolled out across Europe. Australian athletes and teams should be aware that more countries are now more diligent about the entry and exit dates of travellers.
In the event that an individual overstays their 90-day EU-Schengen visa, other than a long and bureaucratic process, it is very difficult to request an extension. Depending on the length of overstay, fines can range from €500 to €1000; and may also include a ban from entering the EU-Schengen zone for one, two or five years. This could seriously disrupt the training or competition program of athletes preparing for international competition, including the Olympic/Paralympic Games.
AIS European Training Centre Italian based visas
The AIS European Training Centre (AIS ETC) in Gavirate, Italy has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Italian authorities on behalf of the Minister of Sport. This agreement will facilitate those working and training at the AIS ETC to obtain visas to stay for longer than 90 days, to a maximum period of 365 days. In general, a visa grants you access into Italy but then must be converted to a ‘permit of stay’ which allows you to stay up to 365 days. Only individuals based in Italy, with a residential address at or near the AIS ETC are eligible for this ‘permit’. Successful granting of the permit will enable the holder to travel freely for training and competition in the EU-Schengen area for a year. It is important to note that obtaining a visa through our MOU with Italy is not the side door to the EU-Schengen area. Individuals who are training with a European club and are not using the AIS ETC as their main base must arrange the long-term visa through that club or apply for a ‘permit of stay’ in the country where they will be staying.
How to apply for a EU-Schengen Visa through the AIS European Training Centre
Pre-departure: you will be required to obtain a supporting letter from the AIS for each individual intending to base themselves at the AIS ETC in Italy. Contact Cathy Perre who can assist with this. With the supporting letter, a Mission Visa can be applied for at the Italian Embassy in Canberra or any Italian consulates around Australia. The visa is usually issued within a couple of days, if not immediately. You will need to also present the following documentation: proof of financial support, health insurance, travel insurance, and passport-size photos. The cost is approximately $190. Please visit the Italian Embassy for more information.
To be eligible to apply for an EU-Schengen Visa through the AIS European Training Centre, Italy must be the first EU-Schengen country you enter.
Upon arrival in Italy:
Within eight days of arriving in Italy, as first entry point in the EU-Schengen area, you must obtain a “kit” for a Permesso di Soggiorno (Permit to Stay) and submit the application through an Italian post office. The application is then sent to the local Italian Immigration Office, (Questura di Varese, 2 Piazzale della Libertà, Varèse VA 21100). The cost of lodging the application is approximately €152.00. When you submit your application for a Permesso di Soggiorno at the post office, you will be notified of your appointment time at the Questura di Varese - usually months later. For your appointment, you will need bring passport-sized photographs; a supporting letter from the AIS and/or your National Sporting Organisation (NSO) indicating the reasons for your stay and how you will be financially supported. You will also need to show proof of your health insurance and travel insurance.
Until your appointment, you are free to travel within the EU-Schengen area however, you must always travel with the post office’s receipt of the Permesso di Soggiorno submission and your passport. When your Permesso di Soggiorno is ready for collection, you must return to the Questura di Varese to collect it on the date and time advised. This must be done in person. If you don’t present on the collection date, or within 30 days of the date advised, the application is cancelled. Cancellation of your application may have legal consequences, especially if your time since entering Italy exceeds 90 days.
Non AIS European Training Centre based visas
Contact your local embassy to get the most up to date visa requirements. Note that you may require documentation such as: passport-sized photographs; a supporting letter from the AIS and/or the relevant NSO indicating the reasons for your stay and financial support; and proof of health and travel insurance. For more information please visit Visa Link.