Australians can enter EU-Schengen zone without a visa for up to 90 days. The passport stamp that is received upon entering any one of the EU-Schengen countries is considered a Schengen visitor’s visa and is valid for 90 days. One important aspect of this 90-day visitor’s visa for Australians is that one needs to exit the EU-Schengen zone for 180 days before the 90 days is reset.
The Italian Embassy has advised that the Bilateral Agreement between Italy and Australia signed in 1951, is valid and currently in force. Australian Citizens can stay in Italy for tourism for a further 90 days in addition to the 90 days foreseen by the Schengen regulations. This would allow visitors to spend a total of 180 days in the Schengen area without the need for an entry visa. Please note that the maximum amount of days spent in the Schengen area cannot exceed 6 months.
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 2020 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) on behalf of the Minister of Sport with Italian authorities. 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 the country but then must be converted to a ‘permit of stay’ which allows you to stay longer than the 90 days (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 in the country where they will be staying.
How to apply for a EU-Schengen Visa through the AIS European Training Centre
Pre-departure: the traveller is 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. Other documentation that you will require are proof of financial support; health insurance; travel insurance; and passport-size photos. Cost is approximately $185.00. Please visit the Italian Embassy for more information.
Upon arrival in Italy: Once the applicant arrives in Italy as first entry point in the EU-Schengen area, within eight days of arriving in Italy, through an Italian post office the individual 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 Italian Immigration Office (Questura). The cost is approximately €152.00. At the time of submitting the application for a Permesso di Soggiorno, an appointment is arranged with the Questura - usually months later when passport-sized photographs; a supporting letter from the AIS and/or NSO indicating the reasons for the stay and financial support; and proof of health insurance; and travel insurance are provided.
While the application is being processed, one is free to travel within the EU-Schengen area however, the individual must always travel with the post office’s receipt of the Permesso di Soggiorno submission and their passport. The applicant must return to Italy on the date advised to collect their Permesso di Soggiorno. This must be done in person. If the applicant doesn’t appear on the collection date, or within 30 days of the date advised, the application is cancelled.
Non AIS European Training Centre based visas
Contact the embassy of the country that the individual will be based in 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 National Sporting Organisation indicating the reasons for the stay and financial support; and proof of health and insurance. For more information please visit Visa Link.