In the 1950s, Australia signed bilateral visa-free agreements with a number of European countries. At several points, the list included Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Some of these countries have since revoked these agreements and the agreement with France came later, but most of these agreements still exist and apply despite the restrictions that apply to Aussie travellers under the Schengen agreement. Trade and direct investment are an essential part of our strong bilateral relations. Australia is our largest trade surplus (EUR 1.6 billion in 2019). More than 600 French companies employing 70,000 people have been created there, including 35 from the CAC 40. Australian investment in France continues to grow and still has great potential. “Paragraph 1 does not affect the right of each party to extend the length of a foreigner`s stay on its territory beyond three months, in exceptional circumstances or in accordance with a bilateral agreement reached prior to the entry into force of this Convention.” The actual period during which you can stay in a country under visa waiver agreements is different. In most cases, it is 90 days, but there are exceptions. In Belgium, for example, it is 60 days. “There is a visa-free agreement between Germany and Australia that allows Australians to spend up to three months in Germany, without reference to time spent in other Schengen countries… The agreement is a special agreement between Germany and Australia and is aimed at Australians who travel through the Schengen states and wish to stay an additional 90 days in Germany. While these visa waiver agreements expand borders for anyone considering a long-term stay in Europe, it is not easy to use them to your advantage.
Visa waiver agreements differ in some areas. If you want to take advantage of these agreements, you should be aware that you are not breaking the rules. For most immigration officers in the Schengen area, the right of Australian passport holders to travel freely is subject to the 90 days allowed by the Schengen Agreements. If you have stayed longer under a bilateral visa waiver agreement, you may need to prove its existence. Once you have developed your itinerary, write to the relevant embassies in Canberra and present as briefly as possible your plans for the time you stay in your country and elsewhere in the Schengen area and you have a printed copy of your answer – you will probably need it. These agreements allow Australian citizens to spend up to 90 days in each state, without reference to the time spent in other Schengen states. However, if you visit a Schengen state that is not on the list above, the “90 days over a 180-day period applies to the Schengen area as a whole.” In fact, this means that the bilateral agreements that are about to sign the Schengen Agreement are still valid! So what are these bilateral agreements? I`m glad you asked. You need to completely document your travels. Suppose you spend 90 days in the Schengen area and cross the border from Italy to Austria. Under the visa waiver agreement between Australia and Austria, you have the right to stay in Austria for up to 90 days. However, in the absence of border controls between Italy and Austria, your passport does not contain documents proving that you have “left” the Schengen area and that Austria has “entered” the visa waiver agreement. Later, it could happen to an immigration officer that you have exceeded the 90-day limit that allows you to stay in the Schengen area.
If you are considered injured and you cannot prove anything else, this is a serious offence, with possible penalties, such as a fine, expulsion, a reference to your passport and a ban on entry.