Kiwis in Spain Blog

Stay up to date for our annual events, helpful information, Kiwis in business series and important news.

NZ bilateral visa waiver agreement for Spain and Schengen Zone Nations

This NZ bilateral visa waiver agreement for Spain allows New Zealanders that meet the specified requirements to spend up to 90 days in Spain without reference to time spent in the Schengen area. However, the decision to apply this rule over the visa waiver rests solely with local border and immigration authorities. Source:

What is the Schengen Zone?

The Schengen Zone is a 27-member pact made up mostly of EU member states plus 4 micro-states (Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican) which although technically are not members, are entered via member states thus apply the same rules.

The Schengen Zone takes its lead from the USA where travellers can enter each state without a requirement for passports, IDs, etc. Therefore, the Schengen Zone acts as a borderless zone. It covers 23 EU countries, and 3 non-EU states (Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland). In the future: Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus MUST join the pact as is law with all EU member states, minus Ireland which has a separate opt-out clause, thus if you enter Ireland you will apply Irish visa-free rules.

NZ bilateral visa waiver agreement for Spain Schengen Countries

Image source:

Who are the members of the Schengen Zone?

There are currently 27 members with 3 more due to join in the near future. These members 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
  • Switzerland

And 4 non-member micro-states with open borders:

  • Andorra
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City/Holy See

And in 2024/2025 these states will join but are currently not members:

  • Bulgaria
  • Romania
  • Cyprus (Currently not scheduled to join due to the conflict with North Cyprus)

If you wish to enter this zone, be advised that you have a total of 90 out of 180 days to travel freely within the zone as an Annex II category member. 

What are the bilateral agreements?

Signed prior to the Schengen Agreement in 1985, NZ has signatory arrangements with 17 member states. These bilateral agreements are still active today. This is due to a loophole in article 20 of the act, the EU and the NZ government have agreed in theory that the arrangements are still in play, and as such can be used by NZ citizens who wish to enjoy some extra time in a signatory nation. 

Each country has a specific arrangement and as such NZ citizens must be careful how they use the agreements. It is also recommended that you must keep a record of your accommodation and transportation receipts as proof of your stay on the nation’s territory.

What is the NZ bilateral visa waiver agreement for Spain?

NZ has an agreement with Spanish authorities and as such allows for New Zealanders to spend 90 days in Spain without reference to time spent in other territories (NOTE: This is NOT an additional period but ONLY 90 days), once you have used your time, you must leave Spain for 90 days before returning to restart the process. 

It is also VERY IMPORTANT to note that if you wish to do a ‘visa run’, you are doing so at your own risk and it is ill advised.

The NZ government or Spanish authorities cannot interfere with the decision made by the Border Guard at the time of your departure/attempted re-entry, this is because the Border Guard may have their own interpretation of the rule.

In order to protect your rights as a NZ citizen (and if you have any doubts about entering Spain even after your 90 days external period), you must always carry evidence of your time in Spain which will include any accommodation, flight/bus tickets or rental car receipts, and any stamps that you have which show when and where you entered the Schengen Zone.

If you do a visa run, note that the Embassy cannot assist you with regards to detainment or deportation. Please only contact them if you have received treatment which is counter to human rights law, and which can endanger your life, for example: Physical harm, sexual abuse or some such thing. If you are unsure of your situation or you would like some advice, you may contact me but note that I am NOT an official representative of the NZ government or a legal representative, I can only provide you with advice and suggestions, and possibly support you with the Embassy if I judge your situation to be necessary.

NOTE: The border between the territory of Gibraltar and Spain has become contentious recently due to Brexit. Please note that border runs are strictly prohibited. Furthermore, the border between Spain and Gibraltar has become very stringent at the moment particularly as there’s ongoing talks going on between Gibraltar, UK, Spain and the EU with regards to trying to secure a treaty similar to the Northern
Ireland one that would guarantee the free movement of people between Gibraltar and Spain, hence removing the border, but until that’s signed, sealed and delivered the border here has become very tightly controlled.

What about other countries’ agreements?

This is where the complications can arise as each country has a different interpretation of their agreement with NZ. According to an official source at the European Parliament, any signatory member of the agreement must fulfil their obligations if they agree to continue permitting their use after March 31, 2018.

What this means is that a country cannot tell you that the agreement is no longer in-force after this date if they have previously agreed to it. We currently have agreements with 17 members however Portugal does not recognise our agreement, and this was stated prior to March 31, 2018. 

While some countries follow a 90-90 method, some countries do not, so it is important to study how each agreement is set up and follow it accordingly. And if you are unsure, then it is wise to review for relevant PDF’s on the bilateral agreements.

The following countries DO NOT have agreements with NZ and require you to apply the 90 out of 180 day rule for the WHOLE Schengen Zone (Please note if you exit via Malta you will likely be charged with overstaying and given a hefty 3-year ban):

  • Croatia
  • Estonia (allows for a NZ citizen to enter in Estonia and apply for a 180 day visa and then a long-stay visa)
  • Iceland (has special arrangements)
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania (allows for a NZ citizen to enter without a visa and apply for residency within the 90 day period)
  • Malta (allows for a NZ citizen to apply in-person at Identity Malta for a residency permit; NOTE: DO NOT leave Malta as your Schengen exit point due to ongoing issues with NZ citizens)
  • Poland
  • Portugal (officially a signatory but does not recognise it)
  • Slovenia (allows you to apply for a residence permit at a Slovenian Embassy abroad)
  • Slovakia (allows you to apply for a residence permit in person at the Immigration Agency in Bratislava or local prefecture)

Here is a list of the countries with signatories and the relevant information pertaining to them:

  • Austria:90 days out of 180 days, reference not given to time spent in other Schengen countries. You may also apply for a residence permit in Austria if you wish to stay long-term.
  • Belgium: Allows for an additional 60 days after which time you must leave the Schengen zone for 90 days before re-entering. 
  • Czech Republic: 90 days out of 180 days, reference not given to time spent in other Schengen countries. You may also apply for a residence permit at a Czech Embassy abroad, eg: Berlin, Vienna, etc.
  • Denmark: Allows for 90 days in Denmark without reference to other Schengen countries EXCEPT Norway and Sweden where it counts to your 90 day period.
  • Finland: Allows for 90 days without reference to time spent in other countries. Residency must be applied for in NZ before visiting Finland.
  • France: 90 days out of 180 without reference to time spent in other countries. You may be able to apply for a residence permit at a French Embassy abroad. Working Holiday Visas must be applied in NZ only.
  • Germany: 90 days indefinitely, NZ citizens must exit and can return after leaving the country for a further 90 days. A residence permit may be applied in Berlin.
  • Greece: 90 days out of 180 days without reference to time spent in other countries. A residence permit can only be obtained in Canberra. Note that Greek authorities are often unfamiliar with NZ citizen’s rights so you must ensure you keep a copy of the following information pertaining to Article 20 (2) of the Frontex Agency Handbook. As well as copies of your tickets, accommodation, etc. 
  • Hungary: Allows for 90 days if time is spent within another Schengen zone country, but you must exit via Hungary, and leave the Schengen zone for 90 days. You may apply for residency in Hungary.
  • Italy: Currently up for discussion as Italian authorities have cancelled the contract, but this one can be debated as it was done recently and does not pre-decease 2018. Allows for an additional 90 days without reference to time spent in other Schengen countries but you must exit the Schengen zone for 90 days. You must apply for residency in NZ.
  • Luxembourg: 90 days without reference to time spent in other countries. You must apply for residency in NZ.
  • Netherlands: 90 days without reference to time spent in other countries. NZ citizens may enter the country and apply for a long-stay without the need to obtain a D visa in advance.
  • Norway: 90 days without reference to time spent in other countries EXCEPT for Sweden and Denmark where your 90 days counts as a whole and you must exit the Schengen zone after this period. You can apply for residency in Norway and also receive permission to search for work for 180 days as long as you register at the Police Immigration Office.
  • Sweden: 90 days without reference to time spent in other countries EXCEPT for Norway and Denmark where your 90 days counts as a whole and you must exit the Schengen zone after this period. You may apply for residency at a Swedish Embassy in Canberra HOWEVER you may approach a Swedish Embassy in another country and they may assist you at their discretion.
  • Switzerland: You may stay indefinitely in the country if you receive permission from the Canton. If you want to work in the country then you must apply for a residence permit at a relevant Embassy abroad. 

Please note that it is always at the discretion of the Embassy whether they can assist you if you want to apply in Europe for a residence permit unless stated here. It is always recommended to carry evidence, and if you wish the contact number of someone at the Consulate/Embassy of your territory. 

How can I use the Spanish agreement?

As long as you keep a record of your 90 days then you are fine. You should count the day you arrive as the first day, this means that if you arrive at 11.55pm on January 1, you will count that as your first day, even though you arrived 5 mins before midnight. Likewise if you arrive at 12.01am on January 1, then the whole day will be counted. 

You should always have your documents either in physical form or in an email folder so you can access them. You may also reference the following to assist you with any issues the Border Agent may have:

  • Article 20 (2) of the convention of the implementation of the Schengen Agreement (this doesn’t need to be necessarily this article but reference to it).
  • Safetravel Europe – reference from NZ’s government.
  • NZ Consular Affairs – Madrid Office contact.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to message us or stay connected via our Facebook and Instagram pages. Cheers, Kent.

Do you have any relevant contacts if I need them?

Yes, here is a non-exhaustive list of contacts with official advice:

New Zealand Government websites

Kingdom of Spain Government websites

Official New Zealand in Spain government website

Please note you will need to book an appointment with the Spanish Embassy in Wellington. You may have to wait several months before you attend your appointment. At your appointment with all your required documents, you will have to leave your NZ passport with the Spanish Embassy. After your appointment you may have to wait 10-14 days for your visa to be printed and affixed to your NZ passport. Make sure you arrive into Spain on the stated date on your visa. This is common advice for the Spain Working Holiday Visa.

Visas for Spain (Information provided by the New Zealand Embassy in Madrid)

The New Zealand Embassy is not responsible for providing information on entry requirements or issuing visas to New Zealanders wishing to visit, work or reside in Spain. As the Embassy cannot comment on the immigration laws of another country, it is suggested to consult with the Spanish Embassy in New Zealand. If you are currently in Spain and require information on applying for a visa or the right to remain in the country, the competent authority to give advice will be the Oficina de Extranjería.

If you are in New Zealand and you have any visa related questions please contact the Spanish Embassy in Wellington below:

Official New Zealand in Spain social media pages

Who can I contact for more information?

You are welcome to contact Mark Fyers via email for general enquiries/assistance with visas and bilateral information: 

Mark Fyers – NZ Community Support (Volunteer)

For urgent assistance/support:

+30 698 836 0243

You might be interested in…

You might be interested in …