“It’s been said that a pretty face is a passport. But it’s not, it’s a visa, and it runs out fast.”
How Long Can You Stay in a Country as a Tourist?
Most countries will allow you to stay as a tourist for maximum legally permitted time period. However, sometimes immigration officials will change this limit on arrival. (95% of the time they will not change this maximum period).
If the official changes the number of days, they will indicate the revised number of days in your passport or entry form. (Note in some countries, like Mexico, you have to keep a receipt of the entry form to exit the country. This receipt will indicate the maximum stay limit).
Most countries that do not require a visa from US and Canadian citizens will allow you a maximum tourist stay of three months or 90 days. (This is not true for all countries, Thailand only allows US and Canadian citizens a thirty-day visit. If you need more time, you will need a visa).
The most notable exceptions to this rule are Mexico and Canada. Mexico allows US and Canadian citizens to stay as tourists for 180 days. The US and Canada allow citizens from each other’s country also to visit 180 days a year. (It is illegal for US and Canadians to spend more than SIX months a year in the other country)
Staying Longer than Legally Permitted
US and Canadian citizens in most Emerging Countries can leave the country for a few days (usually three days) and reenter the country again as a tourist. (Many Americans live in Mexico and Costa Rica, for example, as perpetual tourists. They stay in Mexico or Costa Rica for six or three months, respectively, and then leave for three days. Then they reenter Mexico or Costa Rica for another six or three months).
Developed countries (and all member states in the Schengen community) will only allow you to reenter the country after you have left the country for THREE or six months (in the case of the US and Canada).
US and Canadian citizens are only allowed to be a tourist in the ENTIRE Schengen community for three months. We must leave for three months before we can reenter the Schengen community as a tourist. (In other words, we cannot stay for three months in Italy and three months in France because both countries are part of the Schengen community).
A Few Other Issues that Can Cause Problems Entering a Country
You may also be denied entrance to another country if you have:
- A criminal record in your home country (or the country you are visiting). For example, US citizens with DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) conviction may be refused entrance to Canada, etc.
- Visited a country in the past that the country does not like or recognize. Until recently this was a significant problem for people visiting countries in the Middle East with an Israeli stamp in their passport. (Fortunately, most citizens of developed countries will be able to visit most Middle East countries, most notably the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan, with an Israeli stamp in their passport).
- No proof of your relationship to your children and/or have no evidence of consent from any non-accompanying parent(s).
How Long Can You Stay in Countries with Multi-Entry Visas?
Several countries (like India) will issue you a visa that is valid for more than one year from the date of issue. These visas will allow you to visit the country multiple times without getting a new visa. The visa will indicate the number of days that you are permitted to stay in the country at one time. If you overstay the days shown on the visa, you may invalidate the visa.
One potential problem with some visas is that some are only valid for a limited period from the date of issuance. If you are planning a long trip, this can be a problem, particularly if you have to apply by mail. For example, Vietnam used to issue visas in the applicant’s home country that were only valid for three months from the date of issuance. This caused problems for people who planned to travel outside of their home country for more than three months before their trip to Vietnam.