Discover the ins and outs of Schengen Countries: Your ultimate guide to hassle-free travel in Europe’s borderless zone
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders. These countries in include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
What does it do?
The Schengen Agreement allows for the free movement of travellers between member countries—citizens of these countries can travel, live, and work in any other member country without needing a visa or other travel documents.
There are no border checks between member countries, allowing for more efficient travel and commerce. Additionally, the agreement also includes provisions for cooperation on law enforcement and security matters, such as the sharing of information between police and immigration authorities.
When was it created?
This Agreement was signed on 14 June 1985, between five of the ten member states of the European Economic Community. It was created to open borders and abolish passport controls between the participating countries. The agreement was named after the 1985 Schengen Agreement.
It was implemented in the form of a regulation in 1990 and was fully implemented in 1995. Since then, the agreement has been gradually expanded to include more European countries, with some countries joining at later dates. The area has grown to include 26 member countries, with some countries outside of the European Union also being part of the agreement.
What are the first countries to join?
The first countries to become members were Belgium, France, West Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. They signed the agreement on 14 June 1985. The agreement was then implemented in the form of a regulation in 1990 and was fully implemented in 1995, when the first wave of borderless travel took effect among the initial five countries.
After that, more countries joined the agreement, some of them are Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Austria, which joined in the first expansion wave of the agreement in 1997.
Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein joined later on.
It’s important to note that while all EU countries are part of the Schengen Agreement, not all Schengen countries are part of the EU, for example Switzerland and Norway.
What does the word Schengen mean?
The word “Schengen” is named after the 1985 Schengen Agreement, which was signed in the village of Schengen in Luxembourg. The village of Schengen is located where the borders of France, Germany, and Luxembourg meet, and the agreement was signed on a ship on the river Moselle near the village.
How does it work for foreigners?
For foreigners, the Schengen Agreement allows for visa-free travel within the member countries for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This means that a foreign national can enter one participating country and then travel freely to any other member country without the need for additional visas or border checks.
But, travellers must still meet certain requirements—having a valid passport or other travel document, and being able to prove that they have enough money to support themselves during their stay, as well as having a valid reason for their visit, like tourism, business or studying.
In addition, travellers who are subject to visa requirements may still need to apply for a Schengen visa, even if they plan to stay for less than 90 days. This visa is a short-stay visa that allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
It’s important understand that individual member countries may have additional requirements or restrictions, such as specific health measures or quarantine rules due to the pandemics.
How long can visitors you stay in a Schengen country?
Visitors can stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This means that if you enter the Schengen area and stay for 90 days, you will need to leave and not return for another 90 days before you can enter again. The 180-day period is calculated based on the last 180 days, so it’s not a fixed calendar year.
TIP: it’s important to note that the 90 days is a total amount of days for all participating countries combined, not per individual country. Therefore, if you spend 30 days in one country and then move to another country, you will still have 60 days remaining to spend in the Schengen area.
It’s also important to mention, that while most travellers can stay in the member countries for up to 90 days, some may be subject to different rules based on their nationality, the purpose of their trip, or their travel document.
Make sure to keep your passport and other travel documents organized and it’s always best to check the specific entry requirements for each country you plan to visit.