Travel Tips – The Schengen Zone
The integration of the European Economic Union has made travel in Europe much easier, but it’s actually the Schengen Agreement that is directly responsible. A total of 26 countries have joined the Schengen Area, but not all of them are members of the European Economic Union and not all of them have accepted the Euro as their currency. Border controls between member countries have been removed, however, hotels must register all foreign visitors and airlines with internal flights between these countries may continue to require passports for their own security requirements.
Schengen Restrictions on Length of Visit
Visitors can only travel in the Schengen Zone for up to 3 months in any 6 month period, which sometimes surprises North Americans. Those who stay longer need a visa. Ignoring these rules can result in fines and deportation. Typical authorities discover the need for a visa when they review passports on exiting the Schengen Zone.
Schengen Visa – Introduction
The Schengen Visa is required to enter the Schengen Zone under conditions required by the European Union’s Common Visa Policy. More than 40 countries are exempt from the requirement for a Schengen Visa, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, the USA and the United Kingdom. See Wikipedia for the list of countries exempt from a Schengen Visa.
Schengen Visa Confusion
Four countries are members of the Schengen Zone, but not members of the European Union: Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden. Two members of the European Union have opted out of the Schengen Zone: Ireland and the United Kingdom. Four countries are members of the European Union, have not joined the Schengen Zone, but apply the European Union’s Common Visa Policy: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. Confused? So are lots of people.
Members of the Schegen Zone and Schengen Visa are:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark (excluding Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands (excluding Caribbean Islands), Norway (excluding Svalbard), Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Countries using the Euro as their currency:
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Vatican City
Countries that are members of the European Union:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,
United Kingdom (voted to withdraw in 2016)