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The Schengen Agreement

Planning Tip

The Schengen Agreement is a European treaty that effectively removes border control between 25 countries in, what is known as, the Schengen Area. While loosening border controls between member countries, the agreement also tightens borders with non-member nations.

The Schengen Agreement and You
While the agreement has complicated benefits and implications for residents of member nations, there is a specific impact to the traveler from the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

  • Visitors from the nations above may visit a country within the Schengen area without a visa.
  • Visitors may move between Schengen nations without having to show their passports.
  • Visitors traveling as tourists may only stay in the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period.

Staying Longer Than 90 Days

  • Staying longer than 90 days within a 180 day period under a standard tourist visa in the Schengen Area is illegal.
  • Because of the 180 day rule, a traveler may not leave the Schengen Area and immediately reenter.
  • If caught, travelers risk the possibility of deportation and future entry restrictions.

Solutions
The only way around this rule is to study abroad or apply for a visa that allows travel for longer than 90 days, but be prepared for a heavy inquisition and mountains of red tape.

Schengen Countries

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria*
  • Cyprus*
  • The Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein*
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania*
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

* Treaty signed but not yet implemented

Illustration by Marie McLaughlin

KeeliKaye
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Thanks for posting

Deepak
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I have a Inter rail pass, and am thinking of taking the night train from Prague to Krakow. Can someone tell me the cost of a couchette, 6 bed or 4 bed? Thanks!!

Deepak

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Im a US resident! what do I have to get to travel through Europe?

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To DEEPAK, the easiest way to know the exact price is to go to their website, plug in the dates and cities and desire trip.

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That’s too bad. Only 90 days? I really wanted to stay longer, but I’m not going to be studying. Does anyone have experience with getting a visa? And “red tape” and “inquisition”…that doesn’t sound too fun. What exactly is meant by that? :S

Thanks

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Now you can go and stay a bit longer Smile

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It seems almost draconian in this day and age that travellers from outside the EU can only visit, especially when you consider the vast ammount of young travellers who take years off to go backpacking. Unfortunately this visa is only valid for a single entry into the Schengen area . So once you’re inside the Schengen area, you cannot travel to another country outside the Schengen area and back again. For example, if you have a Schengen visa for a trip to Holland and wish to spend several days in the UK and then return to Belgium, it is not possible to do so if you only have a single entry marked on your Schengen visa. Apparently you it is possible to get a multiple entry visa but don’t ask me how, but even these multiple entry visa’s won’t solve the problem of the 90 day limitation

Daniel

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For Americans, notice that Ireland and the UK are not part of this agreement. Also, the UK has a 180 day limit for Americans rather than 90 days. If you want to go to Europe for 6 months, you can spend the 90 day limit in the Schengen zone and then go to the UK and Ireland for the other 90 days. Or you can start off in the UK/Ireland for a while, then go for the 90 days in Schengen area, and come back for some more time on the British Isles.

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Fascinating. I am going to be in the Schenegen Zone for exactly 90 days, but since I arrive in Amersterdam at 7:45 on day One and don’t leave until 1:45 of Day 90, I guess I’m slightly over. Will I need a visa for the last 5 hours? What will they do to me—make me go home?

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Note that Ireland and UK are in EU but not in the Schengen. On the other hand Island and Norway are part of the Schengen but not in EU.

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This sounds like it is going to have implications for millions of people. It does seem easier to get around but what about those who want to stay longer than 90 days. It doesn’t seem fair.

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If you want to stay longer than 90 days, you’ll have to get a visa. That’s just how it goes. Schengen actually makes it easier for people, because all these countries now have the same entry requirements and you only have to apply for one visa, instead of many, to visit many countries if you do indeed need a visa.

Also, keep in mind that tourists to the US have a MUCH harder time of it than we do going to other countries. Foreigners usually have to be fingerprinted upon entering the US. And only 36 countries (mostly European ones, but also South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Brunei, Australia, and NZ) don’t have to get a visa to go to the US, and even then, they have to apply for travel authorization (ESTA) before-hand and still can only stay 90 days. Canadians are generally exempt from needing a visa or ESTA clearance.

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But it’s really? It’s a very interesting case-limit! Anyone can reply to this question?

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Quote:
It seems almost draconian in this day and age that travellers from outside the EU can only visit, especially when you consider the vast ammount of young travellers who take years off to go backpacking.

In this day and age Europe is a major magnet for immigrants, and they need to regulate it just as much as the US, Canada, or Australia do.

Quote:
This sounds like it is going to have implications for millions of people. It does seem easier to get around but what about those who want to stay longer than 90 days. It doesn’t seem fair.

Well, I don’t know about “millions of people”. Backpackers that want to spend more than 90 days in Schengen don’t number that many.

As Kayling pointed out, the Schengen area is nowhere nearly as draconian as the USA on tourist visas. Nor are the UK and Ireland.

The US requires a visa from citizens of countries and territories that, really, shouldn’t need visas to visit the US (notably Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Cyprus, Hong Kong, and Taiwan). And for countries whose citizens do not require a visa, those folks still need to register online and get fingerprinted and photographed on arrival. Kinda humiliating.

Folks at Wikipedia have done a great job comparing visa/visa waiver policies of the United States*, Canada, Britain, Ireland, the Schengen Zone, and several other countries and territories.

*The Wikipedia page about US visa waiver policy excludes Canada, because Canadians technically are not a part of the US Visa Waiver Program. Canadians fall under a special program that pretty much gives them almost unlimited access to the US, and they don’t have to get photographed and fingerprinted. For citizens of the Bahamas, US visa policy is bizarre and nonsensical. Bahamians do not need a visa to enter the US, but only if they pass through one of two pre-clearance facilities located in the Bahamas, otherwise they do need a visa.

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The 90 days within a 180 day period limitation for non-EU citizens entering the Schengen Area under the visa exemption does NOT apply to New Zealanders! Smile

New Zealand citizens are permitted to stay for up to 90 days without a visa in EACH of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary*, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland without reference to time spent in other Schengen signatory states. But, when travelling to other Schengen countries not in the list above, the normal 90 days within a 180 day period restriction applies for NZ citizens wishing to travel without a visa.

(* Hungary only if visiting it as the last Schengen destination)

Therefore, it is possible for New Zealanders without a visa to stay for longer than 90 days in Schengen countries perfectly legally.

For more information, see this EU website (http://www.delaus.ec.europa.eu/newzealand/eu_guide/faqsvisas.htm) as well as this NZ Government website (http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/destinations/europetips.shtml)