The Schengen Zone is a political agreement between 26 European countries, named after the small town of Schengen in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed in 1985. It allows for the free movement of people and goods within the zone, essentially creating a borderless area for travellers to move freely between countries. If you are planning to travel to Europe, it is important to understand how the Schengen Zone works, who it affects, and the rules for visas and extensions.
Who does the Schengen Zone affect?
The Schengen Zone affects citizens of countries that are not members of the European Union, as well as citizens of some EU member countries that have not yet joined the zone. It also affects travellers who plan to spend more than 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen Area.
Rules for Visas and Extensions
To enter the Schengen Area, visitors from countries that are not part of the EU must obtain a Schengen visa before traveling. This visa allows for travel within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. It is important to note that the 90 days do not have to be consecutive but rather can be spread out over a six-month period.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen Area for longer than 90 days, you may be eligible for a long-term visa or a residence permit. These permits can be obtained through the individual country’s embassy or consulate, but the process can be lengthy and complicated.
If you find yourself in the Schengen Area and need to extend your stay, it is possible to apply for an extension. However, extensions are granted only in exceptional circumstances, such as medical emergencies or unforeseen events. It is recommended to apply for an extension as early as possible to avoid overstaying your visa and facing potential consequences.
Countries in the Schengen Area:
See below for a list of all the countries in the Schengen Area:
- Czech Republic
New for 2023: Croatia
Here are 5 useful links for those looking to find out more about the Schengen Zone:
- Official website of the European Union: https://europa.eu/european-union/index_en
- European Commission’s website for visa information: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy_en
- Schengen Visa Info website for visa application procedures and requirements: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/
- Schengen Calculator for calculating permitted days of stay: https://www.schengenvisacalculation.com/
- U.S. Department of State’s website for travel information to the Schengen Area: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/SchengenArea.html
In summary, the Schengen Zone is a complex agreement that affects travellers from certain countries who plan to spend more than 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen Area. Understanding the rules for visas and extensions is crucial for a successful and legal trip to Europe. Utilizing the above links can provide helpful guidance and resources for navigating the Schengen Zone.