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The Schengen Area: Which countries are included in the Schengen Zone?

The Schengen Area: Which Countries Are Included In The Schengen Zone?

The way countries work together in the Schengen Area is impressive. People can move easily inside, but strict checks are at the borders.

The signing of the 1985 Schengen Agreement was in Luxembourg. This concept has significantly altered how people travel and move about in Europe.

It was named after the agreement signed in the village of Schengen, Luxembourg 1985. The Schengen Area is a pivotal agreement, particularly among European Union nations.

The primary objective is the elimination of passport checks at the internal borders of Schengen countries. Allowing travelers to move freely between these nations.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the basic parts of the Schengen Area. Its member countries and the detailed rules that control this cooperative system.

Which Countries are in the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area includes 27 countries. Here’s the list:

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

Notable Exceptions and Clarifications

Although the Schengen Area covers a big part of Europe, some important places are not part of it, and some special rules to understand:

  • Non-Schengen EU Countries: Four EU countries are not part of the Schengen Area. These are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania. While they are EU member states, they maintain separate passport controls and have yet to merge into the Schengen zone fully.
  • Non-EU Schengen Countries: What’s interesting is that the Schengen Area has some countries not part of the European Union. These are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. These countries have decided to join the Schengen agreement and follow its rules, even though they are not members of the European Union.

Why is the Schengen Area Important?

The Schengen Area is a testament to the European free movement and cooperation ideal. The Schengen Area is made up of a bunch of European countries that decided to get rid of checks at their internal borders.

This agreement makes crossing their respective borders super easy for people who live there. You can travel through a big part of Europe without needing lots of visas or repeatedly going through border checks. For tourists, this means easier and more efficient travel.

For businesses, it means smoother trade and transportation. But it’s important to understand that the Schengen Area is different from the European Union (EU). Some countries that are not in the EU are in Schengen, and some EU countries are not part of Schengen.

External Border and Internal Border Controls

The Schengen Agreement places a strong emphasis on securing the common external border. Schengen member states collaborate closely on border security, police cooperation, and visa policy. This collaboration ensures consistent security while allowing for the free movement of persons within the Schengen Zone.

Visa Requirements and Travel Documents

To enter the Schengen Area, travelers from non-Schengen countries typically need a Schengen visa. This visa allows them to stay in the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

To visit the Schengen Area, you must apply for a Schengen visa and meet certain conditions ahead of time. These include having travel insurance and showing where you’ll stay during your trip.

Non-Schengen Countries and Border Controls

Countries like the United Kingdom and Bosnia and Herzegovina still have border controls when you enter the Schengen Area. So, if you’re traveling from a non-Schengen country into the Schengen Zone, be ready for checks on your person and your travel documents.

Sometimes, border checks are being brought back temporarily for safety or public order reasons. However, such reintroductions are subject to strict conditions and must be approved at the EU level.

Special Cases: Danish Territories, Dutch Territories, and Overseas Departments

Some Schengen member states have specific arrangements for their overseas territories. For example, certain places in Denmark and the Netherlands are not part of the Schengen Zone.

If you travel between these places and mainland Europe, you might have to deal with customs and immigration checks.

Schengen Visa and Long-Stay Visa

Schengen visas are typically short-stay visas, allowing for stays of up to 90 days. You’ll need to follow a different application process specific to each Schengen country for longer stays or house permits.

How long can I stay in the Schengen Area?

There are over 60 countries whose citizens can enter the Schengen Area visa-free for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. This primary rule applies to most people who can travel to Europe without needing a visa. However, there is a lesser-known way of extending your trip in the Schengen area well beyond 90 days.

Each country had its agreements called bilateral visa waivers with non-European countries in the past. A lot of these were made between the 1950s and the 1990s.

A few of these old bilateral agreements are still around and work today. They let people from certain countries stay in Schengen countries for more than the usual 90 days.

If you want to stay in Europe for a long time, check if your country has these agreements with any European countries. Some travelers who use CarTurf take advantage of these agreements to stay in Europe for more than 90 days during their car tours.


The Schengen Area has really changed how people travel in Europe. It lets you move easily within its borders, but it’s also serious about security at its outer edges.

If you’re a traveler or live in the Schengen Area, it’s important to understand all the rules and policies about visas and border controls. Keep up with the latest news by checking the Official Journal of the European Union and the authorities of the countries you’re visiting.

It is a unique and ambitious agreement that has reshaped the way people travel and do business in Europe. By understanding this, travelers can better plan their European adventures.

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