All you need to know about Schengen Visa (1/3)
This month we take you to Europe with an article series on Schengen area and its visa policy. In this first article, we will give you a brief introduction and history on Schengen area and detail the visa free countries list.
On 26 March 1995, 10 years after the Schengen Agreement was signed by few European countries, the Schengen area was created, officially abolishing all types of borders control and allowing free movement of their citizens within this area. The agreement started with just few European countries and grew to include 26.
The list of current Schengen Member States:
• Czech Republic
Schengen Area Map
The visa policy
In other words the rules to travel to Schengen area, is decided by the European Union and is the same for all Schengen Member states in blue above: 22 European Union member states and four non-members who are members of EFTA: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, in orange on the map, are not yet part of the Schengen Area but their visa policy is based on this Schengen one.
Travelers who are not citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) nor Swiss, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City and Andorra citizens and who wish to enter the Schengen Area, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus or Romania must have a visa unless they hold a passport from one of the visa-exempt country.
The visa-exempt countries list:
Holders of the below passports list are exempted of visa for travel to the 26 members states of the Schengen area, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus or Romania and the micro states of Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City and Andorra that can be considered de facto in the Schengen area as well. Gibraltar in the south of Spain is not part of the schengen area as it is an UK territory.
If the passport you are holding is not in this list you need a visa from one the Schengen member state that will allow you access to travel to the Schengen area.
Have you traveled to one of the Schengen area member states recently, or are you planning to visit one of them soon? Did you have to apply for a visa? Share your experience or your questions with us!
For more specific visa information basis your passport, you can always visit our interactive map.
Photo credit: Dimitry Anikin (Vienna Opera House, Austria)