Schengen Area: What U.S. Travelers should know

Jan 30, 2024 | News

U.S. Travelers who intend to visit additional EU countries after our luxury tour through Switzerland should take note of the entry requirements for those specific countries. Certain countries outside the Schengen area may require a visa, which must be obtained before your departure. Visa-free travel is permitted for up to 90 days in Switzerland and the Schengen area, which currently comprises 26 European countries.

Crossing national borders within the Schengen zone does not reset the 90-day tourist visa, as it is not considered leaving the Schengen. If you spend 90 days in the Schengen area, you must wait an additional 90 days before re-entering if you do not possess a visa. Ensure that your passport is stamped upon both entry and exit from the Schengen area.

European Union

European Union

Schengen Borders Agreement

If you plan to travel across Europe, it’s essential to be acquainted with the regulations outlined in the Schengen Borders Agreement. This agreement established the border-free Schengen area in Europe, allowing individuals legally present in the European Union (such as tourists, exchange students, or those on business visits) to move freely within the Schengen area without facing internal border checks. Under the Schengen Borders Agreement, citizens from specific countries – including the United States – can enjoy unrestricted travel within the Schengen area for up to 90 days, either for tourism or business purposes.

Today, the Schengen area includes the majority of European countries and extends to four non-EU states: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

Recomandations for U.S. Travelers in Europe

Passport Validity

  • Ensure that your passport book has a remaining validity of at least six months when entering the Schengen area.
  • Before traveling to Europe, carefully inspect the expiration date on your passport book, particularly for minors whose passports are valid for five years, in contrast to the ten-year validity for those issued to U.S. citizen adults aged 16 and older.
  • It is essential to carry your passport book when traveling to another country within the Schengen area. Even in the absence of a border check at that moment, authorities may reinstate border controls without prior notice.

Explore the passport validity requirements for your destination country and find additional crucial details on country pages. Failure to meet Schengen requirements may result in:

  • Being denied boarding by the airline either at your departure point or during a transfer.
  • Being refused entry upon arrival in the Schengen area, irrespective of your intended duration of stay.

An immigration official will assess your eligibility for visa-free entry to the Schengen area when you initially cross any external Schengen border and present your passport. If you do not meet the criteria, the officer may prohibit your entry.

VISA Requirements

  • A valid U.S. passport allows you to stay for up to 90 days, either for tourism or business, within any 180-day period. Following this period, you are required to wait an additional 90 days before seeking re-entry into the Schengen area.
  • If your plans involve an extended stay in the Schengen area, exceeding three months, it is advisable to contact the embassy of the country where you intend to spend the majority of your time and apply for a visa.

It’s important to note that Schengen area countries may unpredictably reintroduce temporary internal or external border controls. Hence, U.S. citizens are recommended to carry their U.S. passport book at all times while entering or leaving the Schengen area and when traveling between Schengen countries.

Video What is the Schengen Agreement? | Made in Germany

The Schengen Agreement is regarded as a milestone of European integration. It allows travel across participating EU member states without border checks. Vehicles and trains also enjoy free movement across borders. But due to the ongoing influx of refugees, some EU states have suspended the agreement.

What is the Schengen Agreement? | Made in Germany

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