Which countries are in the Schengen Area? Romania and Bulgaria are joining the agreement

Written by Travel Adventures

Home to some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, charismatic cities and friendly people, Europe is the ultimate travel destination for a trip that takes you from beach to mountain and back again via sprawling metropoles, teeny fairytale villages and endless rolling hills with minimal fuss or muss.

To help minimise faff when travelling around Europe, the Schengen Area was devised to provide unrestricted access across borders for travellers looking to move between countries with relative ease. Below, we look at what exactly the Schengen Area is, which countries are part of the agreement and the two countries that recently joined.

Mala Strana and Nerudova Street in Prague Czech Republic

Mala Strana and Nerudova Street in Prague, Czech RepublicGetty Images

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is the world’s largest visa-free zone. The area is comprised of 27 countries, all located within Europe, that have removed the requirement of border checks and passport control when travelling to other countries within the Schengen list. This means that travellers visiting anywhere within the Schengen Area can move freely across the border of Schengen members without needing to show passports or other documentation.

According to the Schengen Visa website, there are 3.5 million people who cross internal Schengen borders daily, and nearly 1.7 million people live in one Schengen area while working in another Schengen nation. The agreement, signed in the eponymous Luxembourg village, has transformed travel across the continent.

Which countries recently joined the Schengen Area?

Romania and Bulgaria will join the Schengen Area by the end of March 2024. There will be free movement for EU residents and travellers arriving in the two countries via flights or boats, meaning there will be no passport checks. There has yet to be an outlined date for land borders to be included in the agreement.

Park Guell in Barcelona Spain

Park Guell in Barcelona, SpainGetty Images

Which countries are in the Schengen area?

The full list of 27 Schengen members is below. In late 2023, it was announced that Romania and Bulgaria would be joining the area – the newest additions since Croatia was added in 2022.

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

Is the UK part of the Schengen Area?

In 1999, the UK decided to opt out of becoming a member of Schengen – one of only 11 countries not included in the agreement (the others are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine). This means that the UK has its own border control policies, and while UK residents do not need a visa for short trips to Schengen countries, there are some caveats. If UK residents are staying for longer than 90 days or are visiting for purposes other than tourism (with a few exceptions, stated on, then a Schengen visa may be necessary.

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