What is the Schengen Agreement?
“The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed in 1985, in Schengen, Luxembourg, between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. The Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement supplemented it 5 years later, providing for the removal of systematic border controls between the participating countries.” Schengen Agreement
Purpose of Schengen Agreement
“Before the implementation of the Schengen Agreement, most borders in Western Europe were patrolled and a vast network of border posts existed around the continent, to check the identity and entitlement of people wishing to travel from one country to another. Visa requirements also varied and the possessors of visas to visit one European country would not necessarily be entitled to visit others without separate visas.
Since the implementation of the Schengen rules, border posts have been closed (and often entirely removed) between participating countries. The Schengen Borders Code requires participating states to remove all obstacles to free traffic flow at internal borders.Thus, road, rail and air passengers no longer have their identity checked by border guards when crossing borders (however, security controls by carriers are still permissible). Visitors to Schengen countries can receive a Schengen Visa which entitles them to travel freely throughout the Schengen Area.” Rules Concerning Border Controls – Travel Without Internal Borders
“Travelling in Europe has been simplified with the introduction of the Schengen visa. As a visitor to the Schengen area, you will enjoy the many advantages of this unified visa system. Generally speaking with a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen region during the validity of the visa. Internal border controls are limited with no or few stops and checks.” The Schengen Office
If you require a Schengen Visa you need to apply for one before traveling.
List of Countries in Europe part of Schengen Agreement
The Schengen Area currently consists of twenty-five states and two cooperating countries which maintain internal borders. All but three* Schengen states are members of the European Union.
List of Schengen Countries
*Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are part of the Agreement but not members of the European Union
Source: List of Countries in Schengen Area – Membership
Notable Exceptions: Countries Not Part of the Schengen Agreement
United Kingdom and Ireland are part of the European Union but not a part of the Schengen Convention.
Do I Need a Schengen Visa to Travel to A Particular Country in Europe?
The European Union issues two lists regarding visas: a white list of countries whose nationals do not require visas and a black list of countries whose nationals do. Visa-exempt nationals are entitled to enter and remain in the Schengen Area for up to three months within half a year. Most signatory states do not allow these visa-exempt nationals to carry out remunerative activities during this period.
For a list of countries of which citizens are able to travel to Europe without requiring a visa, see Summary of Visa-Free Travel to Europe (sorted by country).
The following individuals can enter the Schengen Area, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Liechtenstein and Romania without a visa:
Citizens of European Union member states
Citizens of non-EU member states of the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland
Visa-Exempt Countries and Territories
Holders of British National (Overseas) passports;
Citizens of the following countries and territories:
Antigua and Barbuda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Related: Check if you are required a Schengen Visa to travel to France
Do I Need A Visa if I’m Visiting From/To A Certain Country?
SkyTeam has a useful Visa Requirement Information check. You input your nationality, transit points, countries visited in the last six day, destination and embarkation point. It also includes a handy health information section informing on whether vaccinations are required before visiting a country.
For the latest, most reliable information and travel advice, always check with your embassy before traveling. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information here.