Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Schengen Borders Agreement?
The Schengen Borders Agreement permits people to travel freely within the Schengen area (consisting of 26 European countries – see list below), if the traveler otherwise qualifies to enter the Schengen area, by crossing an official external border during regular hours of operation and obtaining an entry stamp in the passport.
How does the Schengen Agreement affect my travel to Europe?
- If you are a qualified visitor for tourism or business with a valid U.S. passport, you can apply to enter the Schengen area without a visa for a period of 90 days within each 180 day period. Please check our Country Specific Information page for passport validity requirements for your destination country.
- You can travel freely from one member country to another without presenting your passport at each country’s border within the Schengen area.
- Note: A country may reintroduce border controls at internal borders temporarily when facing a serious threat to public policy or security.
Can I enter the Schengen area without a visa?
- Yes, if you are a U.S. citizen with a valid U.S. tourist passport (blue passport) traveling for tourism or business for up to 90 days.
- If you do not meet these conditions, contact the embassy of the country where you plan to spend the majority of your time.
How does the agreement work?
- When you first cross any external border of the Schengen area, present your passport for an entry stamp.
- Immigration officials will decide if you qualify for entry into the Schengen area.
- Note: Be sure to ask the official to stamp your passport since you are responsible for proving you have legally entered the Schengen area.
- When moving from one member country to another, you do not need to show your passport until you exit the Schengen area, which must be no more than 90 days after your initial entry.
- During each 180-day period, you will have 90 days of visa-free travel within the Schengen area.
- When you leave the Schengen area after 90 days, you must wait another 90 days before you can apply to enter the Schengen area again without a visa.
- Ensure your passport is stamped upon exiting the Schengen area.
Does the Schengen Borders Agreement apply to students, interns, or workers?
- Before you travel, contact the embassy of the country where you want to study, work, or do an internship to determine if you will need to apply for a visa for the type of activity you wish to pursue.
- Wait to receive the visa, if required, before traveling to any country in the Schengen area.
- Find out beforehand all entry requirements for each country you will visit or transit en route to your destination.
What do I need to enter the Schengen area?
- A U.S. passport (with applicable visas, if needed), valid for at least 90 days beyond your intended date of departure from the Schengen area.
- A justifiable reason for your travel.
- Proof of sufficient financial resources to support yourself during your stay.
- Compliance with any other entry requirements for each country you will visit or transit.
What happens if I am denied entry?
- You are subject to the foreign country’s laws and regulations.
- You are financially responsible for returning to your place of origin outside the Schengen area.
- You may contact the embassy of the country you wish to visit to learn more about its entry requirements and to find out whether you need a visa to enter the Schengen area.
How can the U.S. government help me if I am denied entry?
- We can give you contact information of foreign embassies of the countries you wish to visit.
- We can provide information regarding hiring an English-speaking foreign attorney overseas if you choose to do so.
- We cannot influence a foreign government’s decision whether to permit your entry, nor can we intervene in another country’s criminal or administrative procedures.
What countries are members of the Schengen Borders Agreement?
- All European Union countries, except Bulgaria, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom, are members of the Schengen Borders Agreement.
- In addition, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are also members of the Schengen Borders Agreement (but they are not European Union members).
Learn About Your Destination
Sign your passport, and fill in the emergency information. Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.