If you are planning to visit or travel through European countries, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen Agreement is a treaty creating Europe's Schengen Area, which encompasses 26 European countries, where internal border checks have largely been abolished for short-term tourism, a business trip, or transit to a non-Schengen destination. Because many Schengen countries assume that all travelers will stay for the full three months allowed for visa-free visitors, we recommend the following:
You can find passport validity requirements for your destination country, along with other important information, on our country pages. If your passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may be:
An immigration official will determine if you qualify for entry when you first cross any external border of the Schengen area and present your passport. The officer may bar your entry if you do not qualify.
**Make sure you receive a stamp in your passport when you enter and exit the Schengen area.**
Schengen area countries may reinstate temporary internal and external border control without advanced notice. U.S. citizens should carry their U.S. passport at all times when traveling to/from and within the Schengen area. For additional information on traveling to and within the Schengen area, see our FAQ below.
The Schengen Borders Agreement permits citizens from certain countries - including the United States - to travel freely to 26 European countries within the Schengen area (see list below) for up to three months for tourism or business.
With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area.
To stay longer than 90 days, you must have a visa. Apply for a visa through the embassy of the country where you will spend most of your time.