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Traveling in Europe
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, business trips, or transit to non-Schengen destinations. Because many Schengen countries assume that all entering 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 visa-free 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.** Without a stamp from your first Schengen port of entry, you may have problems if you encounter local authorities while in the Schengen area or with immigration officials when you depart.
Schengen area countries may reinstate temporary internal or external border control without advanced notice. U.S. citizens should carry their U.S. passport at all times when entering or leaving the Schengen area and when traveling between Schengen countries. For additional information on traveling to and within the Schengen area, see our FAQ below.
What is the Schengen Borders Agreement?
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.
As a U.S. citizen, how long can I stay in the Schengen area without a visa?
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.
What do I need to enter the Schengen area?
What do I need when traveling to Schengen countries?
Does the Schengen Borders Agreement apply to students, interns, or workers?
How can the U.S. government help me if border officials do not let me enter?
What countries are members of the Schengen Borders Agreement?
Click on the country name for more information.