- What is the Schengen area?
- Countries where you do NOT need to obtain a Schengen Visa
- How long can a person be in the Schengen Zone?
- Which countries can I travel to without obtaining the Schengen Visa?
- Entry requirements to travel to Europe without the Schengen Visa
- More information
Several countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand do not need to obtain a Schengen visa to travel to Europe. In this article you will find answers to the most common questions to make your trip to Europe as straightforward as possible.
For years it has been possible to travel to the Schengen area or zone for tourism, family visit and short stays of up to 90 days. All this thanks to the exemption agreements that exist between several countries and the European Union.
What is the Schengen area?
The Schengen area or zone is a free movement and movement of persons treaty among member countries. As of 2019, this zone is made up of 26 European countries. By this I mean that you can travel for up to 90 days to any country in the area without having to arrange a visa for each nation.
If you enter Spain, a popular destination among American countries, you will only go through migration once when you arrive in Europe, and you can leave where you entered or from any other country that is part of this area. These trips or stays are of short duration: for tourism, family, personal or business visits, studies of short courses, seminars, or similar.
The 90 days are counted within 180 days, and cannot be extended.
Countries where you do NOT need to obtain a Schengen Visa
You can find out on this visa checker.
How long can a person be in the Schengen Zone?
The 90 day count starts from the day you have stamped in your passport. For example, if you enter Europe on June 1, 2019, the last day you could leave is August 29, 2019 (June 30 + July 31 + August 29) which adds up to 90 days with the date of the entrance and departure day of the Schengen area.
If you go 30 days, and then travel 20 days to Morocco or another country outside the Schengen area, you may travel again within the Schengen area for 60 more days within 180 days. The count does not start from 0, unless the 180 days from first entry have passed or elapsed.
Which countries can I travel to without obtaining the Schengen Visa?
The countries to which you can travel without having to obtain a Schengen visa are the following:
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The visa exemption also applies to four (4) European Union member countries that are not currently part of the Schengen Agreement: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. You can also go to Andorra.
To travel to the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland) or Ireland (EU Members), you will continue – until further notice – using their individual visa exemptions or requesting a short-term visa at their respective consulates or embassies.
Entry requirements to travel to Europe without the Schengen Visa
Although it is true, you no longer have the need to apply for a visa at the corresponding consulate before your trip, I list below some practical recommendations on the documents or essential requirements, to avoid inconveniences when you check-in with the airline or delays when entering the Schengen area:
Have a valid passport that is valid at least up to three months after the return date.
Roundtrip transportation ticket
Do not try to travel to Europe without having your round trip ticket because they can deport you or unless you have a European passport. The trip or return flight does not have to be to your place of origin, you can then go to the United Kingdom, Asia, Morocco or another European country outside the Schengen area.
On the Omio website you can search for airline tickets, trains and buses. It is a page that I use very often in my travels around the world.
Accommodation reservation or Invitation Letter from a family member or friend
These documents can be requested from the airline or when entering Europe. Even if they don’t ask you directly, they can ask you questions about it. Do you have accommodation in Spain? Where are you going to stay in your time in Europe? These are some of the questions they have asked my family and friends.
If you have an Invitation Letter, you are almost always asked to show the accommodation you have booked. My mom is always asked for just that and how many days she is going to stay in Europe.
Do not travel without proof of your accommodation to Europe. Keep hotel reservations and/or your invitation letter handy.
Justification of economic means
This requirement depends on whether you have an invitation letter or hotel reservations. According to what I have witnessed, in the zone they demand financial solvency and to demonstrate a minimum of 73 euros a day backed by cash, bank statements, credit or debit cards. If you have an invitation letter it is reduced to half the daily amount.
Schengen Travel Insurance
To enter the Schengen Area it is necessary that your travel insurance has medical coverage of at least 30 thousand euros, in addition to covering eventualities for the entire stay in the State or Member States to visit: You can buy travel insurance with a 5% discount here.
Also, from my experience, with the entry into force of the Schengen visa exemption, the agents of the respective borders reserve the right of admission. Therefore, they can request any of the documents described.