Europe

Schengen Area: 2024 List of Member Countries

Schengen Area is the largest border-free zone in the world, which permits unrestricted movement to more than 425 million citizens of the EU, as well as non-EU nationals living in the bloc or visiting the EU as tourists.

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Since the main goal of the Schengen Area is to allow free movement, citizens of the EU are able to travel, live, and work in an EU country without having to undergo complex procedures, Schengen.News reports.

Free movement applies to non-EU citizens, too. Non-EU citizens under the visa-free regime, along with those who hold a Schengen visa, are permitted to travel within the Schengen zone freely without having to undergo any checks when travelling from one member state to another.

Why Is It Called Schengen?

The name Schengen comes from a town in Luxembourg where Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands signed the Schengen Agreement in 985.

What Is the Schengen Agreement?

The Schengen Agreement is a treaty initiated by Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands 39 years ago on the gradual removal of controls at common borders.

The Schengen Agreement, which is named after a small town in Luxembourg, was signed by these five countries on June 14, 1985, and since then, the number of signatories increased continuously.

Since 1995, an additional number of countries have signed the agreement to join the Schengen Zone. Here is a chronology of the countries that signed to join the Schengen Area since 1995:

  • November 27, 1990 – Italy signed the Schengen Agreement
  • June 25, 1991 – Spain and Portugal signed the Schengen Agreement
  • November 6, 1992 – Greece signed the Schengen Agreement
  • April 28, 1996 – Austria signed the Schengen Agreement
  • December 19, 1996 – Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway signed the Schengen Agreement
  • October 26, 2004 – Switzerland signed the Schengen Agreement

All the countries mentioned above first signed the agreement, and then, after some time, they started to implement the Schengen acquis fully.

As for the other Schengen member states that are not listed above, they do not have a different Schengen Agreement sign date and a different implementation date.

What is the Schengen Acquis?

The Schengen acquis, also known as the “acquis communautaire” is a collection of rules and laws, including treaties, directives, and court decisions, that ensure the proper functioning of the Schengen Area.

Here Is the Full List of Schengen Area Member Countries in 2024

Currently, the Schengen Area consists of 29 member states. The full list of countries part of the Schengen Area in 2024 is as follows:

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Belgium
  • Czechia
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

The majority of these countries started to fully implement the Schengen acquis on different dates. The list below shows details of when each country abolished border checks and started to permit unrestricted movement.

  • March 26, 1995: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain
  • March 26, 1997: Italy
  • December 1, 1997: Austria
  • March 26, 2000: Greece
  • March 25, 2001: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden
  • December 21, 2007: Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia
  • December 12, 2008 (land borders), March 29, 2009 (air borders): Switzerland
  • December 19, 2011: Liechtenstein
  • January 1, 2023 (land borders), March 26, 2023 (air borders): Croatia
  • March 31, 2024 (air and sea borders): Bulgaria, Romania

As the list reveals, Bulgaria and Romania are the two latest countries that have joined the Schengen Area. However, these two countries have only joined the Schengen Area by air and sea.

Another Schengen extension is not expected to happen in the next years as several criteria need to be before a country becomes part of the Schengen Area.

Schengen Area Membership Criteria That Must Be Fulfiled

Countries that wish to become members of the Schengen Area must fulfil several pre-conditions.

When wanting to join the largest borderless area in the world, a country must apply the common set of Schengen rules, known as the Schengen acquis, regarding controls, visa issuance, and personal data protection, among others.

Countries wanting to become part of the Schengen Area must also take responsibility for controlling the external border on behalf of the other member states and issue Schengen visas.

They must cooperate with law enforcement agencies of the Schengen countries, keep a high-security level, and use the Schengen Information System, too.

Not All EU Countries Are Schengen Member States & Vice Versa

Not each European Union member state is part of the Schengen Area, and not every Schengen member state is part of the European Union.

Cyprus and Ireland are both EU member states. However, these two countries are not part of the Schengen Area.

Ireland does not permit entry for holders of a Schengen visa. Travellers need to hold a visa issued by Ireland in order to enter the country.

On the other hand, Cyprus permits entry for holders of Schengen visas.

In addition to the above-mentioned, several countries that are not part of the EU are Schengen member states. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are Schengen member countries but not EU countries.

This means that these four countries issue Schengen visas and permit entry for everyone who holds the documents, regardless of the issuing country.

Which European Countries Are Not Part of the Schengen Area?

The European continent has several countries that are either members of the EU or Schengen Area.

The full list of European countries that are not part of the EU or Schengen Area is as follows:

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Georgia
  • Kosovo
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • North Macedonia
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Türkiye
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

Despite not being members of the EU or Schengen Area, citizens of the majority of the countries listed above are permitted visa-free entry to the Schengen Area, with the exception of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, and Türkiye passport holders.

How Does the Schengen Agreement Affect Non-EU Citizens?

The Schengen Agreement makes it easier for holders of a Schengen visa to travel within the bloc. In line with the Schengen acquis, non-EU citizens who are granted Schengen visas have no territorial restrictions.

This means that if you are granted a German Schengen visa, you are permitted to freely enter Austria, Poland, Czechia, or any other Schengen member country without needing any additional documents.

However, once in the Schengen Area, foreigners must make sure that they follow the 90/180-day rule in order not to face any consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are There Internal Border Controls Between Member States of Schengen Area?

Schengen Area represents an unrestricted zone that permits travellers to move from one country to another without undergoing border controls. However, in some cases, police security checks might occur, and temporary controls might be introduced.

Is the UK Part of the Schengen Area?

The UK is not part of the Schengen Area. The country maintains its own immigration and border policies.

Is Every European Country Part of the Schengen Area?

No, not every country located in the European continent is a part of the Schengen Area. Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Türkiye, Ukraine, and the UK are European countries but not Schengen or EU member states.

Can I Visit Multiple Schengen Countries on a Single Visa?

Yes, you can enter multiple Schengen member states on a single visa. Once you enter the Schengen Area, you are no longer subject to any controls when travelling from one member state to another. However, you must make sure not to exceed the 90/180-day period limit.

Can I Enter Cyprus With a Schengen Visa?

Yes, you can enter Cyprus with a Schengen visa.

Can I Enter Ireland With a Schengen Visa?

No, you can not enter Ireland with a Schengen visa. Ireland has not signed the Schengen Agreement and is only part of the EU. To enter Ireland, you need to hold an Ireland visa.

What Is the 90-Day Rule in the Schengen Area?

In line with the Schengen rules, third-country nationals are not permitted to stay in the Schengen Area for more than 90 days within any 180-day period.

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