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"Schengen"

*  Something you MUST know  *

 

"Schengen" is a term that has come to refer to a series of treaties between members of the European Union that codify the rules concerning the passage of borders between member states and between member states and citizens of 3rd party nations (i.e., the USA).  A very good write up about this is located at Wikipedia.  Schengen

The treaty was signed in the town of Schengen, Netherlands.

IMPORTANT  For US travelers in Europe, the foremost provisions of these rules are:  

You do not need a visa to travel within the member states up to a period of ninety days (90).  And secondly, that you are restricted to a total of ninety days out of 180 days.  (No you can not go to Morocco, for example, for 3 days and return to Europe and start the 90 day clock back to zero.)  Ninety days out of 180 days without a visa.  (This same time limit is imposed on Europeans who wish to visit the US and Canada.)

To stay longer in the zone you must obtain (in the USA) a long term visa from any member state.  One state's visa will be honored by all other states.  You must comply with the filing requirements of that member state.  The process of gathering the documents needed can take a few days, and the processing time can vary by nation to nation.

During our 2007 travels we did not have a long term visa.  We headed east, out of the zone for 92 days.  (see the maps).

Penalties can be immediate expulsion from the member states, and a ban on reentry for many years.

Plan ahead wisely.

 

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