Beware The Schengen Agreement

What is it?

The Schengen Agreement (shang-en) was signed on June 14, 1985 and is a treaty designed to open borders between many European countries.

It allows free access between member countries without having to go through passport or border control.

Schengen area

The Schengen Area is currently compromised of 26 countries.

● 
Austria
● 
Belgium
● 
Czech Republic
● 
Denmark
● 
Estonia
● 
Finland
● 
France
● 
Germany
● 
Greece
● 
Hungary
● 
Iceland
● 
Italy
● 
Latvia
● 
Liechtenstein
● 
Lithuania
● 
Luxembourg
● 
Malta
● 
Netherlands
● 
Norway
● 
Poland
● 
Portugal
● 
Slovakia
● 
Slovenia
● 
Spain
● 
Sweden
● 
Switzerland
Ask a backpacker
Trip planning made easy
The Euro Trip Kit is a great way to start planning your trip.
Inside you'll find a travel journal, adventure passport, language cards and a bunch of other great things to get you excited for your euro trip.
Inside The Kit

The rules

If you are traveling for more than 90 days in Europe, you need to be aware of the Schengen rules. 

For every 180 day period or 6 months, you are only allowed to travel within the 26 countries in the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days.  For any days outside of the 90 days, you must be outside of the Schengen Area.

As a side note, you can't just hop in and out of the Schengen Area for a day to restart your 90 day counter.

Do I need a Schengen visa?

Most countries around the world, including Canada and the United States, do not require you to have a special visa to travel to any of the countries in the Schengen Area.

There are no visa extensions available for stays of more than 90 days.

When you arrive in your first Schengen member country, you'll go through customs and have your passport stamped.  Once done, you will not have to show your passport again when traveling in and out of any other countries in the Schengen Area.

Trip planning

So, the real question becomes - how can I travel in Europe for more than 90 days without breaking the rules?

Well, you'll have to be creative with your itinerary by mixing in countries not in the Schengen Area with countries that are.

Keep in mind the 90 days you're in the area don't have to be consecutive so you can hop in and out of the area at will.

Countries not in the Schengen Area include tourist hotspots like Ireland, United Kingdom and Croatia.  There are also lesser visited countries that should also be on your radar like Serbia, Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria.

You could also take a side trip down to Morocco or visit Ukraine or Russia.

The key is to make sure out of every 180 days travel you're in the zone for 90 and out of the zone for 90.
Ask a backpacker
Ask a backpacker
Questions about backpacking?  Our Facebook group is filled with backpackers just like you.
Ask questions, get advice, share some stories, and maybe even meet a travel buddy.  Come hang out with us.

Where To Next?

Budapest
Barcelona
Prague
Paris
 
Free Travel Guides
Free Travel Guides
We regularly publish backpack guides to new cities around the world.
Sign up to get a free travel guide in your inbox when they come out.

More Europe

How To Backpack Europe For Only $30 A Day
Backpacking Europe: Everything You Need To Know
How To Plan Your First Euro Trip
9 Euro Trip Itineraries
Be Inspired
Travel Inspiration
Follow us on Facebook.  Our page is filled with travel tips and inspiration.
Get inspired for your next trip with backpack photos, videos, stories and memes.