The Schengen Area or Region is a collection of countries that have signed an agreement to abolish borders between these specific countries.
There are some members of the EU that haven’t become part of the Schengen Area (meaning that they are part of the wider European Union, but are not enforcing the same border control system).
Consequently, there are members of the Schengen Area that are NOT part of the EU.
Why is this important?
If you decide to travel internationally, specifically to any of the countries in blue or yellow on the map above, then you’ll be entering into this region. Due to the abolishment of the exterior borders when traveling through these countries, you won’t have to go through immigration or customs.
However, the ENTIRE area has a 90 day tourist visa that is automatic to citizens of certain countries (like the USA for example). This means that you can travel into this area without having to pay for an entrance visa, instead they stamp your passport once you’ve gone through customs.
Therefore, you technically have 90 days to travel to all of those countries in blue and yellow before you get kicked out for ANOTHER 90 days.
That’s a lot to see in 90 days.
How does the 90 days Tourist Visa work?
It used to be that you could exit the Schengen region and upon re-entering they’d re-stamp your passport and BOOM you are back in business. Now, it’s the accumulation of 90 days TOTAL within a 180 day period. So, for roughly three months in a 6 month period.
How to keep traveling if you want to see more of the Area after your 90 days are up?
Exit the Schengen Area to a country that isn’t part of that agreement. The idea is that you have to remain out of those countries for 90 more days (3 months) once your visa is up, so wherever you choose to go is up to you. But once those 90 days are up, you’re technically allowed back in.
For more information regarding visas hop on over to the U.S. Passports and International Travel page