Assessing travel and visa obligations in the Schengen Area

The Schengen Area is a contiguous, free-travel zone comprised of 27 European countries. The Schengen member states have eliminated border control at their common borders and share a common visa policy. Schengen Visa requirements and issuance procedures are the same throughout the region.

The Schengen Member States

The 27 Schengen member states include Austria, Belgium, Croatia, 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.

Assessing Travel and Visa Obligations

Visa-waivered travel to the Schengen Area is based on nationality, and visa waivers are applied consistently by all member states. European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Swiss nationals are visa-waivered for travel to the Schengen Area. Additionally, nationals from the following countries are not required to obtain a Short-Stay C (Schengen) Visa to enter the Schengen member states: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Japan, Macau SAR PRC, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Taiwan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Venezuela.

The following nationals are not required to obtain a Short-Stay C (Schengen) Visa to conduct business activities if in possession of a biometric passport: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia.

Nationals who are not eligible for a visa waiver must apply for a Short-Stay Schengen C Visa at a Schengen member state consulate or embassy prior to travel.


How long can I stay in the Schengen Area?

Holders of Short-Stay C (Schengen) Visas, or travelers who are visa-waivered, are limited to a 90-day stay within any 180-day period in the (entire) Schengen Area. The 180-day period is calculated by counting backward from the visitor’s most recent date of entry into a Schengen country. Each subsequent entry creates a new 180-day calculation.

The region has produced a manual and an online calculator to help travelers keep track of their stay under the backward-counting method. Note, the calculator is a helping tool only, and does not constitute a right-to-stay for a period resulting from its calculation.

Working in the Schengen Area

Because travel is free within the Schengen Area, there is a common misconception that rules regulating business activities are the same throughout the area. The Schengen countries remain sovereign, and the specific rules regarding activities are regulated by each country’s specific labor laws. It is important for employers and employees to be aware of the differences in regulations governing entry to the Schengen Area and work authorization in each specific member state. Furthermore, the specific rules regarding work authorization vary considerably from one member state to another. If you have questions regarding a specific country’s laws and how they regulate your travel, please seek advice from your immigration counsel.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.