What’s the deal with the Schengen Agreement?

Posted on September 22, 2011


Most students aren’t familiar with the term “Shengen,” and we can’t blame them — it sounds like something you’d find on a cheap Chinese buffet, and not in International Law. But here’s what you should know: the Schengen Agreement is a treaty between 25 European states that might impact your travels during your semester abroad. This article provides all the info you need, so you can avoid passport problems and travel freely.

By Alex DiGregorio

The Schengen Agreement is a treaty between 25 European countries that allows travelers to cross international borders without showing their passport. Upon your initial entry into the region, however, you do have to show your passport. You will then be issued a tourist visa, which allows you to travel freely for 90 days within all of the Schengen countries.

The Schengen Region comprises the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Lativa, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.


  • While you don’t always need to show your passport at the border of a new country, you always need your passport to check into your flight or check into your hotel. Never travel without your passport.
  • Make sure to ask for a passport stamp every time you enter or leave the Schengen region. This ensures you have an official record of your travels, which may be necessary if you need to renew your visa or file a police report.
  • Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when you enter the Schengen region. If your passport expires within 6 months, you may be denied entry.
  • Ireland, the United Kingdom, Morocco and Turkey, as well as many countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkins, are not Schengen countries.
When do you need a visa?

Please check out our article on Finding Visa Information for everything you need to know about getting a visa.
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