Bulgaria and Romania Join Schengen Zone For Air And Sea Routes

Bulgaria and Romania Join Schengen Zone For Air And Sea Routes

Bulgaria and Romania joined Europe's Schengen area of free movement on March 31, opening up travel by air and sea without border checks.

After a 13-year wait, the 27 EU member states have unanimously agreed to welcome Bulgaria and Romania into the zone renowned for its free movement of people, goods, services, and capital.

With this decision, the Schengen Area expands to include two additional members with a total of 29 members. The Schengen area comprises the 25 other EU member states along with non-EU states Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The Schengen rules will apply to Bulgaria and Romania, including on issuing Schengen visas, and lifting border checks at the internal air and sea borders.

Due to a veto by Austria, land routes are not included due to fears that it would enable non-EU migrants to more easily enter other EU states.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, hailed the decision as a testament to the relentless efforts of Bulgaria and Romania, stating that both countries ‘deserve’ this recognition. She emphasised that their inclusion will not only strengthen the Schengen Area but also underscore the EU’s commitment to fostering unity and cooperation among its member states.

Negotiations will follow regarding the lifting of controls at land borders, with all parties committed to reaching an agreement by the end of 2024.

Updated Travel Rules In The Schengen Area

EU authorities have confirmed that the days spent in Bulgaria and Romania will count toward the Schengen allowance of a maximum 90 days in any 180-day period as of March 31, 2024.

Those wishing to visit either Bulgaria and Romania, will be able to apply for a Schengen visa at their consulates, which can then be used to visit the rest of the Schengen Zone too.

Tourists holding short-stay visas granted by Cyprus, will no longer be eligible to enter either country and would need a Schengen Visa instead.

If you need help with your Schengen Visa application, do not hesitate to reach out to IaM.

Where do you plan to travel this year? Talk to us in the comment section below. Or if you need more advice on the above, contact us for further travel & immigration advice.

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If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or a visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.

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