Established in 1995 as an intergovernmental initiative between the European Union founding Members, the Schengen Area removed physical and economic borders restrictions between countries in Europe.
The freedom of movement together with the suppression of international trade fees led to the creation of the biggest internal market in the world.
A single, European market that connects the economies not only of the EU members and also creates a community of around 500 million people.
Schengen Countries List
There are 26 Member States in the Schengen area. The area encompasses 22 EU States, 4 non-EU states and 3 European micro-states.
22 EU Member States:
4 non-EU Member States:
3 Micro-States de facto part of SCHENGEN Area:
Schengen Zone Joining Countries:
4 countries that will be part of the Schengen Area:
Schengen Area and the European Union
The Schengen Area it's often mistakenly confused with the European Union.
Currently, only 26 of the 28 EU members ratified the international agreements while the United Kingdom as well as Ireland opted-out.
As we all know, Great Britain is currently negotiating with the European Union the right of circulation of British Citizens in continental Europe.
The members of the Schengen Area includes countries that are not part of the EU (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland).
Other countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Countries list in the next future.
The latters already adopt part of the immigration regulations already in use in the Schengen Area Countries.
Independent countries like Vatican City, Monaco, and San Marino are de-facto considered part of the Schengen Area.
European Countries outside the Schengen Area
Many European Countries are still out of the Schengen Area: Albania, Andora, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
In this case, international fee-exempt trade regulations do not apply, and the inbound-outbound flow of individuals is regulated with border controls.
Schengen Area Territorial Limits
The Schengen Area it's an entity that exists only inside the European soil. There are limitations, in fact, for those Schengen Area Countries holding territories outside Europe.
The French overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion, and Saint Martin) are part of the European Union but are not considered part of the Schengen Area.
The same status applies to Netherlands former colonies, and extra-territorial possessions in the Caribbean also recognized to be outside the Schengen Zone.
The countries of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom on the Netherlands, and they have a separate visa system.
For this reason, People traveling between these territories and Schengen Area Countries are subjected to border control and Schengen Visa issued for France or Netherland are not valid in the regions mentioned above.
Same limitations apply to Svalbard Islands, which are part of Norway and benefit of special status. The islands are not part of the Schengen Area. The Norwegian government activated border checks on individuals wishing to enter these islands.
The Danish territories of Faroe Island are not part of the European Union nor the Schengen Area.