Common Questions

International Airports – Entering and Exiting the Schengen Area

At international airports, passengers travelling within the Schengen area are physically separated from those whose flights are going to, or arriving from, a country outside the Schengen area. While passengers cleared for internal Schengen flights need their identity documents only to prove their identity when boarding the plane, for external Schengen flights, there is at least one customs and passport check. When entering or exiting the Schengen Area, depending on which country you are traveling to and with what airline, your passport may be checked a second time prior to boarding the plane. Upon arrival to your destination, you will once again have to go through a passport/customs screening prior to leaving the airport. If you are an EU citizen traveling to or within the EU and/or Schengen area, you will be separated into a more efficient line for screening (again, your documents will be checked only to confirm your EU citizenship status). If you are from, or travelling to a non-Schengen and/or non-EU country of which you are not a citizen, all of your required paperwork will be checked prior to admittance into the country. Because you will need your passport both prior to boarding and after landing your flight, it is recommended that you store your passport, plane ticket, and other required documents (e.g. visa, ID, customs declarations, etc.) in a secure but easily accessible area of your carry-on luggage. It is important to note that the Schengen agreement eases the process of passport/customs screenings. It DOES NOT affect, in any way, security screenings of people and their belongings prior to boarding a flight. While airport security regulations may vary from country to country, the existence of some form of security check is universal to all airports, and is especially strict for international travelers. It is advisable to research what you can and cannot bring through security with you prior to departing for your trip, either online or by contacting your airline. I am planning a visit to a Schengen country whose national language is different from my own. Will this hinder my ability to get through my passport/customs check? What do I do if the border police do not speak my language? Language barriers are not a barrier for your decision to travel to the Schengen Area. If you happen to encounter a customs or passport official with whom you cannot communicate, they will more than likely find another official or interpreter with whom you can speak. While this process may be tedious and/or inconvenient, your inability to speak a particular language will not hinder your ability to travel to a Schengen country. You can also write down a translation of “I’m sorry, I don’t speak (language).” into the country’s language and carry it with you as a precautionary measure. If you are confident enough in the language to answer in it, then use the country’s native language. More often than not, you will be addressed in your language, in which case you should respond in the same language. However, DO NOT attempt to communicate in a language you are not confident about speaking in. Border checks are not the time you want to make mistakes expressing your intentions in a country, and depending on where you plan to travel, a mistake may result in additional questioning or detainment. *This advice is true whether visiting a Schengen country or country anywhere else in the world. I am from a non-EU country and I am planning a trip to a country in the Schengen Area. Which documents do I need? Oftentimes, the required documentation one needs to travel to a particular country requires a few weeks or months to be processed and accepted. If this is your first time travelling internationally, it is important to make sure you have all your paperwork in order prior to the dates of your trip. First and foremost, any international travel requires a passport issued from the country of which you are a citizen. If you do not have an up to date passport, begin by searching online for your country’s process and requirements for obtaining a passport, and be careful to pay attention to the estimated time it takes to complete the process. If your trip is scheduled before you receive your passport, you will be unable to leave your country. Beyond having a passport, the type/number of additional ID’s/visas needed is determined based on a few specific factors related to your trip:
  • Duration of the Visit
  • Purpose of Visit (Tourism, Business, etc.)
  • Your Citizenship Status (which country you are from)
Your answers to the above questions will determine which travel documents/visa you do/don’t need in order to travel. Please visit Visa Requirements for more specific and up to date information on travelling to the Schengen Area. Attached is an English Language PDF of current EU Visa Requirements. See Appendix 1 for countries that do/do not require visas for travelling to the Schengen area. I am from an EU country and I am planning a trip within the Schengen Area. Which documents do I need? Luckily, you should not need any special documents besides your passport to travel. Keep in mind that your passport and national ID is your only valid form of ID in foreign countries. All EU countries recognize forms of ID / driver’s licenses, etc. from other EU countries as long as the documents are valid and up to date (though anything other than a passport or national ID is not proof of identity). Even though you will not be required to present this documentation at borders between EU countries in the Schengen area, you ABSOLUTELY must bring these documents with you in the event you need to prove your identity, have a medical emergency, etc. Several Schengen countries require travelers to carry their passport at all times while traveling. If you are planning on moving to / working in another Schengen country for an extended period, you do not need a special work permit. However, some restrictions do currently apply to Croatian and UK nationals. Check Your Europe – Working Abroad for up to date information about your destination country’s requirements for extended stays, how to obtain ID and licenses from their country, and/or to learn more about that country’s citizenship process. Please also be sure to check on changes in your benefits and tax requirements after your move. I am planning a trip to the Czech Republic. Which documents do I need? The Czech Republic is a member of the Schengen Area! Please see the above sections to determine whether you are subject to the rules of non-EU or EU citizens travelling to the Czech Republic. I am from the Czech Republic, and am planning to travel outside of the Schengen Area. Which documents do I need? You will need a passport to travel outside of the Schengen Area. You must check your destination country’s specific requirements in order to obtain the proper documentation prior to travel. Other common requirements is proof of stay (hotel reservation, house address, etc.), and potentially some form of visa or special document if you plan to conduct business while abroad. I am a non-EU citizen, but I frequently travel into and out of the Schengen Area for business. Do I have to refile for a Schengen visa every time I go? If you travel frequently to the EU for work, you should consider applying for a Business Schengen Visa, which has special permissions designed for frequent business travelers. Keep in mind that if a visa is required for you to travel to the Schengen Area, then you must always have some form of valid visa in order to travel. There are, however, more convenient options for “frequent flyers.” For more information about the Business Schengen Visa, please visit About the Business Schengen Visa. If you plan to work in an EU country for a period longer than 90 days, please look into work permit rights for non-EU citizens. What documents does an EU citizen need in order to move to / work in the Schengen Area? Visits of EU countries longer than three months have special requirements beyond what is necessary for intermittent travel / holidays between countries. For a full list of potential required documents / paperwork, please visit Residence Rights. What documents does a non-EU citizen need in order to move to / work in the Schengen Area? The exact type of documentation you will need depends on the country of which you are a citizen. More often than not, you will need to provide proof of employment, and oftentimes receive sponsorship from your company to obtain the necessary paperwork. I want to become a citizen of the Czech Republic. What does this process entail? First of all, congratulations! For a comprehensive review of requirements in order to file a citizenship application and next steps, please visit the Czech Citizenship Act. I am a citizen of the United Kingdom (UK) planning to visit the EU / I am an EU country citizen planning to visit the UK. How does the invocation of Article 50 (Brexit) affect my travel plans? The current invocation of Article 50 will affect your ability to travel freely between the EU and UK. Moreover, the situation continues to change, meaning that restrictions on your ability to travel may also change before, during, and after your planned trip. For continuous up to date information, please regularly visit UK/Brexit Factsheets to ensure you have the proper documents for travel. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you bring a passport, national ID, driver’s license, and medical insurance card with you while traveling to ensure your ability to travel within the EU even if restrictions on travel tighten during your trip. Your driver’s license and insurance may not be recognized within EU countries in the coming months. To be safe you should pack as you would if you were going to a non-EU / Schengen country, and assume that this is the border standards you will be held to until proven otherwise. I have heard that some countries have Temporary Internal Border Controls. Is this true? Yes. In extenuating circumstances (national security threats, terrorist attacks, etc.), individual countries are permitted to reintroduce border controls. If you wish to enter a country while they have these controls in place, you will need your passport in order to enter the country whether you are an EU citizen or not. For a complete list of countries currently maintaining temporary border controls, please visit Temporary Reintroduction of Border Controls. The Schengen Visa For the most up to date information on determining application eligibility and application requirements for the Schengen Visa, please visit Schengen Visa Information. Typically, the Schengen Visa is needed for visits of less than 90 days in a 180-day period to Schengen Area countries for citizens of third-party nations that do not have a previously arranged travel agreement with the Schengen countries.

For comprehensive and up to date information about traveling and living in the EU, please visit Your Europe.

Autor: Euroskop