12 June, 2019
Schengen Visas and Non-EU Countries
A Schengen visa allows you to travel to any of the 26 Schengen member countries visa free for both business and tourism purposes but did you know you can also visit or transit through other countries that usually require their own visa if you hold a valid Schengen visa? In addition to the 26 member countries of the Schengen Agreement, there are a number of Non-Schengen countries that allow you to visit them with a valid Schengen Visa. There are also countries that form part of the Schengen Area but not the European Union and vice versa, so it is useful to define each in order to better understand where you can and cannot travel.
Many people are surprised to find that the European Union and the Schengen zone are not the same thing, despite the term often being used interchangeably. As such if you apply for a Schengen Visa you are allowed to travel freely throughout 26 countries, but you may mistakenly believe that you can travel to a Non-Schengen country that is part of the European Union. A common mistake travelers make (partially due to the high number of flights that pass through it) is flying through the United Kingdom on the way to a Schengen country or other. As the UK is still part of the European Union but not the Schengen Zone, you will require a transit visa.
If you plan to relocate to a Schengen country for work or studies then a Schengen Visa is not for you and it will be necessary to obtain an appropriate visa for the specific country you are moving to.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries who in the interest of the free movement of people have decided to abolish borders within their countries and have enacted a set of rules with which they govern their external borders. For example, a resident of Germany can drive freely into Switzerland without needing a visa or stopping at a border checkpoint because both are Schengen-member countries, even though Switzerland is not part of the European Union and Germany is.
Countries in the Schengen area:
- Czech Republic
- Iceland (Non-EU)
- Liechtenstein (Non-EU)
- Norway (Non-EU)
- Switzerland (Non-EU)
You can travel to all of the above Schengen countries with a Schengen Visa, even if they are not part of the European Union.
What is the European Union?
More than just a customs union, the EU is a political and economic union of 28 states with a single market and a standardized set of laws. Citizens of the European Union can live, work and travel in any member state without having to apply for a visa. EU member states also share a currency known as the Euro, which is used by 19 of the 28 nations. While most EU countries are also Schengen countries, there are notable exceptions such as The United Kingdom (slated to leave the EU sometime in 2019) and The Republic of Ireland.
- Czech Republic
- Ireland (Non-Schengen)
- United Kingdom (Non-Schengen)
Traveling to The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland
As the only members of the EU not part of the Schengen Agreement you are therefore required to apply directly with the governments of the UK and Ireland in order to visit. If you are transferring flights in the UK you also may require a transit visa.
Non-EU or Schengen Countries you can visit with a Schengen Visa
Given the standards that are required in order to obtain a Schengen Visa, other countries in Europe and even some outside of Europe will allow you to enter with a valid Schengen Visa rather than having to apply directly, albeit with some stipulations. Please be sure to make certain you are able to enter or transfer in the following countries with a valid Schengen Visa.
Valid Schengen Visa holders can visit Albania if they have a multiple-entry Schengen Visa as long as the visa holder has already visited one of the Schengen countries.
Antigua and Barbuda
Visas are granted on arrival for foreigners if they have a valid Schengen Visa. For more information click here.
Citizens of El Salvador, Mexico and North Macedonia who hold a valid Schengen Visa need not apply for an independent visa to visit Belarus.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
With a valid multiple-entry Schengen Visa that has been previously used in a Schengen country you can enter and stay up to 15 days.
Visitors can stay up to 90 Days in a 6 month period with a valid Schengen Visa.
If you are a citizen of the following countries that normally require a visa and you hold a valid Schengen Visa then you can visit Colombia for up to 90 days (given that your Schengen Visa is valid for 180 days upon arrival).
Croatia allows holders of various kinds of Schengen Visas entry, including two and multiple entry visas. For more detailed information click here.
Third-country nationals who plan to visit or transit in Cyprus and hold valid Schengen Visas can enter and transit. See here for more details.
Georgia allows those who have visas for a number of countries enter visa-free, including Schengen Visas. For a full list of countries see here.
Similar to Colombia, if you are a resident of the following countries and hold a valid multiple entry Schengen Visa with at least seven days validity you can enter visa free for up to 21 days. For more detailed information click here.
15 day entry granted with a valid multiple entry visa. More information can be found here.
North Macedonia (The Former Yugoslav Republic)
Third-country nationals with Type C Schengen Visa valid for more than 5 days beyond their stay in Macedonia can visit Macedonia for up to 15 days. More detailed information here.
While both your passport and Schengen Visa must be valid for your entire stay during Mexico you may enter the country for tourism, business or transit. In addition valid visa holders for Japan, Canada, The United States and The United Kingdom may also enter visa free. More information here.
Schengen Visa holders can enter for 30 days every 180 days. Visa holders for the US, UK and Republic of Ireland may also enter. More details here.
Schengen Visa holders as well as certain other nationals can enter for up to 90 days within 180 days. Detailed information on their website.
Sao Tome and Principe
Visa free entry for 15 days to Sao Tome and Principe for valid Schengen Visa holders.
As of 2014 Schengen, US and UK visa holders can enter Serbia. More details here.
While Turkey allows entry to nationals of the following countries who hold Schengen Visas they are also required to get an E-Visa via their government website online, valid for 30 days. For full details see here.
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- North Korea
- Republic of Congo
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Sierra Leone
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