a building with a couple of people walking in front of it
Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Romania and Bulgaria Join Schengen Area of Europe Today — But…

A total of 29 countries now comprise the Schengen area of Europe.

Romania and Bulgaria join the Schengen area of Europe officially effective as of today, Sunday, March 31, 2024, as they are officially welcomed by the European Commission — which means that 29 countries now comprise the Schengen area of Europe…

Romania and Bulgaria Join Schengen Area of Europe Today — But…

a road with many cars and trees with Champs-Élysées in the background
Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

…but although controls at the borders of Romania and Bulgaria for both air and sea have now been lifted — meaning that anyone who crosses a border of Romania or Bulgaria from another country which is part of the Schengen area no longer is subject to internal border controls — discussions pertaining to further decisions to lift controls at land borders will continue later this year.

Their accession is expected to boost travel, trade, and tourism; and will further consolidate the internal market.

The addition of Romania and Bulgaria marks the ninth expansion of the Schengen area, which now extends greater than 4.5 million square kilometers with a population of 450 million. Initially launched as an intergovernmental project between France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg in 1985, the Schengen area has gradually increased to become what is currently the largest common area of free movement in the world without internal border controls.

Final Boarding Call

a large stone arch with a flag on top
Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Traveling between countries within the Schengen area of Europe is similar to traveling between states in the United States. No passports are necessary; and no border crossings inhibit movement.

Adding Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area now allows for greater freedom of travel between those two countries and the other 27 countries that are currently members of the Schengen area.

The bad news is that travelers will find collecting stamps in their passports for Romania and Bulgaria to become significantly more difficult — unless they enter those countries from outside of the Schengen area of Europe.

You can read about my day in Sofia — which is the capital city of Bulgaria — as well as peruse my photographs in the following two articles:

All photographs ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

  1. “No passports are necessary; and no border crossings inhibit movement”?

    Not exactly. For those who are neither citizens of countries in the EU nor citizens of Schengen countries, crossing the national borders within the Schengen area as ordinary foreign visitors can still mean we are required to have a passport, passport-replacing/substituting document or other international travel document to cross from one Schengen country to another Schengen country.

    Also, sometimes there are customs checks being done even when starting a trip in one Schengen country and going directly to another Schengen country. It’s how, for example, the Swedish Customs folks grab some train passengers coming in from or via Denmark with drugs; and it’s also how they sometimes grab passengers with drugs at the gates on arrival at Stockholm-Arlanda from Amsterdam.

    Also, passenger cash reporting requirements can still be applicable when going from one Schengen country to another Schengen country, and customs in some Schengen countries are sometimes still looking out at national ports of entry for that with some intra-Schengen, national border-crossers.

  2. With facial recognition technology the way it is, who needs a passport. A fingerprint is sometimes better than a passport.

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