NewsRomania to join Schengen Area, easing air and sea travel from March 31

Romania to join Schengen Area, easing air and sea travel from March 31

Bulgaria together with Romania join the Schengen area. But only partially.
Bulgaria together with Romania join the Schengen area. But only partially.
Images source: © via Getty Images | Hristo Rusev

7:44 AM EDT, March 31, 2024

Romania, akin to Bulgaria, is set to become part of the Schengen Area starting March 31, albeit initially lifting only airport and seaport border checks. Land border controls will remain in place for the time being.

Starting March 31, travelers moving to or from Schengen Area countries will be exempt from border control checks at airports and seaports, as announced by Bogdan Despescu, the Secretary of State in the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs, according to Digi24.

Despescu further explained that travelers arriving at airports could directly proceed to their departure gates right after clearing security control. Similarly, passengers coming from a Schengen Area country will not be subjected to passport control as was previously required.

He also highlighted that random checks would be performed at airports to identify individuals traveling with false documents, those who are wanted or under a travel ban, and also to enforce regulations concerning minors.

To support these changes, additional staff will be deployed at airports with the aim of assisting passengers, providing information, and preventing any potential misuse.

Romania and Bulgaria’s Journey to the Schengen Area

Both Romania and Bulgaria have been part of the European Union since 2007 but have not yet joined the Schengen Area, mainly due to objections from Austria in recent times.

The Schengen Area was established in 1995, marking the beginning of the end for border checks at the internal frontiers of the European Union. Croatia became a member of the Schengen Area on January 1, 2023.

In December, during Spain's EU Council presidency, it was announced that Bulgaria and Romania would be included in the maritime and air Schengen. This move allows their citizens to travel to Schengen Area countries by air and sea without needing passports, covering 25 out of the 27 European Union member states (Cyprus and Ireland being the exceptions).

Additionally, the Area encompasses four affiliated countries: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

A decision on when passport requirements at land borders for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens will be abolished is expected to be made "within a reasonable timeframe", as per the EU Council.

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