Schengen Area… confused?

The current Schengen area of Europe
The current Schengen area of Europe

      Ashleigh and I were only a few days into our trip when we embarrassingly discovered certain visa regulations that forced us to almost completely alter our original plan for travelling through Europe.

During the months before we embarked on our journey we were certain that 90 days were allowed within any European country for Canadian citizens. That’s 90 days without needing to apply for a tourist visa, and we were comforted by this because it allowed us plenty of time and leeway without a worry while we travelled in Europe.

While we were staying at a hostel in Bergen, Norway, we had a conversation with an Australian citizen, who told us about a big mistake she made in regards to entry visas within Europe. She told us what she originally thought to be a 90 day time-span allowed within each country was actually only 90 days within the entire SCHENGEN AREA. Referring to the map above, one can see that the Schengen area includes more than half of Europe (the blue and green coloured areas).

Surprised Face

You can imagine our dismay and embarrassment on learning this incredibly important detail. We were forced to come up with a plan that would allow us to move in and out of the Schengen area, allowing us to have a lengthy visit throughout Europe without having to pay for an entrance visa into every country. The way it works, as I understand it, is that we’re allowed to stay within the Schengen area for three months (90 days) before we have to leave. After 90 days outside the Schengen area we will then be allowed back inside for another three months. The cycle continues indefinitely… I hope. For example, we’re travelling through Scandinavia, which is part of the Schengen area, for three months, after which point we’ll catch a cheap flight to London. The UK is outside of the Schengen area so we’re going to spend three months exploring England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. At this point we will now be able to re-enter the Schengen area, so we’re going to fly to the Czech Republic to meet up with Ashleigh’s parents, and from there wind through Germany, Poland, and perhaps some of the Baltics. By the time we’re finished that route, I’m sure we’ll have to leave the oh-so-annoying Schengen Area and go into the Ukraine.

Confused? That’s okay, we’ll probably change our plans again anyways.

If you’d like to read more about the Schengen area rules, restrictions and whatnot, click here.

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