Bulgaria and Romania Finally Gain Access to Schengen Zone After 13 Year Wait

Positive news for those who travel! On March 31, 2024, Bulgaria and Romania were granted partial membership in the Schengen Zone. This entails visa-free travel between these nations and other Schengen participants by air and sea.

On Sunday, March 31, Bulgaria and Romania can finally partially join the expansive Schengen free travel zone after 13 years of waiting. This is a major step forward for European integration.

By taking this action, border checks in these areas will be eliminated and travel by air and water will be smooth. However, Austria’s worries about possible inflows of asylum seekers mean land border measures will remain in place.

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What Does This Mean for Travellers?

First off, Schengen visa holders will now not need a visa to travel to Bulgaria, Romania, and different Schengen member states. Second, if you were planning to cross a land border be advised that controls are still in place because of Austria’s ongoing concerns about possible inflows of asylum seekers.

Finally, discussions regarding full Schengen access including land borders are expected to continue throughout 2024.

Temporary Schengen Visas:

Beginning in April 2024, Bulgaria and Romania will provide short-term Schengen visas, after their partial integration into the Schengen Area.

Due to this noteworthy advancement, international nationals can now apply for the widely accepted Schengen C visa if they want to visit either Bulgaria or Romania for up to 90 days all over.

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Schengen Zone Expansion:

Membership in Schengen for Romania and Bulgaria. The Schengen zone will now consist of 29 countries, comprising 25 EU states as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, after Bulgaria and Romania are admitted. Romania intends to apply Schengen regulations at 17 airports and four seaports, with Otopeni Airport, which is close to Bucharest, acting as a major hub for Schengen flights.

Enhanced Border Security Protocols:

More personnel, including immigration agents and border police, will be stationed at airports to guarantee security and compliance. To stop people from leaving Romania illegally, the government is stepping up its efforts to detect fake passports and stop human trafficking, especially when it involves children.

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Advantages and Challenges:

For Bulgaria and Romania, this partial membership is a symbolic win that represents a further level of EU integration. It’s a question of national pride and belonging, according to analysts. It is anticipated that the action will increase trade and tourism inside the Schengen area.

But there are still difficulties. Companies that depend on land transportation such as trucking companies continue to experience delays because of border checks. Both nations have reaffirmed their resolve to quickly obtain full Schengen membership, which includes land borders.

What Comes Next?

Although a step in the right direction, Bulgaria and Romania are nevertheless committed to achieving full Schengen integration. To do this, negotiations with Austria and other members will probably last until 2024.

This would remove the requirement for any visa inspections when travelling by land, air, or sea between Bulgaria, Romania, and other Schengen nations.