Schengen countries are primarily located in a region of Europe that is intentionally named for a document known as the Schengen Agreement. Signed in the year 1985, the Schengen Agreement contains the signatures of five member states, all of which belong to the European Economic Community. In case this group’s name is unfamiliar to you, the EEC is the official predecessor of the European Union. The Schengen Area of the world was established as being totally separate from the EEC. Instead, the Schengen countries defined themselves as being a collective region with no internal border checks under the Schengen agreement.
The proposed measures under this original agreement aimed to abolish any and all border checks at common borders that were shared among various countries. These measures included reduced speed vehicle checks and the allowance for residents who lived in border areas to cross the borders at places far away from designated checkpoints. Visa policies would also be aligned under the agreement.
The Schengen Agreement was further supplemented by the Schengen Convention in the year 1990. This law proposed the popular abolishment of systematic internal border controls and it was in absolute favor of creating a common visa policy. Under this law, the region would operate as though it was one state, which allowed for travelers to move within the countries without border controls, and therefore, travel would be more rapid and people would have the ability to go between countries far more freely.
It is important to note, however, that there were, and still are, external border controls for anyone entering or exiting the Schengen Area. The agreements and the rules adopted under the Schengen Convention led to the creation of the Schengen Area in the year 1995, and it just so happens to be the one that we currently see in place today as well.
More and more European Union member states started signing the Agreement, and it was ultimately decided that the Schengen Agreement would be included in the procedures of the EU. The Agreement was added to the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, which went into effect two years later in 1998.
Today, the Schengen Area is made up of twenty-six states in total. Four of these countries are not members of the European Union, but the other twenty-two partake in both the policies of the EU and the stipulations of the Schengen Agreement. The states that are included in the Schengen Area, in alphabetical order, are…
- Czech Republic
Now, the Schengen Agreement introduced an interesting change to travel rules and regulations within Europe. See, the entire premise of the Schengen Area revolves around the lack of border control, both internally and on a continental level. Essentially, all of the countries within the Schengen Area let people travel between the relevant countries without having to present a passport, visa, or proof of identity every time they cross a border. There are twenty-six Schengen countries in the world, all of which are European countries, at that. But these twenty-six member nations are not the only ones affected by the implementation of a visa requirement for internal travel.
A plethora of countries beyond the twenty-six Schengen countries are required to carry and present a valid visa in order to travel to -- and from -- any and all Schengen nations. In total, citizens of exactly one hundred and five countries must have a visa on their person in order to enter one of the Schengen member countries, let alone leave through a Schengen border control point.
It is not necessarily difficult to obtain a Schengen visa, though the embassy of the Schengen Area takes applications quite seriously due to the freedom that stems from a Schengen visa. Like any official document, the application process, as well as the waiting period after applying, can end up taking a lengthy period of time to complete, so be sure to apply sooner than later. That said, there are ten countries in particular that enable residents to obtain a Schengen visa with ease. The top ten countries in which getting a visa for travel throughout the Schengen Area of Europe are…
- The Czech Republic
When someone applies for a visa especially for travel throughout the Schengen Area, the applications arrive at the official embassy of the Schengen Area. More people apply for Schengen visas, and as you can expect, there is quite a delay between applying and receiving a response from the Schengen embassy officials.
The countries listed above have the lowest rates of rejection, as well as shorter waiting times and a higher chance of receiving a long-term visa, as opposed to permission for short-term travel. The longest amount of time you can expect to be permitted is no more than ninety days, and your travel must take place within six months of receiving an acceptance letter for your Schengen visa application.
There is a very slight difference between a Schengen visa and a traditional visa not tied to a particular area in Europe. The Schengen visa is a waiver, if you will, that allows people to freely travel between European countries within the Schengen Area, while a regular visa must be presented to border control at any checkpoint that you cross. This is not necessary in the Schengen Area, however, particularly because there are no internal border control officials in the first place.