Bulgaria and Romania Join The Schengen Border-Free Travel Zone

Bulgaria and Romania Join The Schengen Border-Free Travel Zone

Romania and Bulgaria have officially joined Europe’s ID-check-free travel zone, the Schengen Area, making journeys across eastern Europe easier for travelers. 

The Schengen Area encompasses all the countries in the European Union that travelers can move between without showing their passport. The area was established in 1985 and includes Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, even though they are not EU member states. Currently, the list includes 27 countries and is the world’s largest border-free travel zone. 

Many travelers from around the world may need a Schengen Visa before entering the designated zone, but others, like European, American, and Australian passport holders only need to show their passport when entering and leaving the EU. According to The Independent, around 3.5 million people cross an internal border of the area each day.

Bulgaria and Romania have been fulfilling criteria to join the Schengen zone for years, but in 2022 when they applied for admission they were vetoed by Austria, while Croatia was accepted. Oddly Bulgaria and Romania have been EU members since 2007, while Croatia only joined in 2013. 

In order to join the Schengen Area, candidate countries must receive unanimous support from other participating countries. In their acceptance, Bulgaria and Romania have agreed to implement random security screenings in airports and at maritime borders to work against illegal migration and cross-border crime, according to The Independent.

So what does this mean for these eastern European countries? With luck, travel will increase across their borders and their economies will see an upturn from an influx of tourists. Both Bulgaria and Romania have beautiful natural landscapes and ancient cities, and are highly desirable yet underrated destinations in Europe. In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in interest in Balkan countries, which were long overlooked for hotspots like Italy or Spain. Are Bulgaria and Romania the next big European dream vacation?

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