If you have been dreaming of traveling to Europe, it’s possible that you won’t need a visa to explore this old and beautiful continent. Canadians don’t need a visa to get around the Schengen Area countries if they stay for less than 90 days within 180 days. If you leave the Schengen Area and return within the same 180-day period, the previous stay will count towards the 90 days allowed.
Having a valid passport is all that is needed to visit the majority of European countries. For those who wish to stay in Europe longer than 90 days, it’s essential to get to know the rules and limitations of the famous Schengen Area.
Understanding the Schengen Area
The Schengen Area is a group of European countries united by a set of uniform border regulations. As long as the requirements for entering this region are met, travellers are free to roam from one country to the next without going through border security each time.
In other words, if you are Canadian, you can travel to any country within the Schengen Area without showing documentation at the borders as long as your stay does not exceed a 90-day period. All you need is a valid passport during your time there. That being said, you may still be subject to arbitrary screening when travelling by plane or train.
Countries that are Members of the Schengen Area
The United Nations has 44 European countries. Of these 44 countries, 26 participate in the Schengen Area, namely :
● Czech Republic;
● The Netherlands;
How to Calculate Your Stay in the Schengen Area
According to the law, you can stay in the Schengen Area for 90 non-consecutive days within 180 days. That means you can move freely in and out of the Schengen Area during the 180-day period, as long as you do not spend more than 90 days in the Schengen Area. The official count begins the moment you step foot in a country that is part of the Schengen Area.
Here is a concrete example:
You plan to go to France this autumn and then travel to Ireland and Switzerland.
Here is your itinerary:
● France (EU and Schengen): from September 18th to October 1st, so 13 days.
● Ireland (EU and non-Schengen): from October 1st to October 20th, so 19 days.
● Switzerland (non-EU and Schengen): from October 20th to October 30th, so 10 days.
● France (EU and Schengen): from October 30th to November 15th, so 16 days.
Based on the itinerary above, you would have spent 58 days in Europe and 39 days in the Schengen Area.
Your time spent in Ireland does not count towards your 90 days since this country is not part of the Schengen Area. You should start counting the 180 days from the moment you arrive in France on September 18th until the 15th of November of the same year. If you spontaneously visit another Schengen country during your stay, you’ll still have 51 days left before your 90-day period runs out.
A good rule of thumb is to always save a few days on your itinerary in case of complications, delays, or cancellations in your travel plans. This will allow you to travel stress-free.
Thankfully, there is a calculator that can help you. This calculator is also convenient to help you plan your itinerary based on the number of days you can spend in each country in the Schengen Area.
Different Currencies in the Schengen Area
If you wish to visit multiple countries in the Schengen Area, you will need to keep in mind that they don’t all use the same form of currency. The euro (EUR, €) is only used in countries that are part of the European Union, also known as the eurozone. Here are the countries that use a different currency from the Euro:
● Czech Republic;
If you intend to visit one of the countries mentioned above, you should be ready to exchange your currency!
Is the Schengen Area the Same as the European Union?
Not quite. In fact, several countries not part of the EU are part of the Schengen Area. This is the case for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Norway.
Inversely, certain countries are part of the European Union but not part of the Schengen Area. This is true for Croatia, the Republic of Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ireland.
Since Brexit in 2020, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have left the European Union and the Schengen area. Thankfully, Canadians can still stay in the UK for up to 180 days since Canada is part of the Commonwealth.
Last but not least, many European countries are neither part of the EU nor of the Schengen Area. These countries are:
● Bosnia and Herzegovina;
● San Marino;
● Vatican City.
On the Government of Canada website, you can find all the necessary information to travel to these countries.
It’s not always easy to understand the rules and requirements when it comes to getting a visa for travel, but it’s usually worth it in the end! If you plan on travelling to Europe and the Schengen Area in the near future, don’t forget to sign up for trusted travel insurance for peace of mind.