Traveler help

The Schengen area and the Member States of the European Union

The European Union (EU) was established after the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union (TUE) or the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and currently consists of 28 European states. Thanks to the Schengen Agreement, several Community countries today enjoy the abolition of border controls between those countries, which allows free movement of people.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

member states

The founding countries of the European Union were originally Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Today, the EU is made up of a total of 28 Member States, with some exceptions such as the cases of Iceland, Russia, Norway and Switzerland, which are European states but are not part of the EU.

Some European territories belonging to Member States of the Union are also not included in the EU; This is the case of the Channel Islands and the Faroe Islands.

Below are the current member states of the Union along with their date of accession and their capital:

countryDate of accessionCapital
GermanyMarch 25, 1957Berlin
AustriaJanuary 1, 1995Vienna
BelgiumMarch 25, 1957Brussels
BulgariaJanuary 1, 2007Sofia
CyprusMay 1, 2004Nicosia
CroatiaJuly 1st, 2013Zagreb
DenmarkJanuary 1, 1973Copenhagen
SlovakiaMay 1, 2004Bratislava
SloveniaMay 1, 2004Ljubljana
SpainJanuary 1, 1986Madrid
EstoniaMay 1, 2004Tallinn
FinlandJanuary 1, 1995Helsinki
FranceMarch 25, 1957Paris
GreeceJanuary 1, 1981Athens
HungaryMay 1, 2004Budapest
IrelandJanuary 1, 1973Dublin
ItalyMarch 25, 1957Rome
LatviaMay 1, 2004Riga
LithuaniaMay 1, 2004Vilnius
LuxembourgMarch 25, 1957Luxembourg
maltMay 1, 2004Valletta
NetherlandsMarch 25, 1957Amsterdam
PolandMay 1, 2004Warsaw
PortugalJanuary 1, 1986Lisbon
United KingdomJanuary 1, 1973London
Czech RepublicMay 1, 2004Prague
RomaniaJanuary 1, 2007Bucharest
SwedenJanuary 1, 1995Stockholm

In addition, with the launch of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) not only a Common Market was established, but also a single currency: the euro (€). This is how the call was born Euro zone or Eurozone in 2002, to which several member states were gradually added.

The United Kingdom and Denmark, despite being part of the European Union, decided to stay out of the Eurozone after the ratification of the TEU. Therefore, the currency of the United Kingdom is the pound sterling (£) and, in Denmark, the Danish krona (kr).

Schengen Agreement

The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 and is intended to abolish border controls within the so-called Schengen area, which implies the creation of a free movement zone. The United Kingdom and Ireland, although they do participate in certain aspects, decided to remain outside.

Thus, the Schengen area entered into force and began its operation from 1995. Thanks to this common space, the member countries enjoy the absence of border controls when traveling from one country to another. In short, the Schengen area works in migratory terms as if it were a only country.

Countries that are part of the Schengen area

There is some confusion in this matter, since there are member states that do not belong to it, and non-member countries that are part of it. Therefore, below we list the countries that make up the Schengen area:

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark (except Greenland and the Faroe Islands)
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France (except overseas territories)
  • Greece
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • malt
  • Norway (except the Svalbard Islands)
  • Netherlands (except Aruba, Curacao, Saint Martin and the Dutch Caribbean)
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Of the countries listed above, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are non-EU countries that, however, are included in the Schengen area. In Greece, entry into the region of Mount Athos is prohibited for women and men who so wish will need a special permit (the diamonitrion). Also in Ceuta and Melilla There are a number of special provisions for Moroccan travelers.

Schengen area

Andorra It is a European microstate that is not mentioned in the previous list, but nonetheless has an agreement with the EU whereby the free movement of persons is equally allowed. At the border posts, the same conditions will apply as for the EU territories not belonging to the Schengen area. Where appropriate, foreigners traveling with a Schengen visa will need a multiple entry visa.

Monaco Nor does it carry out border controls to enter the country, since it has an agreement with France. This means that, although it is not part of the Schengen area, in practice it is as if it belonged. San Marino and Vatican City each one has a border with Italy, because it is only possible to enter them through Italy and passing the corresponding controls that are carried out in this country for foreigners.


He European Economic Area (EEA) was established in 1994 after the agreement between several member countries of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), with the exception of Switzerland. The creation of the EEA allowed the countries that were part of the EFTA to participate in the common internal market of the EU without having to adhere to it.

The euro (€) is the official currency of the Eurozone that, since 2014, has been shared by 19 of the 28 Member States. Currently used by more than 337 million Europeans, the euro is the second most traded currency in the world behind the US dollar ($).

ECB Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany

Thus, the common market is at the same time a customs union and free trade zone. In this way, for the Member States there are no border tariffs and the transit of capital and services is free. Below are the states that make up the EEA together with the currency replaced by the euro:

countryPrevious currency
GermanyGerman mark
AndorraAndorran franc and Andorran peseta
AustriaAustrian shilling
BelgiumBelgian franc
Vatican CityVatican Lira
CyprusCypriot Pound
SlovakiaSlovak crown
SloveniaSlovenian tolar
SpainSpanish peseta
EstoniaEstonian crown
FinlandFinnish frame
FranceFrench franc
GreeceGreek drachma
IrelandIrish Pound
ItalyItalian lyre
LatviaLatvian Lats
LithuaniaLithuanian Litas
LuxembourgLuxembourg franc
maltMaltese Lira
MonacoMonegasque franc
NetherlandsDutch guilder
PortugalPortuguese shield
San MarinoLira Sanmarinense

He United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden They have not adopted the euro despite being countries that are part of the EU. Therefore, to travel to these countries, we will have to change from our currency to the pound sterling, the Danish crown or the Swedish crown, respectively. Nor have other recently acceded countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania.

All of them are expected to end up adopting the euro for 2019, although the United Kingdom and Denmark have an exclusion clause and, for now, the possibility of these countries adopting the euro is not contemplated.

Travel documents

Citizens of some European Union country do not need to present neither national identity document nor passport to travel between member countries of the Schengen area. However, it is possible that in some airports the national identity document will be requested as a way to regularize passenger traffic.

In addition, although it is not necessary to carry documentation, it is always recommended to carry your passport or ID as a way to prove your identity if necessary (eg if requested by the police). It is also advisable to request the European Health Card (TSE), a personal document that proves the right to receive health care during our temporary stay in the territory of a Member State of the EEA or Switzerland.

European Health Card between Member States

It should be noted that, since they do not belong to the Schengen area, in the following countries you will have to present a valid identity document or passport to cross the border: Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, United Kingdom and Romania.

The most advisable thing before traveling is that you consult what are the valid documents to leave your country and visit any of these countries not belonging to the Schengen area. The following situations are considered special cases and the following must be taken into account:

  • The non-community relatives (natives of non-EU countries) can accompany you or meet you if they travel to another community country. In any case, it is an essential requirement that they carry a valid passport at all times and, depending on the country of origin, they may also require an entry visa at the border. To avoid problems, it is best to consult your specific case at the consulate or embassy of the country to which you are traveling.
  • The minors traveling alone, in the company of adults who do not have legal custody or in the company of only the father or mother, they must present their valid passport or identity document, in addition to an official document that authorizes the trip. Said authorization must be signed by both parents, the other parent or those who have legal custody. In any case, there are no EU rules in this regard and each country can adopt its own measures.
Children traveling alone between EU member states

In case of loss or loss of passport or ID, or in the event that any of them expires during the trip, all EU member countries can resolve these cases. Even so, each country is free to decide whether it allows citizens to enter or leave their territory without a valid travel document or when to do so even if they are a natural citizen of an EU country.

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