Romania enters the Schengen Area

At the end of March 2024, Romania is going to enter the Schengen Area. This only includes Air Schengen, but not also ground or regular Schengen, so this is a very new concept.

How does this impact travel to and from our country? What will change after Romania enters Schengen? Read below to find out!

What is the Schengen Area?

First of all, a bit about the Schengen Area: it is actually a part of Europe, formed by multiple countries that agreed not to have border control when people are passing from one country to the other.

For example, if you are in Romania and you want to go from one county to the other (for example, from Bucharest to Constanta), you will pass through many cities or villages.  Nobody will ask you what are you doing, they will not make any checks on your luggage or your documentation.

Why? Because you are inside Romania, you are a Romanian citizen and none of those procedures is needed. The same will happen in the US, for example: traveling from one coast to the other, from LA to New York, does not involve any border control when you pass from state to state. This is a concession made inside the US as a whole.

On the other hand, if you are a Romanian citizen, so a non-Schengen Area citizen and you want to travel to Germany by car from Bucharest, you will pass through many countries and you will have border control at their borders.

Is the Schengen Area the same with the European Union?

Not really. Generally speaking, most EU countries are also Schengen members. This means no border controls for air passage or for ground, traveling between those countries.

Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus are not inside Schengen right now. But they are going to be, in one way or the other, in the near future. Romania tried to enter Schengen Area a couple of years ago, at the end of 2022. But in December 2022, Austria opposed to our country entering the Schengen Area, so we remained a non-Schengen country.

But, because Romania is still a EU country, this was just a temporary situation. We will enter Air Schengen in March 2024 and ground Schengen will hopefully follow, soon enough.

Why is Romania only in Air Schengen, not general Schengen?

You might think, Air Schengen, what is this all this about?

Actually, we are the first country that ever made this deal with the European Union and the  Schengen countries, because air Schengen did not exist in the past. Before, you either were inside the Schengen Area or you were outside, you either had border control or you had no border control. There was no in-between

But because the EU still thinks Romania could use some improvements in its political, sociologic and economic conditions (we are not very sure why they refused us, but still, we were refused entry), they made this concession for us. Romania is entering what we now call air Schengen, but we cannot enter  other countries from the Schengen Zone without border control by car. This includes any mode of transportation by ground: bus, car, train, for all these we still need border control.

How does this impact travel to Romania?

The advantage with air Schengen is that you have no border control over air. But we are still waiting for Romania to enter the Schengen Area through ground, because this is the most important step and it would help our economy a lot. The borders are currently full of trucks, traveling from one country to the other with various goods. And if those trucks would not stay at the border for so long, it would be a great benefit for the import-export domain.

So if you are a citizen of Romania or a legal resident in Romania (for example, you are a citizen of Sri Lanka and you came to Romania to work), then you can freely take a plane and travel to another Schengen country.

However, if you are traveling to a Schengen country, you cannot stay there to work, because that country has their own requests for working legally when it comes to non-EU citizens. So a Sri Lanka citizen working legally in Romania can take a city break to Paris, France and visit the Eiffel Tower. But they cannot continue staying in France and get a job in a bistro by the Seine, because that would be considered an illegal stay.

Cover article about the Schengen Area

Are there any other legal consequences of Air Schengen?

Because Romania will be part of air Schengen, another very interesting thing will happen.

Air Schengen will, somehow, also affect ground Schengen. For example, you have a legal reason for coming to Romania. You are an Albanian citizen coming from Hungary, where you were employed and had a residency permit. If you got a job in Arad, a Romanian city quite close to the Hungarian border, you can potentially get a plane to Bucharest and then a bus to Arad. But because Romania entered the Schengen Area, you can now potentially travel also by train or a bus from Hungary to Arad.

Why? Because you have legal ground for entering Romania – your job and your work permit.

It still remains to be seen how Romania entering the Schengen Area will also impact visitors from countries that needed visas for certain European states, but not Romania. Because these people could potentially travel to Romania, without a visa, and then take a plane to another EU country which normally demanded a visa, as we are now in Air Schengen. Which we do not expect will actually be the case.

Because the procedure is quite new, how its actual implementation goes remains to be seen.



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