U.S. Travelers in Europe's Schengen Area

In Europe's Schengen area, your passport must be valid for at least six months at the time of your entry. At present, the Schengen area includes most European Union (EU) countries, except for Cyprus and Ireland.

If you are transiting through Canada or the United Kingdom (UK) enroute to the Schengen area: your passport must be valid for at least six months, even though Canada and the UK do not themselves have the six-month rule. If your passport will expire within six months, airlines may not let you board your onward flight to Europe.

Traveling in Europe

If you plan to travel in Europe, you need to know about the Schengen Borders Agreement, which allows you to move freely within a number of countries without border checks. Tourists, exchange students, and people visiting for business from certain countries, like the United States, can travel in the Schengen area for up to 90 days. The Schengen area includes most EU countries, except for Cyprus and Ireland. It also includes four non-EU countries: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

Before you travel to the Schengen area, we recommend you do the following:

  • Check the expiration date on your passport book carefully before traveling to Europe. Ensure your passport book is valid for at least six months when you enter the Schengen area. This is especially important for minors under age 16 as their passports are only valid for five years. In contrast, U.S. citizen adults aged 16 and older receive passports that are valid for 10 years.
  • Always carry your passport book with you when traveling to another country in the Schengen area. Even if there is no border check at that time, officials may reinstate border controls without notice.
  • Be prepared to explain your purpose of travel.
  • Be prepared to provide proof of sufficient financial resources for the visit.
  • Comply with other entry requirements for each country you will visit or transit.

On our Country Information pages, you can find passport validity requirements and other important information for your destination country. If your passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may be:

  • Refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes.
  • Denied entry when you arrive in the Schengen area, regardless of how long you will stay.

An immigration official will determine if you qualify for visa-free entry to the Schengen area when you first cross any external Schengen border. You will have to present your passport at that time. The officer may deny your entry if you do not qualify.

You should also check passport validity requirements if traveling onward from the Schengen area to a country outside the Schengen area. You can find this information in our Country Information pages.


  • With a valid U.S. passport book, you can stay up to 90 days in the Schengen area for tourism or business during any 180-day period. You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area.
  • If you plan to stay in the Schengen area longer than three months, contact the embassy of the country where you plan to spend the majority of your time and apply for a visa.

Countries in the Schengen area may reinstate temporary internal or external border control without notice. U.S. citizens should carry their U.S. passport book at all times when entering or leaving the Schengen area. They should also bring it when traveling between Schengen countries.

How can the U.S. government help me if border officials do not let me enter?

  • We can give you the contact information of foreign embassies of the countries you wish to visit.
  • We can provide information about hiring an English-speaking foreign attorney overseas if you choose to do so.
  • Note: We cannot influence a foreign government’s decision about allowing you to enter. We cannot intervene in another country’s criminal or administrative procedures.

What countries are members of the Schengen Borders Agreement?

Click on the country name for more information.



Bulgaria (entering in March 2024)


Czech Republic



















Romania (entering in March 2024)






Last Updated: February 22, 2024