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Crossing Borders in Europe

. . . if you want to visit more than France, you will have to cross a border into another country. How long can you stay? Do you need a visa?


View Provence 2014 & Around France with Jean 2000 & Around France and through Switzerland 1998 & Pays de la Loire on Beausoleil's travel map.

Welcome to France (from Belgium)

Welcome to France (from Belgium)

If you are visiting France, you may want to take a few days or weeks to visit one or more of the surrounding countries. It is easy to drive to Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Spain or to take trains to any of the European countries. We usually lease a car and with a lease, you are free to drive to nearly all the other European countries. Check with your leasing agent for a list of allowed countries. With rental cars be sure you let them know which countries you will be driving in so you are insured for all of them. Some countries may not be allowed and then you can take plane or train and rent another car in that country. That would be the cheapest way to do it anyway and I'll recommend the train because it's more comfortable and you can see the scenery. If you are interested in leasing a car, here is some information: Leasing a car in France information

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Leaving France and entering Germany

Leaving France and entering Germany

As we all know, Europe is composed of many different countries with many different languages. In the good old days when you went from country to country, you had to go through an official border checkpoint and show your passport. Since the EU and the Schengen Agreement, most of those stops are cute little abandoned shacks by the roadside accompanied by a large sign telling you the name of the country you are entering. This means that for the most part, you do not have to stop; no one asks you any questions; there is no stamp on your passport and if you miss the border sign, you may not even know you have entered another country. Occasionally, the posts are manned and you may be flagged over. They are probably looking for someone specific and will wave you through. We've only been stopped once because there was a demonstration (manifestation) ahead and they wanted us to take another road. We did and had no problems.

Old Customs House at the France-Italy border in the Alps

Old Customs House at the France-Italy border in the Alps

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Entering the Netherlands from Germany

Entering the Netherlands from Germany


Everyone in Europe doesn't fit neatly into this scheme, however. Some countries require visas of other countries; some countries are in the EU but not in the Schengen Agreement and some countries just have different rules. It is your responsibility to figure out which category fits you. You can get a list of which countries fit each category here: List of countries in the Schengen Agreement

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Entering Belgium from the Netherlands

Entering Belgium from the Netherlands


To find out if you need a visa, check this web site: Do you need a Schengen Visa? Generally, if you are from the United States of America, you do not need a visa to stay within the Schengen area for 90 full days. Then you must leave for 90 full days. You can't just zip out and back in again. You must stay out for 90 days. Then you can repeat the cycle. If you plan to visit more than the 90 days, you must get a visa of some sort, student visa, work visa, some kind of visa. Generally, if your trip is fewer than 90 days, you don't have to worry about this unless you are going to a country that requires a visa. Check the web site at the beginning of this paragraph.

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Returning to France from Belgium

Returning to France from Belgium

If you plan well, you can stay by spending 90 days inside Schengen and then another 90 days outside Schengen (England, for one, is not a Schengen country) and then repeating the cycle. It takes a bit of planning but may be worth it. Most of us go for shorter periods of time so it's not a problem.There's a pretty good explanation at the web site below. If you have questions, it is always best to contact the embassy of the country you want to visit.

There are some exceptions to the rules too. You can drive in and out of Monaco and Andorra with no problems. San Marino and Vatican City do not have border checks. They are so small that having border checks would be very difficult. However, there will be no passport stamp and you must still abide by the Schengen rules so you really haven't left Schengen when you go into and out of these countries.


Entering Italy from France

Entering Italy from France

Posted by Beausoleil 14:29 Archived in France Tagged borders travel driving visa border_crossing europe schengen visa_information

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