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Border crossing

The abolition of internal border controls cannot come at the expense of security. Since no checks are carried out at the borders between Schengen states, EU States have decided to join forces to attain the dual objective of improving security through more efficient external border controls, while facilitating access of those having a legitimate interest to enter the EU territory.

Harmonising rules and procedures

The Schengen Borders Code provides EU States with a single set of common rules that govern external border checks on persons, entry requirements and duration of stays in the Schengen Area. By harmonising these rules, the EU seeks to render them more efficient, whilst increasing their transparency. Similarly, through the Schengen Visa Code EU States have harmonised conditions and procedures for issuing short-stay visas (i.e. visas for stays that do not exceed three months). They have also established a list of countries (Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 ) whose citizens are subject to a visa requirement when entering the EU and a list of countries for which this requirement is waived (long-stay visas and residence permits for visits exceeding three months remain subject to national conditions).

A clearer definition of short stay of non-EU citizens in the Schengen area ("90 days in any 180 days period") is applicable from 18 October 2013. Since then a new method of calculation of short stays applies.

The short-stay calculator can be used for calculating the period of allowed stay under the new rules. The user's guide pdf - 490 KB [490 KB] español (es) français (fr) Türkçe (tr) русский язык (ru) contains information on the new rules, the use of the calculator and practical examples.

This change does not apply to the visa waiver agreements concluded between the EU and Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mauritius, and Seychelles, with respect to which the old definition pdf - 168 KB [168 KB] ("3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry") continues to apply.

The length of stay of non-EU citizens traveling with a visa issued in accordance with the visa facilitation agreements concluded by the EU and certain third countries is to be calculated according to the new calculation method since in these agreements there is a reference to "90 days per period of 180 days".

A Local Border Traffic Regime has been established for border residents who frequently need to cross the external borders of the Union. It enables EU States to conclude bilateral agreements with their neighbouring non-EU countries so that the border residents can travel back and forth without a Schengen visa and, therefore, without any impediment to trade, social and cultural interchange in the region concerned.

The “Smart Borders” Package was proposed by the Commission in February 2013.  It follows the European Commission (EC) Communication of February 2008 suggesting the establishment of an Entry/Exit System pdf - 248 KB [248 KB] (EES) and a Registered Traveller Programme pdf - 393 KB [393 KB] (RTP).

Solidarity and cooperation

All EU States have to make investments to protect their external borders in the interest of the entire Schengen Area. For some States, notably those situated at the external frontiers of the Union, these investments can be very high due to particular migratory pressures. The EU Internal Security Fund establishes solidarity between the Schengen States by supporting those countries with a heavy financial burden in implementing the common standards on external border controls.

Operational cooperation between EU States is coordinated by the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders ("FRONTEX"). The major task of the Frontex Agency is to coordinate joint operations to assist EU States in managing migratory flows at their external borders. The Agency also manages a pool of border guards called European Border Guard Teams for deployment as guest officers during Frontex joint operations and pilot projects, and during Rapid interventions in States facing urgent and exceptional pressures at their external borders.

Currently, the EU is gradually establishing a new information sharing and cooperation mechanism called EUROSUR pdf - 197 KB [197 KB] (European Border Surveillance System). This mechanism provides Schengen countries with a common operational and technical framework, which assists them in countering cross-border crime, preventing unauthorized border crossings and diminishing the tragic death tolls of migrants at sea.

Sharing information

A number of information sharing mechanisms are at the heart of European cooperation on border management. Over the past years, the EU has been striving to embrace new technologies and create large-scale IT systems (such as SIS and VIS) in a coherent and proportional way to improve these tools. They permit European authorities throughout the Schengen Area to efficiently share and use data necessary for the execution of their tasks.

Additional tools




Glossary

Situational picture

In the context of border surveillance, a graphical interface to present near-real-time data and information received from different authorities, sensors, platforms and other sources, ...

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Situational awareness

In the context of border surveillance, the ability to monitor, detect, identify, track and understand irregular cross-border activities ...

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Reaction capability

In the context of border surveillance, the ability to perform actions aimed at countering irregular cross-border activities ...

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European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)

Establishes a common framework for the exchange of information and for the cooperation between EU States and Frontex to improve situational awareness ...

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Visa Information System (VIS)

A system for the exchange of visa data between Schengen States, which enables authorised national authorities to ...

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Visa (short stay) (Schengen visa)

An authorisation issued by a Schengen State with a view to: - transit through or an intended stay in the territory ...

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Schengen State

An EU State or associated non-EU country participating in the Schengen Area.

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Schengen Information System (SIS)

A joint information system that is used by border guards and by police, customs, visa and judicial authorities ...

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Schengen Area

As of December 2011, the Schengen Area consists of the following EU States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark,...

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Rapid Border Intervention Team (RABIT) (now covered by the term European Border Guard Team)

A mechanism for the purposes of providing rapid operational assistance for a limited period to a requesting EU ...

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Overstayer

A person remaining in a country beyond the period for which entry was granted. ...

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Non-EU national

Any person not having the nationality of an EU State.

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Management

Comprises three main tasks: - supervision and responsibility for increasing the performance of others...

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Local border traffic regime

A derogation from the general rules governing the border control of persons crossing the external borders of ...

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Internal EU border

- the common land borders, including river and lake borders, of EU States...

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Host EU State

The EU State in which a FRONTEX coordinated joint operation, pilot project or rapid intervention takes place or ...

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External EU border

An EU States’ land borders, including river and lake borders, sea borders and their airports, river ports, sea ports ...

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External Borders Fund

A financial instrument for the period 2007 to 2013, which supports EU States in the management of external borders...

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European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR)

A surveillance system for the EU's external borders.

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European Border Guard Team

Teams deployed during FRONTEX operations, such as joint operations, pilot projects and rapid border interventions.

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European Asylum Support Office (EASO)

An Agency established to help improve the implementation of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), to ...

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EU agency

There are two broad types of agency, each with different characteristics and raising different issues. "Regulatory" or ...

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Entry

Any entrance of a person from one country to another, whether voluntary or involuntary, authorised or unauthorised.

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Border surveillance

The surveillance of borders between border crossing points and the surveillance of border crossing points outside ...

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Border resident

Non-EU national who has been lawfully resident in the border area of a country neighbouring a Schengen State for ...

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Border crossing

The physical act of crossing a border either at a border crossing point or another point along the border.

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Border control

The activity carried out at a border, in accordance with and for the purposes of Regulation 562/2006, exclusively in ...

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Border checks

Checks carried out at border crossing points to ensure that persons, including their means of transport and the objects in their possession, may be authorised to enter the territory of the Schengen States or authorised to leave it.

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Border

A line separating land territory or maritime zones of two States or subparts of States. It can also refer to a region ...

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Automated border control

The use of automatic or semi-automatic systems that can verify the identity of passengers crossing the borders ...

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