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Schengen, Borders & Visas

EU citizens, non-EU residents and visitors to the EU need to be able to freely and safely travel within the Union. The Schengen Area has made this a concrete reality.

An area without internal borders

 

The Schengen Area is one of the greatest achievements of the EU. It is an area without internal borders, an area within which citizens, many non-EU nationals, business people and tourists can freely circulate without being subjected to border checks. Since 1985, it has gradually grown and encompasses today almost all EU States and a few associated non-EU countries.

While having abolished their internal borders, Schengen States have also tightened controls at their common external border on the basis of Schengen rules to ensure the security of those living or travelling in the Schengen Area.

A single set of rules for external border checks on persons

The Schengen Borders Code governs the crossing of the external border, facilitating access for those who have a legitimate interest to enter into the EU. A special Local Border Traffic Regime has also been established to facilitate entry for non-EU border residents who frequently need to cross the EU external border. A common visa policy further facilitates the entry of legal visitors into the EU.

Security for citizens and travellers

EU State authorities need to cooperate on border management to ensure the security of citizens and travellers in the EU. A number of information sharing mechanisms are central to this cooperation.

  • The Visa Information System (VIS) allows Schengen States to exchange visa data, in particular data on decisions relating to short-stay visa applications.
  • The Schengen Information System (SIS) allows Schengen States to exchange data on suspected criminals, on people who may not have the right to enter into or stay in the EU, on missing persons and on stolen, misappropriated or lost property.

VIS and SIS, as well as EURODAC  are operated by the EU Agency for large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA).

It is also necessary to ensure the security of travel documents to fight against the falsification and counterfeiting of travel documents and to establish a reliable link between the document and its holder.

Additional tools




Glossary

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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Travel document

A passport or other equivalent document entitling the holder to cross the external borders and to which a visa ...

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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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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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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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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 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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Acquis

The body of common rights and obligations that is binding on all EU States. (...)

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Multimedia


07/11/2012
A visa policy to spur economic growth

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