Traveling in the EU and Schengen Countries: Essential Documents

Traveling to different countries is an exciting experience, and as an EU national, you have the privilege of freely exploring the 27 EU member countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, which are non-EU countries but still part of the Schengen area. To ensure a smooth trip, it is important to have the necessary travel documents at hand. Let’s take a closer look at the documents you need for traveling in the EU and the Schengen countries.

Documents Required for Travel in the EU and Schengen Countries

As an EU national, you have two options for travel documents: a valid passport or a national identity card (ID). It is essential that your travel document is valid on the day of your travel. Additionally, it is important to note that children and minors must have their own passport or ID card. If you are traveling with non-EU family members, make sure to check the specific rules that apply to them.

When to Show a Passport or ID Card?

Under normal circumstances, you do not need to show your passport or ID when crossing the internal borders of the Schengen area. However, in extraordinary circumstances such as a threat to public policy or national security, Schengen area countries reserve the right to reintroduce temporary border controls. If temporary border controls are in place, you will be required to show a valid passport or ID card.

Furthermore, you must show a valid passport or ID card when traveling between a Schengen country and Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, or Romania. It is important to stay informed about temporary border controls that may be in effect during your travels.

Travel Documents to Prove Your EU Citizenship

In situations where you do not have the necessary travel documents, authorities can refuse entry. However, they must provide you with a reasonable opportunity to obtain the required documents or allow you to prove, through other means, that you are an EU citizen. It is your responsibility to prove your EU citizenship and your right to travel freely in the EU member countries, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Other Controls in the EU and Schengen Countries

During your travels in the EU and Schengen countries, you may be subject to on-the-spot police checks, particularly at internal borders and in border areas, including ports, airports, and railway stations. These checks may include an identity verification. Some countries may require you to have or carry identity papers and documents while on their territory. Keep in mind that driving licenses, post, bank, or tax cards are not accepted as travel documents for identification purposes. It is highly recommended to have the correct travel documents, such as a passport or ID card, with you at all times to prove your identity if necessary. Failure to provide the necessary documents during on-the-spot police checks may result in penalties.

Entry Refusal

In rare cases, an EU or Schengen country may refuse entry to you or your family members. This can only occur due to reasons related to “public policy, public security, or public health.” In such instances, the authorities must prove that you or your family members pose a genuine, present, and sufficiently serious threat. You have the right to receive this decision in writing, with all the grounds stated clearly. The decision should also specify how and by when you can appeal.

Documents Needed for Travel to/From Non-EU and Non-Schengen Countries

If you are an EU national planning to travel to a non-EU country, you will typically need a valid passport and, in some cases, a visa. Check the list of non-EU/non-Schengen countries where visa waivers apply to EU nationals. Before traveling, ensure that you are aware of the entry requirements, including passport validity and any other restrictions that may apply in the country you are visiting, as well as when re-entering your home country. Remember, children and minors also require their own travel documents and, if necessary, a visa. Stay updated on the latest travel advice provided by national authorities for the country you plan to visit.

Consular Protection

In the event that you require consular protection and assistance while traveling outside the EU, you have the right to seek help from the embassy or consulate of any EU country if your home country is not represented. They can provide assistance in situations such as a serious accident or illness, or issue an emergency travel document if your passport is lost or stolen. Familiarize yourself with the consular protection services available outside the EU and learn how to find an embassy or consulate.

See Also:

For further information on the necessary documents for travel within Europe, refer to our article “Documents You Need for Travel in Europe.”

Traveling within the EU and the Schengen countries should be an enjoyable experience. By ensuring you have the required travel documents and staying informed about any temporary controls or entry regulations, you can make the most of your journey. Remember to keep your passport or ID card with you at all times, and enjoy exploring the rich cultural diversity that Europe has to offer.

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