From 31 March 2024, Romania and Bulgaria will join the Schengen area, which allows free movement between Member States for 400 million citizens.
These two countries have been members of the European Union since 2007, but as they were not part of the borderless area, travellers have always had to show an identity card or passport when entering the country.
From 31 March 2024, border controls for these two countries will be simplified.
Air and maritime transport
Passengers arriving by air or sea from other Schengen countries will no longer have to show their identity cards or passports on arrival. This means that passengers on flights, cruises and ferries will not be subject to checks.
This will be particularly pleasing for owners of residential properties on the Black Sea who regularly and frequently travel by air, as they will be cleared more quickly.
Both the Bulgarian and Romanian Ministries of the Interior announced in December that some border controls between the countries would be abolished.
What will happen if you travel to the country by car?
However, if you are travelling by car or arriving by train or bus in Romania and Bulgaria, you will still need to carry an identity card as the rules governing land borders have not yet been set. The reason for this is Austria’s veto power, as it fears an increase in uncontrolled migration. For this reason, another decision will have to be taken after a certain trial period, which will also lead to this last step. “A new decision will have to be taken to set a date for the lifting of land border controls,” the European Council says on its website.
On the Schengen area
The Schengen area, excluding Romania and Bulgaria, comprises 27 countries. Twenty-three belong to the EU and four are associated states of the European Free Trade Association: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The most recent country to join the Schengen area was Croatia in 2022. From 1 January 2023, we have been travelling to this popular country without having to show our identity at border controls and already with the new currency, the euro.
The Schengen area was created in 1995 after the Schengen Agreement was signed 10 years earlier between the five member states of the European Economic Community: Germany, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Several other agreements followed until enlargement in 2007, bringing nine more countries into the area of free movement.
Non-citizen travellers in the EU are advised to bear in mind that stays in Bulgaria and Romania count towards the time spent in the Schengen area, which cannot exceed 90 days in a 180-day period.