Schengen Area refers to an area where 26 European countries have abolished internal borders and allow free and unrestricted movement of people.
It consists of 22 European Union ("EU") member states and four other countries belonging to the European Free Trade Association ("EFTA"), including Norway, Iceland , Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
What countries are in the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area countries are as follows: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Although 22 of the 27 EU member states belong to the Schengen Area, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia have not yet been admitted to the Schengen Area.
The Republic of Ireland was the only EU member state to refuse to sign the Schengen Agreement prior to its expansion in 2004.
Ireland and the United Kingdom have established a Common Travel Area, allowing its citizens and the three British Crown Dependencies outside the EU, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, to travel passport-free.
Are small European countries part of the Schengen Area?
While Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City have no border controls with surrounding Schengen countries, they are not officially part of the Schengen Area.
Monaco opens borders with France, Vatican City and San Marino open borders with Italy.
Andorra retains border controls with France and Spain and accepts Schengen visas.
Liechtenstein, on the other hand, has been a member of the Schengen Area since 2011 and does not issue visas, but tourists are advised to apply for visas in other Schengen countries.
Territories outside the Schengen Area
The Canary Islands, the Azores and Madeira are the only countries that are part of the Schengen Area but are not located on the European continent.
The territories of EU member states outside Europe are not subject to EU jurisdiction.
For example, the French overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion, as well as the overseas collective of Sint Maarten, are part of the EU, but are not Schengen Area.
The six Dutch territories in the Caribbean and the Danish territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland are also not part of the EU or Schengen Area.