2 More Countries Are Joining Europe's Visa-Free Schengen Zone in 2023

Add Romania and Bulgaria to the list of places to roam during extended stays in Europe.

Two more countries—Romania and Bulgaria—are slated to join the Schengen Area in 2023, according to reports from the European Parliament and Travel Off Path. The Schengen Area is the world’s largest visa-free zone, comprising 27 European countries that have gotten rid of their internal borders. The Schengen members are a mixture of countries that are in and out of the European Union.

Schengen Visa Info News reports that the accession of Romania and Bulgaria have been prioritized for 2023. In the years since both nations have been EU members, there has been pushback against Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen Area because other EU members did not want open borders with the two countries.

These are the current 27 Schengen member countries.

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

For US travelers, the addition of two new nations in the Schengen Area further expands where you can roam during extended stays, up to 90 days. But it also means that you cannot use either Bulgaria or Romania as “waiting rooms” to get around the 90 consecutive day travel limit in place for US travelers in the Schengen zone. Now, traveling in Romania and Bulgaria will count towards the 90 day cap in place—if you want to continue to do this there are still other countries, including Ireland, that will allow you to bounce around Europe without the need to go through an extensive visa process. You can explore these calculations over at the Schengen short stay visa calculator.

Inter-Schengen travel is also just faster for everyone. Schengen borders can take as few as 10 minutes to get through border control. Most importantly, this will allow residents of Bulgaria and Romania more equitable access to the rest of the EU.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.