The Schengen Area, known as the world’s largest visa-free zone, is set to expand in 2023 with the addition of Romania and Bulgaria. These two countries, which have been EU members for several years, will join the existing 27 Schengen member countries. The move has been a subject of debate due to concerns about open borders with Romania and Bulgaria, but it has now been prioritized for 2023.
Benefits for US travelers and inter-Schengen travel
The expansion of the Schengen Zone benefits everyone by streamlining inter-Schengen travel. With minimal border control times as short as 10 minutes, residents of Bulgaria and Romania will enjoy more equitable access to the rest of the EU.
For US travelers, the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen Area offers extended opportunities for exploration within the zone, allowing stays of up to 90 days.
The potential downside
However, it’s important to note that these countries can no longer be used as “waiting rooms” to circumvent the 90-day consecutive travel limit. Traveling in Romania and Bulgaria will now count towards the 90-day cap. To continue exploring Europe without extensive visa processes, alternative countries like Ireland remain viable options.