Travel safety tips when taking a gap year
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If you’re an Australian going on holiday in Europe, you need to know about the Schengen Convention – it’s going to help you see more of the region with less of the hassle.
Not sure what the Schengen Convention is? Here we break it down so you can make the most of your European adventure.
The initial Schengen Convention took place in 1985, bringing together European countries like Belgium, France, West Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to discuss reduced international border control for citizens, encouraging more travel and tourism.
Today, the Schengen Zone is made up of 26 countries, including the following:
The agreement provides participating countries with common entry and exit requirements so those with the appropriate visas don’t have to get a new one or go through border control. However, levels of security between countries may differ based on local unrest.
Australians do not need to obtain a visa for visiting Europe, and are also eligible to travel freely among the Schengen countries. That means you don’t have to worry about getting new visas as you travel around the Schengen Zone.
However, Australians need to abide by their general travel rules that require you to spend less than 90 days within a 180 day period in the Schengen area. It’s also important that you get an entry stamp in each country you visit, otherwise you could be fined. Your passport also needs to be valid at least six months from when you will return to Australia.
Now let’s get into the specifics of what this agreement allows you to do while travelling around Europe.
First, you might notice some popular countries including the UK and Ireland are not part of the Schengen Agreement. If you’re looking to stay in the European region beyond 90 days, consider extending your trip by travelling to non-Schengen countries at the end of the trip so you don’t have to interrupt your free movement between countries. Just make sure you have the appropriate visas for destinations outside the agreement.
Should you choose to exit and then re-enter the Schengen area, you will need to get a stamp in your passport otherwise your 90 days will still be on the clock. If you forget the stamp on your way out, and return on the 91st day, you will likely be denied entry. It’s relatively easy to leave the country without getting a stamp, so make sure your exit and entry information is properly stamped in your passport!
Be sure to check Smartraveller’s Schengen Convention page for details as well as the country’s respective embassy or consulate you’re travelling to for up to date safety information.
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