Since Romania is still not a popular country around the world, there are many people still wondering about the questions in the title: is Romanian part of the EU (European Union)? Also, is Romania part of the Schengen zone? We’re going to answer these questions in today’s article!
Because, yes, these two questions should be treated as two separate ones. Many people believe that if a country is a a member of the European Union, it already is part of the Schengen zone, and vice-versa – if it’s not part of the EU, it’s not in Schengen. Well… that’s not the case!
Hopefully today’s article will help you understand where Romania stands in Europe – not geographically – and whether or not it is part of the Schengen area.
This is especially useful for those who like to travel around Europe and respect the Schengen travel rules (you are allowed to stay 90 days within a 180-day period) or better plan their itineraries if they only have a visa for Romania or the Schengen area.
Is Romania in the European Union?
The country has joined the European Union since 2007, together with neighboring Bulgaria. The two countries are among the youngest members of the EU. Croatia is the only country that joined afterwards, in 2013.
But even though Romania is a member of the European Union, it has still not switched to using the EURO, which is anticipated to happen in 2024, although I really believe it won’t be the case.
In other words, if you are planning to visit the country, prepare to visit an exchange office first and get some Romanian Lei – the country’s national currency, as it would be difficult to pay with anything else.
Is Romania part of the Schengen area?
Even though the country is an EU member for so many years already, it unfortunately (or fortunately for some people) is not a member of the Schengen area yet.
The country’s goals is to join the area and there have always been talks about this, but at the moment there is no estimated date for the country to join the Schengen area. Based on the opinion of many of the country’s leaders, Romania is very close to being accepted – but apparently still not quite there yet.
Why does it matter if Romania a Schengen member or not?
Basically, the Schengen zone functions as a huge area comprised of multiple countries (26 at the moment) which share a common visa policy and basically act as a single entity for travel purposes.
This further means that you can travel freely between countries in the Schengen area, with no border and passport controls of any sort.
(Note: the crazy situation in the world in 2020 changed this rule slightly and at the moment of writing this article, things could be a bit different. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon).
As you can see in the map below, some EU countries are not in the Schengen area, while some non-EU are:
If you want to get in Romania, though – or if you go from Romania to another Schengen state, no matter if the country you want to visit is in the EU or not, you will need your passport or ID card (the latter only for EU nationals) as it will be checked at the border.
Depending on your country of origin, you might need a Visa as well. For example, if you are from the US with a visa for Romania, you can’t visit Bulgaria (non-Schengen country), nor Hungary or other Schengen countries with that visa. You would need another one for that particular destination.
Although in most cases, this doesn’t look like an advantage, for the right people it is. Those who travel a lot and want to establish a base in Europe, but don’t want to go through the process of getting residency permits can easily switch between Schengen and non-Schenged countries in order to not extend their allowed stay.
For example, you are only allowed to spend 90 days within an 180 day period in the Schengen area. The same rule applies for most countries in Europe.
This means that after spending 3 months in a Schengen country, you can move to Romania and spend the maximum allowed time there, which is also 90 days.
Afterwards, you can get back to the Schengen area and get 3 more months of free stay there. Then you can get back to Romania (or any other non-Schengen state) for 3 more months. You can do this over and over again as long as you have a valid visa, if needed.
Hopefully this article helps you better understand the situation on the country and makes it easier for you to plan things ahead for an upcoming stay or visit.