Home Romania Tips Is Romania in the EU (European Union) and Schengen?

Is Romania in the EU (European Union) and Schengen?

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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:

Image via Residency-Bond

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.

33 COMMENTS

  1. I’m always amazed that so many experienced travelers (to Europe) have no clue about the Schengen zone or don’t understand/grasp the concept that being in the EU does not necessarily mean that you use the Euro. The EU, Eurozone, Schengen Zone – 3 different things entirely! Sometimes a country is in all 3 (Slovenia, France, Germany), sometimes just two (Ireland – not in Schengen) and sometimes only one (Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia – only in EU).

    • That’s true but there are much more interesting examples. You have countries that are IN the Schengen area but not in the EU/Euro (e.g. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland). And you have countries that use the Euro but are not in the EU/Schengen (e.g. Montenegro – though they aren’t supposed to use it!!).

  2. Thanks for the explanation. I think it helps to see it rather than trying to explain to people, especially Americans. They often don’t get it. There are a lot of bloggers who do the 90 in and 90 out so as not to have to apply for residency. They might not like it so much if they lose that like you say :-). I don’t think they will ever switch to the euro. I hope not!

  3. Calin,
    Okay, I’m a clueless Americano;-)
    What exactly did Hungary do, for example,
    and Romania did NOT do to become a part of Schengen?
    Of course, the same question for Bulgaria.
    Are there big fees for a country to be part of Schengen?
    Are there onerous policies a country has to follow?
    To me, if a country is part of the EU, it should also be part
    of Schengen.
    Seems like way too much bureaucracy.
    I am an American, but I dislike what America has become.
    I hope Romania will stay true to itself, whether using the Euro or not,
    and whether being part of Schengen or not.
    ~Teil

    • Hello Teil,

      I am not entirely sure how to answer the question and what did Hungary do that Romania didn’t. I do know that there are many rules and regulation for being in the Schengen zone and Romania hasn’t met them all yet, just like Bulgaria didn’t. Some say that there’s a political decision behind this as well (like the fear of Western Countries for an influx of cheap laborers from the poor countries).

  4. Teil – Joining the Schengen zone means very secure boarders with neighboring countries that are NOT Schengen. If your country borders a non-Schengen zone country then you are basically the last line of defense as once someone from that country can enter yours, they can travel unimpeded to all other Schengen countries (as there are no checkpoints). Not only that, but if that non-Schengen country also borders with other non-Schengen countries (who may have even more porous borders) than that is a major issue.

    France borders all Schengen zone countries so that is quite easy. On the other hand Hungary has borders with some Schengen countries (Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria) but many borders with non Schengen (Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Ukraine) – so major allocation of resources, money and man-power to these ones. Since they were in early to EU (before Romania and Bulgaria) and had a jump on some of their eastern neighbors to get everything tightened up to code. But biggest issue with someone like Bulgaria is that they border Turkey. Turkey borders Iraq, Iran, Syria. It’s likely to assume that it is not so difficult to get into Turkey and make it all the way to the Bulgarian border which would then be the gateway to all EU if Bulgaria were to join Schengen.

    Also, regarding Eurozone: if your country cannot meet fiscal requirements to join the EURO then it is a detriment. If Greece was not grandfathered into the Eurozone it would be nowhere close to switching to euro currency and that would have been a good thing compared to where they are now. It took 3 years for Slovenia to be ready to switch to euro, 5-6 years for Estonia and Slovakia. Hungary, Poland and Czech have been EU members for 14 years and still have not switched because they can’t pass the fiscal mandates – that is completely fair.

  5. if any body go to bulgaria/romania as labour or skill work visa from third nation world(like india mayanmar/bangladesh)….can they travel italy or Schengen zone ?????
    or they need visa again for travel to Schengen country from romania(work visa)….
    plzz advise

  6. ROMANIA PEOPLE NEED VISA TO TRAVEL IN Schengen ZONE? ARE THEY(ROMANIAN) NEED VISA TO TRAVEL ITALY GERMANY..ETC..
    PLZ ADVISE

  7. DEAR C. THE ROMANIAN,
    IF WE COME TO WORK IN ROMANIA WITH WORK PERMIT VISA FROM NO EU COUNTRY OR THIRD COUNTRY NATIONALS( LIKE INDIA, MAYNMAR,BANGLADESH) CAN WE TRAVEL IN SCHENGEN ZONE WITHOUT VISA ???
    ARE THE BORDER FREE FOR US???

  8. Can students(non-EU) with Romanian residence permit travel to Shengen zone ?
    If no where can I travel with Romanian residence permit?

    • The residence permit only allows you to stay in Romania and is effective in Romania only, so it would have no influence over the countries you can visit holding that permit. The same goes for any country where you would get a residence permit: it would be valid for that country alone and not give you additional rights (unless or until you get citizenship).

  9. So I have a student visa as I am on an exchange in France for the semester and it expires July 12th. I have family in Romania that I want to go visit and I wanted to just stay there for July and August. Since it is not in the Schengen area I can stay longer than my visa allows? I am Canadian so I do not need a visa to visit Romania for less than three months. Thank you in advance

  10. Bună 😊 mulțumesc pentru informații! 👍 Am și eu o întrebare: n-am reușit să mă edific dacă pentru a călători din România în Norvegia am nevoie neapărat de pașaport sau este suficient ID – ul? Mulțumesc mult încă o dată!

  11. Enjoyed your article. I hop around Schengen and non-Schengen countries as you stated. I am an American that actually understands the rules, and wish there were more non-Schengen countries in Europe.

    • For some, not being in Schengen is really a bonus. Those who live in a non Schengen country definitely feel different, as traveling from one place to another without going through border checks is awesome 🙂

  12. An Indian is holding a multiple entry Romanian Visa, that is the Entrepreneur Visa. Can he travel to other European countries? Any country which could be a Schengen or not.

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