Is Spain in the Schengen Zone?

Find out about Europe's border-free area

French border
(c) Damian Corrigan

The short answer: yes, Spain is in the Schengen Zone. It's also a member of the Eurozone and the European Union. However, it's important to keep in mind that these are three separate entities, and should not be confused for one another

What is the Schengen Zone?

The Schengen Zone, also known as the Schengen Area, is a group of countries in Europe that has no internal border controls. This means that a visitor to Spain can cross into France and Portugal and the rest of Europe without ever needing to show a passport at an official border control.

In theory, you could make the 55-hour car journey from Faro in southern Portugal to Riksweg in northern Norway without having to show your passport once.

See also:

How Long Can I Stay in the Schengen Zone?

The answer to this question depends on your country of origin. Americans can spend 90 days out of every 180 days in the Schengen Zone. After those 90 days are up, you either need to head to a non-Schengen country or be in possession of a valid visa in order to stay longer. 

Citizens of EU countries, even those from outside the Schengen Zone, can stay in the area indefinitely with no need for a visa at any point.

Is the Schengen Zone the Same as the European Union?

The two groups of countries include much overlap, but they are not the same. In its own words, European Union is a group of 28 nations bound together by "a unique economic and political union," which works together on matters such as the environment, health, security, justice, migration, and so much more.

There are several non-EU countries in the Schengen Zone and a few EU countries that have opted out of the Schengen agreement. See the full list below.

Do All Schengen Zone Countries Use the Euro?

No. There are several EU member countries that are also in the Schengen Zone, but don't use Europe's main currency, the euro.

For more information about money in Europe, check out our complete guide to the euro as well as our guide to other European currencies

Is a Spain Visa Valid for the Whole of the Schengen Zone?

It usually is, but not always. To be on the safe side, check with the Spanish embassy or consulate that issued your visa.

Can I Leave my Passport in Spain When I Go to Portugal or France?

In theory, you probably could, but it's not wise to do so. Remember that, unless you have a valid residence card, a passport is the main form of ID accepted for non-EU citizens traveling in Europe. Keeping a valid form of ID on you at all times is a smart idea no matter where you may find yourself in the world.

Though you are allowed to cross the border between Schengen countries without passing through passport control, you will have to be able to prove that you do, in fact, have the correct visa in case you're randomly stopped and asked for ID.

During the recent immigration crisis, many countries reinstated border controls, though the borders with Spain remained open.

Which Countries Are in the Schengen Zone?

The following countries are members of the Schengen agreement:

EU Countries in the Schengen Zone

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands (Holland)
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Non-EU Countries in the Schengen Zone

  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Switzerland
  • Lichtenstein

The following European microstates have opened their borders with Schengen countries, but are not formally members of the Schengen agreement: 

  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City

EU Countries That Have Yet to Implement Their Schengen Zone Commitments

These countries are required to join the Schengen Zone and are working to fulfill those requirements.

  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Romania
  • Croatia

EU Countries That Have Opted Out of the Schengen Zone

These countries have opted out of the Schengen Agreement entirely. You will still need to pass through border control and show a valid passport when traveling to one of the below countries from a Schengen country.

  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom