Do I Need a Travel Visa to Visit a European Country?

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In general, if you are from North America, Australia, Croatia, Japan, or New Zealand and you are vacationing in a European Union (EU) country for less than three months, a travel visa is not required. All you need is a valid passport that remains valid for at least six months after the date of your return from Europe.

Residents of EU member countries only need an EU passport or ID card to travel between other EU member countries. Below are travel visa resources for specific European countries or specific visas such as work and student visas.

Countries in Europe

Europe is a poorly defined concept, with different groupings of countries defined as 'Europe' for various purposes. Most countries on the European continent are members of the European Union, though there are a handful that are not. Those non-member countries are: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, and Switzerland. The United Kingdom is o longer a member of the EU, following its withdrawal (Brexit) in January 2020.

How Long Can I Stay?

You used to be able to exit a European country, then come back and continue with your stay without worrying about how much time has elapsed. No longer. The maximum length of stay in Europe for non-European Union passport holders is determined by the Schengen accord and is currently limited to 90 days within any 180-day period. For the 26 Schengen member countries, borders between European countries exist only on maps. Once you have a valid visa for the Schengen Area, you can travel within it without much worry.

The UK is a non-Schengen country and allows tourist stays of up to six months.

Schengen Area Member States

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein

Of the Schengen Area's 26 member states, 22 fully implement the Schengen Aquis and four—all members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)—implement the Schengen Aquis through agreements related to the Schengen Agreement.

Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland are associated members of the Schengen Area but not members of the European Union. 


The visa requirements for entering Greece are pretty easy and straightforward, though we can't say the same for the countries that require a visa before entering Greece.U.S. citizens, and citizens exempt from Schengen Area visa, will need a passport valid for 3 months after the return date. You will also need to prove you have sufficient funds for your stay and a return airline ticket. Proof of funds can be a bank statement, cash, proof of employment, or something similar.

Scandinavia and Nordic Countries

Likewise, visa requirements for Schengen associated members Norway and Iceland and for other Scandinavian countries are not worrisome or burdensome. Passports should be valid for 6 months after your visit. For trips to Iceland, your passport only needs to be valid for 3 months after the return visit, though six is recommended.

For more information about the entry requirements to the Nordic countries, read our complete guides.

The United Kingdom

The UK has different regulations from countries that are part of the EU, so you'll need to brush up on visas before visiting the UK; a good starting point is to call the nearest UK embassy or consulate and then to ask for assistance and an appointment. You can stay up to six months on vacation in the UK on a Schengen visa.


The visa requirements for visiting France are, likewise, pretty straightforward; all you need is a valid passport.

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