The Schengen area is a made up of 26 European countries that agreed to create common entry and exit requirements in order to remove the need for internal borders. As long as Schengen area entry requirements are met, the agreement allows foreigners to travel freely between participating countries without having to go through border controls (some exceptions apply, see below).
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Schengen area has common rules about visas and controls at external borders and has abolished checks within its internal borders. However, some Schengen area countries may require you to register with local authorities shortly after you arrive, particularly when you are staying in private accommodations.
Canadians do not need a visa to travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If you leave the Schengen area and return within the same 180-day period, the previous stay will count against the permitted 90 days.
If you plan to stay for longer than 90 days in any 180-day period, you must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries to which you are travelling and obtain the appropriate visa before you travel. If you do not obtain the appropriate visa and you stay longer than the permitted 90 days in the Schengen area, you may be fined or deported.
It is important to get your passport stamped when you first enter the Schengen area. If you do not have an entry stamp from your first Schengen port of entry, you may have problems if you encounter the local police (or other authorities) anywhere in the Schengen area during your visit or with immigration officials at the time of departure.
The European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs web page provides more information and a calculator to help you to find the number of visa-free permitted travel days you have left in the Schengen area, taking into account your previous stays there.
The Schengen Borders Code allows member states to temporarily reintroduce internal border controls if there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security. Canadians wishing to enter a Schengen area country that has reintroduced internal border controls could be required to present a passport, valid for at least three months from the time of expected departure from that country. For more information, visit the European Union’s Temporary Reintroduction of Border Control web page.