Bulgaria and Romania to Partially Join Schengen Area in March 2024

UPDATE | March 6th, 2024: The Romanian e-visa portal is unavailable between March 1st and March 30th, 2024, for short-stay visa applications. Applicants will only be able to apply for visas in emergency situations by contacting a Romanian consular post directly. 

From March 31st, 2024, Bulgaria and Romania will partially join Europe’s Schengen Area, with border checks to cease for any air- or sea-based travel between Bulgaria, Romania and other Schengen Area countries.  Air and sea travel between Bulgaria, Romania and Schengen Area countries will become easier and quicker, as affected travelers will no longer be subject to border control inspections.

EU authorities have confirmed that the days spent in Bulgaria and Romania will count toward the Schengen allowance of a maximum 90 days in any 180-day period (or less for visa nationals) as of April 1st, 2024. 

Note: According to Council Decision (EU) 2024/210 of 30th December 2023, Romanian and Bulgarian short-stay visas issued before March 31st 2024 will stay valid for transit through other EU member states or short stays on their territories (not longer than 90 days in 180-day period) as long as these states have recognized these visas for short stay purposes on their territories.

Following further guidance from EU officials, it has been clarified that Bulgaria and Romania are expected to start issuing uniform Schengen C visas from April 1st, 2024. Generally, national entry visas only provide transit rights through Schengen Area countries (unless the Schengen Area country has specifically granted entry and stay rights for such visas).  Bulgaria has not confirmed its Schengen C visa application method and no online portal exists at this time. Further updates will be provided as they become available.

Until further notice, border checks will continue to apply for any land-based travel between either Bulgaria or Romania and other Schengen Area countries. The European Council will continue talks in 2024 to lift such land border checks. No date has yet been set for a further vote on this issue. We will monitor and report related developments.

This alert is for informational purposes only.  If you have any questions, please contact us