EU rules on border controls

Summary: Twenty five countries in Europe have signed up to the Schengen Agreement. Citizens of the Schengen area are free to travel from one country to another without passport control or custom checks.

  Fully Schengen members (EU member states which have implemented the Schengen Agreement)
  Associated Schengen members (non-EU member states which have implemented the Schengen Agreement)
  Other EU member states (EU member states which have not implemented the Schengen Agreement yet)
  EU member states
which apply only
some Schengen laws
Map Credit CrazyPhunk

The first Schengen Agreement, named after the town in Luxembourg where it was signed, was signed in 1985 by five countries, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands who decided to create a territory without internal borders.

A further eight countries signed up in 1997 after the Schengen arrangements were incorporated into EU law in the Treaty of Amsterdam. These are Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Austria.

Of the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004 nine are now members of the Schengen area: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

A number of non EU member states have also joined. Iceland and Norway, which with Sweden, Denmark and Finland, are members of the Nordic Passport Union, were accepted into Schengen arrangements in 2001. Switzerland joined in 2004.

The UK and Ireland, while not full members of Schengen, take part in some of the arrangements namely police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the fight against drugs and SIS.

To match security with freedom, this freedom of movement was accompanied by improved cooperation and coordination between the police and judicial authorities of participating member states in order to safeguard internal security and to counter organised crime. A sophisticated database, the Schengen Information System (SIS), is used by the authorities to exchange data on certain categories of people and goods.

A more advanced version of the Schengen Information System, SIS II, is being developed that will provide new facilities for information sharing and cooperation among Schengen members.

Click for more information on:
the Schengen area and information co-operation
on what travel documents are needed