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Schengen Stay Reset: Travellers Can No Longer Utilize Romania & Bulgaria as Base Since March 31


Bulgaria and Romania have finally crowned their 13-year journey with Schengen Area accession on March 31, removing all border controls at their air and sea ports of entry.

In addition to the removal of border checks, Schengen accession has brought several more changes for the nationals of these two countries and those traveling to, from or through their territory, SchengenVisaInfo reports.

What Changes for Travellers & Citizens of Romania & Bulgaria Now

Travellers who fly from Romania or Bulgaria will no longer be subject to border controls, upon arrival to another Schengen Area country.

The consulates of both these countries will be issuing Schengen visas which are valid in the entire territory of the 29 Schengen Area Member States, expect for Limited Territorial Validity Visas (LTV) which are issued in very rare cases, and mean that the traveller can visit only a limited number of countries, named on the visa sticker.

Romania, as all other Schengen Member States, will have to apply the rules of the Visa Code. This means they will be able to issue multiple-entry visas with a validity of up to five years.

Fiorella Boigner, press officer for EU Home Affairs

Third-country citizens who already have a valid Schengen visa issued by another Schengen country will continue to be able to visit Bulgaria and Romania without having to obtain another visa.

Travellers with short-stay visas issued by Cyprus, on the other hand, which is now the only non-Schengen European Union Member State (aside from Ireland which is so by choice), will no longer be eligible to enter either country.

Romania & Bulgaria Can No Longer Be Used as a Base to Reset Schengen Stay Count

Since March 31, the number of days one spends in Romania or Bulgaria, will be counted towards the total number of days spent in the Schengen Zone, the EU Commission spokeswoman on home affairs, migration and internal security, Anitta Hipper, has confirmed early in January this year.

According to the Schengen Area rules of stay, travellers are permitted to spent 90 days in one or multiple Member States, within any period of 180 days.

Previously, third-country travellers, mainly from visa-free countries, often stayed in the Schengen zone for 90 days within a period of 180 days, and then spend another three months wandering through Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus, until their number of days was reset, and they could spend another 90 days in the Schengen countries.

This can no longer be done, as stays in Romania or Bulgaria are now counted as stays in the Schengen area.

Yet, travellers can still use Cyprus as a base to reset their Schengen stay count, but only until October 2024, when the Entry/Exit System (EES) is launched. Once that happens, stays in Cyprus will also be counted towards the total Schengen stay, in spite of the fact that Cyprus still has a lot of work to do to join the Schengen Area.

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