Travelling in the Schengen area
As the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not issue visas for foreign countries, we cannot provide definitive advice on the requirements to enter or exit countries within the Schengen area. Our New Zealand Embassies and High Commissions overseas also cannot advise on your right to enter or stay in a foreign country and will refer you to this page. We recommend however that you:
- read the information on this page before embarking on travel;
- read the visa/entry information on the websites of the Embassies of the relevant EU/Schengen countries you intend to visit or transit (e.g. the French Embassy in Wellington if you are intending to travel to France);
- You may also like to consult with a travel agent.
The following country-specific websites may be helpful:
Border controls in Europe
New Zealanders should be aware that border control points have been eliminated among European countries that are full members of what is called the "Schengen area". To enter the Schengen area, travellers must hold a return/onward travel ticket and a passport which has at least 3 months validity from the date of intended departure from the Schengen area.
The European mini-states (Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City) are not formally part of the Schengen area, but can be entered from the neighbouring Schengen area countries without going through border controls.
Note that the following European countries are not part of the Schengen area. If you move between any of these countries, or from one of these countries into the Schengen area, you will have to go through border controls:
- in Western Europe*: Ireland, United Kingdom
- in Central/Eastern Europe: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine.
*New Zealand passport holders whose purpose of travel is tourism are able to spend up to six months visa-free in the United Kingdom.
Once the Schengen area is entered, movement to other countries inside the area is often without border control points, however the Schengen Borders Code allows member states to temporarily reintroduce border controls in the event of a serious threat to public or internal security. New Zealanders wishing to enter a country that has reintroduced border controls may be asked to show travel documentation (i.e. a passport valid for at least three months from the date of expected departure from that country) and/or other supporting documents (such as an invitation letter, proof of lodging or return/onward travel).
For information on EU/Schengen area border policies, please refer to the website of the European Commission: Migration & Home Affairs.
Visa-free access for New Zealand visitors to Europe
New Zealand has bilateral visitor visa waiver agreements with many of the individual countries in the Schengen area. This means you do not need to apply for a visitor visa prior to leaving New Zealand as long as you meet the visitor visa waiver criteria. Some of the visitor visa waiver agreements allow New Zealanders to spend a limited time (e.g. up to 3 months) in a particular country for business or tourism, without reference to time spent in other Schengen area countries. Entry, and the length of stay under these visitor visa waiver agreements, is however always subject to the decision of the border control authorities.
Schengen country border officials may adopt different interpretations of the Schengen rules or take into account other factors which might affect eligibility for entry. New Zealand travellers should be aware that border and immigration officials in Schengen area countries may occasionally be unaware of our visitor visa waiver agreements, or more commonly, may choose to apply the “90 days out of a 180 day period” rule for the Schengen area as a whole, as they do for passport holders from non-visa waiver countries. The decision to apply this rule over the visa waiver rests solely with local border and immigration authorities. Consequently, neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade nor our New Zealand Embassies or High Commissions overseas can provide New Zealand travellers with a blanket assurance of how entry and length of stay decisions will be applied by Schengen area countries, nor can we intervene to overturn a decision.
We recommend therefore that you ensure your passport is stamped on first entry into the Schengen area. Officers at initial ports of entry may wave travellers through without stamping passports but it is important to have evidence in your passport of the date of first entry into the Schengen area for any subsequent dealings with border, immigration or other local authorities. The same applies to exiting the Schengen area for the last time.
We also strongly advise travellers to retain informal evidence of time spent in each Schengen country, such as accommodation and travel receipts and tickets, ATM receipts, boarding passes etc., as the onus is on the traveller to prove length of stay in a particular country or the Schengen area as a whole.
When is a visa required for Europe?
As a general guide, when the purpose of travel is to visit for more than 3 months or for reasons other than tourism and irrespective of the intended length of stay, a visa is likely required and should be obtained prior to leaving New Zealand.
Note that visitor visa waiver agreements and the overall Schengen area 90 day visa waiver rule are not work visas or work permits. Working holiday visas (WHV) are also country-specific. For example, a WHV for the UK or Italy does not give the holder the right to work in France.
Well in advance of leaving New Zealand, check whether you require a visa on the websites of the Embassies of the relevant EU/Schengen countries (e.g. the Italian Embassy in Wellington if you are intending to travel to Italy). Note that New Zealand Embassies or High Commissions overseas cannot provide information or advice on the visa application process or your right to enter or stay in a foreign country.
Europe is a major destination for New Zealanders, especially during the northern hemisphere summer. Every year tens of thousands of New Zealanders travel to Europe and while most will encounter few if any problems, some will become the victim of a crime. Most of these crimes involve theft of funds, passports and other personal possessions, but muggings and other attacks can also occur.
- make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance before you leave home
- be aware of the increase in crime in many parts of Europe especially during the northern hemisphere summer
- tourists are often seen as easy targets and can be most vulnerable in or around major tourist centres and sites
- criminals frequent tourist areas and major attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotel lobbies and public areas, beaches and resorts, trains, train stations, airports, subways, petrol stations and ATM machines
- crimes can occur at any time of the day or night. Thieves are highly skilled operators so be alert to contrived distractions that are set-ups for theft
- exercise caution, carry limited cash and credit cards, and leave extra cash, credit cards, passports and personal documents in a locked, safe location (e.g. hotel safety deposit box)
- rental cars are easily identifiable. Never leave luggage or other possessions in vehicles, even if locked and not visible to the eye (e.g. in boot)
- luggage and personal belongings should never be left unattended, particularly at airports or hotel check-in
- wear handbags and backpacks in front of your body and don’t leave them under tables or on chair backs (e.g. in restaurants)
- pay close attention to the safety advice and warnings given by tour operators