Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

Travel tips - travel to Europe

Border controls in Europe
New Zealanders should be aware that border controls have been eliminated among European countries that are full members of what is called the "Schengen area". Once you enter one of these countries from outside the Schengen area, you can move to other countries inside the Schengen area without going through border controls. To enter the Schengen area you will need a return ticket and passport, which has 3 months validity from the date of your intended departure from the Schengen area. Schengen area countries are: 

Austria

Belgium

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Iceland

Italy

Latvia

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Malta

The Netherlands

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

 

 

Note that the following European countries are not part of the Schengen area:

in Western Europe: Ireland, United Kingdom in Central/Eastern Europe: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine.

If you move between any of these countries, or from one of these countries into the Schengen area, you will therefore have to go through border controls.

The European mini-states (Andorra, Liechtenstein, 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. 

Visa-free access for New Zealand visitors to Europe
New Zealand passport holders are able to spend up to three months visa-free in most European countries, and up to six months visa-free in the United Kingdom.  The only European countries that require New Zealand passport holders to have a visa for a stay of less than three months are Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. 

Visa-free access for New Zealand passport holders intending to stay for more than 3 months in the Schengen area is complicated. 

Schengen area countries permit most holders of passports from outside the Schengen area to stay visa-free in the Schengen area as a whole, regardless of the particular country or countries, for no more than 3 months out of a 6-month period.  (This is sometimes expressed as 90 days out of a 180-day period.) 

However, New Zealand has bilateral visa waiver agreements with many of the individual countries in the Schengen area.  These visa waiver agreements allow New Zealanders to spend up to three months in the relevant country, without reference to time spent in other Schengen area countries.  The European Commission has confirmed that these agreements continue to be valid.  These agreements thus effectively override the Schengen area restriction (which would otherwise be imposed on New Zealand passport holders) of no more than 3 months out of a 6-month period in the Schengen area as a whole.

The countries with which New Zealand has bilateral visa waiver agreements are: 

Austria

Belgium

Denmark

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Iceland

Italy

Luxembourg

The Netherlands

Norway

Portugal

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

 

 

You can, therefore, move visa-free among the above countries for periods of up to 3 months in each country.  If, however, you move to other countries in the Schengen area, the restriction of no more than 3 months out of a 6-month period in the Schengen area as a whole applies.  If you have already spent 3 months in one or more of the above countries, your presence in a Schengen area country with which New Zealand does not have a bilateral visa waiver agreement may be challenged by local police or other authorities.  You may also be accused of being an overstayer when you leave the Schengen area, or when you enter another country outside the Schengen area. 

These visa waiver agreements, and the overall Schengen area visa waiver, are not work visas or work permits. 

Despite confirmation from the European Commission that the visa waiver agreements continue to be valid, border and immigration officials in Schengen area countries are occasionally unaware of this and question New Zealanders’ rights to stay visa-free in the Schengen area for longer than 3 months.  You should contact the embassy or consulate of the Schengen area countries you plan to visit to get the latest update on visa requirements if you plan to stay in the whole Schengen area for more than 3 months.  

You are also advised to ensure that your passport is stamped on entry and exit at the external borders of the Schengen area. Officers at ports of entry may wave travellers through without stamping passports, but it is important to have evidence of the date of first entry into the Schengen area for any subsequent dealings with local police or other authorities.  It is also advisable to retain some informal evidence of time spent in particular Schengen countries (e.g., accommodation receipts, ATM slips). 

For further information on visa requirements, please refer to website of the delegation of the European Union to New Zealand

Internal border controls
The Schengen Borders Code allows member states to temporarily reintroduce border controls in the event of a serious threat to public or internal security.  Any country wishing to reintroduce controls at its internal borders must (except in emergencies) give prior notice to the European Council and other Member States. 

For information on border controls, including which countries have temporarily reintroduced controls, please refer to the website of the European Commission

New Zealanders wishing to enter a Schengen area country that has reintroduced internal border controls may be required to provide travel documentation (i.e. a passport, valid for at least three months from the time of expected departure from that country) or other supporting documents (such as an invitation letter, proof of lodging or return or round-trip ticket).  There may also be additional security checks at some border crossing points. 

Please note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade cannot provide advice as to the eligibility of New Zealanders to enter or remain in the Schengen zone.  If you have any queries about your eligibility to travel in this area, please check with your travel agent or with the Embassy of the countries you intend to visit/transit. 

Crime
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. 

The onset of the northern hemisphere summer tourist season brings about an increase in the number of New Zealanders who will become the victims of crime. Most of these crimes involve theft of funds, passports and other personal possessions, but muggings and other attacks can also occur.   

  • New Zealanders travelling to Europe need to 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, hotels, beach resorts, trains, train stations, airports, subways and ATM machines

  • crimes can occur at any time of the day or night. Thieves are highly skilled operators and New Zealanders need to be alert to contrived distractions that are set-ups for theft

  • New Zealand travellers should exercise caution, carry limited cash and credit cards, and leave extra cash, credit cards, passports and personal documents in a safe location (e.g. hotel safety deposit box)

  • New Zealand travellers should pay close attention to the safety advice and warnings given by organised tour operators

  • travellers should also ensure they have comprehensive travel insurance.

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