Bulgaria and Romania will become full members of the Schengen zone by the beginning of 2024, affecting non-European travellers and digital nomads, from Europe and other countries including Nigeria.
The European Parliament based on a resolution by the European Commission (EC), has approved both countries to be part of the countries under the Schengen zone by the end of 2023.
The EC resolution stated that Bulgaria and Romania meet all the requirements to become full members of the Schengen Zone. The fact that Romania and Bulgaria are still outside the visa-free travel area, burdens the businesses and populations of the two countries socially and economically.
Parliament noted that seamless travel across most of the region eliminates the need for strict identity checks and long delays when moving between countries.
A larger Schengen area without border controls would make the EU stronger. All member states have the right to join Schengen once they are ready, the Parliament stated.
In January 2023, Croatia joined the Schengen Zone and adopted the Euro currency.
Concerns about cross-border crime, illegal migration, and security issues have been the major reasons for Bulgaria and Romania to have remained on the waiting list to join Schengen since 2007 when they joined the European Union.
Their proximity to non-EU countries and migration routes previously raised concerns about potential risks to Europe’s internal security.
What Joining Schengen zone means for Bulgaria, Romania and Nigerian Travellers
It would no longer be mandatory to check passports for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals travelling within the EU and Schengen Area.
This new regulation will also apply to non-European travellers, and digital nomads from Nigeria and other countries visiting Europe to have smoother international travel.
The Schengen visa allows travellers from many countries including Nigeria to stay a maximum of 90 days per 180 days in the Schengen area.
List of the 27 countries presently in the Schengen Zone
This list is exclusive of Bulgaria and Romania, which are expected to join the Schengen Zone by the end of the year 2023.
- Czech Republic