As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not issue visas it cannot provide definitive advice on the requirements to enter or exit countries within the Schengen area. Border officials may adopt different interpretations of the rules or take into account other factors which might affect eligibility for entry. For this reason we recommend that travellers consult in advance with their travel agent or the relevant EU/Schengen embassies of the countries they intend to visit or transit.
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. For host country advice on entry requirements to a specific country within the Schengen area, please click on the relevant link below:
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.
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 Member State 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.
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. Prior to travel you should contact your travel agent or the embassy or consulate of the Schengen area countries you plan to visit to get the latest update on visa requirements.
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.)
New Zealand has bilateral visa waiver agreements with many of the individual countries in the Schengen area. Some of these visa waiver agreements allow New Zealanders to spend a limited time in the relevant country, without reference to time spent in other Schengen area countries. Entry, and the length of stay under these visa waiver agreements, is subject to the decision of the local immigration authorities.
Visa waiver agreements, and the overall Schengen area visa waiver, are not work visas or work permits.
Border and immigration officials in Schengen area countries are occasionally unaware of visa waiver agreements and question New Zealanders’ rights to stay visa-free in the Schengen area for longer 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. You are advised to retain evidence of your time spent in particular Schengen countries, such as accommodation and travel receipts.
For further information on visa requirements, please refer to website of the delegation of the European Union to New Zealand.
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.