There are no special entry requirements for EU citizens and nationals of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. For most places a valid passport is all you need for a stay of up to three months. Some nationalities, including South Africans, require visas for Schengen countries.

Customs Regulations

Travelling within the EU

Travelling from one EU country to another you're allowed to carry:

  • 800 cigarettes
  • 200 cigars or 1kg of loose tobacco
  • 10L of spirits (anything more than 22% alcohol by volume)
  • 20L of fortified wine or aperitif
  • 90L of wine

Entering or Leaving the EU

On leaving the EU, non-EU residents can reclaim value-added tax (VAT) on expensive purchases. You can carry the following duty-free:

  • 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
  • 1L of spirits or 2L of fortified wine, sparkling wine or any alcoholic drink under 22% volume
  • 4L of still wine
  • 16L of beer
  • Goods, including perfume and electronic devices, up to a value of €430 for air and sea travellers, and €300 for land travellers

Non-EU Countries

Non-EU countries each have their own regulations, although most forbid the exportation of antiquities and cultural treasures.

Passports

Exact passport requirements vary from country to country, even within the EU, but as a rule non-EU nationals require a passport valid for three to six months after their period of stay. EU citizens travelling to Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) and Turkey are also subject to minimum passport validity requirements.

As of June 2012, all children are required to have their own passport.

Check details on these government travel websites:

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.smartraveller.gov.au)

British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad)

Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.voyage.gc.ca)

US State Department (http://travel.state.gov)

Visas

Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US do not need a visa to enter most Mediterranean Europe countries and stay for up to three months (90 days).

France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain have all signed the Schengen Agreement, which abolishes customs checks between signatory states.

For the purposes of visa requirements, the Schengen area should be considered a single unit, as all member states operate the same entry requirements. These include the following:

  • Legal residents of one Schengen country do not need a visa for another Schengen country.
  • Nationals of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and the USA do not need a visa for tourist or business visits of up to 90 days.
  • The UK and Ireland are not part of the Schengen area but their citizens can stay indefinitely in other EU countries, and only need to fill in paperwork if they want to work long term or take up residency.

Of the non-Schengen countries, only Turkey requires visas from Australian, Canadian, British and US nationals. These can be bought at any point of entry into the country.

Visa requirements change, and you should always check with the embassy of your destination country or a reputable travel agent before travelling.

Schengen Visa

If you do require a Schengen visa for a tourist visit, you'll need the category C short-stay visa. There are two versions of this:

A single-entry visa This allows for an uninterrupted stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period (180 days).

A multiple-entry visa This allows you to enter and leave the Schengen area as long as your combined stay in the area does not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.

In both cases, the clock starts ticking from the moment you enter the Schengen area. You cannot exit the Schengen area for a short period and start the clock on your return.

Other rules:

  • It's obligatory to apply for a Schengen visa in your country of residence at the embassy of your main destination country or, if you have no principal destination, of the first Schengen country you'll be entering.
  • A visa issued by one Schengen country is generally valid for travel in other Schengen countries, but individual countries may impose restrictions on certain nationalities.
  • You can only apply for two Schengen visas in any 12-month period.
  • You cannot work in a Schengen country without a specific work permit.
  • Always check which documents you'll need. You'll almost certainly require a passport valid for three months beyond the end of your proposed visit; a return air or train ticket; proof of a hotel reservation or similar accommodation arrangement; proof of your ability to support yourself financially; and medical insurance.

Work Visas

  • Most EU citizens can work in any other EU country without a visa or specific permit. Paperwork, which can be complicated, only really becomes necessary for long-term employment or if you want to apply for residency.
  • Non-EU nationals require work permits. There is no universal Schengen work visa or permit – each individual member state issues its own. These can be difficult to arrange and usually require you to have a job lined up and an employer ready to do the paperwork for you.
  • If one of your parents or a grandparent was born in an EU country, you may have certain rights you never knew about. Get in touch with that country's embassy and ask about dual citizenship and work permits – if you go for citizenship, ask about any obligations, such as military service and residency. Also be aware that your home country may not recognise dual citizenship.
  • For details of individual country regulations check with the embassy of the country you want to work in.
  • For temporary vacation work in France and Italy, the Working Holiday Visa Program is open to Australian, Canadian and New Zealand citizens aged between 18 and 35. To apply for the visa, which is valid for a year and allows work within certain restrictions, contact the Italian or French embassy in your country of residence.
  • Students enrolled in a recognised study program should apply to their destination country's embassy for a student visa. Proof of enrolment as well as health insurance and documents attesting to your financial means will generally be required.

Snapshot

  • No visas are required for most people for stays of up to 90 days in Schengen countries, plus Albania, BiH, Croatia, and Montenegro.
  • Citizens of Australia, the US, Canada and New Zealand need a visa for stays of longer than 90 days in the Schengen area.
  • Australian, Canadian, UK and US citizens need a visa for Turkey – buy it on arrival.