Travel within the Schengen Area
“The Schengen Area is an zone made up of 26 European states which have officially abolished passports and other types of border control at their mutual borders. For visitors to the EU it effectively means that the Schengen Area acts as a singular country, i.e. once you enter one Schengen country you have entered them all.” See ETIAS Visa for more information.
You can find a list of the Schengen area countries here.
With a South African passport and a Schengen multiple entry visa or residence permit, you may travel freely within the Schengen Area. You can also read about the requirements for the UK
Things to keep in mind
- It is advisable to always have your passport and visa/residence card with you.
- Even if you have a permanent residence card for Germany, for countries outside the Schengen area, you will need to adhere to the rules applicable to your passport. See Where can I travel on my SA passport for some visa exemptions.
- Switzerland is part of the Schengen area.
- San Marino, Monaco, and the Vatican are not members but due to their location and political agreements, have opened their borders with the Schengen area.
- In many European countries, highways, expressways, bridges or tunnels may be subjected to Maut (Tollfees) – see the ADAC site. You can buy it before your trip., or when arriving at the toll gates. For Austria, you can buy directly on the ASFINAG site if you drive with your own car. You cannot buy in advance for a rental car if you don’t know the registration number.
Mobile phone roaming
There are no additional charges to use your mobile phone when travelling between EU countries. This is known as “Roam like at home” All your mobile charges will be the same as your domestic rate. More information on the ÝourEurope website.
There are of course exemptions, for example, a limit on your inclusive data, for more information see the Verbraucherzentrale website.
You can also read more on Mobile service providers’ websites, for example, Vodafone
According to YourEurope, EU air passenger rights apply:
- If your flight is within the EU and is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline
- If your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline
- If your flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or a non-EU airline
- If you have not already received benefits (compensation, re-routing, assistance from the airline) for flight-related problems for this journey under the relevant law of a non-EU country.
For information about passenger, rail, ship, bus or coach rights, visit the YourEurope Website
These new EU rules will apply from 1 February 2022.
Updates pertaining to the EU Digital COVID certificate are:
- Focus on a ‘person-based approach’: A person who has a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate should in principle not be subject to additional restrictions, such as tests or quarantine, regardless of their place of departure in the EU. Persons without an EU Digital COVID Certificate could be required to undergo a test carried out prior to or after arrival.
- Booster shots: As of yet, there are no studies expressly addressing the effectiveness of boosters on the transmission of COVID-19 and therefore it is not possible to determine an acceptance period for boosters. However, given the emerging data, it can be expected that protection from booster vaccinations may last longer than that resulting from the primary vaccination series. On the basis of new scientific evidence on this issue, the Commission may, if needed, propose an appropriate acceptance period also for vaccination certificates issued following a booster.
The Commission also proposed an updated framework for travel from outside the EU, prioritising vaccinated travellers, with strong safeguards.
A valid EU digital COVID certificate includes:
- A vaccination certificate for a vaccine approved at European level if at least 14 days and no more than 270 days have passed since the last dose of the primary vaccination series or if the person has received a booster dose. Member states could also accept vaccination certificates for vaccines approved by national authorities or the WHO.
- A negative PCR test result obtained no more than 72 hours before travel or a negative rapid antigen test obtained no more than 24 hours before travel.
- A certificate of recovery indicating that no more than 180 days have passed since the date of the first positive test result.
Persons who are not in possession of an EU digital COVID certificate could be required to undergo a test prior to or no later than 24 hours after arrival. Travellers with an essential function or need, cross-border commuters and children under 12 should be exempt from this requirement
Where to find information
- European Commission – Travel to and from the EU during the pandemic.
- European Commission – EU Covid pass
- The European Parliament – Regulation (EC) 261/2004 Rules on compensation and assistance to passengers.
- Your Europe – Passenger rights
- The ADAC have up to date travel info, it is in German
- A very informative site for travelling inside the EU is Re-open EU. (also available as an app)
- After selecting the country you will get all the information you need for travelling