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Travel in the Schengen Area

Travel within the Schengen Area

“The Schengen Area is a zone made up of 27 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 for as long as your residence permit or visa is valid.

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 travel in your own car. You cannot buy in advance for a rental car if you don’t know the registration number.

Traveling to the UK

If you only have a South African passport, you need a visa to visit the UK, it does not matter if you have Permanent residence in Germany. Your German Residence allows you to travel inside the Schengen area. There are no special rules if you are married to a German or other EU citizen. You still travel on your own passport.

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 

Travel by Train

You can travel to most EU countries via train

  • Deutsche Bahn has special offers for group travel within Europe. 
  • For individual tickets, make use of their Saver Fare Europe offer  or the Eurail Pass (when your residence is outside Europe)
  • You book a ticket on the DB site for a Night train  (on ÖBB)  for travel to Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
  • The French TGV travels between Germany and France (limited cities)
Other websites with great info


There are a couple of airlines offering regional connections. Popular German operators are Lufthansa and Eurowings.

Always find out if the country you want to travel to has a national carrier, for example, Malta operates Air Malta, Ireland has Air Lingus
Another option is to use search engines like Google Flights etc. to see which airlines offer flights on your route.

Budget Airlines like Ryanair,  TUIFly and EasyJet offers relatively cheap tickets, but always make sure you know what is included in the price and what you have to pay extra, for example, luggage.

Passenger rights

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.
Tip  – Download the “Your Passenger Rights” app developed by the European Union. 
For information about passenger, rail, ship, bus or coach rights, visit the YourEurope Website 
Courtesy of the European Commission

Where to find information

Travel tips

  • Croatia recently joined the Schengen Area. This small country on the Adriatic sea has beautiful beaches, ample sunshine and excellent cuisine
  • Malta is an island in the Mediterranean and one of the official languages is English. They boast about 300 days of sunshine in a year

Travel agencies

Mon Voyage Travel and Tours

Mon Voyage Travel and Tours is an IATA and ASATA accredited Travel Agency based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa Waiting, willing and ready to assist

The Expat Travel Shop

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Reise Explorer

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