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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 residence permit (Aufenthalt or Niederlassungserlaubnis), you may travel freely within the Schengen Area for as long as your residence permit is valid. Please also check for any restrictions for example only valid for Germany. 


Single-entry visa

A single-entry visa allows its holder to enter the Schengen Area only once, within the given period of time, as mentioned in the visa sticker affixed to their passport. Once the visa holder exits the Schengen territory, he or she can no longer go back, even if they have not spent there the number of days as permitted by the embassy that issued them the visa.

Some people confuse the single-entry visa, thinking that it is about the number of countries the visa holder is permitted to visit and that it allows them to enter one single country. In fact, the territory you are permitted to visit is given close to the “Valid for” tag on your visa sticker, whereas the time you are permitted to stay is given close to the “Number of entries” tag.

Multiple-entry visa

A multiple-entry visa allows its holder to go in and out of the Schengen Area as many times as he or she wants, as soon as they do not violate the 90/180 rule.

Based on how frequently you travel to the Schengen zone, you may apply and obtain one of the following multiple-entry visa types:

  • 1-year multiple-entry visa
  • 3-year multiple-entry visa
  • 5-year multiple-entry visa
There are three types of Schengen visas. Type “A” is for airport transit, “C” is for a short stay (> 90 days)  and “D” is a long stay (<90 days) visa.
How to check your visa:
  1.  Gültig für/Valid for – Is it valid only for Germany or for the Schengen states
  2. Remarks –  for example the reason for your visit and any restrictions. 
  3. Number of entries – MULT (Multiple) double, or Single entry
  • If your visa is only valid for Germany and single entry, you are not allowed to return to Germany once you left on the same visa.
  • If your visa is valid for the “Schengen-Staaten” and single entry, you are allowed to travel within the Schengen area, but once you leave the Schengen area you cannot return on the same visa
  • If your visa is valid for  the “Schengen-Staaten” and multiple entry you can leave and enter the Schengen area for as long as your visa is valid, keeping  the 90/180 rule in mind.

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 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

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Little Africa

We are a South-African / German / British family and are renting out 2 guest rooms in our big house. We would love to host you

Ferienwohnungen Klosterhof1595

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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

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