The One Minor Negative Aspect of the Schengen Area of Europe

A fter the long journey from Atlanta and the airplane landed and pulled into the gate, I was processed through the Passport Control area at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol; and I was asked a couple of questions after waiting in line for approximately 20 minutes — such as whether the travel was business or leisure.

I did not mind waiting in line as I had some time before the airplane is scheduled to depart on its flight to Helsinki; and once the passport control agent was satisfied with my answers to his questions, he stamped my passport and I was on my way to the gate with a few minutes to spare.

The One Minor Negative Aspect of the Schengen Area of Europe

The problem is that every country I visited on this recent trip to Europe — with the exception of Belarus, which has its own visa and border control policies — is within the Schengen Area; and therefore I would receive no stamps of some of those countries in my passport.

To promote free movement within Europe, the Schengen Area is currently comprised of 26 European states which have no type of border control at their mutual borders — including passports. Similar to going from one state to another within the United States, the Schengen Area functions as though it is a single country with a common visa policy pertaining to international travel. Named after the Schengen Agreement, the 26 states in the Schengen Area have eliminated border controls with other members of the Schengen Agreement and strengthened border controls with countries which are not part of the agreement.

To give you one example, I visited a friend who lived in the Alsace region of France several years ago. I asked if we could get a bottle of soda. “Sure,” he said; and we hopped into his car; drove 15 minutes across the Rhine River into Germany; and went shopping. We went into Germany because the soda was less expensive there than in France.

There are virtually no signs of the border control area which used to be at that bridge between France and Germany. Only a sign — and a change in language — signaled that one crossed the border from one country into another.

Summary

Please do not misunderstand me — I very much prefer the freedom of movement between countries than having another stamp in my passport. I save a lot of time and money by being able to freely travel from one country to the next — especially with this one simple way to get through passport control faster

…but although I still would have liked to have had those several stamps in my passport of those countries which I recently visited in Europe, I suppose that that is not a big deal. My photographs and memories of my experiences during my travels are far more valuable to me anyway; and I intend to share more of them with you…

…and besides, my passport is nearly full of stamps anyway; so the fact that it received few stamps on this recent trip might have bought me a little time in keeping and using this passport one more time before being required to replace it before its expiration date

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

6 thoughts on “The One Minor Negative Aspect of the Schengen Area of Europe”

  1. Craig says:

    As a traveler, I totally agree! I enjoy border crossings and passport stamps.

    If I were a resident, I’m sure I would feel rather differently though…

    I also miss the different currencies…with a Schwab card, I don’t mind withdrawing foreign currency from an ATM because I’m not losing money to bank fees. At least the stamps for postcards are still different in every country!

  2. bankelele says:

    That’s hardly a problem. Use apps and pictures to document your travels, not visa stamps

  3. Fraamer says:

    I would say that a bigger “problem” is the restriction of only 90 days in the Schengen within a 180 day window. Makes a long trip to “Europe” much more difficult.

    1. Steve says:

      @Fraamer — exactly what I was thinking! My wife and I took a long trip a few years back, and I had a big Google spreadsheet to make sure we got out on day 89. Good excuse to spend more time in the non-Schengen countries though, like most of the former Yugoslavia, Ireland, etc.

  4. Janesz says:

    I totally understand what you talking about, and yes I have more stamps in my passports then the local post office. So.. back in the late 80’s i was driving from Switzerland to Lichtenstein, and was very interested to see how’s the FL stamps looks like, but to my deep disappointment the border guard just waved me into the country, no stamps in my passports. I stopped my car (picked up a brand new Peugeot in Paris, on a 30 days lease) and walked back to the guard, told him I want the FL stamps in my passport, he pointed to a window and told me the stamp is there. I walked to the little building took the stamp machine out and bang…stamped my passport perfectly right in the middle of the page. So this is how I got my FL stamp. Anytime i open my old passport and see the FL stamp brings back this memory.

  5. ken says:

    my problem is getting too many stamps on my passport and my passport becomes useless within two years because no more space. You know how immigration officers randomly stamp without considering the space on passport. I live abroad so it is a hassle to get a new passport while traveling. Really, yours is first world problem…

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