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Romania and Bulgaria Partially Join Europe's Schengen Area — What That Means for Travelers

Airports in both Romania and Bulgaria have removed passport check points for travelers flying within much of Europe.

<p>Alexander Spatari/Getty Images</p>

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

Europe added two more additions to its border-free area this weekend, welcoming both Bulgaria and Romania.

The two countries partially joined the Schengen Area on Sunday, allowing travelers to move freely between them and dozens of other European countries, according to the European Commission. The new policy will apply to Bulgaria and Romania’s air and sea borders.

“I welcome the lifting of internal air and sea border checks. This is a great success for both countries. And a historic moment for the Schengen area - the largest area of free movement in the world,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said in a statement. “Together, we are building a stronger, more united Europe for all our citizens.”

The lifting of border controls only applies to air and sea borders for the moment. It was not immediately clear when restrictions on land borders would be lifted.

As a result of their new status, airports in both Romania and Bulgaria removed passport check points on Sunday for travelers flying within much of Europe, Reuters reported.

The Schengen Area includes 27 other countries and allows travelers to move from country to country without border controls, according to the Council of the European Union. A couple of Romania and Bulgaria’s neighbors are already members, including Greece and Hungary.

The addition of the two countries comes months after the European Commission welcomed Croatia to join the Schengen Area in January. At the same time, Croatia also adopted the euro as its currency.

In addition to expanding its border-free area, the European Commission has postponed the start of a travel authorization fee until at least 2025. The fee, which will cost €7 ($7.51), will be required for travelers from visa-exempt countries, including the United States, to enter 30 different European countries. The fee will also apply to travelers visiting both Romania and Bulgaria.

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