Prague, December 2007 (eTN) – The long-awaited moment is here. At midnight on the 20th of December 2007, the Czech Republic became a member of the so-called Schengen zone. The border posts which divided the country from its neighbours are now a thing of the past and travel in Europe just got that bit easier. Along with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia have also joined the previous 15 Schengen zone members.
Czech Republic has now abolished passport checks at its land borders, and at international airports these should also disappear by March 30, 2008. After this date only passengers arriving from or travelling to countries outside the Schengen zone will go through passport checks. At the international airports at Prague-Ruzyně, Brno-Tuřany, Ostrava-Mošnov, Pardubice and Carlsbad building work has been carried out which divides passengers from Schengen countries from those from outside the zone. At Prague-Ruzyně this regime has been in place since 28. 10. 2007 (though passport controls have still been in place).
Schengen will also bring positive developments for the tourism industry, in particular the simplification of the country’s visa policy. The single Schengen visa which enables the holder to travel anywhere in the zone for up to 90 days will now also be valid in the Czech Republic. This will do away with the long process of applying for numerous visas on a trip around Europe. The application for a Schengen visa is made at the embassy or consulate of the country which is the traveller’s main or first destination. The fee for such a visa is 60 euros, for citizens of the Russian Federation 35 euros.
People now enjoy freedom of movement but remember that the obligation to carry valid ID in a foreign country remains. Whether you are planning a holiday at home or abroad, always carry valid ID!
To find out more about the Czech Republic’s entry into the Schengen zone, visit www.euroskop/schengen or the website of the European Commission at http://ec.europa.eu