After months of uncertainty, traveling within the Schengen zone just became easier, according to Prague Post.

Following a round of discussions on the interpretation of certain laws, the European Commission presented a streamlined set of rules for traveling in the Schengen area June 6.

The main changes concern foreign nationals who hold long-stay, or type-D, visas. Previously, type-D visas were only valid in the Schengen country in which they were issued, requiring holders to apply for separate visas to each Schengen country they planned to visit.

Under the new provision, foreign nationals with type-D visas who are not subject to the visa requirement — such as Japanese, Canadian and American nationals — may move freely within other Schengen states for up to 90 days regardless of the number of days they spent in the Czech Republic, according to a pamphlet publicized on the Interior Ministry Web site.

When the validity of the visa (typically good for one year) exceeds six months, type-D visa holders may also apply for a uniform Schengen visa at the Prague mission of the main Schengen country they plan to visit. This uniform visa allows them to travel freely within the Schengen area for up to 90 days during the latter half-year validity of their visa. When their Czech type-D visas expire, those not subject to the visa requirement may spend an additional 90 days in any half-year on the territory of other Schengen states.

The new provision also simplifies visa requirements for foreigners subject to the visa requirement, such as Ukrainian, Russian and Vietnamese nationals. Since the Czech Republic joined the Schengen zone in December, these residents were required to apply for visas to other Schengen states in a third country.

According to the pamphlet, this meant that a Ukrainian holder of a Czech type-D visa could only obtain an Italian visa by “taking a direct flight to Ukraine, submitting the visa application, returning to the Czech Republic and after processing the application go back to Ukraine in order to get the visa.”

Although these visa holders are still required to obtain a uniform visa if they wish to travel to other Schengen countries, they no longer have to leave the Czech Republic, as a short-stay visa for a holiday in Italy may be issued by the Italian Embassy in Prague.

Prague Post