Bruxelles, November 27, 2008 (swissreviews)
December 12, 2008, marks the date in history when Switzerland will join the passport-free zone of the Schengen countries, after interior and justice ministers of the 27 EU member states formally approved the accession of this non-EU country today.
Switzerland will be the 25th member of the Schengen area which counts three other non-EU countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) among its members.
All land border checkpoints are to be closed on that date, while people entering Switzerland by air from another Schengen country will still have their passports checked until March 29, 2009. This is good news not only for tourists who can hence travel freely into Switzerland using their Schengen visa. Non-EU residents of Switzerland will no longer need to apply for a visa to cross the Swiss borders but will be able to travel freely to the neighboring Schengen countries.
The agreement to set up the Schengen zone was signed in Schengen, Luxembouerg in 1985. The EU member states Britain and Ireland have abstained from Schengen membership, which among other things grants access to Interpol, a common police database.