- A Schengen visa is a document allowing you temporary access to the Schengen area; all 26 member states. Travelers with Schengen visas can remain within the Schengen area for a short stay-up to 90 days within a 180-day time period.
- The Schengen area refers collectively to the 26 European countries united by a landmark multilateral agreement allowing free travel within and across its member states. The countries within the Schengen area have removed border control for travelers crossing between their borders as per the Schengen Agreement. All the Schengen countries are located in mainland Europe, with the exception of Iceland and Malta.
Who Should Apply for a Schengen Visa?
- Only nationals from certain countries are exempt from possessing a visa when travelling across the external borders of the Schengen states. If you are from one of the 103 countries which is not exempt, and are planning on travelling to a Schengen state, you will likely need to obtain a Schengen visa. Additionally, nationals from those same countries may need to obtain a Schengen transit visa if they are transiting through international airports located in the Schengen area.
- The following is a list of the 103 countries whose citizens need a visa to enter the Schengen area:
14. BURKINA FASO
19. CAPE VERDE
71. NORTH KOREA
20. CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
74. PAPUA NEW GUINEA
25. COTE D’IVOIRE
27. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
79. SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE
80. SAUDI ARABIA
29. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
82. SIERRA LEONE
32. EQUATORIAL GUINEA
84. SOUTH AFRICA
85. SOUTH SUDAN
86. SRI LANKA
- Third party nationals from the following entities/territories are also required to apply for a Schengen visa: KOSOVO and the PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY.
When to Apply for a Schengen Visa
- You should apply for a Schengen Visa at least 15 days prior to the day you intend to travel, and no earlier than 6 months before you leave.
Processing Time for Schengen Visas
- The general processing time for a Schengen visa ranges from 15-30 days. Some people receive a visa in under two weeks; in rare cases, the consulate can take up to 60 days.
Where to Apply for a Schengen Visa
- Applications for Schengen visas can be submitted via at the consulate/embassy of the Schengen state where you will be spending the most time during your stay.
- Applications for Schengen visas should be submitted at either a consulate, embassy, or a visa application center that has a relationship with the country you are applying to.
- Ideally, you will lodge your application in the country where you legally reside.
- If you must apply through a consulate/center located in a country where you are currently legally present, but where you do not legally reside, you must have a valid reason for doing so.
- In countries where there is no consular presence for the country you are applying to, applications may be lodged via the consulate of a Schengen state representing that state’s consular interests.
All Schengen visas cost the same; no purpose, type, or entry number is more expensive than another.
- The standard Schengen visa fee for an adult is 80 EUR.
- Children between 6-12-years-old pay a reduced fee of 40 EUR. Certain types of applicants (most students, children under 6) are exempt from all visa fees.
- Additionally, external service providers may charge an additional processing fee, separate from the cost of the Schengen visa application. Please note that all fees are non-refundable. If your application is rejected, you do not get your money back.
Click here for more information about: Schengen Visa Fees.
- Different types of applicants must supply different kinds of documents. Most applicants must submit the following Basic Required Documents in addition to a completed and signed Schengen visa application:
- Valid passport.
- Two Photos. Click here for more information about: Photo Requirements for Schengen Visa.
- Fingerprints. Click here for more information about: Fingerprint Submissions.
- Proof of travel medical insurance. Click here for more information about: Schengen Visa Insurance.
- Flight reservation out of the Schengen area. Click here for more information about: Flight Reservation for Schengen Visa.
- Proof of subsistence, such as a bank statement. Click here for more information about: Proof of Subsistence for Schengen Visa.
- Proof of accommodation, such as a hotel reservation. Click here for more information about: Proof of Accommodation.
- Invitation letter (if applicable). Click here for more information about: Invitation Letter for Schengen Visa.
Click here for full information about: Basic Required Documents.
- Uniform Schengen Visa (USV): Allows you to access the entire Schengen area; all Member States. USVs can be obtained for the following number of entries:
- Single Entry (valid for just one entry to the Schengen area).
- Double Entry (valid for two entries to the Schengen area).
- Multiple Entry (valid for unlimited entries to the Schengen area).
- Limited Territorial Visas (LTV): Limits your access to a specific Member State(s).
Click here for more information on visa categories.
- Short Stay (Type C): Allows for a period of up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
- Airport Transit (Type A): Valid exclusively for transiting through airports in the Schengen area, and not valid for access to any area outside of the airport.
Additionally, National Visa (Type D) is a long stay visa which is not a Schengen visa. It allows access to a specific country rather than the entire Schengen area, and can be valid for longer than 90 days.
Click here for more information about: Schengen Visa Types.
- When you apply for a Schengen visa, you must indicate your reason for travelling, aka your purpose. The purpose you select will determine the supplemental documents you need to submit. You can choose from among the following 10 purposes:
Click here for more information about: Schengen Visa Purposes.
- Schengen visas are valid for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Also known as the 90/180 rule, this means that you can stay in the Schengen area for a total of 90 days with a Schengen visa.
- Validity is different from duration of stay. Schengen visas are generally valid for a period longer than duration of stay (i.e. 90; the number of days you are legally allowed to stay in the Schengen area).
How to Apply for a Schengen Visa
- The procedure for applying for a Schengen visa varies by country. Contact your selected country’s consulate/embassy for more detailed information about how to apply for a Schengen visa for that specific state. The following steps are a general guideline for Schengen visa applications to all 26 Schengen countries:
- Step 1: Determine your Purpose for travelling, which will determine the Type of visa you should apply for.
- Step 2: Determine how many Entries to the Schengen area you need.
- Step 3: Gather your Required Documents.
- Step 4: Schedule a Schengen visa appointment (if applicable).
- Schedule an appointment to submit your application, or;
- Drop off your application without prior arrangement, so long as you do so during normal operating hours.
- Step 5: Fill out your application.
- Step 6: Pay the application fee.
- Step 7: Submit your Schengen visa application (at least 15 days prior to travelling, not before 6 months).
- In almost all cases, applications must be submitted in person to the consulate/center you are applying through.
- Most applicants must also submit biometric data (fingerprints).
- After submitting your application, you may be notified of your need to attend an in-person interview at the consulate/center where you applied.
Click here for detailed information about: How to Apply for a Schengen Visa to a Specific Country.
- Schengen Visa Application Form is a must requirement that needs to be fully filled and signed by each applicant irrespective of the age. Each Schengen country will have their own application form even though they are all requesting the same information from the applicants. Some of them will request you to register on their online system in order to fulfill your application form while most of them will require to download it only.
- Click here to access the Schengen Visa Application Form per the country that you want to apply for.
Schengen Visa on Arrival
- Uncommonly, Schengen visas may be granted upon arrival to the Schengen area.
- In almost all cases, these visas are available for a limited duration of 15 days.
- Visas will only be granted on arrival to applicants who can credibly prove that they were unable to apply for a Schengen visa beforehand due to circumstances outside their control, such as a death, or for humanitarian purposes.
- As most Schengen countries are unwilling to grant visas on arrival, it is advisable that you apply for a Schengen visa prior to showing up at the border.
- A Schengen Visa Sticker is what you will receive if you are approved for a Schengen visa. Essentially your Schengen visa, it is pasted onto one of the free pages of your passport, providing you access to enter the Schengen area.
Click here for more information about: Schengen Visa Sticker.
Appealing a Visa Rejection
- If you your application for a Schengen visa is rejected you have the right to an appeal. The appeal process is different for every country, but generally involves submitting a letter to the consulate/embassy where you originally applied within 3 weeks of receiving a negative decision.
Overstaying Your Visa
- The penalties for overstaying your Schengen visa are significant. If you do not leave the Schengen area in time, you may be subject to one, some, or all of the following:
- Monetary fine.
- Instant deportation.
- Multi-year ban from the Schengen area.
- Immediate denial of future Schengen visas.
- The Schengen Visa Calculator is a tool allowing you to find out how much time is left on your visa and determine if you are in compliance with the ’90 days/180-day’ rule and prevent you from overstaying your visa.
Click here to learn more about: Schengen Visa Calculator.
- The travel authorization known as ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) does not launch until the end of 2022, so you do not yet need to get one yet. ETIAS is an IT system meant to identify unique threats posed by visa-exempt travelers to the Schengen area and is only valid for those from visa-exempt countries to the Schengen area.
Click here for full information about: ETIAS.