Despite the United Kingdom leaving the European Union as a result of Brexit, UK citizens continue to enjoy visa-free access to the EU and Schengen area, and Schengen visa for UK citizen is not required. Whereas, if you are a resident, currently living in the UK and a national of visa non-exempt country, you will likely need to apply for a Schengen visa in order to travel to the area’s Member States. If you apply and ultimately receive a Schengen visa, you will be authorized to spend a maximum of 90 days in the Schengen area (a large bloc of counties that includes France, Spain, and Germany—among other top destinations in Europe). Today’s blog will therefore provide an overview of Schengen visa eligibility in the UK (including Schengen visa fees from UK) with a focus on how to apply for a Schengen visa from the UK. In addition, it will answer commonly-asked questions like, “How long does it take to get a Schengen visa in the UK?” and, “What are the requirements for the UK residents?”

How to apply for a Schengen visa from UK

  • 1. Determine when you need to apply 
    • In principle, Schengen visa applicants can apply for their Schengen visa whenever they want (i.e. whenever it is convenient for them to do so).
    • However, applicants who are pressed for time should keep in mind that the majority of Schengen visa applications are processed within 15 days of application submission. This means that—at minimum—applicants should apply prior to two weeks before their trip (so as to give themselves enough time to prepare their Schengen visa applications). 
  • 2. Determine what type of Schengen visa you need 
    • There are a number of different types of Schengen visas, each of which reflects a specific purpose for traveling. 
    • Some of the most common Schengen visas include Tourism, Visiting Friends and Family, Business and Medical; the one you select should best reflect your reason for visiting the Schengen area. 
    • For example, if you apply for a Schengen visa for Visiting Friends and Family, this means that you are traveling to the Schengen area for the purpose of reuniting with a relative or acquaintance who lives in the zone; alternatively, if you apply for a Business Schengen visa, you should be traveling to a Schengen Member State in order to conduct business in that country.
    •  For a complete list of Schengen visa types, click here.
  • 3. Determine what entry category of visa you need 
    • Prior to applying for your Schengen visa, it is essential that you understand that your visa does not provide you with an unlimited number of entries to the zone (unless you ultimately receive a multi-entry Schengen visa, in which case you can enter, exit, and re-enter the zone as many times as you like during your visa validity period). 
    • In addition to the multiple entry category, Schengen visas are available in single and double categories; if you obtain a single entry visa, you will only be allowed to enter the zone a single time (if you leave the area after entering it that one time, you will be barred from returning—even if you have more time remaining on your visa).
    •  If you have a double entry Schengen visa, you will be able to enter, exit, and re-enter the Schengen area one time during your visa validity period. For example, under this scenario, you would be able to travel to the Schengen area from the UK, enter and spend time in the zone, leave the zone to return to the UK, and ultimately return to the area a final time before leaving once more. 
  • 4. Determine what country to apply to  
    • Schengen visa applicants should apply for their Schengen visa from the Schengen country that they plan to spend the majority of their time in on their trip to the Schengen area. 
    • If you only intend to visit a single country in the zone, then your application process is simple (you will simply apply for a Schengen visa through that country). 
    • However, if you plan on visiting more than one country in the zone, you will need to apply through the country that you intend to spend the most time in (for example, if you intend to visit both Italy and France, but you know that you will spend the bulk of your time in Paris, you should apply for a French Schengen visa—rather than an Italian Schengen visa). 
    • Alternatively, if you think you will spend the same amount of time in two different countries (such as, 30 days in both Italy and France) then you should apply for a Schengen visa from the country through which you will first enter the Schengen area. Therefore—if you will spend 30 days in both of the above countries, but you plan to enter the Schengen area by flying directly from Heathrow airport (London) to Rome (Italy) then you should apply for an Italian Schengen visa—rather than a French Schengen visa. 
  • 5. Decide where in the UK to apply 
    • Once you have decided what Schengen country you should apply through, you must locate their respective embassy, consulate, or visa application center in the UK that is responsible for handling Schengen visa applications. 
    • For example, if you are currently in London, and you are applying for a German Schengen visa, you will apply through the visa application center affiliated with the German consulate in London.  
    • Confused about where specifically in the UK to apply? Contact us here
  • 6. Gather your required documents and materials 
    • A key component of the requirements for UK residents who are not citizens of the country is that they submit the basic required visa application documents, which include the following: 
      • Passport (valid, with space for your Schengen visa) 
      • Photos (passport sized, two)
      • Proof of subsidence (i.e. evidence that you can afford your trip)
      • Proof that you obtained travel medical insurance 
      • Proof of accommodation
      • Schengen visa fee (80 EUR for most applicants)
      • Schengen visa application form 
      • Biometric information 
    • In addition to the above, you will also be expected to submit a variety of supplemental visa application documents, depending on what type of Schengen visa you are submitting. 
    • For example, if you are applying for a Medical Schengen visa, you will have to submit documents attesting to the specific nature of the procedure you are attempting to undergo in the Schengen area, as well as a letter from your doctor. 
  • 7. Access your Schengen visa in the UK application form
    • The majority of Schengen visa applicants are able to submit the basic (harmonized) Schengen visa application, which is available here.
    • However, depending on what country you are applying to in the Schengen Area, you may be asked to access a country-specific Schengen visa form (such as the one provided to applicants for the German Schengen visa, here).
    • Applying through an online visa-portal system has the advantage of often allowing applicants to pay for their visas and schedule a visa appointment (a requirement for most applicants) at some point during the online application process. 
  • 8. Schedule your Schengen visa appointment 
    • The majority of Schengen visa applicants who apply via a country-specific visa portal will have the opportunity to schedule their visa appointment online.
    • If you did not apply online (or if you did, but were not provided the opportunity to schedule a Schengen visa appointment while doing so) you should reach out to the specific entity where you are applying to see if you need to schedule an appointment in order to submit your Schengen visa application. 
    • Please keep in mind that the vast majority of Schengen countries require that Schengen visa applicants make a personal appearance at the embassy/consulate or visa center as a condition of receiving their visa. 
  • 9. Attend your Schengen visa appointment 
    • One of the key components of Schengen visa eligibility involves attending the required Schengen visa appointment mentioned above. 
    • Your Schengen visa appointment is where most applicants will pay their Schengen visa fees for UK applicants (80 EUR for the majority of Schengen visa applicants). For more complete information on paying for your Schengen visa, click here.
    • In addition to submitting your basic application and paying your Schengen visa fees, your appointment is where you will have your biometric information (photos and fingerprints) collected, and attend a short visa interview. 
    • Please note: applicants who whose biometric information is already in the system and who have already paid their Schengen visa fee online may not be asked to go in-person to the application destination. However, even if you travel frequently to the Schengen area, you still may be obligated to attend an in-person visa appointment. 
  • 10. Await your decision 
    • Wondering “how long does it take to get a Schengen visa in the UK?” For most applicants, the answer is three weeks, although processing times can take from 20-60 days, depending on the nature of your application for the Schengen visa in the UK. 
    • If your application for a Schengen visa from the UK is rejected, you have a number of options—including the right to appeal. For more information about appealing a rejected Schengen visa, click here.