Schengen Visa Types Overview

There are different types of visas, each describing your territorial access to the Schengen area, i.e. whether you can travel to all, some, or one, of the 26 Schengen Member States.

  • Uniform Schengen Visa (USV): Allows access to the entire Schengen area; to all Member States. There are 2 types of  Schengen Visa uniform, each describing the duration of your stay in the Schengen zone. Both are valid for Uniform Schengen Visas (USVs).
    • Type A (Airport Transit): Valid exclusively for transiting through airports in the Schengen area, and not valid for access to any area outside of the airport.
    • Type C (Short Stay): A period of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Type C can be obtained as:
      • Single Entry
      • Double Entry or
      • Multiple Entry

Each describing the number of times you can enter the Schengen area.

  • Limited Territorial Visa (LTV): A visa that allows you to access a single Schengen country or specific Schengen countries, but not the entire Schengen area.

Additionally:

  • National Visa: A long-stay visa (Type D) allowing access to a specific Schengen country rather than the entire Schengen area, valid for longer than 90 days.

Types of SchengenVisas

1. Uniform Schengen Visa:

  • Uniform Schengen visa is a type of visa that is valid for entry to the entire Schengen area; all 26 member states.
  • May be issued for single, double, or multiple entries.
  • Applications should be submitted to the consulate of the country in whose territory you plan to stay the longest.
  • Cost is normally 80 Euros for an adult (children between the ages of 6-12 will only pay 40 Euros). Certain types of applicants (most students, children under 6) are exempt from all visa fees.

2. Limited Territorial Validity:

  • Limited territorial validity is a type of visa allowing you “limited” entry to the Schengen area.
  • Unlike a uniform visa, a limited visa is valid for access to one or more Schengen States, but not all.
  • In general, people don’t apply for limited territorial visas; some Member States might not recognize certain passports or simply not in agreement to allow entrance to their country which is solely at their discretion. Often, limited territorial visas are given out to allow an applicant access to a single state. Visas of Limited Territorial Validity are therefore the most restrictive type of visa in terms of territorial validity (compared to uniform Schengen visas).
  • Cost is normally 80 Euros for an adult (children between the ages of 6-12 will only pay 40 Euros). Certain types of applicants (most students, children under 6) are exempt from all visa fees (for a complete list of visa fee exemptions, please see the Visa Fees).

National Visa

  • National Visa is a type of visa allowing you access to a single, particular country.
  • National Visas are not Schengen visas.
  • National Visas are in the “long stay” (Type D) category of visas, in contrast to “short stay” Schengen visas (Type-C).
  • National Visas vs. Schengen Visas: There are two main differences between a Schengen visa and a National visa:
    • 1) A Schengen visa allows you access to the Schengen area, and can be valid for all the countries within the Schengen area. In contrast, a national visa allows you exclusive access to a single state.
    • 2) The Schengen visa validity is limited to up to 90 days, whereas a National Visa can be valid for much longer periods.
  • There is no such thing as a Schengen national visa. There are national visas and there are Schengen visas; these are two separate visa categories.
  • For example, France is a Schengen state, but if you wish to stay in France longer than 90 days, you would apply for a national visa, rather than a Schengen visa.
  • Please note that national visa costs vary according to country. The consulate of the country to which you are applying for a national visa should have information about your visa fees.

Schengen Visa  Entries

Valid for Uniform Schengen Visas (USV), the below 3 “entries” determine your number of entries into the Schengen area on a uniform visa:

I.  Schengen Visa Single Entry:

  • Schengen Visa single Entry It is allowing you one-time entry into the Schengen area, and up to 90 days of stay.
  • Valid for entry to the entire Schengen area, for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
  • “Single entry” means you are allowed just one entry into the Schengen area. Should you leave the Schengen area for whatever reason, your visa will have been utilized, and therefore rendered invalid. Even if you still have time left on your visa, you cannot return to the area once you exit. You will therefore need to apply for a new visa in order to enter the territory you just exited.
  • Applications for Single Entry Schengen Visas should be submitted to the consulate of the country where you intend to stay the longest.
  • Cost is normally 80 Euros for an adult (children between the ages of 6-12 will only pay 40 Euros). Certain types of applicants (most students, children under 6) are exempt from all visa fees.

ii. Schengen Visa Double Entry:

  • Schengen Visa double entry is allowing you to enter the Schengen area twice for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
  • Unlike the single entry, the Double Entry Schengen Visa allows you to leave the Schengen area and re-enter it. It is therefore valid for two entries into the Schengen area.
  • In terms of flexibility, the double entry visa allows you greater flexibility than the single entry, but still limits the number of times you can leave and re-enter the Schengen area.
  • Applications for Double Entry Schengen Visas should be submitted to the consulate of the country in whose territory you plan to stay the longest.
  • Cost is normally 80 Euros for an adult (children between the ages of 6-12 will only pay 40 Euros). Certain types of applicants (most students, children under 6) are exempt from all visa fees.

iii. Schengen Visa Multiple Entry:

  • Schengen Visa multiple entries is allowing you to enter, leave and re-enter the Schengen area as many times as you want for 90-day within a 180-day period.
  • Applications for a Multiple Entry Schengen Visas should be submitted to the consulate of the country in whose territory you plan to stay the longest.
  • Cost is normally 80 Euros for an adult (children between the ages of 6-12 will only pay 40 Euros). Certain types of applicants (most students, children under 6) are exempt from all visa fees.

Schengen Visa Purposes

There are more than 10 different types of Schengen Visa Purposes to describe your reason for travel.

  • When applying for a Schengen visa, you will be asked to provide your “purpose” for travelling. This is the main reason you are travelling, or why you need a visa access.
  • Think about why you are travelling and select the purpose that best describes the nature of your trip.
  • The purpose you select will determine the documents you must submit in your Schengen visa application. For example, if you apply for a Medical Reasons Schengen Visa, you will have to submit information about the kind of procedure or treatment you are travelling to receive, whereas Business Schengen Visa applications require details about the nature of business you intend to conduct.

A Schengen visa can be obtained for journeys undertaken for the following 10 purposes:  

  1. Business: If you are travelling primarily for professional reasons, i.e. to conduct business, you should apply for a Business Schengen Visa.
  2. Visiting Family or Friends: If you are travelling primarily for social reasons, i.e. to visit family or friends, you should apply for a Visiting Family or Friends Schengen Visa.
  3. Medical Reasons: If you are travelling primarily to receive medical care, or if you are acting as the escort for someone who is travelling for health reasons, you should apply for a Medical Reasons Schengen Visa.
  4. Airport transit: If you are travelling through an airport in the Schengen area, even if you are not leaving the terminal, you may need to obtain a Schengen Airport Transit Visa. Pay close attention to the details of your trip in the event that your journey involves an indirect flight to a destination outside the Schengen area.
  5. Tourism: If you are travelling primarily for touristic purposes, i.e. touring, you should apply for a Tourism Schengen Visa.
  6. Cultural: If you are travelling primarily for cultural purposes, i.e. to participate in cultural events, you should apply for a Cultural Schengen Visa.
  7. Study: If you are travelling primarily for educational purposes, i.e. to attend course in a school or participate in educational or scholastic events/programs, you should apply for a Study Schengen Visa.
  8. Sports: If you are travelling primarily for sports purposes, i.e. to participate in athletic events, including as a member of a team, you should apply for a Sports Schengen Visa.
  9. Official Visit: If you are travelling primarily because you are on an official visit, i.e. you are a member of an official delegation and you were invited to visit a state or states within the Schengen area by the government entity of a Schengen state, or a Schengen deliberative body, then you should apply for an Official Visit Schengen Visa.
  10. Other: for purposes other than those identified in the above 9 categories you should apply for an Other Schengen Visa.

Additionally: 

  • European Spouse: If you are travelling as the spouse of an E.U. citizen, you should apply for a European Spouse Schengen Visa.
  • Film Crew: If you are travelling as part of a film crew, (i.e. to work on a movie being filmed in the Schengen area), you should apply for a Film Crew Schengen Visa.
  • Religious Purposes: If you are travelling primarily for religious purposes, (i.e. to participate in religious activities/assemblies) you should apply for a Religious Purposes Schengen Visa.

Schengen Visa Validity

Validity refers to when and for how long you can use your visa, as well as where you can go with it.  

How long are Schengen visas valid for?

  • One aspect of a Schengen visa refers to how long your visa is valid for, and the duration of stay. This means:
    • a) The amount of time (the authorized number of days) you can stay in the Schengen area with it.
    • b) How long your visa is valid for use for: the amount of time you can use the visa to enter and remain in the Schengen area.

a) All Schengen Visas are valid for 90 days within a 180-day period:

  • This means you can stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days on a Schengen visa. It does NOT mean you can stay in the Schengen area for 180 days. Once you enter the Schengen area on your Schengen visa, you must leave after 90 days.
  • You must be particularly mindful of your visa validity period if you have a multiple entry Schengen visa. For example, say you have a multiple entry Schengen visa that is valid FROM January 1st 2020 UNTIL June 30th, 2020. Say you stay in the Schengen area for 30 days after entering, leave, return to the area after 50 days, stay for 15, and leave again for 100 days. Technically, you will have only spent 45 days in the Schengen area, well under the 90-day limitation. However, because your visa validity end date (next to “UNTIL” on your visa) is June 30th, 2020, you will have exceeded your visa validity period, and you cannot re-enter the Schengen area with the same visa.

b) All Schengen visas are valid for use for the amount of time it says on your visa sticker:

  • Schengen visa is often valid for use for a period longer than 90 or even 180 days.
  • This is reflected in the period of time between “FROM…UNTIL” on your visa sticker, which often exceeds the number of days following the “DURATION OF STAY”. This is intended to allow you to better plan your dates of arrival and departure to/from the Schengen area/territory.

Validity based on visa types

  • Type-C Schengen Visa: valid for short stays of 90 days.
  • Type-A Schengen Visa: valid exclusively for Airport Transits.
  • Type-D Visas: Considered long-term visas because they can be valid for periods longer than 90 days. However, long-stay Type-D Visas are National Visas – NOT Schengen visas.
  • Please note that all Schengen visa purpose types are valid for the same amount of time. For example, a Medical Visa and Business Visa are “valid” for the same amount of time. You should therefor select the purpose that most accurately reflects your reason for travel.

90/180 Rule

  • If you have a short-stay Schengen visa, you may not stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days within a 180-day period; this principle is commonly known as the 90/180 rule, and it applies to everyone who has a short stay Schengen visa – without exception.
  • Once you enter the Schengen area, the clock essentially starts counting down from 180 days, and continues counting down even after your 90 days are up (i.e. even after you have left the Schengen area after spending 90 days there).
  • 180 days after you first entered the Schengen, you are allowed to theoretically enter the Schengen area again on another Schengen visa, should you obtain one.
  • This rule is easily understood in connection with single entry Schengen visas. If, for example, you have a single-entry Schengen visa, and you enter the Schengen area on January 1st, 2020, you must leave the Schengen area on or before March 30th, 2020; a period of 90 days.
  • The 90/180 rule mainly applies to people who would seek to get another Schengen visa once their first visa expires (i.e. in order to stay longer than 90 days). This rule has the practical effect of preventing people from forming a kind of long-term Schengen visa out of multiple short-term ones. Say, for example, that you have a Schengen visa valid for 90 days within a 6-month period, and you spend 90 days in the Schengen area. If you attempt to get a new Schengen visa after staying 90 days within that 180 day period, you must wait until the rest of your original 180 day period has expired (it began from your day of first entry) so that when you receive your new visa, you will begin a new period of 180 days.

Where are Schengen visas valid for?

  • The other aspect of Schengen visas refers to where the visa is valid-i.e. the places you can go with it.
  • There are two types of Schengen Visas: Uniform Schengen Visas and Limited Territorial Visas.
  • Uniform Visas are valid for the entire Schengen area. This means that if you have a Uniform Schengen Visa you can travel to any of the 26 countries in the Schengen area.
  • In contrast-Limited Territorial, Visas restrict your access to the Schengen territory to some, or even one, Schengen state. If you have a Limited Territorial Schengen Visa, you will only be able to access certain states, or maybe just one state-not the entire Schengen area.
  • National Visas (Type D), are only valid for the territory of single Schengen states-not for the entire Schengen zone. For example, if you receive a National Visa for France, that visa is valid exclusively for the territory of France. Please note that while it is possible to hold multiple National Visas simultaneously, each country has a specific and separate visa process. There is no universal National visa application.

How to determine your Schengen visa validity?

  • Once you receive a Schengen visa, your visa validity will be shown on your Schengen visa sticker.
  • To determine where your visa is valid for:
    • Your access is described under the “VALID FOR” section on your visa. This is the area your visa is valid for, i.e. the territory you can access with it.
    • If you have a Uniform Schengen Visa, your visa is valid for entry to the entire Schengen area, and your visa sticker will therefore read: Schengen states.
    • If you have a Limited Territorial Visa, your visa is valid for entry to a specific Schengen state or states, rather than the entire Schengen area, and your visa sticker will therefore be printed with one or multiple abbreviated names of the state(s) for which your visa is valid.
  • To determine how long your visa is valid for use for your entry and stay in the Schengen area:
    • Look at the “FROM…UNTIL” section on your visa sticker. The date following the word “FROM” is the date your visa becomes valid for entry into the Schengen area/Schengen state. The date following the word “UNTIL” is the date you must leave the Schengen territory/Schengen area by.
  • To determine how many days your visa is valid for you to stay in the Schengen area for:
    • Look at the “DURATION OF STAY…DAYS” section on your visa sticker. This is the total number of days your visa is valid for, i.e. the number of days you can stay in the Schengen area with your visa. This number will be the total number of days between (and including) the date of your arrival and departure.

Visa validity and responsibility

  • It is your responsibility to make sure you do not violate your visa’s validity. This means the following:
    • Not staying more than the allowed number of days on your visa (i.e. not staying more than the number of days in “DURATION OF STAY…DAYS” on your visa sticker).
    • Not staying past the “UNTIL” date on your visa sticker.
    • Not staying on your Schengen visa for more than 90 days
    • Not staying more than 90 days in a 180-day period.
    • Not attempting to enter a territory your visa isn’t valid for:
      • For example, if you have a limited territorial visa exclusively for France, you must remain in France and not attempt to enter other Schengen territories you don’t have a visa for.
  • Because of this, it is critical that you know how to read your visa sticker and are aware of the date you need to exit the Schengen area:
    • For more information about how to read your visa sticker, click here.
    • For more information about how to calculate your stay in the Schengen area, click here.