A Guide to Schengen Visa

This content was last updated on 13.09.2023 23:40

Schengen visas are travel permits that allow you to visit multiple European countries within the Schengen Area during a single trip, without the need for separate visas for each country. These visas facilitate easier and more flexible travel across participating European nations.

Schengen visas permit travel across 26 European countries on one visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day period or for international airport transit. The Schengen Agreement, initiated in 1985, aimed to create open borders for easier travel within member countries. However, temporary border controls can be reintroduced due to current events.

The 26 Schengen States are;

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Among these, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are not EU members but are associated with the Schengen Area.

Additionally, four countries – Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City – although not Schengen or EU members, follow the same rules and open their borders to Schengen visa holders as they are enclosed within an EU country.

Schengen Visa Costs

A Schengen visa fee is €80 for adults and those over 12 years old, €40 for children aged six to 12, and free for children under six.

Nationals from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia have a reduced fee of €35.

Additionally, the visa fee is waived for:

  • School pupils, students, postgraduate students, and accompanying teachers going for study or educational training.
  • Researchers from third countries traveling for scientific research.
  • Representatives of non-profit organizations under 25 years old attending seminars, conferences, sports, cultural, or educational events organized by such organizations.
  • Family members of EU/EEA (European Economic Area) citizens, as per Directive 2004/38.

Schengen Visa Validity

The visa's validity period is specified on the visa sticker under "Duration of visit." Typically, it allows you to stay in any Schengen country for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

The "Number of entries" on the visa sticker indicates how many times you can visit. If it's '1,' it's a single-entry visa for one visit. '2' means you can visit twice, and 'MULT' allows multiple entries.

Application Process

You should apply at the consulate of the country you intend to visit, within six months but no later than 15 calendar days before your planned trip.

If you plan to visit multiple countries, apply to the consulate of the country where you'll stay the longest. For example, if Italy is your longest stay among France, Spain, and Italy, apply to the Italian consulate.

If you'll spend an equal number of days in each country, apply to the consulate of the country you enter first in the Schengen area.

Processing usually takes 15 calendar days but may extend to 45 days. Consider national holidays in the consulate country as they can affect processing times.

Documents Required for a Schengen Visa

To apply for a Schengen visa, you'll need:

  • A valid passport with at least two blank pages. It should have been issued in the last 10 years and be valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure from the Schengen Area.
  • A completed and signed visa application form for each person in your passport. For minors under 18, a parent or guardian must sign the application.
  • Recent passport-sized photos that adhere to ICAO standards.
  • Travel medical insurance covering emergency medical, hospitalization, and repatriation with a minimum coverage of €30,000. This insurance should be valid for the entire Schengen area and your entire stay.
  • Documents related to your trip, such as proof of accommodation and financial means.
  • Fingerprints may be required.
  • Applicable visa fees.

Please note that the consulate may request additional documents as needed.

Schengen Visa Extension

Typically, you cannot extend your Schengen visa beyond the initial 90-day limit in a 180-day period. However, there are exceptions. You may apply for an extension if you can demonstrate:

  • Force majeure: Unforeseen, exceptional circumstances that prevent you from leaving the Schengen area.
  • Humanitarian reasons: Situations where you need to stay in the Schengen area for humanitarian purposes.
  • Serious personal reasons: When compelling personal reasons make it impossible for you to depart before your visa expires.

These extensions are granted on a case-by-case basis and are subject to approval by the relevant authorities.

If Your Schengen Visa is Rejected

When your Schengen visa application is rejected, it can be disappointing, especially considering the time and effort put into the application process. However, as mentioned earlier, the visa fee is typically not refunded, even if your application is rejected. Visa fees are usually non-refundable, as they cover the processing costs associated with your application, such as administrative expenses and consular services.

To increase your chances of a successful application, it's essential to thoroughly prepare your documents, address all requirements, and meet the eligibility criteria outlined by the Schengen consulate or embassy. If your application is rejected, you can consider appealing the decision or reapplying, as discussed earlier, but the visa fee is not reimbursed in either case.

It's crucial to carefully review the rejection letter to understand the specific reasons for the refusal and take appropriate steps to address those concerns if you choose to reapply or appeal. Additionally, seeking legal advice or consulting with immigration experts can be valuable if you encounter difficulties with your Schengen visa application.

Who Must Apply for a Schengen Visa?

Citizens of the following countries are required to apply for a Schengen visa before traveling to the Schengen Area:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Congo (Democratic Republic of), Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini (Swaziland), Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

These nationals are required to obtain a Schengen visa in advance of their travel to the Schengen Area, and the specific requirements and application process may vary depending on the consulate or embassy of the Schengen country they plan to visit.

Who is Exempted from a Schengen Visa?

Currently, citizens from 59 countries or territories are allowed to visit any of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without the need for a visa. These countries and territories include:

Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao, Malaysia, Marshal Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Venezuela.

Please note the specific requirements and exemptions for certain passport types in some of these countries and territories, as mentioned in your message.

Schengen Airport Transit Visa

A Schengen airport transit visa allows travelers in specific situations to transit through the international areas of airports within the Schengen countries and continue their journey to a non-Schengen destination.

To determine if you need one, it's best to check directly with the airline you're flying with or the consulate of the Schengen country you will be transiting through.

You might be exempt from the airport transit visa requirement if:

  • You have a valid visa or residence permit from a Schengen state.
  • You have a valid visa for a Member State of the EU, EEA, Canada, Japan, or the United States.
  • You have a valid residence permit from a Member State of the EU or EEA.
  • You have a residence permit from Andorra, Canada, Japan, San Marino, or the United States that guarantees an unrestricted right of return.
  • You hold a diplomatic passport.
  • You are a family member of an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen.
  • You are a flight crew member and a national of a country that is a party to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

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