The Schengen Visa is a European short stay visa that allows its holder to travel throughout the Schengen Area. This type of visa is issued by one of the Schengen States, and allows you to visit any of the Schengen countries for a duration of up to 90 days in total within a period of six months.
All member states of the Schengen zone issue Schengen visas at their embassies or consulates:
- Germany Schengen Visa Guide
- France Schengen Visa Guide
- Iceland Schengen Visa Guide
- Netherlands Schengen Visa Guide
- Switzerland Schengen Visa Guide
- Italy Schengen Visa Guide
Who Needs a Visa for Europe?
Every citizen of each country that is not part of the Schengen Area and whose country doesn’t have a visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU needs a visa in order to enter any of the member countries.
To find out if you need a visa for Europe, check the list of countries whose citizens require a Schengen visa.
The Schengen states have common rules for issuing short-stay Schengen visas, which are valid within the entire Schengen area.
Where to Submit the Schengen Visa Application?
You should apply for a Schengen Visa at the embassy or consulate of the Schengen country you are planning to visit.
But if you are planning to visit more than one country during the same trip, then you have to apply at the embassy of the country where you plan to spend more time. If you are planing to spend equal time in two or more countries, i.e. five days in France and five days in Germany, then you have to apply at the embassy of the country where you are planning to land first.
You have to apply for a Schengen visa and make an appointment at least 15 days before the intended journey, and the earliest three months before. Collect the required documents and on the day of your appointment show up at the embassy on time.
Schengen Visa Application
Decide what type of Schengen visa you need
Secondly, decide what type of visa you need in order to enter your destination country. Depending on the purpose of your visit you can apply for a tourist visa, business visa, working visa, student visa or a transit visa. Depending on the number of countries you plan to visit, or the times you need to enter the Schengen territory you can apply for a single-entry, double-entry or a multiple-entry visa.
Fill the Schengen visa Application form
Complete the application form online carefully and correctly, print it twice and sign it at the end. The application form contains questions for basic information such as your name, date of birth, country of birth, passport number and nationality. You will also have to answer questions regarding your trip, such as how long are you planning to stay in each country, where you’re staying, etc.
Make an appointment
Appoint an interview through the website of the consulate or embassy of the country you are planning to visit, in your country of residence. You can appoint an interview three months before the earliest and two weeks before the latest.
Collect the required documents
Make sure you have all the necessary documents for a Schengen visa as required, all of them in two copies. Organize them so on the appointment day you will not have a mess in your hands.
The following documents are required for any short term Schengen visa application:
- A valid passport with at least two empty pages, issued within the last ten years. The passport must be valid for another three months beyond the intended stay in the Schengen Area.
- A visa application form. Completely filled online, downloaded in two copies and signed at the end.
- A recent photography. No more than 6-months old (35–40mm in width, close up of your head and top of your shoulders so that your face takes up 70–80% of the photograph. It should be taken in sharp focus and clear, of high quality and with no ink marks or creases).
- Schengen visa travel insurance. Covering emergency medical, hospitalization and in case of death, repatriation. Minimum cover should be 30.000 EUR, and is must be valid for you entire duration of stay in the whole territory of the Schengen Area.
- Proof of paid Schengen Visa fee. Which costs EUR 60 for adults and EUR 35 for minors.
- Travel Itinerary – a booked flight reservation, hotel booking etc, that shows in details when you plan to visit the country, where you will stay and what you will do.
For more details about the required documents for Schengen visa visit the article.
On the day of appointment
Show up at the appointment center on time (embassy of consulate). Remember that if you are late even for a few minutes, then they will probably cancel your appointment. The submission process takes around 10 minutes to complete. Please make sure that: The official person at the application center will check and verify all of your documents.
You will also have to get your fingerprints scanned at the consulate’s office, if you have never before applied for a Schengen Visa. If you have, then you don’t have to do it again, since the consulate should be able to look it up.
After the verification of your application, the application form information will be entered into the online system of the consulate or embassy and you will receive a printed copy of your application, which process usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. After you get the printed form, please make sure to verify all the details are correct and sign the form.
Underage applicants must be accompanied by their mother/father/legal guardian.
Applying from the UK
UK residents may be required to apply for a Schengen visa if they hold a passport of a country that does not have a visa facilitation agreement with the EU.
The application process for a Schengen visa in the UK is similar as to applying anywhere else in the world. However, there may be extra requirements that applicants from the UK must fulfill depending on their nationality and purpose of travel.
Applying from the US
As a legal resident US you may need to apply for a Schengen visa if you hold a passport of a country that does not have a visa facilitation agreement with the EU. However, some US passport holders may also need to apply, if they have been previously rejected visa-free entry in Europe.
Although the application process for a Schengen visa from USA is similar to any other visa application there are specifics that you need to keep in mind. Depending on your nationality and the purpose of travel there may be extra requirements that you need to fulfill.
Types of Europe Visas
Depending on the purpose of your travel the embassy or consulate of your Europe country will issue you the appropriate Schengen visa. There are three main types of visas that are issued which include tourist visas, business visas, working visas, student visas and transit visas.
Uniform Schengen Visas (USV)
The Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) allows its holder to travel and stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days every six month period. This type of visa has three different categories.
A Category – Airport Transit Visa
The Airport Transit Visa is a visa for citizens of a non-Schengen country who have to enter the airport of a Schengen country in order to take the plane to their Schengen destination country.
C category – Short-term Visa
This type of EU visa is issued for a short period of time, and its holder can stay in the Schengen Area depending on the visa validity. It can be provided for single entry, double entry, or multiple entry, depending on the nature of your travel. Depending on the purpose of the travel the C-category could be either:
- Tourist Schengen visa
- Business Schengen visa
- Visitor Schengen visa
- Cultural Schengen visa
- Medical Treatment Schengen Visa
Single entry Schengen visa
With a Single entry visa one can enter a Schengen country only once and stay until the expiration of visa validity. If the holder leaves before the expiration, they are not allowed to enter the country again, since the visa is considered to have expired once its holder has left the country.
Double entry Schengen visa
With Double entry visa one can enter a Schengen country twice within the time of visa validity. If the holder enters the country twice, and the second time leaves before the expiration, they are not allowed to enter the country again, since the visa is considered to have expired once its holder has left the country for the second time.
Multiple entry Schengen visa
The Multiple entry visa allows its holder to enter and leave the Schengen Zone as many times as he or she pleases. The only condition is that the visa holder must not stay more than 90 days within six months in the Schengen Area.
Limited territorial validity visas (LTV)
The Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visa allows its holder to travel only in the Schengen member country that has issued the visa. If i.e. France has issued you the visa, then you are permitted to stay only in France. You are not even allowed to transit from one country to another with the LTV visa. This visa is considered as an exception to a Uniform Visa and is only issued for international obligations or humanitarian reasons in general.
National Visas for Europe – D Visa
The European National Visas are granted to individuals coming to one of the Schengen member countries for stays longer than 90 days, like working or studying. In order to be eligible to apply for the D visas for Europe you should be in one of the following categories:
- International student in a program that grants Schengen visas.
- International student about to start full-time studies in a Schengen country.
- Teacher at a higher education institution or research center in a Schengen country.
- Professional traveling to a Schengen country with the purpose of sharing expertise.
- Traveler in the Schengen Area who is experiencing an emergency, as a medical condition, that prevents departure at the end of your National Visa.
Validity of Short Stay Visas to Europe
The validity of your Europe visa depends on the type of visa you obtain. If you have a multiple entry visa, then you can stay within the Schengen territory for 90 days at most, within a period of 6 months.
Whereas, if you have a single or double entry visa the embassy or consulate you have applied at decides on its validity after processing all your documentation and deciding to issue you a visa. Sometimes they issue you a visa for the amount of time you have sought for, and sometimes for a longer or shorter period, depending how they see it reasonable.
The embassy not only appoints the number of days you can stay in the Schengen territory, but also the earliest date you can enter and the last date when you can leave, which sometimes is confusing for many people. You can read the validity of your visa in the Schengen visa sticker in your passport.
Citizens Entitled to Accelerated Visa Procedure Free of Charge
If the applicant meets the following criteria, then he or she is entitled to an accelerated visa procedure free of charge:
- The applicant is a family member of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen and the EU/EEA citizen is travelling to or is residing in a member state other than that of which he/she is a citizen.
- The applicant is accompanying the EU/EEA citizen or planning to join him/her in the Schengen State of destination.
Can I Get My Schengen Visa Extended?
In order to get your visa extended you must have a very strong reason behind it as:
- Force majeure
- Humanitarian reasons
- Serious personal reasons
You must show strong proof that you cannot leave the Schengen country before the expiration of your visa. If you have stayed in the Schengen area for more than 90 days within six months, then your chances to get your visa extended are almost zero. You have to apply for the visa extension before the expiration of your visa.
What Can I do In Case of Schengen Visa Rejection?
If the embassy or consulate of the destination country you have applied at refuses your Schengen visa you can always appeal against the decision. On the day you go to receive your answer regarding your visa application, if rejected, you will receive a paper that indicates the reasons behind the visa denial. There you will also have included the procedures and deadlines for submitting an appeal.
However, this does not mean that you cannot apply for it anymore. The embassies advise the applicants to take notes on the reasons why their application was denied at first, and make amendments where necessary. You will have to pay a new visa fee, which covers the cost of the examination of the Schengen visa application.
Non-Schengen Countries You Can Visit With a Schengen Visa
There are also some non-EU and non Schengen countries which you can visit with a valid Schengen visa. They are the following:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
- Sao Tome and Principe