If you want to travel to Europe for tourism purposes, there is a type of Schengen visa specifically for this purpose. This type of visa is the Schengen Tourist Visa and is issued by one of the Schengen States.
The Tourist Schengen Visa is an EU travel visa which allows its holder to travel to 22 European Union member states and 4 members of EFTA. It 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. You need to apply for this type of visa if your sole purpose is visiting and experiencing one or more European countries that are a part of the Schengen territory.
Europe Tourist visas are short term visas and are on the C category. Depending on the number of times you intend to cross the external border of the Schengen territory there are three types of tourist visas that are issued:
- Single entry.
- Double entry.
- Multiple entry.
The Schengen states have common rules for issuing short-stay Schengen visas, which are valid within the entire Schengen area.
Do I Need to Apply for a Visa to Travel to Europe?
Citizens of non EEA/EU countries that don’t have a visa liberalization agreement with the EU need a Tourist Visa. The Schengen states have agreed on common rules for issuing short-stay Schengen visas, which are valid within the entire Schengen area.
How to Apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa?
The application for a Tourist Schengen visa will go through these simple steps:
- Find out where to submit the application.
- Compile the Schengen Tourist visa required documents.
- Fill the Application Form for a Tourist visa to Europe.
- Schedule an interview.
- Show up at the appointment.
- Provide Biometric Data.
- Pay the fees.
Where Should I Submit my Schengen Tourist Visa Application?
The next thing that you will have to do when applying for a Tourist Schengen Visa is to realize in which embassy you have to apply. If you are planning to visit only one country, then you will have to simply apply to the embassy of that country in your home country.
But, if you are planning to visit two or more countries 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 planning to spend equal time in two or more countries, i.e. five days in France and five days in Switzerland, then you have to apply at the embassy of the country where you are planning to land first.
For more information on Tourist Schengen visas, visit the respective articles:
- Germany Tourist Visa Guide
- France Tourist Visa Guide
- Netherlands Tourist Visa Guide
- Iceland Tourist Visa Guide
- Switzerland Tourist Visa Guide
- Greece Tourist Visa Guide
- Spain Tourist Visa Guide
Collect the documents for a Tourist visa
Here are the documents that you are required to submit when applying for a Schengen Tourist Visa for Europe:
- Schengen Tourist Visa Application Form. The form must be completely filled online, downloaded in two copies and signed at the end. You can find it on the website of the consulate /embassy in your destination country, or if not, you can require it from the consulate through email.
- Two photographs in line with the Schengen requirements. They should be 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, and according to all of the standards set by ISCO.
- Your valid passport. It should have at least two empty pages in order to affix the visa and be issued within the last ten years. The passport must be valid for another three months beyond the intended stay in the Schengen Area.
- Clear photocopies of the 1st and last page of the passport (biodata).
- Previous passports (if applicable) – if you have more than one old passport, do not staple them, but tie them together with a rubber band instead and hand them along with the other documents.
- Personal covering letter (original) – where you will tell more about the purpose of visiting the EU, the countries you plan to travel to, the dates, where you plan to stay and other details of your trip.
- No Objection Letter. This is a letter from your employer or your school/university which states that you have contractual obligations in your home country and assures the embassy that you will return back to your homeland.
- Travel Health Insurance covering emergency medical, hospitalization and in case of death, repatriation. The Schengen Zone member states have agreed that the minimum cover should be 30.000 EUR, and it must be valid for your entire duration of stay in the whole territory of the Schengen Area.
- Flight reservation – there is no need to buy actual plane tickets. However, the embassy wants you to purchase a flight reservation in order to prove your intended entry and exit dates. One way tickets are not accepted.
- Proof of accommodation for the entire period of stay in the Schengen Area. If you are staying in a hotel, you must show hotel booking. If you are staying at relatives or friends, they must submit proof that they have enough room for you.
- Proof of financial status. You must show evidence that you possess sufficient funds for the visit, that you will be able to financially maintain yourself during your stay in the Schengen territory. You should be able to prove that through a bank statement of the past three months, which must not be older than three days. The minimum amount required is different in each country, therefore you will have to consult with the relevant consular authority in your country. You should also submit documents to prove your working status.
The required documents for a Schengen Tourist visa also depend on your destination country. During the processing of your application, the consulate may, in individual cases, ask you to submit extra information or documents or you may be contacted for another interview. Make sure to submit them too, since the submission of the initial required documents does not guarantee you will be granted with a Tourist visa for Europe.
Fill-in the application form
Complete the Schengen Tourist visa application form online carefully and correctly, print it twice and sign it at the end. The Schengen visa 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 sure that the information you have given in the application form corresponds with that in the other documents.
Appoint an interview
You have to make an appointment at least 15 days before the intended journey, and the earliest six months before. Appoint an interview through the website of the consulate or embassy of the country you are planning to visit, in your country of residence.
Show up at the appointment
Show up at the appointment center on time (embassy or 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.
Provide Biometric Data
You will also have to get your fingerprints scanned at the consulate’s office if you have never before applied for a Schengen Visa before. They will be stored in a new Visa Information System (VIS). Once finger scans are stored in VIS, they can be re‐used for further visa applications over a 5‐year period, therefore frequent travelers to the Schengen Area do not have to give new finger scans every time they apply for a new visa.
Pay the fees
The fee is EUR 80 for adults and must be paid when you submit the Tourist Schengen visa application. Whereas the visa fee for children from the age of six years and below the age of 12 years is EUR 40.
After you pay the visa fee, you will be issued a receipt which you have to keep in order to collect your processed application. In the case of visa application rejection, the fee will not get reimbursed. If you apply again for a visa, you will have to pay the visa fee again.
How Long Does it Take To Get a Tourist Visa for Europe?
You will likely be notified whether you have been issued a Tourist visa for Europe within 15 days. However, in some exceptional cases, this process might take up to 30 days, or even up to 60 if more additional documents are required to be submitted by the applicant. You are recommended to apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa around six weeks prior to your planned travel.
Tourist Schengen Visa Validity
A multiple entry Tourist visa gives the right to its holder to stay within the Schengen territory for 90 days at most, within a period of 180 days, to enter and leave whenever she or he wants to.
In the meantime, single entry and double entry visa holders will have to wait for the embassy or consulate they have applied to decide on its validity after processing all documentation. Sometimes they issue you a Tourist Schengen visa for the amount of time you have sought for, and sometimes for a longer or shorter period.
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. This is all indicated on the visa sticker affixed in your passport.