Schengen Visa

A Schengen visa is a short stay visa allowing its holder to circulate in the Schengen area.  The Schengen area covers 26 countries (“Schengen States”) without border controls between them. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

A Schengen visa is an authorisation issued by a Schengen State with a view to:

  • transit through or an intended stay in the territory of the Schengen States of a duration of no more than 90 days in any 180 days period (“short stay visa”),
  • transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen States (“airport transit visa”).
Required documents

In order to apply for a visa, you need:

  • a passport with at least two empty pages. The passport should have been issued within the last 10 years.  The passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date on which you intend to leave the Schengen territory, or, in the case of multiple journeys, the date on which you intend to leave after the last stay.
  • a visa application form Search for available translations of the preceding link completed and signed.Any person appearing in your travel document must complete a separate application form. The visa application form for a child under 18 must be signed by a parent or guardian.
  • a recent identity photograph conform to ICAO standards Search for available translations of the preceding link.
  • in the countries where the Visa Information System is operational your fingerprints will be collected when you submit your application (exemptions exist for specific categories of applicants).
  • a visa fee Search for available translations of the preceding link to be paid when you submit your application
  • a service fee to be paid if you are requested to submit your application at the offices of a service provider.
  • a travel medical insurance covering emergency medical, hospitalisation and repatriation (including in case of death). The minimum cover should be of 30.000 EUR. This insurance must be valid for the entire Schengen area and throughout the duration of the stay.
  • various documents relating to the purpose of your stay, evidence of means of support during your stay and your accommodation.

The complete list of documents can be consulted on the website of the consulate. During the processing time the consulate may, in individual cases, ask you to submit additional information or documents or you may be contacted for an interview.

Processing of a visa application

As a general rule, a decision is taken by the Consulate within 15 days.

This period may, in individual cases, be extended up to 30 days and, exceptionally, 60 days, if a more detailed examination of your application and/or additional documents are required.

Some Schengen States require that they be consulted on visa applications submitted to other Schengen States by citizens of certain countries. The consultation process may take up to seven calendar days. Such consultation is currently required for nationals of the countries listed here Search for available translations of the preceding link.

Likewise, one Schengen State may require to be informed when a visa has been issued to nationals of certain third countries, which are enumerated on this list Search for available translations of the preceding link.

How to read the visa

DURATION OF STAY………DAYS indicates the number of days you may stay in the Schengen area. The days should be counted from the date you enter the Schengen area (the entry stamp) to the date you exit the Schengen area (the exit stamp), i.e. both days included.

The period of time between “FROM …UNTIL” is usually longer than the number of days printed in the “DURATION OF STAY” field. The difference in period is meant to give you flexibility to plan your entry into and exit from the Schengen area, but your stay in the Schengen area must never exceed the exact number of days in the “DURATION OF STAY …DAYS” field. No matter how many days you have stayed in the Schengen area, you must leave no later than the date printed in the “UNTIL” field.”

Entry and stay in the Schengen area

Your short-stay visa does not automatically entitle you to enter the Schengen area. At border or during other controls you may, for instance, have to provide information on your means of support, how long you intend to stay in the Schengen State, and why you are visiting the Schengen State.

In some cases, such checks may result in a refusal for the visa holder to enter the Schengen State or the Schengen area.

It is therefore recommended that you carry with you copies of the documents which you presented when you applied for the visa (e.g. letters of invitation, travel confirmations, other documents stating the purpose of your stay). This will help to make the border control procedure easier and avoid delays at the border.

The definition of short stay of non-EU citizens in the Schengen area is “90 days in any 180 days period” The short-stay calculator can be used for calculating the period of allowed stay. The user’s guide Search for available translations of the preceding link contains information on these rules, the use of the calculator and practical examples.

Who must apply for a Schengen visa

Short stays

Citizens of certain countries must hold a short stay visa. The EU has a common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirementSearch for available translations of the preceding link. There are national derogations from the visa requirements for certain travellers.

Airport transit

Whether you are required to apply for a Schengen airport transit visa or not depends on your nationality.

Citizens of some countries must hold an airport transit visa when transiting through the international parts of airports situated in any of the Schengen States Search for available translations of the preceding link, while citizens of certain countries must hold an airport transit visa when transiting through the international parts of airports situated in some of the Schengen States Search for available translations of the preceding link.

You may be exempt from the airport transit visa requirement, if you:

  • hold a valid visa or residence permit issued by a Schengen state;
  • hold a visa valid for a Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area, Canada, Japan or the United States ;
  • hold a valid residence permit issued by a Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area ;
  • hold a residence permit issued by the Principality of Andorra, Canada, Japan, Republic of San Marino, or the United States, that guarantees unrestricted right of return;
  • are a family member of a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland ;
  • hold a diplomatic passport;
  • are a flight crew member national of a contracting party to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

You must lodge the application for a Schengen visa at the Consulate of the country that you intend to visit, or – if you intend to visit more than one Schengen State, the Consulate of the country where you will spend the longest period.

If you intend to visit several Schengen States and the stays will be of equal length, you must apply at the Consulate of the country whose external borders you will cross first when entering the Schengen area.

As a general rule, you must apply for a visa at the Consulate with territorial competence for the country in which you legally reside. If you have doubts about this, e.g. there is no Consulate of the Schengen State that you intend to visit in the country where you reside, you should contact the central authorities (Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Immigration Office)of that country. There you can get information on whether that Schengen State is represented by another in the country where you reside.

You can check what Consulates are present in your country or what Consulates represent the Schengen State you intend to visit on the list of consular presence and representation Search for available translations of the preceding link.

The application must, in principle, be submitted to the Consulate at least 15 days before the intended journey and cannot be lodged earlier than three months before the start of the intended journey. You may have to book an appointment before lodging the application.

More detailed information on the procedures for lodging a visa application can be found on individual Member States’ Search for available translations of the preceding link.

Family members of EU/EEA nationals

You may be entitled to an accelerated visa procedure free of charge if as you meet the following criteria:

  • you are a family member of an European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen; and
  • that EU/EEA citizen  is travelling to or is residing in a member state other than that of which he/she is a citizen; and
  • you are accompanying the EU/EEA citizen or planning to join him/her in the Schengen State of destination.

If you think you are entitled to an accelerated visa procedure you will need to show proof that you meet these criteria when you submit your visa application.

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