- What is a Schengen visa?
- What is the Schengen Area?
- Which non-Schengen countries can you travel to with a Schengen visa?
- Who needs a Schengen visa?
- Who doesn’t need a Schengen visa?
- Types of Schengen visa
- Documents required for a Schengen visa
- How do you apply for a Schengen visa?
- Schengen visa cost
What is a Schengen visa?
The Schengen visa allows you to travel freely within the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area consists of 26 European countries who have agreed to sign up to the programme. When you travel with a Schengen visa, you will not need to go through border checks or queues at airports, which means you are not required to show travel document at the borders.
The Schengen visa allows stays of up to 90 days in participating Schengen countries in any 180 day time period.
You may use the Schengen visa for many different purposes, including the following:
- Holidays / tourism
- Short business trips
- Visit friends or relatives
- Attend cultural or sporting events
- Transit through borders during air or sea travel
- Government or diplomatic visits
- Obtain medical treatment
- Undertake short-term study
- Undertake research
26 European countries have agreed to abide by the terms of the Schengen agreement. There are also several non-EU and non-Schengen participating countries to which you may be granted temporary entry if you hold a Schengen visa.
There are several types of Schengen visa which are explained on this page, or click here. The most common Schengen visa is the short-stay visa allowing for stays of up to 90 days.
Depending on your circumstances and purposes for travel to Europe, applying for the visa can be complex. Speak to one of our immigration experts for immediate advice and support with your application. Get in touch by calling us on 0161 826 9783 or complete the quick online enquiry form.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area is a borderless territory designed to allow people to freely move throughout its 26 EU and non-EU Member States, which are as follows:
Which non-Schengen countries can you travel to with a Schengen visa?
The Schengen visa also allows travel to non-Schengen member countries including:
|Albania||Antigua and Barbuda||Belarus|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Bulgaria||Colombia|
|Montenegro||Romania||Sao Tome and Principe|
Who needs a Schengen visa?
The countries whose citizens are required to obtain a Schengen visa in order to enter any member country of the Schengen Area are:
|Countries whose citizens must apply for the Schengen Visa|
|Angola||Ghana||Papua New Guinea|
|Belize||Indonesia||Sao Tome And Principe|
|Burkina Faso||Kazakhstan||South Africa|
|Central African Republic||Lebanon||Syria|
|Dem. Rep. Of Congo||Mali||Tunisia|
|North Korea||Northern Mariana’s|
Who doesn't need a Schengen visa?
Citizens of the following countries are not required to obtain a Schengen visa to enter a Schengen State country for tourism or business purposes:
Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Holy See (Vatican City State), Honduras, Hong Kong S.A.R***, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao S.A.R****, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova*, Monaco, Montenegro*, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia*, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, Serbia*, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan**, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela.
* Applicable to citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Serbia only if they hold a biometric passport.
** Applicable only to Taiwanese passport holders only if their passport contains an identity card number.
*** Applicable only to holders of a “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” passport.
**** Applicable only to holders of a “Região Administrativa Especial de Macau” passport.
The rules around the Schengen visa can be complex, such as for example if you are a relative of an EU/EEA citizen, if you hold dual nationality, or if you wish to work or study in a Schengen member country. Contact us if you are not sure of the best way forward with regard to applying for a Schengen visa.
Types of Schengen visa
There are three types of Schengen visas and you should take care to apply for the one that most fits with your circumstances and plans for travel to Europe. These are as follows:
- Uniform Schengen visa (USV)
- Limited Territorial Validity visa (LTV)
- National visa (NV)
Uniform Schengen visa (USV)
The Uniform Schengen visa allows you to travel and stay anywhere within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days (3 months) in every 180-day (6 month) period. There are 3 types of Uniform Schengen visas as follows:
- Single-entry visa – allows only 1 entrance into a Schengen country where you can stay until the visa expires. If you leave before the visa expiry date, you will not be able to re-enter
- Double-entry visa – allows you to enter a Schengen country twice within the visa’s duration. If you leave for a second time while the visa is valid, you will not be able to re-enter a Schengen country a third time
- Multiple-entry visa – allows for multiple entries to Schengen countries as long as you have a valid Schengen visa. Multiple-entry Schengen visas can be issued as a one-year multiple-entry, three-year multiple-entry, or five-year multiple-entry visa.
You may also need an Airport Transit Visa, which is a sub-category of the Uniform Schengen visa.
Airport Transit Visa
An Airport Transit Schengen visa allows nationals of non-Schengen countries to change their flight in one of the airports in this zone.
Note that unlike the other Uniform Visas, an Airport Transit Schengen visa does not allow you to leave the international transit area. If you plan to take flights between more than one airport within the Schengen Zone, you will need to apply for a regular Schengen visa.
Nationals of the following countries must apply for an Airport Transit Schengen visa:
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Sri Lanka
You could be exempt from the Transit visa if you are a family member of a Schengen/EU national or hold a residence permit issued by a Schengen country.
Limited Territorial Validity visa (LTV)
The Limited Territorial Validity visa only allows travel to a specific Schengen state. Typically, this type of visa is granted for humanitarian purposes or other exceptional circumstances.
National visa (NV)
The National visa is issued to individuals who wish to study or work in a Schengen country for a fixed duration. Usually, the National visa is a single-entry visa for the purposes of completing study or work in one country. Circumtsnaces in which a multiple entry visa can be granted include:
- An international student undertaking a full course of study in one of the Schengen countries
- An employee at a research centre or higher education establishment in any of the Schengen countries
- An artist, sportsman, or other professionals whose purpose is to share their expertise by traveling in and out of the Schengen countries
- A person who is impacted by an emergency such as a medical condition that prevents them from leaving the Schengen country within the designated timeframe
Documents required for a Schengen visa
When you apply for a Schengen visa you will need to present some documents as part of the visa application process and/or at the Schengen border.
The purpose of your entry into the Schengen Area will determine which documents you will need to provide. Below is a list of some of the most common documents needed in the Schengen visa process:
- Online visa application form
- Two identical and recent passport-style photos
- Valid passport or travel document with at least three months validity remaining after the planned departure date
- A copy of all pages in the passport
- Proof of travel tickets (with arrival and departure times being confirmed)
- Medical travel insurance – cover should be a minimum of €30,000 and cover the Schengen Area you are travelling to
- Proof that you can maintain yourself financially whilst in the Schengen Area (eg bank statements)
- Proof of accommodation in Schengen country / countries
- Proof of payment of the application fee
The following documents relating to the purpose of your travel to Europe are also likely to be needed to be submitted:
Short-stay Tourist visa
- Six months’ bank statements
- Affidavit of support from the person you will be visiting in the Schengen Zone
- Full travel itinerary for the visit
- Cover letter outlining the nature of your visit
- Profile of the workplace
- Letter from your employer describing the purpose of your visit
- Invitation letter from the company in the Schengen Zone
- Employment contract
- Permission of leave from current employer or copy of business license if self-employed
- Income tax return
- Enrolment certificate for the training course
- No objection letter from the educational institution (where relevant)
- Letter from doctor or healthcare professional stating the need for treatment
- Confirmation from European medical institution
- Verbal note from applicant’s Ministry of Health declaring their readiness to cover the medical treatment costs
- Two application forms
- Employment contract
- Two application forms
- Acceptance letter from the EU-based university or educational establishment
- Proof that you can maintain yourself financially
Joining a Spouse visa
- Two application forms
- Certified copy of marriage certificate
- Copy of spouse’s passport (if they are an EU citizen) or residency permit (if a national of outside the EU)
Participating in Sport, Cultural or Religious Activity visa
- Details relating to the event (eg entry tickets, programme documents, etc.)
- Proof of previous performances or participation
- Valid Passport – issued within the previous 10 years and valid for at least 3 months after the date you plan to leave the EU
How do you apply for a Schengen visa?
Once you have established that you need a Schengen Visa to travel to Europe and you also have a clear idea of your travel itinerary, then you can submit your visa application to the Embassy or Consulate of the country that you wish to visit. If you are going to visit several Schengen member countries, you should submit your application to the country you will visit first, or the country where you are planning to stay the longest.
The first step when applying for a Schengen visa is to book an appointment at the Embassy or Consulate of your chosen Schengen member country, which can usually be done online. Then you will need to complete the Schengen visa application form, which can be downloaded online. You will need to compile all required documents for your visa application.
Schengen visa interview
You will need to attend your visa interview at the Embassy or Consulate and submit your application form including the supporting documents to the consular officer. At the interview, you will be asked about your trip, for example which countries you intend to visit and the reasons for travel. You will need to pay the visa application fee.
When should you apply for a Schengen visa?
In terms of when to apply for the Schengen visa, you must submit your application at least 15 days before you intend to travel, but not earlier than three months before the date you intend to enter the Schengen Area.
How long does a Schengen visa decision take?
On average, it takes 15 days to receive a decision, however in some cases the Consulate may request further supporting documents, in which case this period may be extended. Therefore, it is worth ensuring all documentation is supplied in full, to avoid any delays.
Schengen visa cost
The cost of a Schengen visa is non-refundable, even if your application is denied. Here are the fees payable for a Schengen visa:
- Adult €80 / $96
- Children aged between 6-12 years: €40 / $48
- Children younger than six years old: FREE
- Diplomatic officials on official travel: FREE
- Family member of EU/ EEA citizen: FREE
- Students and teachers travelling on a school trip: FREE
- Researchers undertaking scientific research: FREE
- Nationals of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia: €35 / $42
Visa fees can change, so they should be checked with the Embassy / Consulate before applying.
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Schengen is the name of the area covering 26 European countries that is an EU passport-free zone. Schengen constitutes the largest free-travel area in the world.
Following implementation of the new Visa Code in February 2020, applications for a Schengen visa can now be submitted at the earliest 3 to 6 months and at the latest 15 calendar days before you travel to Europe.
Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help you to apply for your visa for Europe. We are a team of experienced immigration lawyers who can also assist with other types of visas, such as UK visitor visas, UK spouse visa, skilled worker visa or any other type of immigration matter. Call us today to discuss your immigration requirements on 0161 826 9783.
Citizens of certain states need to apply for a Schengen Visa to travel to Europe. If you are a national of one of the following countries, you need to submit a Europe Visa application:
The central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
The Schengen visa is a short-stay visa for Europe. It allows travel to Europe for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period. The date of expiry is indicated on your Schengen visa under “Duration of visit”.
Depending on your purpose for travel to Europe you can get a single-entry, double-entry or a multiple-entry Schengen visa. Find out more here.
You can use this online Schengen visa eligibility checker to find out if you need a visa when traveling from the United Kingdom to any of the Schengen member countries.
If you need a visa, the tool will also indicate if you qualify to apply for a Schengen visa from the UK.