What is Schengen?
Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most of the European countries. It’s the largest free travel area in the world.
Travel & Entry Restrictions in Response to Coronavirus
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions for entry into the EU & Schengen Area from many countries apply.
Check Schengen.News to get the latest information and updates on entry restrictions, testing and quarantine regulations in the EU & Schengen Area.
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.
However, if you are planning to study, work, or live in one of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days, then you must apply for a national visa of that European country and not a Schengen Visa.
Quick fact: Over 15 million people used their Schengen visas in 2019 to travel around Europe.
Who Needs a Visa to Enter Europe?
All nationals of third countries, which have yet not reached a visa-liberalization agreement with the Schengen member states, need to obtain a visa prior to their arrival in Europe.
To check whether you need a Schengen Visa to travel to one of the Schengen member countries, here is the list of countries, citizens of which must apply for a Schengen Visa prior to their travel to the EU.
Travel Documents and Entry Requirements for non-EU Nationals
You will have to present several documents at the Schengen port of entry, in order to be permitted to enter, if you are a non-EU/Schengen country national, regardless if you are a visa-exempt or not.
The documents you need to provide when entering the Schengen Area are as follows:
- Valid Passport. Issued within the previous 10 years and valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the EU.
- Schengen Visa. If you are a national of one of the third countries in need of a visa.
EU/Schengen border officials may also ask for other information and documents such as sufficient funds, proof of accommodation, how long you intend to stay, round-trip airline ticket, the purpose of your entry, travel insurance, invitation letter, etc.
Please, make sure that the border officer gives you an entry stamp in your passport when you enter the Schengen area. Without a stamp, you could be fined or detained.
Which European Countries issue Schengen Visas?
The Schengen zone includes the 26 countries that have signed the Schengen agreement, which allows citizens of member countries to travel within the zone freely, without passing through passport and border control.
Each member country of the Schengen zone can issue Schengen visas.
There are another 19 other countries that are not part of the Schengen Zone, yet they allow foreign citizens of other non-Schengen countries to enter and stay in their territories, only by showing a valid multiple-entry Schengen Visa. You do not need a national visa issued from these countries to enter, transit or stay in their territory temporarily.
Schengen Visa Types for Short-Term Visits in Europe
You need to apply for a Schengen Visa if you intend to visit one or more European countries of this area for the following reasons:
- Business purposes.
- Visiting friends and family.
- Tourism and holidays.
- Cultural and sports events.
- Airport transit and transit for seafarers.
- Official visit.
- Medical reasons.
- Short-term study and research purposes.
The validity of your single-entry visa depends on the number of days you stated you are going to be in the Schengen zone on your visa application form and the actual decision of the consulate that issues you the Schengen visa.
How Long Does the Schengen Visa Allow Me to Stay in Europe?
According to the type of visa issued by the certain embassy/consulate of any Schengen country there are different restrictions that apply to the particular visa in accordance to the nature of travelling and other relevant circumstances. However, the most common type of visa issued to the travelers can reach the maximum of 90 days in every six month period starting from the date of entry.
If you are a frequent traveller you may apply to obtain an EU visa valid for up to 5 years, but you have to keep in mind that you cannot stay within the Schengen Area for more than 90 days in a 180-day period of time even if you hold a multiple-entry visa for Europe valid for up to 5 years.
>> Schengen Calculator – Calculate Your Legal Short-Stay in Europe
How to Apply for a Visa to Enter Europe?
To apply for a Schengen Visa to travel to Europe, you first need to figure out whether you need one or not depending on the purpose of your travel and nationality. If you do, then you have to put together your travel plan, how many days you plan to be in the zone, the countries you are going to visit (if more than one), the country where you are going to enter, and the country where you’re going to exit.
Once you have that figured out, then you need to review all the Europe visa application requirements you need to fulfil and start the process of setting up a visa appointment at one of the Schengen consulates in your country.
How Much Does a European Visa Cost?
The cost of a Schengen visa fee is €80 per adult. Still, depending on the age of the applicant, nationality and some other factors, there are categories that will have to pay a lower fee or no fee at all.
Check the list of Schengen Visa fees, which precisely indicates the categories that benefit from the reduced visa costs or that are exempt from paying the fee.
What is a Flight Itinerary for EU Visa Application?
A flight itinerary is a confirmed document, which can be verified online about the schedule of a given flight.
Learn more about How to get a flight itinerary for a visa application!
What is Travel Insurance for Schengen Visa?
Your Travel Medical Insurance should be valid for your whole stay in the Schengen Area, with a minimum coverage of 30,000 EUR for medical emergencies.
Does everybody need travel insurance?
Anyone travelling temporarily to a Schengen area from a country that is subject to visa requirements, be it an individual visitor or group visitors, tourists, or business travellers has to be insured for the time being in the Schengen area.
Where do I purchase travel insurance?
Travellers purchase an individual travel visa insurance policy for the days planned to spend in a Schengen territory at the rightful insurance/travel agency. The insurance policy can be purchased either online or conventionally, depending on the chosen company.
Learn more about How to get Schengen Visa Insurance!
What is Proof of Accommodation for a Visa application?
You are required to submit a confirmed document that shows where you will be accommodated for your whole trip in the Schengen Area.
Learn more about How to get Proof of Accommodation for a Visa Application!
How to Apply for a Schengen Visa Around the World?
For more information about visa requirements and the application process for US, UK, Canadian and Australian residents, please read the following articles:
- How to apply for a Schengen visa from the UK?
- How to apply for a Schengen visa from the US?
- How to apply for a Schengen visa from Canada?
- How to apply for a Schengen visa from Australia?