Fancy a long, country-hopping trip throughout Europe? Then make sure you know all about the Schengen Visa. Europe is a huge continent with a diverse range of excellent destinations. Obtaining multiple visas for all the European countries you want to travel to can be quite the hassle. And therein comes the very convenient ‘Schengen Agreement’, a treaty signed by 26 European countries that allows you to travel within the ‘Schengen Area’ on a single visa – the Schengen Visa. The Schengen Area comprises of 26 European countries that allow entry for travellers holding a Schengen Visa. An all-inclusive Europe visa is of great convenience and the Schengen Visa is exactly that.
1. Which countries accept a Schengen Visa?
The following 26 countries in Europe are Schengen visa countries:
- Czech Republic
The following are some things about the Schengen countries to keep in mind:
- Three countries that are included in the Schengen Area but are not part of the European Union: Iceland, Norway and Switzerland
- Three territories that have their borders within the Schengen Area but do not accept a Schengen Visa: Vatican City, Monaco and San Marino
- There are 6 more countries in Europe that still do not accept a Schengen Visa: UK, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus. Out of these, the UK and Ireland have opted out of the Schengen Agreement while the others are in the process of joining.
Thus, it is important to keep in mind that some countries, even though they are within the Schengen Area, or those that are part of the European Union, will require a separate visa. It is best to check well in advance whether the country you’re visiting accepts a Schengen Visa.
2. Types of Schengen Visa
Depending upon the duration of stay and the purpose of travel, the Schengen visa is classified into three types:
1.Uniform Schengen Visa
The most common type of Schengen Visa is the Uniform Schengen Visa, which allows travellers to stay for a maximum duration of 90 days from the date of entry.
There two more subcategories in Uniform Schengen Visa:
- Category A: The category A type of Uniform Schengen Visa stands for ‘Airport Transit Visa’ wherein the holder can travel via the international zone of the Schengen Country Airport but CANNOT enter the Schengen country area. It is simply a means for travellers with connecting flights from one non-Schengen country to another.
- Category C: Category C stands for a short term visa that allows the visa holder to enter a Schengen Country for a limited duration of time. Category C is further subdivided into three types depending on the number of entries allowed.
2. Single Entry
The single entry visa allows the holder to enter a Schengen country only once. Once the traveller exits the country, the visa becomes invalid even if the date of visa expiry is yet to come.
3. Double Entry
The double entry visa allows the traveller to enter a Schengen country for a second time after exiting it a previous time provided that the visa is not expired.
4. Multiple Entry Visa
The multiple entry visa holder can enter and exit Schengen countries as per their whim and fancy, provided that they stay in the Schengen country for a maximum of 90 days from date of entry.
5. Limited Territorial Validity Visa
The limited Schengen visa allows a person to only visit the particular Schengen country that has issued the visa. In some cases, a traveller is also allowed entry in some other Schengen countries that are specifically mentioned during application.
6. National Visa
For visitors who may be studying or working in a Schengen country for an extended period of time, a national visa may be obtained that allows people to stay for longer durations in the Schengen Area. The visa allows a single entry for an educational or career related purpose, after completion of which the applicant may return to his or her own country.
3. Schengen visa requirements
People wishing to obtain a Schengen Visa need to submit the following documents:
- The duly filled Schengen Visa Application form
- One recent, passport sized photograph
- Valid Passport with at least 2 blank pages that is valid for at least three months after the expiry of the visa you’re applying for
- Complete itinerary of your visit to the Schengen Area including your onward and return journey flights bookings with specific dates and flight numbers.
- Travel Health Insurance Policy that covers expenses of at least 30,000 Euro
- Proof of hotel booking or other accommodation planned during the entire stay in the Schengen Area
- Proof of sufficient means available to cover one’s own expenses for the duration of the stay. The actual amount depends on country to country
4. Schengen Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a must while applying to obtain a Schengen Visa. It is required to cover any costs that arise due to emergency medical situations. The insurance coverage should be for at least 50,000 USD or 30,000 EURO. The insurance certificate is required to be submitted while submitting the visa application at the embassy. In case your visa is rejected for some other reasons, you can request the Embassy to provide you with a proof of refusal so that you can cancel your travel insurance and get your money refunded.
5. Schengen Visa Fee
When applying for a Schengen Visa, the applicant is required to pay a non-refundable visa fee. Depending on the duration the fee is as follows:
Regular Visa Fee:
- Airport Transit Visa: 60 Euro
- Schengen Visa for less than 90 days: 60 Euros
- Schengen Visa for more than 90 days: 99 Euros
For children between the age of 6-12 years, a visa fee of 35 Euro is applicable. If the child is below the age of 6 years, then no visa fee is required.
- Georgia, Kosovo, Russia and Ukraine Nationals: 35 Euro
There is no visa fee for persons eligible for the following:
- Children under 6 years of age
- Students, teachers or post graduates travelling for the purpose of education or educational training
- Scientists or researchers of third-world countries travelling specifically for the purpose of research
- Representatives of nonprofit organizations travelling for seminars, sports or cultural events and conferences organized by the nonprofit organizations.
6. Where to apply for Schengen Visa?
An applicant who wishes to obtain a Schengen Visa may apply at the embassy or consulate of any Schengen nation in the country where they reside. Although it is true that a Schengen Visa permits travel in all Schengen nations, there are some rules and regulations that determine where exactly one has to apply for a Schengen visa.
In case a person wishes to travel to only a certain Schengen country, then the visa application must be submitted at the embassy of that particular country.
If the traveller is planning a visit to two or more Schengen countries, then it is recommended to apply for Schengen visa at the embassy of the country where the traveller will be staying for the most number of days.
In the third case, if a person has many Schengen countries in his or her itinerary and they shall be touring these countries at random, then it is best to apply for Schengen visa in the embassy for the country they would be entering first.
Suggested Read: Things To Keep In Mind For A Successful Visa Application
7. How to apply for Schengen Visa?
Once you determine the embassy where you’d be eligible to apply for Schengen Visa, then the next step would be to download the application form from here and fill it carefully, making sure no details are omitted. The application form format is same for all Schengen countries.
Keep the following guidelines in mind while filling the form:
- The form can be filled by hand or typed on, depending on your choice.
- In case the application is filled by hand, make sure you use a black pen and fill out the form in neat, legible handwriting.
- Make sure you fill out all categories. Your form may be rejected if it is incomplete. In case the particular question asked is not applicable to you, you can write ‘No Answer’ or ‘NA’
After filling out the form, gather up all your documents and contact the appropriate embassy for an appointment.
8. When do I need to apply for Schengen Visa?
It is recommended that you apply for a visa at least six weeks prior to your date of departure. Even though the visa processing time might be as little as 72 hours, there is no guarantee of the time it will take for you to obtain your visa. It depends on country to country and hence it is advisable to finish all your visa formalities 14 to 21 days before departure.
Now that you know everything about a Schengen Visa, plan your Europe vacation exactly the way you want; visit your favourite countries and hop from one breathtaking destination to the next. Armed with the powerful Schengen Visa, no one can stop you.