Explore Schengen Visa Types: A Comprehensive Guide

Last Updated : 20-Dec-2023

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Explore the world of Schengen visas and learn about the main types:

    Airport Transit Visa (Type A)

    Uniform Schengen Visa (USV - Type C)

    Visa with Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) 

    Long-stay or "National" Visa (NV - Type D)

Whether planning a cultural journey, pursuing education, or travelling for business, understanding these visa types is your passport to seamless travel.

The Schengen Area is a group of European countries that have agreed to eliminate border controls between them, allowing for easier and more seamless travel. 

This agreement for Schengen aims to create a unified zone where people can move freely across member countries without requiring passport checks at internal borders.

To travel within the Schengen Area, individuals often need a Schengen visa. This visa serves as permission to enter, stay, or transit through the countries in the Schengen Zone. 

It simplifies travel logistics for tourists and business travellers by providing a single visa for multiple countries, fostering a more integrated and accessible travel experience.

Schengen Visa Types & Validity

There are different types of Schengen visas for travelling to Schengen countries:

Airport Transit Visa (Type A)

The Airport Transit Visa for Schengen is specifically designed for travellers who need to transit through the international zone of a Schengen Area airport without entering any Schengen country. 

You can't enter the Schengen Area with this visa and must have a visa even for short layovers between flights in airports in Schengen countries. 

Uniform Schengen Visa (USV - Type C)

This visa is for short stays, with a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period. It's valid for the entire Schengen Area. The USV Type C is primarily intended for:

    Tourism and Visit: Individuals planning to travel to the Schengen Area for tourism purposes or to visit friends and family.

    Business: People travel for business purposes, such as attending meetings, conferences, or engaging in business activities.

You can have one, two, or multiple entries. It can be issued for one, two, three, or five years under certain conditions.

Here is a breakdown of the different USV - Type C visas:

Single-Entry Visa

A single-entry visa allows you to enter the Schengen Area only once, within a specific time mentioned on the visa sticker in your passport. You can't go back once you leave the Schengen territory, even if you haven't used all the days the embassy allows.

People sometimes get confused about this visa, thinking they can only visit one country. To clear it up, know how to read your Schengen visa and check the 'Valid for' tag for the allowed territory and the 'Number of entries' tag for the permitted duration of stay.

Double-Entry Visa

Similar to a single-entry visa, a double-entry visa lets you enter the Schengen Area twice within its validity period. This type of visa is ideal for individuals who plan to visit a Schengen country, leave for a non-Schengen state, and then return to the Schengen Area again. 

The total stay should not exceed 90 days in a 180-day period.  Be cautious not to exceed the allowed days or violate the specified period. When you leave for the second time, you can't return, even if you haven't used all your permitted days.

It's particularly useful for travellers who need to visit neighbouring non-Schengen countries or those who have connecting flights in Schengen countries en route to non-Schengen destinations.

Multiple-Entry Visa

A multiple-entry visa allows you to enter and exit the Schengen Area many times, following the 90/180 rule. Depending on your travel frequency, you can get different types:

    1-year multiple-entry visa: Apply if you've lawfully used three visas in the previous two years.

    3-year multiple-entry visa: Obtainable if you've used a one-year multiple-entry visa in the past two years.

    5-year multiple-entry visa: Granted to those who've used a multiple-entry visa for at least two years in the previous three years.

These visas let you enter the Schengen Area multiple times if you adhere to the 90/180 days rule.

Visa with Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) 

This visa allows you to travel only in the Schengen State that issued it or, in certain cases, in specific Schengen States mentioned during the visa application. It is not valid for any other Schengen country not specified in advance. 

The holder of this visa cannot enter or transit through any Schengen country that is not the first or final destination. This type of visa is rare and is issued in special cases, such as for humanitarian reasons or international obligations, as an exception to the usual Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) system. 

It may be granted to individuals who need to travel to the Schengen area urgently but do not have a valid travel document.

Long-stay or "National" Visa (NV - Type D)

This visa is for stays longer than 90 days, with one or multiple entries. It's only valid in the Schengen country that issued it. Holders can travel freely in other Schengen countries for up to 90 days every six months if the visa is valid.

To get a multi-entry national visa, you need to meet certain conditions:


    If you're in an international student program, the visa is given for up to one year.


    If you're starting a full course of studies in a Schengen country, you can get a one-year visa, and you may extend it.


    If you're doing educational or research work at a higher institution or research centre in a Schengen country, your visa covers you and your close family for a specific period.


    You can get a visa if you're a professional, like a sportsman or artist, travelling to a Schengen country to share your expertise.

In emergencies, like having a medical condition that stops you from leaving the Schengen Area when you're supposed to, you may be eligible for a visa extension.

Schengen Visa Types According to the Purpose of Travel

When you fill out your Schengen Visa application, you must pick the reason for visiting the Schengen territory. Here are the different purposes and what they mean:

    Airport Transit: For those passing through a Schengen Country Airport without entering the country. Some countries have specific requirements, so check if you need this visa based on your nationality.

    Transit: Similar to airport transit, often chosen by seafarers stopping briefly in a member state's seaport.

    Tourism: The tourist visa for Schengen is ideal for those planning to go sightseeing and experience culture, food, and more in Schengen countries.

    Visiting Family or Friends: If you have family or friends in the Schengen area, this visa allows you to visit them. Special requirements, like a letter of invitation, apply.

    Business: For frequent travellers for business, offering advantages like a quicker Schengen visa appointment during peak application seasons.

    Journalists & Reporters: A Schengen business visa for press members visiting the Schengen Area for work, such as journalism.

    Official Visit: If you're on official duty, even in a large delegation, select this purpose in your application.

    Medical Reasons: For those seeking medical treatment in Schengen countries for up to three months within 180 days.

    Study Purposes: For students attending educational institutions, language courses, or taking entrance exams for a period shorter than three months.

    Cultural, Sports, and Film Crews: For individuals outside the Schengen area attending cultural, sports, and religious events or as part of a film crew.

    Other: If none of the listed purposes fits, choose "Other" and specify your reason in a short sentence, such as "Religious Visit."

Difference Between Visa Validity And Duration Of Stay

Regarding your Schengen visa, it's important to understand the distinction between visa validity and the duration of your stay. 

Except for a multiple-entry visa, which allows a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period, the embassy determines the validity of your single or double-entry visa.

    Duration of Stay: The maximum number of days you can stay in the Schengen Area. Your entry is counted as "Day 1," even just before midnight. The "Last Day" is the day you leave, even if it's shortly after midnight.

    Visa Validity: This is when you can use your visa to enter and stay in the Schengen Area. The embassy sets the first and last dates you can enter and stay.

Many people get confused with the 90\180 rule because they don't realise these are two different things. The duration of stay is about how long you can be in the Schengen Area, while visa validity is the timeframe for using your visa to enter and stay.


To summarise, getting the right Schengen visa is key for your trip. Whether it's a single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry visa, each type has its purpose.

Remember, the "Valid for" tag on your visa says where you can go, and the "Number of entries" tag tells you how long you can stay.

Whether you're travelling for fun, education, or work, choosing the right visa makes your journey smoother. Just follow the rules, and your Schengen adventure will be full of great experiences.

So, as you plan your trip, pick the right visa, explore, and have a safe and enjoyable journey!

Government sources:

At Atlys, we aim to provide precise information for your Schengen journey. We depend on the most recent updates from Schengen governments to guarantee the reliability of our information. Our blog employs smart technology to simplify complex topics.

We trust official government sources to offer the latest and most accurate details.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can apply for a visa for medical reasons, allowing you to seek treatment in the Schengen countries.

Verified Author:

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