Schengen Visa Validity, Duration of Stay, and Multiple Entry Visas

08-Aug-2022

16 min read

Personally, I love Europe, which is truly a melting pot of culture, history, architecture, and a plethora of incredible experiences. However, something else I love more is that I can visit 26 countries within and surrounding Europe with one type of visa!

Yup! 26 incredible destinations with one type of visa - it's almost unbelievable.

Now, this might not be news to frequent travelers, but let me give a brief explanation.

Thanks to something called the Schengen Agreement, international tourists, nomads, adventures, and all of the above, can visit any one of the 26 Schengen Member States with a little something called the Schengen Visa.

Even though this is incredible, it's not why I'm writing this post. Instead, I'm here to explain the Schengen Visa Types and their Validity periods.

"Why?"

Understanding the Schengen Visa types and validity period will help you get the most out of your trip to the Schengen Area. Also, it's important to understand the legal boundaries of your Schengen Visa before traveling. Let's be honest, no one wants to be deported because they misunderstood the validity or duration date of their Schengen Visa.

So, let's jump straight to it:


What Is A Uniform Schengen Visa (USV)

A Uniform Schengen Visa is a travel permit that allows you to travel to one of the Schengen Member States for a specific duration and purpose. Furthermore, holders of the USV are only allowed to visit the Schengen Zone for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period (6 months) - this is known as the 90/180 day Schengen rule.

The USV is commonly referred to as the Schengen Visa. So, don't get too confused with the formal name.

As I mentioned earlier, you can visit any one of the 26 Schengen Countries with the USV. These Schengen States include:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Depending on the purpose of your travel, the USV will fall under one of the following categories:

Category "A":

Category A is commonly referred to as an Airport Transit Visa.

"What is an Airport Transit Visa?"

A "Catagory A" USV, or Airport Transit Visa, will allow you to travel through an international zone of the Schengen country airport. This type of visa only allows you to pass through the Schengen country airport for connecting flights, layovers, etc. It does not allow you to visit the Schengen Area or the specific Schengen country of your connecting flight.

Category "C":

A "Catagory C" USV, commonly known as the Schengen Visa, will allow you to travel to the Schengen Area for short-term visits for a certain duration. Furthermore, depending on the purpose and frequency of your visits to the Schengen Area, you'll be issued one of the following Schengen entry visas:

  • A single entry visa
  • A double-entry visa
  • A multiple-entry visa

What Are The Types Of Schengen Entry Visas?

The purpose of your trip and how frequently you visit the Schengen Area will determine the type of entry visa/permit you'll receive.

"What does this mean?"

In simpler terms, this will determine how often you can enter and exit the Schengen Area. But, with that said, you should always be mindful of your Schengen Visa's validity period, which I'll explain later in this post.

For now, let's take a look at the different types of Schengen entry visas:

The different types of entry visas should not be confused with the total amount of Schengen States you're allowed to visit. You'll find a "Valid for:" within your Schengen Visa sticker. This indicates the Schengen States you're allowed to visit.

The single entry visa

As the name suggests, this type of entry visa will allow you to enter the Schengen Area once within the validity period of your Schengen Visa. After exiting the Schengen country, you won't be able to return.

The double-entry visa

As you already guessed, the double-entry visa will allow you to enter the Schengen Area more than once. This allows you to return to your home country (or another country) and travel back to the Schengen Zone one more time. This also means that you won't be able to return once you exit the country the second time around.

Frequent travelers who have received multiple double-entry visas before will be eligible to obtain a multiple-entry visa.

The multiple-entry visa

With a Schengen multiple-entry visa, you can enter and exit the Schengen Area as frequently as you want. However, the 90/180-day Schengen rule still applies (I'll get to this later).

Depending on how frequent you travel to the Schengen Area, you'll receive one of the following multiple-entry visas:

  • 1-year multiple-entry Schengen Visa:

The 1-year multiple-entry visa will allow you to visit the Schengen territory as many times as you like, as long as you don't break the 90/180 day Schengen rule.

You're eligible to receive a 1-year multiple entry visa if you've previously applied for 3 Schengen Visas within the past 2 years.

When applying for a 1-year MEV, you'll need to prove that you've previously applied for 3 separate Schengen Visas. This is easily done by submitting copies of your previous visas alongside your visa application.

  • 3-year multiple-entry Schengen Visa:

Similar to the 1-year MEV, a 3-year MEV will allow you to visit the Schengen Area as many times as you want within 3 years. Once again, the 90/180-day Schengen rule applies.

You're eligible to apply for a 3-year MEV if you've previously obtained a 1-year MEV within the past 2 years.

Before you can obtain a 3-year MEV, your previous MEV must have reached the end of its validity period. This means that you can't apply for a 3-year MEV if your first MEV has not yet expired.

  • 5-year multiple-entry Schengen Visa:

As before, a 5-year MEV will allow you to visit the Schengen States in the EU as many times as you like (within 5 years).

You're eligible for a 5-year MEV if you have obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa (valid for at least two years) within the past three years.

Like all multiple entry visas, you're not allowed to stay more than 90 days within 6 months in the Schengen Area.


What Is The Schengen 90/180 Day Rule?

At first glance, the 90/180-day rule might seem pretty straightforward. However, there's more to it than meets the eye.

So let's break it down the 90 days before looking at the 180-day part:

You're allowed to visit the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days within every 180 days. So, you have 90 days to visit the Schengen Area (within 6 months).

Pretty simple.

Now let's take a look at the 180-day part of the rule:

The 180 days are counted backward from the date you leave the Schengen Area and return to your home country. Now, this might mean nothing to you (yet), but here's the cool part about this rule. You could potentially visit the Schengen Area for more than 130 days without breaking any rules.

Just remember, count the 180 days backward from the date you leave (exit date) the Schengen country.

You can use a Schengen calculator to determine the duration you're allowed to stay within the Schengen Zone.


Schengen Visa Types According To Purpose Of Travel

The purpose of your trip will determine if you're eligible to apply for a Schengen Visa and also the type of Schengen Visa you need to apply for. For example, if you plan to live in the Schengen Area, you won't be able to apply for a Schengen Visa. However, if your trip is only for tourism, then the Schengen Visa is for you.

Next, I'll walk you through the different types of travel purposes that will grant you a Schengen Visa:

Airport Transit

If you're traveling through the international zone of the Schengen Area, you might need to apply for a Schengen Airport Transit Visa (Type A). I should mention that this is not a requirement for all nationals.

The Schengen States and European Union have created a specific list of residents that need this type of visa to transit through the Schengen zone. That being said, some Schengen States have their own individual requirements from different countries.

For example, you may be able to travel through France without an Airport Transit Visa, but you might need one to travel through Portugal.

Transit

Similar to the Airport Transit Visa, a regular Transit Visa is generally used by seafarers who need to dock at international Schengen ports for a short period.

Tourism

The Schengen Visa is commonly referred to as a Schengen Tourist Visa. This is because tourism is probably the most common purpose for travel to the Schengen Zone. So, if you plan to visit any of the amazing Schengen Countries to explore the incredible sights, cultures, and destinations, you'll need to apply for a Schengen Visa.

When applying for your Schengen Tourist Visa, you'll need to apply at the country's embassy you plan to visit. For example, you need a Portugal Schengen Visa if you plan to visit Portugal.

Visiting Family Members and Friends

As the title suggests, you can use a Schengen Visa to travel to relatives and friends in the Schengen Area. However, when visiting relatives/friends in the Schengen Area, you'll need to attach an invitation letter alongside your required documents. This basically proves you've been invited to the Schengen Area.

Medical Reasons

Under certain circumstances, you may need to travel to the Schengen Area for medical purposes. Your medical professional will write a formal letter requesting medical attention in the Schengen Zone. Once you receive your letter, you must include it with other Schengen required documents. After submitting your application, your Schengen Visa will be processed as a Medical Schengen Visa.

Business Purposes

A Business Schengen Visa will allow you to travel to the Schengen Area for business purposes. In addition, frequent travelers will generally receive a multiple entry visa to help ease travels to and from the Schengen Zone.

Business purposes include:

  • Meeting clients
  • Attending business conferences
  • Attending important business meetings, etc.

When traveling to the Schengen Area for business purposes, it will be beneficial to include an invitation letter from the company abroad or a no objection letter from your employer. This will help prove the purpose of your travel.

Study Purposes

You can use a Schengen Visa to travel to the Schengen Zone for short-term study courses (like language courses). Be sure to include relevant documents that prove you'll be studying abroad. I should mention that the Study Schengen Visa only allows short stays and can not be used as a long-term study visa (more than 3 months).

Official Visit

When traveling to the Schengen States for official duties, you should check "Official Visit" when completing the Schengen application form. Generally, you'll receive an invitation letter inviting you to visit the Schengen Area.

The following purposes fall under official visits:

  • meetings
  • consultations
  • negotiations
  • exchange programs
  • other events held in the Schengen Zone by intergovernmental organizations

Culture, Sport, and Film Crew

As you probably guessed by the title, a Schengen Visa will allow you to travel abroad for culture, sport, and production purposes. Similar to other purposes, you'll need to include relevant documents alongside your application to prove the purpose of your trip.

Other Purposes

"I can't find the purpose of my trip mentioned above."

Should you plan to visit the member states for a purpose not mentioned above, you must tick "Other" on your application form. In addition, you must specify the exact reasons for your trip to the Schengen Area.

For example:

Suppose you plan to the Schengen Area to attend a religious conference. In that case, you can enter "Religious visit."

Please check out our Schengen Visa guide for more information related to the Schengen Visa.


What Is The Difference Between Visa Validity And Duration Of Stay?

Here is where things can get a bit confusing.

It's essential to understand the difference between "visa validity" and "duration of stay." This will save you from crossing any legal boundaries, as well as help you get the most out of your visa.

What Is Duration Of Stay?

Simply put, the duration of stay indicates the maximum amount of days you're allowed to visit the Schengen Area. "Day 1" is counted when you first enter the Schengen Area, and your final day is counted as the day you leave the Schengen Area.

For example:

On your visa, the duration of your stay is 20 days.

Let's say you enter the Schengen Area on January 1. As soon as you enter, the first day is counted. On January 20, you need to return to your home country or your next destination (that is not a Schengen Member State).

Let's say you leave the Schengen State on the 10th day. This means you still have 10 days left to visit the Schengen Zone within your visa's validity period.

You mustn't overstay the date mentioned on your visa. Doing this will lead to heavy fines or even a ban from the Schengen Area. It's possible to extend your Schengen Visa. However, you must have a valid reason for doing this. Be mindful that authorities will determine if your motivation is valid for a visa extension. If not, your visa extension request will be denied.

What Is Visa Validity?

Visa validity is the period in which you can use your Schengen Visa. It's important not to confuse this with the duration of stay.

Let's use the same example as before:

  • The duration of your visa is 20 days.
  • The validity period of your visa is January 1, 2022 - February 25, 2022.

You're allowed to visit the Schengen Visa for 20 days between January 1 and February 25. Suppose you enter the Schengen Area on January 20 and leave on January 30. In that case, you still have 10 days left to visit the Schengen Area before February 25.

If the validity of your Schengen Visa expires (February 25), you won't be able to re-enter the Schengen Area.

Remember to check what type of entry visa you've been granted. If you've been granted a single entry visa, you won't be able to re-enter the country after your first visit. On the other hand, if you've been issued a double-entry visa, you can re-enter the Schengen Zone for a second time.


What Is A Limited Territorial Validity Visa (LTV)?

The Limited Territorial Validity Visa (LTV) sounds complicated, but it's pretty simple. An LTV only allows you to visit a specific Schengen country, as specified on your visa sticker.

The key difference between a standard Schengen Visa and an LTV is that an LTV holder cannot transit or visit any Schengen State other than that mentioned on the visa sticker.

For example:

If you've been issued an LTV to Portugal, you may only travel to Portugal and no other Schengen Country.

An LTV is generally issued under very specific circumstances, such as humanitarian reasons, emergency travel reasons, or international travel obligations.


What Is A National Visa?

A national visa is a travel authorization document that allows long-term stays within a Schengen Area Country. This is commonly known as the Type D Visa or long-stay visa.

A national visa holder will be allowed to stay in the Schengen territory for more than 90 days. Generally, a national visa enables its holder to apply for a residence permit or any other type of long-term visa.

It's important to understand that this type of visa has its own visa requirements that are different from a standard type c visa (Schengen Visa). These documents include valid insurance policy/travel insurance, a valid travel document, proof of sufficient funds, proof of accommodation, and so on.


How To Read Your Schengen Visa Sticker

Finally, let's look at the Schengen Visa sticker and how to read it. First, we'll look at some important information on your visa sticker.

  • VALID FOR: This indicates what Schengen Member Countries you're allowed to visit. If you see "SCHENGEN STATES," you're allowed to travel to any of the 26 Schengen Countries within Europe. Otherwise, you'll find the country codes you're allowed to visit with your specific Schengen Visa. For example: If you see B, F, and I. You're only allowed to visit Belgium (B), France (F), and Italy (I).

  • FROM: This indicates the first day you're allowed to enter the Schengen Area. Be mindful that you're not allowed to enter the Schengen Zone before the specified dates.

  • UNTIL: This indicates the last day you're allowed to visit the Schengen Area. Never overstay the specified date, which could lead to a heavy fine or even a ban to the Schengen Area.

  • TYPE OF VISA: As the name suggests, this indicates the type of visa you've been issued. Here you should see C, which is known as a short-term visa (the Schengen Visa). A is for a transit visa, and D is for long-term stays.

  • NUMBER OF ENTRIES: This indicates the number of times you're allowed to enter the Schengen Area. As previously discussed, 1 means a single entry, 2 means double entry, and M means multiple entries.

  • DURATION OF STAY: The duration of stay indicates the number of days you're permitted to stay within the Schengen Area. Remember that you're only allowed to visit the states within the validity period of your Schengen Visa. You'll find the validity period of your visa under FROM and UNTIL.

  • ISSUED IN: The city of the Consulate or Embassy that issued your visa.

  • ON: The date your visa was issued.

  • NUMBER OF PASSPORT: Your passport number.

  • SURNAME, NAME: Your name and surname.

Here's an example Schengen Visa sticker:

Screenshot 2022-04-11 at 18.00.04.png

From here, we can see that:

  • Joyce Joja is allowed to travel to any Schengen country for a duration of 90 days starting from 01-04-10 to 31-03-11.
  • Joyce Joja has obtained a type c multiple entry visa (M) valid for 1 year.
  • Joyce Joja's visa was issued in Abuja.

In Conclusion

You now know everything about the Schengen Visa types, validity, and purposes. Furthermore, once you receive your next Schengen Visa, you'll be able to confidently understand your visa sticker; and ensure that you don't cross any legal boundaries.

Written By: Chris Markham
Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

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