Visa Glossary/Schengen Visa

Schengen Visa

What is a Schengen visa?

A Schengen visa is a travel authorization that grants holders the freedom to visit and move within the Schengen area. The Schengen zone consists of 27 European countries that have agreed to allow the free movement of their citizens within this area. This visa is crucial for non-EU citizens who wish to visit multiple European countries on a single trip without needing multiple visas.

Detailed explanation

The Schengen visa is issued by any of the Schengen area member countries. Once obtained, it allows travellers to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any Schengen member country. It is ideal for short stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period for purposes such as tourism, business, visiting family and friends, or attending conferences.

Visa types and Schengen visa relevance

There are several types of Schengen visas, including:

  • Uniform Schengen visa (USV): Allow travel throughout the Schengen area.

  • Limited territorial validity visa (LTV): This visa restricts travel to the country that issued it or, in some cases, certain Schengen countries specifically mentioned when applying for the visa.

  • National visa: Issued for long-term stays for study or work and allows travelling across Schengen countries.

Where to apply for a Schengen visa?

When applying for a Schengen visa, you must apply through the embassy or visa application centre of the country you intend to visit. If you visit multiple countries, the following will apply:

  • Apply for your visa through the country where you will spend the most time.

  • If your stay in multiple countries will be of equal length, apply for your visa through the country of first entry.

Application process

Applying for a Schengen visa involves the following steps:

  • Determine the type of Schengen visa you need based on your travel purpose.

  • Complete the application form.

  • Gather necessary documents (passport, photos, flight tickets, hotel bookings, insurance, etc.).

  • Schedule and attend a visa interview at an approved visa application centre.

  • Pay the visa fee.

  • Once approved, collect your visa from the application centre.

Examples and use cases

  • Tourism: A family from a non-EU country planning a vacation to visit multiple European landmarks.

  • Business: An entrepreneur attending business meetings in several Schengen countries.

  • Cultural events: An artist or performer participating in cultural events across the Schengen Area.

Do I need a Schengen visa if I am travelling through multiple Schengen countries?

Yes, you must apply for a Schengen visa when travelling through multiple Schengen countries unless you are a citizen of a visa-exempt country.

Can I apply for a Schengen visa online?

Some countries allow you to complete an online application. However, you must still visit an application centre to submit your documents.

How long does it take to get a Schengen visa?

The Schengen visa processing time is 30 days, but it can take longer if there are delays in processing your visa.