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The Complete Guide to Schengen Visa

Written By: Lamia Darwish

Fact Checked By: Jakus Eloff


What is a Schengen Visa?

If you're considering a trip to Europe, you've almost certainly come across the term "Schengen" during your study. But what exactly is the Schengen Area? When is a Schengen visa required for travel to Europe, and how can you obtain one? What is valid Schengen visa insurance, for that matter?

Here's everything you need to know about navigating the Schengen zone, from general travel laws to the Schengen visa application process.

A Schengen visa is an official document that some non-Europeans must travel to any of the 26 Schengen nations. This visa permits the traveler to traverse the borders of other member nations without having to go through identity checks at the border after it has been granted. The most common Schengen visa (the short-stay visa) allows you to travel/stay for a maximum of 90 days over six months beginning on the visa's entry date.

A Schengen visa is a short-term visa that allows its holder to travel freely throughout the Schengen area. There are no border restrictions between the 26 nations that make up the Schengen area ("Schengen States"). 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 are among these countries.

Although there may be minor variances in procedures and required documentation, these countries have agreed to eliminate all internal borders and adopt a uniform visa policy.

A Schengen visa is a document issued by a Schengen State that allows you to:

  • A planned stay of no more than 90 days in any 180 days on the territory of the Schengen States ("short-stay visa"),

  • Travel through the Schengen States' international transit zones at airports ("airport transit visa").

While you may not require a visa to enter Europe, you must have a valid passport to enter any of the Schengen countries. Each person of a nation that is not a member of the Schengen Area and does not have a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU needs a Schengen visa to visit any member country. Starting in January 2022, those who are under the visa-free system will be eligible for ETIAS.

If you try to leave the Schengen Area without the stamps in your passport, you may be asked to prove how long you've been in Europe. Also, if you intend to exit the Schengen area before the visa expires, you will be issued a visa. You must also have sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of your stay and present all necessary documentation. A Schengen visa does not entitle the holder to enter the Schengen area automatically.

Schengen Countries

What exactly is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area, often known as the Schengen Countries Zone, is a group of 26 European countries that have removed cross-border border restrictions. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, and Scandinavian countries are among them, but not the United Kingdom or Ireland.

The Schengen Agreement is signed by the majority of European Union (EU) countries. However, certain non-Schengen countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania, are signed but not yet active members and are only required to join in the future. In addition, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway are not members of the European Union, yet they are part of the Schengen Area.

In a small vineyard town called Schengen in Luxembourg, the Schengen accord was signed, establishing the principle of free movement between member nations and eliminating any barriers along their borders. So, if you've ever wondered why it's called 'Schengen,' here's your answer!

Schengen Agreement History

The Schengen accord was formed in 1985 by five European countries to eliminate all border controls. Luxembourg, West Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands were the five original signatories out of the ten members of the European Economic Community (EEC).

The agreement's most significant step was to eliminate border restrictions at these member countries' common boundaries. There were also proposals to eliminate vehicle security checks, allowing travelers to pass borders simply.

All of the nations who signed the agreement were known as Schengen area countries, and the territory that encompassed them became known as the Schengen area. Even though the Schengen region began with only five countries, it has grown to include many more. It currently has 26 members, as well as several territories and micronations. In 2011, Liechtenstein became the most recent country to join the Schengen area.

In 1995, the agreement established the Schengen visa system, allowing visitors to travel freely across borders if they possessed a Schengen visa. As a result, it effectively created a single state where you can travel without needing several visas for each country - just one Schengen visa for the entire area! In addition, because the majority of Schengen nations are EU members, the rules of the Schengen agreement have lately been merged with those of the European Union.

List of Countries in Schengen Area

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 are the current members of the Schengen Agreement.

Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway are the only Schengen countries not members of the European Union. As a result, they are formally known as countries associated with the EU's Schengen activities. This means that, although not being members of the EU, these countries are bound to respect its decisions. In addition, Norway and Iceland, two of these non-European union nations, are members of the Nordic Passport Union.

Apart from these countries, the Schengen zone encompasses France's Caribbean islands and three European micro-states: Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. Visitors are welcome to visit these territories and micronations, which have open or semi-open borders.

Easiest Countries to Apply for a Schengen Visa

The prerequisites for applying for a Schengen visa are the same regardless of whatever consulate you go to, although the application process varies slightly. However, when we look at the many countries that make up the Schengen area, we can see that some have an excellent track record for providing visas. So, with that in mind, let's have a look at the nations where a Schengen visa can be obtained.

How to Use Schengen Visa to Travel to Non-Schengen Countries?

Did you know that you can enter other countries that aren't in the Schengen zone using your Schengen visa if you get a Schengen visa to travel within the Schengen zone? This makes it considerably easier for visa-required people to travel worldwide, including to countries in the European Union (EU). So why not take advantage of these visa-free rules and visit more non-Schengen countries than you originally planned?

  • Republic of Ireland
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Andorra

Schengen Visa Policy

Without a uniform visa policy that promotes the admission of lawful tourists into the EU while boosting internal security, the borderless Schengen Area cannot function effectively. Therefore, the EU has developed a uniform visa policy for transit through or intended stays of no more than 90 days in any 180 days in the territory of a Schengen State and transit through international transit areas of Schengen States' airports. The 26 Schengen countries granted 15 million Schengen visas in 2019. Certain other countries' citizens are needed to have a visa upon arrival or while in transit.

When visiting the Schengen Area, citizens from various non-EU countries are needed to have a visa. The EU maintains a list of countries whose residents require a visa to cross their external borders and a list of countries whose nationals are exempt. In general, a short-stay visa issued by one of the Schengen States permits the holder to travel for up to 90 days in any 180 days throughout the Schengen States. Visas for stays longer than that are still subject to national regulations.

Bilateral conversations may lead to decisions on visa-free admission to the Schengen Area. They are based on the countries' success in enacting key changes in areas including strengthening the rule of law, combatting organized crime, corruption, and illegal migration, and increasing administrative capacity in border control and document security.

The EU Visa Code is the second component of the unified visa policy. It lays forth the procedures and requirements for obtaining visas for short-term stays and airport transit.

The uniform format for the visa sticker is the third component of the visa policy.

Types of Schengen Visa

You'll need to apply for a Schengen visa if you're traveling to Europe and entering the Schengen Area from a nation where you don't have a visa-free travel arrangement. A, B, C, and D are the four main Schengen Visa categories or Schengen Visa kinds.

A Uniform Schengen Visa, the most frequent Schengen Visa type, covers categories A, B, and C, giving you an airport transit visa and allowing you to stay in any Schengen Zone nation for up to 90 days in six months. If you're going to Europe for a brief holiday, you'll require this visa.

1. Schengen Visa Type A

Citizens of non-Schengen countries can transit through or wait for their connecting aircraft in the international zone of a Schengen country with a type A visa. It is required for travelers traveling from one non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen country and connecting flights in a Schengen country's airport. A type A visa holder is not permitted to enter the Schengen country in question.

2. Schengen Visa Type B

The type B visa, which is for trips of less than five days, has been superseded by a type "C" visa with the condition "transit."

3. Schengen Visa Type C

The most frequent visa is the Schengen visa. It is issued by a Schengen country's visa services (embassies, consulates, and other designated foreign providers). It entitles the holder to stay or travel freely in the Schengen area for no more than 90 days every 180 days.

Citizens of some nations are required to have it. Read the Schengen visa entry requirements to see if you need a category C Schengen visa.

The short-stay category C Schengen visa may be used for the following purposes:

  • A single-entry visa (designated by the number "1" on the visa sticker) allows the holder to visit the Schengen area only once. If you leave the area, your visa's validity expires, even if the validity period hasn't yet expired. In a nutshell, any exit has to be considered final!

  • A double-entry visa (designated by the number "2" on the visa sticker) allows the holder to visit the Schengen area twice within the visa's validity period. During that time, you are free to leave and return to the Schengen area. Your visa will expire the second time you leave the area.

  • A multiple-entry visa (designated by the letters « MULT » on the visa sticker) permits the holder to enter and exit the country as often as they wish. Over 180 days, this authorization is valid for a maximum of 90 days.

4. Schengen Visa Type D or a National Long-Stay Visa

The national visa is a Schengen category D long-stay visa. Any foreigner seeking to study, work, or live in a Schengen country for more than 90 days must have it (up to 1 year). It allows its bearer to travel and stay in the Schengen area outside of the original Schengen country for up to 90 days over 180 days and for the duration of their visa's validity.

The following are examples of travel reasons that may warrant obtaining a category D visa:

  • tourism or private visits
  • professional activities
  • to study, to take part in a training program, or to complete an internship
  • family reasons

The national visa, also known as a Type D visa, is given by the consular authorities of the Schengen country to which you are traveling in line with national law. As a result, it is required to contact the country's services to learn about the many conditions and formalities that must be completed. It can be awarded as a single or multiple-entry Long-stay visa under certain circumstances.

Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa for 3 years

If you have used three visas in the previous two years, you can apply for a multiple-entry Schengen Visa type. When applying for this Schengen Visa type, you must provide proof of previous visas and journeys to the Schengen Area. Each 180-day term allows you to enter for 90 days. Applicants who have obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for one year within the previous two years are eligible for a three-year multiple-entry visa. The 90/180 rule is in effect.

Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa for 5 years

If you have received and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for at least two years in the last three years, you can apply for a five-year multiple-entry visa.

Schengen Visa Rule 90/180

The nature of the 90/180 rule is vital to know for multiple-entry visa holders. Most people believe the 180-day period begins when your visa is issued, but it begins when your visa is issued. This means you must calculate backward from the day you plan to re-enter the Schengen Area to ensure you haven't spent more than 90 days there in the previous 180 days.

Limited Territorial Visa

A Limited Territorial Visa is another sort of visa that only enables you to travel through one country. When a conventional visa to travel Europe is unavailable, these are usually only provided in unusual or emergencies.

Who Needs Schengen Visa?

The inhabitants of the following countries must get a Schengen visa in order to enter any Schengen member country:



Regardless of the reason for travel, the number of days allowed to remain in any of the Schengen zone nations cannot exceed 90 days/ three months every half-year. You should also remember that having a Schengen visa allows you to enter and stay in a Schengen country for a set period, but it does not allow you to work or study there.

If you are a family member of an EU/EEA national, you may not be exempt from obtaining a visa to enter the Schengen zone. It simply means that the visa application process will be simplified and expedited. However, for this to apply, you must meet specific requirements, such as:

  • You must be a first-degree relative of an EU/EEA citizen (husband or a child under 21years old).
  • It would be best if you were accompanied by an EU/EEA citizen at the journey destination or dwelling country inside the Schengen Area and provide proof of this.

The visa requirements for persons with multiple nationalities vary depending on the passport they choose to travel with. Even if you hold a passport from one of the Schengen member nations but are unwilling to use it for any reason, if you choose to travel with a passport from a nationality that requires a mandatory visa, you will be required to obtain one.

Suppose you have a D visa, which permits you to enter and live in the Schengen region for a set amount of time, and you have a residency permit from that nation. In that case, you are entitled to visit any Schengen country within 90 days every six months. To acquire a D visa, you must have a legitimate reason, as explained in the following section.

Schengen Visa Requirements

  • Schengen Application Form for obtaining a visa.

  • Two photographs taken recently must be provided. According to the visa photo requirements, both photos must have been shot within the last three months.

  • A valid passport is required. It should be no more than ten years old and valid for at least three months beyond the day you want to exit the Schengen area. Passports with visas from the past (if you have any).

  • Itinerary or reservation for a round trip. Dates and flight numbers detailing entry and exit from the Schengen area must be included.

  • Policy for travel insurance. A document proving that you have travel health insurance for the entire Schengen area, with a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros in case of medical emergencies such as sickness, accidents, or even death repatriation. AXA Schengen, MondialCare, or Europ Assistance all offer insurance policies that may be purchased online.

  • Proof of lodging is required. A document that details where you will be staying throughout your stay in Schengen. This can be a reservation for a hotel or hostel, a rental / Airbnb contract, or a letter of invitation from the host who will be hosting you.

  • Financial proof is required. Proof that you will be able to sustain yourself financially throughout your stay in the Schengen area. You can show a bank account statement demonstrating that you have sufficient funds in your account for the trip. The statement must be no more than three months old. You can even show a sponsorship Letter — a letter from someone else confirming that they would financially sponsor your vacation to Schengen. This letter must be accompanied by a bank statement from the sponsor that is no more than three months old in order to be valid.

Requirements for obtaining a Schengen visa based on the applicant's employment status

The following documents are necessary depending on the visa applicant's job status:

Employees should:

  • Contract of employment
  • The most recent six-month paystubs
  • The employer must permit you to leave.

For self-employed people:

  • a photocopy of your company's license
  • The most recent six-month bank statement for the company.

For students:

  • Proof of enrollment is required for students.
  • Letter of sponsorship if someone else is sponsoring their trip

For retirees:

  • Pension statement from the previous six months for retirees.

If you're unemployed and married to an EU citizen, you should:

  • Have a confirmation of Employment letter from their spouse's employer, no more than three months old, specifying the job held inside the organization as well as the start date.
  • Valid passport of the spouse.
  • A legally binding marriage certificate.

Documents Required for Minors to Apply for a Schengen Visa

Minors' parents or legal guardians must present additional documents for the underage applicant when applying for a Schengen visa:

  • The birth certificate of the minor.
  • Both parents must sign the application form.
  • In circumstances where only one parent has full custody of the kid, a family court decree is issued.
  • Both parents' certified copies of their ID/passport are required.
  • If the kid will be traveling alone, a notarized parental authorization signed by both parents/guardians is required.

Documents Required Depending on the Schengen Visa Type

Aside from the documents mentioned above, depending on the Schengen visa type you are applying for, you will need to submit several other documents.

Each type of Schengen visa requires its own set of extra documents, which are listed individually below.

  • When applying for an airport transit visa, you'll need the following documents.
  • The following documents are necessary to obtain a Schengen airport transit visa:
  • A valid visa (if required) for the final destination country A flight ticket for the last destination country

When applying for a visa to visit relatives or friends, you'll need the following documents.

The following documents are required in order to obtain a Schengen visa to visit relatives or friends:

  • Affidavit of Support (Affidavit of Support): Suppose you don't have a bank account or don't have enough money to cover your expenses during your trip. In that case, you'll need to have your visiting friends or family sign an "official affidavit of support" at the equivalent office in your hometown. When applying for a visa, make sure you have the original document with you.

  • Itinerary for travel: The applicant's trip description, reason of travel, time range, and all personal dates are set down in a letter.

  • Subsistence Techniques: If the applicant declares that he or she will cover all travel expenses, proof of financial status is required; otherwise, if the applicant's expenses will be covered by a relative or friend, a formal document issued by the competent authorities to a resident of a Schengen country (in this case, the friend/relative) is required.

  • Invitation letter: By a family member or friend who lives in a Schengen nation. If the applicant is funding the costs independently, the name, address, and a copy of their passport of a relative or friend will suffice. A copy of the residency permit will be requested if the friend/relative is not a citizen of this Schengen nation.

Documents Required for a Training Visa Application

The following documents are necessary to obtain a Schengen Training visa:

  • Certificate of enrollment. One will be enrolled in a course at an eligible institution in a Schengen nation.
  • There will be no objection letter. A letter of recommendation from the educational institution where the visa applicant is currently enrolled is required (if applicable)

Documents Required for a Business Visa Application

A business visa is a document provided by the designated country/countries of destination inside the Schengen Area to nationals of countries that are subject to Schengen Zone visa regulations for the sole purpose of conducting business in the EU. Although it is not necessary for the bearer of this form of visa to be a citizen of the selected country to pursue their business objectives, such authorization has its restrictions.

When applying for a Business Schengen Visa, what documents are required?

  • Form for obtaining a visa. Completed and signed form.

  • Two photographs taken recently must be provided. According to the Schengen visa photo requirements, both photos must have been shot within the last three months.

  • A valid passport is required. It should be valid for at least three months after you plan to exit the Schengen zone. Passports with visas from the past (if you have any).

  • Itinerary or round-trip reservation Dates and flight numbers detailing entry and exit from the Schengen area must be included. Consultation services for visas, such as this one, are available. These people can take care of most of your business visa requirements, including travel itineraries, hotel reservations, and free email consultations.

  • Policy for travel insurance. A document proving that you have travel health insurance for the entire Schengen area, with a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros in case of medical emergencies such as sickness, accidents, or even death repatriation. AXA Schengen, MondialCare, and other insurance companies offer recognized policies by the EU authorities when applying for a business visa.

  • Proof of lodging is required. A document that details where you will be staying throughout your stay in Schengen. This could be a hotel reservation, a rental agreement, or a letter of invitation from the host who will be hosting you.

  • A bank account statement demonstrating that you have sufficient funds in your account for the trip. The statement must be no more than three months old.

Schengen Visa Travel Insurance

Travelers to Europe should be able to handle and pay for medical care in the event of an accident, injury, or other unexpected incidents. Having travel insurance to cover unforeseen expenses that emerge while traveling has been shown to provide financial support and comfort, allowing travelers to continue their adventure without worry.

Travel Insurance Requirements for Schengen Visas

For a Schengen visa, medical insurance must meet the following requirements:

  • A minimum of 30,000 EUR in coverage is required (equivalent to 35,200 USD as of March 2021).
  • It should apply to all Schengen Area member states.
  • Cover all costs associated with medical repatriation, emergency medical attention, and emergency hospital treatment, as well as death.

The necessary insurance certificate required when applying for a Schengen visa is provided by travel insurance providers AXA, MondialCare, and Europ Assistance. Despite the fact that travel health insurance is recommended for all visitors to Europe, it is not necessary. Only travelers who need to apply for a Schengen visa are required to purchase travel insurance. This category of travelers must always have adequate coverage for the duration of their stay in Europe, regardless of whether they are there for business, tourism, research, vacation, or other reasons. Foreign visitors to Europe who enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen zone can purchase their chosen travel insurance policy if they like; however, while it is strongly recommended, it is not necessary.

The following is an excerpt from “Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of July 13 2009,” which became effective on April 5, 2010:

“… Applicants for a uniform visa for one or two entries shall prove that they are in possession of adequate and valid travel medical insurance to cover any expenses which might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention, and/or emergency hospital treatment or death, during their stay(s) on the territory of the Member States. The insurance shall be valid throughout the territory of the Schengen Area Member States and cover the entire period of the person’s intended stay or transit. The minimum coverage shall be EUR 30,000” (…)

What Companies Offer Schengen Travel Insurance?

To begin with, the health insurance coverage that you may already have through your job contract may cover overseas medical emergency expenses; however, there are usually restrictions on what is covered. As a result, if you have a medical problem in the Schengen territory, you should know what to expect and what not to expect. Typically, travelers obtain an individual Schengen travel insurance coverage from the appropriate insurance provider for the days they want to spend in Europe. Make sure that the company you choose is licensed and accepted in the Schengen countries you are traveling to.

What Is the Cost of Schengen Travel Insurance?

The price of Schengen travel insurance varies from one provider to the other. AXA Schengen's premiums are listed below.

When I get Schengen visa travel insurance, would I be protected for Covid-19?

The majority of travel insurance policies are designed to protect consumers against unforeseen catastrophes such as sudden illnesses or bodily injuries. Therefore, epidemics and infectious diseases like CoVid-19 are usually ruled out. In most European countries, you will receive free medical care in an emergency. So, in the instance of Covid-19, you might be covered by National Health Services, but you won't be able to seek a refund from your insurer if costs are applied.

Photo Requirements for Schengen Visas

The following are the photo requirements for every short-term Schengen visa application:

  • Two images that are nearly identical. It can't be more than six months old.
  • 35x45mm photo size
  • It's in color. There will be no black and white.
  • 70-80% of the photo should be taken up by the head.
  • Background with a lot of colors. The color light grey is recommended. There are no patterns.
  • The candidate should be facing the camera directly.
  • Face with a neutral expression. No grin and a closed lips
  • Avoid wearing uniforms or wearing colors that are similar to the background.

The Schengen states have gone even farther, laying out all of the photo requirements for a Europe visa in great detail.

Types of Schengen Visas and Their Validity

A Schengen visa obtained from any of the Schengen Area member countries entitles the holder to free travel across the Schengen Zone, including among European Union Schengen members and EFTA Schengen members, subject to the validity and length constraints of the visa.

In most cases, you will be given your first Schengen visa, which will be valid for the duration of your planned stay in the Schengen-Area (e.g. from November 1 to 12).

The Embassy can grant Schengen-visas for subsequent trips that allow the bearer to stay in the Schengen-Area for a set number of days within a period (e.g. 30 days between March 1 and May 31).

The maximum stay in the Schengen-Area is always the number of days mentioned on the visa! The period begins on the first day of arrival into the Schengen-Area.

You can stay in the Schengen-Area for a maximum of 90 days every half-year if you have a Schengen-Visa with a validity of one year or more and a registered duration of stay of 90 days (in Germany or other Schengen-Countries). Please keep in mind that the counting of the duration of stay does not begin when the visa's validity begins.

What is a Schengen Visa Sponsorship Letter?

When you go to a Schengen visa interview with the consular officer, you will need to submit a Schengen visa sponsorship letter together with your other documents to the embassy. The sponsorship letter is necessary when the applicant will not be financing their expenses to Schengen but will have a sponsor pay for their trip's lodging, food, and other costs.

The sponsor writes the letter, explaining their relationship with the applicant and the expenditures they will cover. The letter must be accompanied by evidence proving the money's availability and the sponsor's identification to be valid.

Supporting Documents for Schengen Visa Sponsor Letter

If you don't back up your claims with documents, whatever you said and claimed in the Schengen visa sponsorship letter will be nullified. The following documents must be submitted:

  • A scanned copy of your driver's license or passport
  • Proof of financial resources, such as bank statements or an employment contract, as well as three most recent paystubs
  • Proof of ownership of a property or flat, or a rental agreement that reveals the address
  • An itinerary of the places you'll be visiting as a group (if applicable)
  • If the sponsor has taken time off work to be with the applicant throughout their stay in the Schengen Area, producing a document proving this is a major bonus for the visa application.

Schengen Visa Biometrics

What is biometric data, and how does it differ from other types of data?

Ten fingerprints and a photo make up the biometric data. In addition, biometric passports and Schengen visas both use it.

When applying for a Schengen Visa, what biometric information do I need to provide?

The Visa Information System (VIS) of the Schengen Area has allowed the Schengen States to exchange visa data since 2011. As a result, biometric data, including 10 fingerprints and a mandatory passport-style photo, will be recorded in person for applicants who submit their initial application for a Schengen Visa. This is in addition to the non-biometric information you provide about yourself, such as your name, address, age, and sex, as well as specifics of your journey. You might be able to get some of this information from your biometric data passport.

What happens to my Schengen visa biometric data?

Your biometric data will be maintained in the VIS database and accessible for 59 months (5 years), so you won't have to submit it in person after the first time you apply for a visa. Border control authorities can use the VIS system to double-check your identity when you enter the Schengen Area. It will be kept in a database and made available to law enforcement officers.

Is there anyone who is exempt from submitting biometric information like fingerprints?

Children under the age of 12, people who are physically unable to provide fingerprints, heads of state or governments, members of national governments, including their spouses and delegation members, who are officially invited by Schengen governments are excused from giving biometric data. As previously stated, applicants who have already given fingerprints for Schengen Visa application(s) during the last 59 months (5 years) are not required to do so again.

Where should I send my biometric information?

Unless fingerprints have previously been acquired by the consulate, embassy, or visa application center for a previous application within the last five years, personal attendance at your interview is required. They may, however, ask you to resupply this information.

What method is used to acquire my biometric data?

Staffers will gather your biometric data in a discrete, non-intrusive, and rapid manner. For example, a digital camera will capture a facial image, while 10-digit fingers and thumbprints will be captured using a digital finger scanner.

When posing for your Schengen Visa photos, keep your regular haircut and avoid using sunglasses, dark optical glasses, or optical glasses with frames that obscure your eyes, as well as avoid flash reflection in your spectacles. Only images of the applicant wearing optical glasses with no reviews and both eyes visible will be acceptable.

A parent or legal guardian will be asked to obtain an agreement to collect biometrics if the applicant is between the ages of 12 and 18.

Visa Information System (VIS)

Technology has the potential to improve and strengthen exterior barriers. The EU has been establishing large-scale IT systems for collecting, processing, and sharing information related to external border management during the last few years. One of these instruments is the Visa Information System, which aids in implementing the EU's unified visa policy.

What exactly is VIS?

Schengen States can share visa data through the Visa Information System (VIS) (consolidated version). It comprises a central information technology system and a communication infrastructure that connects it to national systems. In addition, VIS connects consulates in non-EU countries with all Schengen States' external border crossing locations. Furthermore, it manages information and makes judgments about applications for short-term visas to visit or transit through the Schengen Area. For identification and verification, the system can do biometric matching, principally of fingerprints.

What is the purpose of VIS?

Border guards can use VIS to verify that a person presenting a visa is the rightful holder and identify anyone discovered on the Schengen territory with no fraudulent documentation. Biometric data can be used to validate a visa holder's identification, making checks faster, more accurate, and more secure.

Who runs VIS and which nations utilize it?

VIS is a Schengen instrument that affects all Schengen countries (Denmark has decided to implement it). The operational management of VIS is handled by eu-LISA, the EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems.

Who is eligible to use VIS?

Competent visa authorities may consult the VIS to review applications and make decisions relating to them.

The authorities in charge of conducting checks at external borders and within national territories have access to the VIS to verify a person's identification, the validity of a visa, or whether the person fits the requirements for entering, staying in, or dwelling within national territories. Only asylum authorities have access to the VIS to determine which EU State is responsible for the review of an asylum application.

National authorities and Europol may seek access to data entered into the VIS in specified circumstances to prevent, detect, and investigate terrorist and criminal offenses.

What are security measures in place to protect my VIS data?

Access to VIS data is restricted to authorized personnel performing their duties. They shall ensure that the use of VIS data is prohibited to what is required, suitable, and proportionate for the completion of their activities.

For five years, data is retained in the VIS. This retention period begins when the issued visa expires when a negative decision is made, or when a decision to amend an issued visa is made. Any individual has the right to be notified about their personal information stored in the VIS. In addition, any person can ask for erroneous data about him or herself to be corrected, as well as illegally captured data to be removed.

Each EU member state must establish a National Supervisory Authority to oversee the country's personal data processing legality. At the European level, the European Data Protection Supervisor will keep an eye on things.

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