The Schengen area covers 26 countries ("Schengen States") without border controls between them. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. These countries apply the common visa policy for short stay visas.
- A transit through or an intended stay in the territory of the Schengen States of a duration of no more than 90 days in any 180 day period ("short stay visa")
- A transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen States ("airport transit visa").
Generally, the visa issued allows you to visit any of the Schengen States during the same trip, within the validity of the visa.
A Schengen visa is not appropriate, if you wish to remain in a Schengen country for longer than 90 days, take up employment or establish a business, trade or profession.
To find out if you need a visa to enter a Schengen State, you can consult the overview here.
Family members of EU citizens who have exercised their right of free movement (meaning that the EU citizen resides in or travels to a Member State other than his/her country of origin) benefit from certain procedural facilitations. The basic criteria to be fulfilled are the following:
- the EU citizen has exercised his/her right of free movement
- the family member (applicant) belongs to one of the categories covered by Directive 2004/38/EC
- the family member (applicant) accompanies the EU citizen or joins him/her in the Schengen State of destination.
For further information, here.
You must lodge the application for a Schengen visa at the Consulate of the country that you intend to visit, or – if you intend to visit more than one Schengen State, the Consulate of the country of your primary destination (i.e. main purpose of stay or longest stay).
If you intend to visit several Schengen States and the stays will be of equal length, you must apply at the Consulate of the country whose external borders you will cross first when entering the Schengen area.
As a general rule, you must apply for a visa at the Consulate with territorial competence for the country in which you legally reside.
As a general rule you may cross any Schengen border with visa issued by any Schengen country. However, the short-stay visa does not automatically entitle you to enter the Schengen area. See FAQ no 16 on checks at the external borders.
The Schengen visa is a short stay visa and takes the form of a sticker affixed to the travel document. The definition of “short stay” is a stay of "90 days in any 180 days period". This means that the total duration of stay is of maximum 90 days, in any period of 180 days.
The precise length of validity of your visa is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading “Duration of visit”.
With a single-entry visa you can enter the Schengen area only once. This is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading "Number of entries" by "1". A two-entry or a multiple-entry visa allows for two or several entries during the validity of the visa. This is indicated on the visa sticker by "02" or "MULT" under the heading "Number of entries".
You will find information on how to read your visa sticker on this page here.
You will find information on how to calculate your visa travel days on this page here.
As a general rule, once a Schengen visa application is submitted to the Consulate, a decision is taken by the Consulate within 15 calendar days. This period may be extended up to 30 days or 60 days.
Applications can be lodged no more than six (6) months before the start of the intended trip. It is advisable to lodge an application at least 15 calendar days before the intended visit.
However, it is also recommended that you lodge the visa application taking into account national holidays of the Schengen State of destination and in the country where you apply for the visa.
Holders of a multiple-entry visa (valid for a period of at least six months) may lodge the application for a new visa before the expiry of that visa.
The general visa fee of EUR 80 must be paid when you submit the visa application. Nationals of countries with which the EU has concluded Visa Facilitation Agreements shall pay a fee of EUR 35. Please consult here.
The visa fee is waived for applicants belonging to one of the following categories:
- children under twelve (12) years;
- school pupils, students, postgraduate students and accompanying teachers who undertake stays for the purpose of study or educational training;
- researchers from third countries traveling for the purpose of carrying out scientific research;
- representatives of non-profit organizations aged 25 years or less participating in seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events organized by non- profit organizations;
- family members of EU/ EEA citizens, falling under Directive 2004/38. See FAQ no 4
Member States also apply other optional visa fees waivers. You can obtain detailed information on that from the consulate where you intend to apply.
If you submit the application at an external service provider, you will be charged a service fee.
In principle you cannot. It is a requirement that the expiration date of your passport is 3 months AFTER your return from the Schengen State. However, in justified cases of emergency, the Consulate may deviate from this rule.
Information on the documents to be submitted can be found here.
13. My visa has been issued by, for example, the German Consulate. Could I use this visa to make a trip to other Schengen States?
Yes. According to the Schengen rules, the Schengen visa is generally valid for all the countries in the Schengen area. Please note, however, that you always have to apply at the consulate of the country which is your primary destination (see FAQ no 5). The territorial validity of your visa is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading "Valid For". You will find information on how to read your visa sticker here.
See FAQ no 16 on checks at the external borders.
Schengen visas may allow for a single-entry or multiple entries. With a single-entry visa you can enter the Schengen area only once. This is indicated on the visa sticker by "01".
With a visa allowing for two or multiple entries you may enter twice or several times during the validity of the visa. See also FAQ no 7.
15. I have a valid long stay visa/ residence permit for a country that is part of the Schengen area. Do I need another visa to travel to other Schengen States?
No. A long stay visa or a residence permit issued by a Schengen State allows you to travel or stay in other Schengen States, while respecting the maximum duration of a “short stay” (a stay of "90 days in any 180 day period").
16. Do I have to present any other document at the Schengen external borders apart from my travel document with the Schengen visa?
The short-stay visa does not automatically entitle you to enter the Schengen area. At border (or during other controls) you may have to show the visa but also provide additional documentation, for example information on that you have sufficient means to cover the stay and the return trip. It is therefore recommended that you carry with you copies of the documents which you presented when applying for the visa (e.g. letters of invitation, travel confirmations, travel insurance, other documents stating the purpose of your stay).
17. I have connecting flights, with a stop at a Schengen state airport. Do I have to apply for an airport transit visa or a short stay visa?
It is important to distinguish between two situations:
- transit through the international transit area of an airport (onward journey where you do not leave the international transit area of the airport)
- transit via the territory of a Member State albeit limited to an airport (onward journey where you leave the international transit area of the airport).
An airport transit visa (ATV) authorizes you to pass through the international transit zone at an airport located on the territory of the Schengen State and to await a connecting flight to a non-Schengen country. The ATV does not allow you to enter the Schengen territory (to stay at a hotel or to take an onwards flight to another Schengen State, for example).
To find out whether you need an airport transit visa, please consult with Consulate.
Traveling to a Schengen State via another Schengen State airport is not considered an airport transit neither is travelling to a non-Schengen country via two Schengen state airports. All flights between two or more Schengen States are considered to be «domestic» flights. Depending on your nationality, you might need a short stay visa as you enter the Schengen area – even if the stay only lasts a few hours and you remain in the airport (outside the international transit zone).
When applying for a visa extension, you must show that due to force majeure or for humanitarian reasons or for serious personal reasons it is not possible for you to leave the territory of Member States before the expiry of your visa or the authorized period of stay.
As a rule, the visa can only be extended if you have stayed less than 90 days the Schengen area, in the course of the past 180 days, and if your current visa is not expired.
You may appeal against this decision. The decision to refuse a Schengen visa and the reasons for the refusal are notified using a standard form that is handed out by the Member State's consulate that refused the visa. The notification of the refusal must include the reasons, on which the refusal were based, and the procedures and deadlines for submitting an appeal.
When a Member State represents another for the purpose of issuing visas (e.g. France represents the Netherlands), the appeal procedure will be that of the Member State who took the final decision, i.e. the representing Member State which is in this example, France.
You are free to re-apply again if your application has been refused earlier. However, it is recommended that you take note of the reasons for the earlier refusal before submitting a new application and make amendments, where necessary.
The visa fee is not refunded if the visa is refused. The visa fee covers the cost of the examination of the visa application.