The Schengen Visa
1. What is the Schengen Visa?
There are currently 26 European countries in the Schengen Area, 22 of which are member states of the European Union. These 26 countries share a common visa policy, meaning that there are no checks on the borders between them.
The 26 "Schengen States" are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden – plus the three associated countries Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
If a person receives a Schengen Visa for any of the above mentioned states, he/she will be able to travel freely to all of the 26 participating countries without the need for acquiring individual visas.
2. What are the types of Schengen Visas?
There are three types of Schengen Visas. These are:
- Short-stay visa (Type "C") This visa is issued for one, two or several visits. Its period of validity varies. It allows stays which do not exceed three months over a six-month period.
- Transit visa (Type "B") This visa is issued to persons who must transit through the territory of one or more Schengen States before continuing their journey to a third country. This visa may be issued for one, two or, in exceptional circumstances, several transits. The duration of each transit must not exceed five days.
- Airport transit visas (Type "A") This visa is required for nationals of certain third countries who are flying to another third country but need to make a transfer in an airport of a Schengen State.
You will find that non member states use the same three categories of visas.
3. Where can I get a Schengen Visa?
You can apply for a Schengen Visa at any participating member state embassy in your region.
If you plan on visiting more than one country in your travels in Europe, you should visit the embassy of the country that you plan on spending the most time in. In the event of there not being a particular country where you would spend a clear majority of you time, you should apply for the Schengen Visa at the embassy of the member state you will travel to first.
4. What do I need in order to apply for a Schengen Visa?
The minimum requirements that need to be met in order to receive a Schengen Visa are as follows:
- Complete and sign the visa application form. It is available for download and free.
- Posses a valid passport with an expiration date that is later than your intended stay.
- Specify the purpose of your trip.
- Be able to show sufficient means for the time of stay.
- Provide proof of travelers' insurance for the amount of at least 30,000 EUR.
5. What does it cost?
A typical short stay visa fee is 60 EUR. There are however circumstances where this fee can be reduced or waived.
No fees can be charged for third country nationals who are family members of an EU citizen or of a national of the EEA Agreement, who exercises his/her right of free movement.
In addition, fees are waived for children under six years of age, school pupils, post graduate students and accompanying teachers who undertake trips for the purpose of study or educational training and for researchers carrying out scientific research as defined in Recommendation 2005/761/EC.
For more detailed information you should contact the embassy of the destination of your choice. For a listing of EU member state embassies in the region follow the "Embassies" link on the navigation bar.