EU Visa Code

As from 5 April 2010, the EU Visa Code came into force. The Visa Code gathers into a single document all legal provisions governing decisions on visas. It increases the transparency, develops legal security and ensures equal treatment of applicants while harmonising rules and practices for the Schengen States (22 Member States and 4 associated states) applying the common visa policy.

The Visa Code:

- sets out all procedures and conditions for issuing "short stay visas" and "airport transit visas". It also establishes the lists of third country nationals who are required to hold "airport transit visas" when passing through the international transit areas of airports situated on the territory of the Member States;

- covers visas issued for the purpose of "short stays", meaning stays not exceeding 90 days in any 180 days period. Legislation in relation to the issuance of visas for the purpose of long stays (beyond 90 days) remains of national competence;

- concerns "short stay visas" and "airport transit visa" issued by EU Member States, except for UK and Ireland; Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus will apply the Visa Code once they become part of the Schengen area without internal borders;

- is also applied by those countries that are part of the Schengen area, without being EU members (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein).

Nevertheless, it is important to to note that the EC-Ukraine visa facilitation agreement continues to apply (as a principle of international law, international agreements supersede the internal legislation of each side). The visa facilitation agreement derogates from some of the Visa Code rules by offering more favourable conditions to Ukrainian citizens (e.g. EUR 35 visa fee instead of EUR 60, visa fee waiver for broader categories, simplification of document requirements, 10-day processing time instead of 15 days).