Change is hard, and when it comes to travel-related paperwork, it is rarely popular. The recent changes to the Schengen visa rules and application fees has a lot of international travelers confused. That’s why the Schengen zone is going out of its way to explain these changes in the clearest language possible.
Of course, change might not be popular, but it was certainly necessary in this case. The Schengen zone explained in a statement to the press, “Since 2009, the number of applications for EU visas has risen by 57% – from 10.2 million to over 16 million in 2018. At the same time, visa application procedures have not changed since 2010 and there was a need to make them less cumbersome, while maintaining the same level of security and control,” the Commission explains in a FAQ dedicated to the changes.”
As more and more people travel within the Schengen zone – and it even expands its boundaries – older processes naturally give way to newer, more efficient modes. After all, it is the most popular travel destination in the world for both business and pleasure which means that the efficiencies captured here are often noted and copied by others around the world.
So what changes were made exactly?
There are basically four major areas of change of which travellers should be aware.
The first is the price increase for visa fees for those 12 years of age and above from €60 to €80. No one likes a price change and this is the one shift that has gotten a lot of attention from people prior to the new rules being implemented. The fee for those under the age of 12 until the age of six is €40 which is up €5 from the previous amount. Travellers under the age of six do not have to pay any fees.
Another major change is that applications for visas can now be submitted six months ahead of time instead of the previous three month window that existed previously. For those who plan out their travel at the beginning of the year or who engage in a lot of business travel, this kind of flexibility is a must-have feature and one of the more popular changes brought to the Schengen zone. There are also new multiple entry visas for frequent travellers that are good for one to five years.
Also, in terms of conveniences, Schengen zone countries are going to start farming out visa application processing in countries where there is little to no presence currently. The ability to submit the application the person’s home country also makes the process more accessible from multiple standpoints. All of these transitions to an electronic format also allow for the biggest change, and one that is very popular with travellers: Electronic applications and electronic signatures. Gone are the hard copies of yesterday and here are the electronic forms of the future.