Schengen Visa FAQ

This page contains a list of the most common questions and answers about the Schengen Visa.

What is a Schengen visa?

Generally speaking a Schengen visa enables someone to travel to any of the countries that form part of the Schengen region during the same journey, provided it is within the validity period of the visa. With a ‘short-stay visa” you can stay in or transit through the Schengen states for 90 days during any 180-day period. An ‘airport transit visa’ only allows you to transit via the global transit sections of international airports in the Schengen region.

Please note that, if you would like to stay in a Schengen country for more than 90 days, you will have to find employment or start a business, profession, or trade.

Which states form part of the Schengen region?

The Schengen region consists of 27 member countries (known as Schengen States). There are no border controls between these countries and they apply the same visa policies for short-stay visas.

The list includes:

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

Do the standard visa requirements also apply to family members of EU citizens?

A family member of a citizen of the EU who has exercised his or her right of free movement to live in or journey to a different Member State than his or her country of origin can under certain circumstances also enjoy certain procedural benefits. Certain criteria must be met though, including the following:

  • The applicant (family member) has to belong to a category that is provided for in Directive 2004/38/EC.
  • The applicant (family member) has to be accompanied by the EU citizen in question, or the latter has to join him or her in the Schengen State where they are headed for.

Where do I apply for a Schengen visa?

You should apply for a Schengen visa at the local consulate of the Schengen State that you would like to visit.

If you plan to visit two or more Schengen countries, you should submit your application at the consulate of the country where you plan to stay the longest, or that will be the main purpose of your journey, i.e. your primary destination.

If you would like to visit more than one Schengen State, each for the same period of time, you should apply at the consulate of the Schengen State where you will first arrive in the Schengen region.

If my visa was issued by one Schengen State, will I be able to enter a different Schengen country?

Generally speaking, you will be able to freely move from one Schengen country to another once you have a valid Schengen visa. That does, however, not automatically mean you can enter the Schengen region in a different country than the one that issued your visa. See the section on checks at external Schengen borders further down.

For how long will my visa allow me to remain in the Schengen area?

A Schengen visa is what is known as a ‘short stay visa‘. It comes in the form of a sticker on your travel document. In this regard ‘short stay’ refers to a period of no longer than 90 days during any period of 180 days. You can, therefore, remain in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

The exact validity period of your Schengen visa will be shown on the visa sticker. Look for a heading that says ‘Duration of visit’.

You can not enter the Schengen region more than once with a single-entry visa. To confirm this, look for the ‘Number of entries” heading on the visa sticker. It will either state ‘1’(i.e. single entry), ’02’, or ‘MULT’.

How long will it take before my Schengen visa application is approved?

Under normal circumstances, once you have submitted your Schengen visa application to the consulate, they will make a decision within 15 days. This period can, however, be extended – sometimes to 30 days or even 60 days.

How long before I plan to travel to the Schengen region do I have to apply for a visa?

You can not apply more than 3 months before your planned arrival in the Schengen region. On the other hand, do not wait until the last moment to submit an application. You should submit your application no less than 15 days before your planned arrival date.

To prevent unexpected delays, also take into account national holidays in the country in which you are applying for the Schengen visa and in the Schengen state that you plan to visit.

If you hold a multiple-entry visa, i.e. one that is valid for 6 months or longer, you are advised to apply for a new one before the old one expires.

What is the cost involved with a Schengen visa?

When you submit an application for a Schengen visa, you have to pay a fee of EUR 60 for adults and EUR 35 for children between the ages of 6 and 12 years. If you are a citizen of a nation that has a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU, the cost is reduced to EUR 35.

In the case of the following categories of applications the visa fee will be waived:

  • Children under the age of 6
  • Children who are still at school
  • Students (including postgraduate students)
  • Teachers who accompany any of the above and who are traveling for educational training or study.
  • Researchers from foreign nations who are traveling for scientific research purposes
  • Those under the age of 25 who are representing non-profit organizations and who are taking part in conferences, seminars, educational, cultural, or sporting events that are organized by a non-profit organization.
  • Family members of EEA/EU citizens who fall under Directive 2004/38.

Certain Schengen States also grant other types of (optional) waivers for visa fees. You will be able to get more information from the consulate where you are applying for your Schengen visa.

Can I apply for a Schengen visa if my passport will expire two months from now?

Generally speaking, this is not possible because the standard requirement is that your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after you have returned from the Schengen region. If you have an emergency, however, and the consulate where you apply agrees with this, it is allowed to make an exception to this rule.

Which documents should I provide when applying for a Schengen visa?

You should have the following documents ready:

  • A properly completed and signed application form
  • Two photos of yourself that are not older than three months
  • A passport that is less than 10 years old and that will be valid until at least 3 months after you have returned from the Schengen region.
  • Round trip itinerary or reservation, complete with flight numbers and the dates on which you will be entering and leaving the Schengen area.
  • Proof of travel health insurance that is valid for all the countries in the Schengen region. The minimum coverage is 30,000 Euros and should include medical emergencies such as an accident or illness as well as the cost of repatriation in case you die.
  • Proof that you have accommodation during your stay, e.g. a rental agreement, hotel booking, hostel booking, or letter of invitation from someone in whose home you are going to be staying.
  • Proof that you have the financial means for the trip, e.g. a bank statement showing enough funds in your account. This statement should not be older than three months.
  • Sponsorship letter from another individual in which he or she confirms that they will support your trip financially. This has to be accompanied by a bank statement of such a sponsor that is less than three months old.
  • A combination of a letter of sponsorship and your own bank statement.
  • Proof that the visa fee has been paid.
  • Any other documents that the particular Schengen embassy might require.

Will I be able to leave the Schengen region and come back later with my Schengen visa?

That depends on whether you have a single-entry or multiple-entry visa. The former allows for only one entry. A multiple-entry visa will allow you to enter the Schengen Area more than once during its validity period.

Does someone who has a residence permit or long-stay visa for one Schengen country need to apply for another visa if he or she wants to travel to another Schengen state?

No, that is not necessary. With a long-stay visa or residence permit, someone can travel to any other Schengen state for a period not exceeding 90 days during any period of 180 days.

Is it necessary to show any other documents apart from the Schengen visa when I arrive at the external Schengen border?

A short-stay visa does not automatically mean you can enter the Schengen region. You might be asked for additional documentation when you first arrive, e.g. for proof of sufficient funds to cover your expenses during your trip and for the cost of the return ticket.

It is advised that you keep copies of the documents which you originally submitted with your visa application and have them ready when you enter the Schengen region.

Do I need a Schengen transit or short-stay visa if I will only be at a Schengen airport to get a connecting flight?

An ATV (airport transit visa) allows someone to wait for a connecting flight at a Schengen airport but not to leave the airport to e.g. book into a hotel. Certain nationalities could even need a short-stay visa when they enter the Schengen region even if they will only be staying in the Schengen Area for a couple of hours and they will remain in the airport (but not in the international transit zone) all the time.

Will it be possible to extend my Schengen visa?

To successfully apply for a visa extension, you will have to prove that you are not able to leave the Schengen region before your visa expires because of a ‘force Majeure, a serious personal issue, or a humanitarian reason. As a general rule, your visa will only be extended if your current visa has not yet expired and you haven’t already been in the Schengen region for more than 90 out of the last 180 days.

What are the avenues open to me if my visa application is unsuccessful? Can I get a refund?

The visa fee will not be refunded. The reason for the refusal will be stated on the standard form you receive from the consulate, as well as the deadlines and procedures for submitting an appeal. Even if the appeal is unsuccessful, you will be able to apply again at a later stage – but you will have to pay the application fee again.