One of the world’s richest countries, and a top European destination for tourists, Austria has been a member of the Schengen Area since 1997. The country is also a member of the European Union which means that citizens of other Schengen or EU member states can visit Austria without the need for any form of documentation other than a valid passport.
Citizens of other countries outside the EU/Schengen Area, or not on a list of around sixty visa liberalisation nations, will require a Schengen Visa for Austria.
Getting the correct Schengen Visa Type
Applying for an Austrian Schengen Visa is a time-consuming process and it is advisable to ensure the correct form of visa is being sought. Depending upon the intended length of stay, the reason for the visit, who the applicant will be staying with and whether Austria is the only Schengen country being visited, there are a range of different types of visa available.
If the intended purpose of entering Austria is to use an airport before making a connecting onward flight then an Airport Visa is sufficient. Holders of this type of passport must remain in the airport while waiting for the onward connection.
The most commonly used format, the Tourist Visa is the one required by most short-stay visitors on holiday or sightseeing excursions.
For long or short stays with family or friends currently resident in Austria, a Visitor Visa is the best fit.
Business people wishing to attend meetings, conferences or any business-related event should possess a Business Visa.
Official Visit Visa
Primarily for officials or members of a delegation visiting Austria on official business.
People needing to undergo medical procedures or treatment anywhere in Austria will require a Medical Visa to do so.
Students wishing to attend a course at a college or university of no more than three months duration require a Study Visa.
Cultural, Sports and Film Crews Visa
This special form of visa covers attendance at sports or cultural events and activities.
As is the case with all Schengen Visas (regardless of country) the holder may only stay within the country for no more than ninety days in a 180-day period. The stay can be continuous or broken into smaller visits as long as the total does not exceed ninety days.
How to Apply for a Schengen Visa
The most commonly sought Austrian Schengen Visa is for visitors wishing to enjoy a short vacation in the country. This is called a Tourist Visa or C-Type Visa. Regardless of the type of visa being applied for there is a common list of required documentation that must accompany the application form and this list includes:
- Passport that is valid for a period of at least three months beyond the last date of the visit to the Schengen Area. The passport must also not be older than ten years and contain at least two blank pages where the visa will be affixed.
- Two identical, and recently taken, passport photographs
- Proof of travel insurance to cover a minimum of €30,000 emergency medical care while abroad.
- Detailed itinerary of where and when the applicant will be staying e.g. confirmed hotel reservations.
- Dates of arrival and departure with relevant flight numbers (if applicable).
- Documented proof of sufficient funding to cover daily expenses while in Austria e.g. recent bank statements.
- Covering letter explaining the primary reason for the visit to Austria.
- Depending on the applicant’s employment situation, or if travelling with children, it may also be necessary to furnish some of the following:
- Marriage certificate.
- Proof of child custody.
- Letter of parental consent.
- Income tax returns.
- Company registration.
- Proof of holiday leave from employer.
- Copy of recent pension payments.
Once all the necessary documentation has been collected it is necessary for the applicant to attend an interview at the Austrian embassy or consulate or, if none is present, at a designated visa approval centre. An interview is not arranged automatically by the Austrian embassy but is the responsibility of the applicant to make the arrangements regarding date, time and place.
Purpose of Interview
One purpose of a personal interview is to give the consulate a chance to assess the applicant’s character and demeanour. This is, of course, a subjective matter but it is prudent to turn up punctually and to be neatly dressed and groomed.
More practically, the interview is where the required documentation is handed over for checking and verification and any issues arising from the application can be addressed. Once everything is in order, an applicant must also provide fingerprint samples which will be entered and stored onto a central database.
All forms of Schengen Visa are provided free of charge to children under six but a fee applies for everyone else. As of January 2020 the applicable fees are:
- Children Aged 6 to 12: €40
- Adults: €80
These are standard fees for the short-stay Type C visa but an additional fee may be applicable if the application is processed by a third-party agency rather than an Austrian embassy or consulate.
A Schengen Visa may also be issued free of charge in certain situations such as pupils and teachers on a school trip or scientists on research projects.