Schengen Visa: A Guide To Know Everything About World's Largest Visa-Free Zone

By Ketki Hanamshet on Feb 12, 2019
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A Europe trip is on every traveler’s bucket list. There is a plethora of things to do and places to visit in every European country. Be it the fairytale castles, awe-inspiring churches, intimidating landscapes, or other man-made wonders, you will be astounded to find it all in the European countries. And now, with 26 European countries forming the Schengen Area that follows common visa policy, it has become easier than ever to visit these countries and wander through Europe. But, this Schengen visa policy can be too hard to understand at times. So, here is a thorough guide on Schengen visa requirements that makes everything easier for you to visit the lovely Europe. 

1. What Is the Schengen Area? 

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The Schengen Area is a zone comprising of 26 European Countries. Abolishing passport and all other border controls, these countries have adopted a common visa policy. With this, the Schengen Area boasts to be the largest visa-free zone in the world. While 22 of the 26 countries fall under the EU, there are 4 other non-EU countries which also follow the Schengen rules. 

2. Which Are The Schengen Countries? 

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Following are the European countries that are a part of the Schengen Area

EU Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Non-EU Countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway (excluding Svalbard), and Switzerland. 

3. What Is A Schengen Visa? 

A Schengen visa allows you a short visit of up to 90 days to any of the 26 Schengen countries. With this common visa in hand, you may freely enter, roam around, and leave the Schengen Area from any of the Schengen European countries. The Schengen visa enables you to visit the zone only for tourism and business purposes. So, if you are visiting any of the Schengen countries to study, work, or live for a long term, then you will need a national visa of that particular country. 

4. What Are The Types of Schengen Visas? 

A Uniform Schengen Visa allows you to visit any of the 26 Schengen member countries. Within a time span of 6 months, you may visit, travel, or reside for a maximum of 90 days in any of the chosen Schengen Area countries. The Uniform Schengen Visa is further categorized into the following two types of visas.

Type A Schengen Visa: This is the Transit Schengen Visa which is required only if you are going to enter the Schengen zone to change your mode of transport. It is further categorized as Airport Transit Schengen Visa and Transit Schengen Visa for Seafarers. 

Type C Schengen Visa: With the Type C Schengen Visa in hand, you are allowed to stay in the Schengen Area for a particular period of time depending upon your visa validity. It is further categorized as:

Single-entry Visa - Allows you to enter the Schengen Zone only once.

Double-entry Visa - Allows you to enter the Schengen Zone twice.

Multiple-entry Visa - Allows you to enter the Schengen Zone as many times as you want, following the 90/180 Schengen Rule. Depending upon the frequency of your visits to the Schengen zone, you may either get a 1-year multiple-entry Schengen visa, a 3-year multiple-entry Schengen visa, or a 5-year multiple-entry visa

Limited Territorial Validity Schengen Visa: With this visa in hand, one can travel only to the Schengen country that has issued the visa. In some cases, it also allows visiting other Schengen states if they were mentioned while applying for the visa.

National Visa: This is the category ‘D’ Schengen visa, granted to those who wish to study, work, or reside for a longer term in a Schengen country.     

5. Which Countries Do Not Need A Schengen Visa? 

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The Schengen Area allows nationals of around 61 countries to visit its countries without the Schengen visa. Nationals of these countries may enjoy a short visit to the Schengen zone under tourism or business purposes for a limited period of 90 days within a span of half a year. Following are a few countries that are exempted from having to carry a Schengen visa:

1. Canada

2. Malaysia

3. Singapore

4. United Kingdom

5. United States

Other countries with a Schengen visa waiver include Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong S.A.R, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao S.A.R, Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, Serbia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Venezuela.

6. Which Countries Need A Schengen Visa? 

If you are a citizen of any of the following 105 countries, then you would need to apply for a Schengen Visa. 

India, Philippines, Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote D’ivoire, Cuba, Dem. Rep. Of Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Faso, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosova, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Northern Mariana’s, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome And Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

7. How to Apply For A Schengen Visa? 

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While applying for a Schengen Visa, you would first have to determine the purpose of your visit. The Schengen Area has a few defined reasons for a short visit to the zone including business, tourism, visiting friends and family, attending cultural and sports events, medical reasons, airport transit and transit for seafarers, short term study or research, and official visit. 

Follow the steps given below and applying for a Schengen visa would be as easy as it could get. 

  • Define the purpose of your visit to get the particular type of Schengen visa
  • Get to know where you should apply for the visa. You may apply either at the consulate, embassy, or visa center of your prime Schengen Area country. This country is determined by the following Schengen rules:

            1. Apply for the visa at the embassy, consulate, or visa center of the Schengen country that you are interested in visiting

            2. If you are visiting more than one Schengen country, then apply at the one where you will be spending more number of days

            3. In case you are spending equal number of days at all the Schengen countries, then apply at the one you will be first stepping in. 

  • Decide the best time to apply for the Schengen Visa. You can apply for the visa only three months prior to the starting date of the trip. Also, applying for the visa 15 working days ahead of the trip is necessary.  
  • Fix an appointment online or in-person at the consulate, embassy, or visa center of your destination Schengen country. 
  • Fill out the Schengen visa application form and gather the other required documents.
  • Attend your visa interviews at the embassy, consulate, or visa center and hand over all the documents. Your interview may last for about 15-20 minutes wherein you will be asked a few personal questions.
  • Pay the visa fees and you will know if your visa application is accepted within a span of 15-30 days. 

8. What Are The Requirements For A Schengen Visa? 

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Following are the documents required while applying for a Schengen visa.

  • A correctly and fully filled visa application form in print with your sign at the end.
  • A passport that is valid for three months beyond the date you plan to leave the Schengen area. It should also not be older than 10 years. Having two blank pages on the passport is mandatory.
  • Two recent photographs, taken less than three months ago, that abide by the Schengen visa photo requirements. 
  • Evidence that shows your intention of leaving the Schengen area, like a return ticket to your homeland or an itinerary.
  • Proof that you have enough amount of money to support yourself during your visit to the Schengen zone. 
  • Proof that shows you have accommodation to stay during your entire trip. 
  • A travel insurance policy, proving you have at least 30,000 Euros to cover any medical emergency
  • Evidence that you have paid the Schengen visa fee. 

9. How much Is The Schengen Visa Fee?

Following are the different Schengen visa application costs that also include the Schengen visa fee. 

  • Adult - 60 Euro
  • Child (6-12 years) - 35 Euro
  • Nationals from Kosova, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine - 35 Euro

The visa application cost is free in case you are :

  • A family member of an EU/EEA national 
  • A holder of diplomatic, official or service passports visiting for official purposes
  • A student or an accompanying teacher on a school trip
  • A child below 6 years of age
  • A researcher visiting for scientific research 

 With all this thorough information about Schengen Visa at your disposal, you will now be able to apply for one without any hassle.  

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