A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows the holder to travel throughout the Schengen area for up to 90 days. Depending on your nationality, you might or might not need to submit a Schengen visa application.
In this guide, we will cover the Schengen countries, who needs a Schengen visa, visa rejection, extension, overstay, and more.
Table of Contents
What Are the Schengen Countries?
The Schengen zone consists of 26 countries in total. All these countries are in Europe, and have a common visa policy. There are no internal borders dividing these countries, which allows freedom of movement to their citizens and anyone with a Schengen visa.
Who Needs a Schengen Visa?
Citizens of 62 countries can travel to Schengen area without a visa for 90 days in 180 days. If your country is not in the list, you need a Schengen visa.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United States of America
What Does a Schengen Visa Look like? Schengen Visa Sample
Depending on the country it’s issued from, a Schengen visa would contain information in three languages: English, French and German.
A visa would have your name, passport number, validity period, number of entries and whether it’s valid for all the Schengen countries.
If it says Schengen-Staaten or Etats Schengen or Schengen states, that means the visa is valid for the whole Schengen zone. In some cases, a visa is limited to only one country and not the whole Schengen area. In that case, the code for that country would be mentioned.
What Are Different Schengen Visa Types?
A Schengen visa can be of type A or type C.
|Schengen Visa Type||Purpose|
|Type A||Airport transit|
|Type C||Tourism, |
Member of an official delegation
Steps to Submit Schengen Visa Application
1. Choose the Country that Would Process Your Schengen Visa
Since a Schengen visa allows you to visit any country in the Schengen area, regardless of where you apply, you need to choose the country that will process the application carefully. For example, you need to apply for the France Schengen visa through an embassy or consulate of France only if
- You will be spending more time in France than the other Schengen countries, if there are multiple countries on your list.
- You are planning to travel for equal number of days in all the countries, but France will be the first country you visit.
- France is only country you are visiting.
2. Check Where Exactly to Submit the Schengen Visa Application
Depending on where you live and the country that processes your Schengen visa application, you might apply directly through a consulate of that country or through a third-party service provider.
However, if you are in another country and you can explain why your application could not be submitted to the consulate in your legal place of residence (unexpected circumstances, etc.), your visa application may be accepted. For example, if you are an Indian citizen working in Canada legally, you will be able to apply for a Schengen visa in Canada, rather than India.
3. Fill the Schengen Visa Application Form
The Schengen visa application form is the same irrespective of which country you are from and the country that would process your application. You need to take two printouts, fill them and sign them. Although earlier they only accepted paper applications, every country now gives the option to digitally fill in the application and sign it.
The form asks you questions on the countries you will be visiting, the number of days you will be staying, passport details, accommodation during your stay etc.
4. Book an Appointment
You need to book an appointment at the embassy or consulate of the country where you are applying, or at the office of a third party service provider where you will need to submit all the documents.
5. Prepare the Documents Required for Schengen visa
A Schengen visa application can require many documents such as proof of accommodation, Schengen visa flight itinerary, proof of financial stability among many others. Depending on your age, employment status, and marital situation, the list of documents will only get longer.
6. Attend the Appointment, Submit Documents, Provide Biometrics and Pay the Fees
If you are applying through a third party service provider, then you need to show up for the appointment and submit all the documents there. You also need to pay the visa fees either in cash or through a credit card/debit card or online, depending on the country you are applying from.
If you are applying directly through a consulate, the process will be the same only.
Providing biometrics for Schengen visa
You will also be needed to provide biometric fingerprint data, and be photographed, if you have never applied for a Schengen visa before. And they will click a picture of you there.
You will need to pay the visa fees and they will give you an acknowledgement receipt.
Underage applicants must be accompanied by their mother/father/legal guardian.
7. Attend the Schengen Visa Interview
Depending on the particulars of your Schengen visa application and other details, you might or might not need to attend an interview at a consulate. The interview is for the diplomatic officials to verify the authenticity of your purpose and your documents. They might ask questions that are professional and personal.
If they call you for an interview, you will be intimated of the same, normally through a direct email from the consulate or through the third party service provider.
Note that your interview might get cancelled, if you are late for the interview even for a few minutes. So be on time.
8. Receive the Visa
If your Schengen visa application is approved, you will receive a sticker visa in your passport. Verify everything such as passport details, name, dates on the visa and reach out immediately to the consulate if there are any errors.
If it’s rejected, you will receive a rejection letter and the reason it was rejected.
When to Apply for a Schengen Visa?
Usually, you should plan to apply for the Schengen visa at most 6 months before the date of your travel, and at least 2 weeks before. Depending on your citizenship and the volume of applicants in your country, the visa processing time might vary. There might be delays, so plan it well.
- The earliest: 6 months before the intended date of travel.
- The latest: 2 weeks before the intended date of travel.
Can I Submit Schengen Visa Application Online?
Although you can fill in the Schengen visa application form online, you need to submit hard copies of various documents at the consulate or at a third-party service provider. The whole process is not automated or completely online yet.
How Much Money do you Need to Show for Schengen Visa?
This depends on the time you are planning to spend in the Schengen area, and the country that will process your application, and your itinerary.
For example France needs you to have €120 per day if you don’t a have prepaid hotel booking. If you have booked hotels, you need to show €60 per day. So if you want to be in France for 10 days, you will need to have at least €600 in your account along with hotel bookings and round-trip flights.
The amount that is enough to reflect your financial sustainability, is the amount you must show for the visa.
And even if you don’t have that kind of money, you can write a convincing cover letter explaining your itinerary and how you are planning to pay for it.
What Are Schengen Visa Fees?
The fees for Schengen visa is €80 EUR approximately, for single, double or multiple entries. Visa fee will not be refunded even if you withdraw the visa or if it’s denied. Depending on the country you are applying from, you can pay it online or through a bank money order.
- Adult applicants: €80
- Applicants from 6 to 12 years old : €40
- Applicants under the age of 6 : Free
In addition, the nationals of a few countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia , and some other categories depending on the purpose of application are exempt from paying the fee at all.
Schengen Visa Processing Time
It will generally take 15 calendar days to process a Schengen visa. After 15 days, the embassy gives a decision on the Schengen visa application.
However, in some cases, Schengen visa processing time may be extended to 30 days after the interview, or even to 60 days in some specific situations. During this time, you might be asked to submit more documents.
Visa Validity & Duration
The Schengen visa will be valid from the date of your arrival, not from the date it’s issued. The duration of stay would be up to 90 days, but could be much shorter depending on how many days you asked fo.
How Long Can I Stay In Europe With a Schengen Visa?
As per the guidelines of European commission, You can stay in the Schengen area for 90 days maximum within a period of 180 days. But this is not by default. This will be decided by the amount of days you got on your visa, depending on your itinerary. It can be longer or shorter than what you asked for, but it’s never gonna be more than 90 days.
Can I Extend My Schengen Visa after 90 days?
Yes, you can extend your Schengen visa but only in exceptional cases if any problem has arose after entering the Schengen zone, which simply means it’s not gonna be a walk in the park and not to mention, all the extra documents you need to come up with.
In order to get extend your Schengen visa, you must have very strong reasosns like:
- Force majeure.
- Humanitarian reasons.
- Serious personal reasons.
How Many Times Can I Enter Europe With a Schengen Visa?
This depends on the number of entries that your visa has, and whether it’s valid for all the countries or only some of them. A Schengen visa can be a Uniform Schengen Visa or a Limited Territorial Validity Visa.
1.Uniform Schengen Visa(USV)
|Number of entries||What does it mean?|
|Single Entry||You can enter the Schengen zone only|
once and leave when your visa expires.
If you leave before the visa expires,
you can’t reenter.
|Double Entry||You can enter the Schengen zone, leave,|
and re-enter before your visa expires.
After you leave for a second time,
you can’t re-enter.
|Multiple Entry||You can enter and leave the Schengen|
zone as many times as you want until
the visa is valid.
2.Limited Territorial Validity Visa(LTV)
An LTV is issued in specific circumstances such as for humanitarian reasons. If you get an LTV, you can only stay in the country that issued the LTV. So if Italy issued you the LTV, you can only stay in Italy and not go to any other countries in the Schengen zone.
Can I Change My Itinerary After Getting a Schengen Visa?
Yes, you certainly can. You can even visit the countries that you haven’t mentioned in your original cover letter. But to be on the safe side, it’s best to land in the country that issued your Schengen visa.
OverStaying Your Schengen Visa
A Schengen visa overstay might result in your getting deported or fined or both.
And you also risk never getting another Schengen visa.
Schengen Visa Refusal- How to Appeal Schengen Visa Rejection?
Every Schengen country provides you with a denial/refusal letter in case your application is rejected. The refusal letter always indicates the reasons why the Visa was denied.
In case, your application was rejected, you appeal this decision or reapply after a while. Depending on the country where you are applying, the number of days by when you can appeal can vary. In general, it’s 30-60 days.
When appealing, you might need to come up with additional proof and convince the consular official why the denial wasn’t right. If convinced, they would provide you the visa. If not, you have to reapply, probably through a different country.
Schengen Visa Immigration- Entry/Exit
You should carry the print-outs of all the documents you submitted during the visa application. While it’s not common, you might still need to show them proof of accommodation, return ticket etc.
Entering & Exiting Schengen zone
Unlike many other countries, you don’t need to fill out any Arrival/Departure card while entering any Schengen zone.
At the immigration, they might ask you a few routine questions such as the places you are visiting, and the number of days you are staying. Following this they will stamp your passport.
While exiting, you need to go through passport control.
Can I Visit Non-Schengen Countries with a Schengen Visa?
Yes, there are various countries in Europe, Asia and South America that you can visit with a valid Schengen visa.
Here are all the non-Schengen European countries that you can visit with a Schengen visa.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- San Marino
- Vatican city