All About Your Visas

A Schengen visa is a short stay visa allowing its holder to circulate in the Schengen area.  The Schengen area covers 26 countries ("Schengen States") without border controls between them. These countries are: 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.

A Schengen visa is an authorisation issued by a Schengen State with a view to:

transit through or an intended stay in the territory of the Schengen States of a duration of no more than 90 days in any 180 days period ("short stay visa"),
transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen States ("airport transit visa").

As a general rule you may cross any Schengen border with visa issued by any Schengen country. However, the short-stay visa does not automatically entitle you to enter the Schengen area. At border (or during other controls) you may have to show the visa but also provide additional documentation, for example information on that you have sufficient means to cover the stay and the return trip.

Who must apply?

Citizens of certain countries must hold a short stay visa. The EU has a common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement.

Family members of EU/EEA nationals are entitled to an accelerated visa procedure free of charge if  meeting the following criteria:

Applicant is a family member of an European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen; and
that EU/EEA citizen  is travelling to or is residing in a member state other than that of which he/she is a citizen; and
Applicant is accompanying the EU/EEA citizen or planning to join him/her in the Schengen State of destination.

If you think you are entitled to an accelerated visa procedure you will need to show proof that you meet these criteria when you submit your visa application

Visa description

Generally the visa issued allows you to visit any of the Schengen States during the same trip, within the validity of the visa. The territorial validity of your visa is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading "Valid For".

A Schengen visa is not appropriate, if you wish to remain in a Schengen country for longer than 90 days, take up employment or establish a business, trade or profession.

The Schengen visa is a short stay visa and takes the form of a sticker affixed to the travel document. The definition of “short stay” is a stay of "90 days in any 180 days period". This means that the total duration of stay is of maximum 90 days, in any period of 180 days.

The precise length of validity of your visa is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading “Duration of visit”.

With a single-entry visa you can enter the Schengen area only once. This is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading "Number of entries" by "1". A two-entry or a multiple-entry visa allows for two or several entries during the validity of the visa. This is indicated on the visa sticker by "02" or "MULT" under the heading "Number of entries".

Processing your visa application

As a general rule, once a Schengen visa application is submitted, a decision is taken within 15 calendar days. This period may be extended up to 30 days or 60 days.

Applications can be lodged no more than three months before the start of the intended trip.

Holders of a multiple-entry visa (valid for a period of at least six months) may lodge the application for a new visa before the expiry of that visa.

It is a requirement that the expiration date of your passport is 3 months AFTER your return from the Schengen State.

Information on the documents to be submitted can be found on the following page of our website: Required documents.

Visa refusal

If your visa has been refused, you may appeal against this decision. The decision to refuse a Schengen visa and the reasons for the refusal are notified using a standard form that is handed out by the consulate that refused the visa. The notification of the refusal includes the reasons, on which the refusal were based, and the procedures and deadlines for submitting an appeal.

The visa fee is not refunded if the visa is refused. The visa fee covers the cost of the examination of the visa application.