Taking a trip to Europe is a dream come for every traveler. Whether you are an art lover, a romantic or a die-hard fan of Indian movies, Europe has been on our travel list for the longest time. Not to forget that the continent is home to some of the finest universities offering best-in-class education. A trip to Europe, especially to the Schengen states, is extremely comfortable if you have a Schengen visa. In fact, applying for a Schengen visa is the best option if you are planning to travel to more than one European country. Moreover, most insurance providers offer separate Schengen travel insurance to the people traveling to the Schengen area. Here is everything you need to know about the Schengen visa.
What is Schengen?
Schengen or Schengen area is a geographical zone in Europe that allows a person to travel within its borders without a passport. It comprises of 26 European countries where people can travel freely without the need to show their passport and visa every time they enter another country within the zone. It is the largest free-travel zone in the world.
Foreigners, who are not a citizen of any of the Schengen states, can travel within the Schengen area using a Schengen visa. They will be allowed to enter the Schengen area by showing a valid passport and a Schengen visa.
What is Schengen Visa?
Schengen visa is an authorization that grants permission to a foreign national to enter, stay and travel within the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period. It is issued by a member Schengen state allowing its holder to transit to and from the Schengen area without the need to buy a visa for each Schengen country. It acts as a common visa for all the member Schengen countries and eliminates the hassle of applying for a separate visa for every Schengen country you plan to visit.
Moreover, it also gives permission to a foreign traveler to transit through the international transit areas of the airports of a Schengen country. A Schengen visa application is processed on the basis of The Visa Code Regulation 2009 of the European Parliament.
Schengen visa is the most applied type of visa for traveling through Europe. According to the European Union’s Internal Migration and Home Affairs, over 7,00,000 applications for Schengen visa were submitted alone by Indian passport holders in 2015.
List of Schengen Countries
Schengen area lies within the European continent and hence comprises of European countries. But not all countries in Europe fall under the list of Schengen countries under this zone. A total of 26 European countries come under the purview of the Schengen area and require a valid Schengen visa before you enter their borders. Out of these, 22 countries are a part of the European Union and the remaining four belong to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Here is a list of Schengen countries that accept Schengen visa:
Schengen Visa Countries
European Union Countries
Member Countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
European countries that are not a part of the Schengen area include the United Kingdom, Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyrus and Romania.
Features of Schengen Visa
- One visa to travel to 26 Schengen states
- Issued mostly for a period of 90 days or 3 months in a 180-day period
- Provides visa for stay, transit and airport transit
- Issues single, double or multiple entry visa
Types of Schengen Visa
At the time of applying for a Schengen visa, you need to know the exact type of visa you should be applying for. Depending on the duration and purpose of your stay, a Schengen visa is available in two types:
- Short Stay Visa - A Short Stay visa is a type of Schengen visa that allows a foreign national to transit and stay within the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. It allows its holder to enter the Schengen area territory, transit and stay at a Schengen state for a short period of time, which is not more than three months. A Short Stay visa is available in two variants -
- Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) - A Uniform Schengen Visa or USV is a short stay visa that allows its holder to enter a Schengen country and transit as well as reside within the Schengen area for a maximum period of 90 days in any 180-day period. For instance, if you are planning to go for a Europe tour or visit more than one Schengen country, you should apply for a USV Schengen visa.
This visa can be issued for single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entries to the Schengen area within the permitted time period. An applicant would be granted the number of entries on the basis of their trip itinerary and purpose of the travel.
- Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) - A Limited Territorial Validity or LTV is a type of Short Stay visa which permits its holder to travel only to the Schengen state(s) that have been mentioned in their visa sticker. The holder of this visa cannot enter the borders of any Schengen country other than the ones mentioned in his visa sticker during his travel. For example, if you are traveling to Germany to attend a wedding and would not be visiting any other country, you can apply for an LTV Schengen visa.
This visa gives limited territorial access within the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period. The LTV visa is mostly issued to people who have insufficient travel documents but still needs to travel to a Schengen state for an emergency.
- Airport Transit Visa - An Airport Transit Visa is a type of visa that grants permission to its holder to transit via the international transit areas of the Schengen state(s) mentioned in his visa sticker. It is meant for people who have a flight layover at a Schengen country and need to catch a connecting flight to their final destination from that Schengen country’s airport.
As of January 2019, Indian passport holders do not need an Airport Transit visa to transit through the airports of France, Netherlands and Switzerland. However, transiting between two Schengen state airports is not allowed. Therefore, if you have to change your flight more than once at a Schengen country airport, you would need an Airport Transit visa. For example: If you are traveling on a New Delhi-Paris-New York flight, you wouldn’t need an Airport Transit visa. But if you are booked on a New Delhi-Paris-Amsterdam- New York flight, then you would require an Airport Transit visa.
It is important to note that the Airport Transit visa rules are different if you have a connecting flight through Frankfurt. If you are traveling on a New Delhi-Frankfurt-Montreal flight, you would need an Airport Travel visa to board your flight. But if you have a valid visa of Canada, the US, Australia or New Zealand, obtaining an Airport Transit visa for Frankfurt is not required.
Who Should Apply for Schengen Visa
All Indian citizens traveling to one or more than one Schengen states for a period of up to 90 days would need a Schengen visa. The following kinds of travelers can apply for this visa:
- People traveling for holidays, leisure or to stay with family/ friends
- Corporate travelers who are visiting for business purposes
- People traveling to attend or participate in cultural or sports events
- Indians traveling to get medical treatment
- People with a flight layover at any of the member Schengen states
- Students who are going to study in a Schengen country for not more than 90 days
On the basis of the purpose and frequency of your travel, the Schengen country’s Embassy or Consulate will issue you a single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry visa. Moreover, students and other travelers who plan to stay in a Schengen country for more than 3 months should apply for the National visa of the country he is visiting.
When to Apply for Schengen Visa
It is extremely important for a prospective traveler to timely apply for a Schengen visa so that he receives his visa before his date of departure from India. You can apply for a Schengen visa in India not before 3 months ahead of your day of departure. However, make sure to make a visa appointment at least 15 days before your scheduled date of departure. Moreover, people with multiple-entries Schengen visa should submit a visa application before the expiry of the existing visa which is valid for a period of 180-days.
How to Apply for Schengen Visa?
If you are planning a trip to one or more than one Schengen visa countries and want to apply for a visa, follow the steps mentioned below:
- Identify the visa category you want to apply for on the basis of the purpose and duration of your stay
- Find the Embassy or Consulate in your jurisdiction where you need to submit your visa application
- Collect all the supporting documents required to be submitted along with your visa application
- Submit your visa application along with all the required documents
- Schedule an appointment at your nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC) online, via telephone or by visiting the centre
- Arrive for your visa interview on time and attend it
- Pay the fees towards for your visa application
- Wait for your visa application to get processed
Documents Required to Apply for Schengen Visa
People who want to apply for Schengen visa will have to submit a few documents along with their application form. Here is a list of the standard Schengen Visa documents that you would need to submit in the Embassy:
- Duly filled visa application form
- Current passport in original
- 2 Recent passport size photo (35 mm x 45 mm)
- Round trip flight tickets or detailed flight itinerary mentioning the travel dates and flight numbers
- International travel insurance or medical travel insurance policy
- Proof of accommodation or details of hotel reservation
- Proof of financial security which includes bank statement, letter of employment, salary slips, etc.
- A letter mentioning the purpose and duration of the travel
- Income Tax Returns for the last 3 years
- Last 6 months pension statement from the bank (for pensioners)
- Valid visa for the destination country if applying for an Airport Transit visa
- Original marriage certificate if traveling to stay with spouse residing in a Schengen country
Different kinds of travelers need to submit a few additional Schengen visa documents. Refer the table below to check the list of additional documents:
Types of Travelers
Additional Documents Required
• Appointment letter from the employer
• Bank statement for the last 6 months, duly signed and attested by the bank official
• Leave application duly approved by the employer
Self-Employed or Businessman
• Photocopy of business license
• Company’s bank statement for the last 6 months
• Proof of admission at a Schengen university, college or school
• Proof of financial security that ensures his/her stay abroad can be afforded
• Fees payment receipts of the educational institution
• NOC from school or college in India
• Birth certificate of the minor child
• Application form signed by both the parents
• Photocopies of parents passport or identity proofs
• Authorization letter by both the parents allowing the minor child travel alone, signed by a notary
• Order of the Family Court if the custody of the child belongs to a single parent
Note: It is advised to confirm the list of required documents with the Schengen Embassy/ Consulate or VFS Schengen visa centre before applying.
Do’s to Ensure Smooth Processing of Schengen Visa Application
- Passport of the applicant should be valid for at least 3 months after his date of departure from India and should have at least two blank pages. Moreover, the passport should be issued within the last 10 years
- The passport size photo should be an 80% close up of the face and should be taken against a white background with a matte finish
Schengen Visa Application Submission
Schengen visa deals with 26 countries and thus, it can get pretty confusing for the applicant to decide as to which country’s Embassy or Consulate he should submit his visa application. In order to obtain the Schengen visa, you can submit your visa application to one of the following the Schengen visa countries:
- The sole Schengen country you are going to visit on your trip
- The main destination Schengen country based on the duration and purpose of your travel
- The first Schengen country whose territory you enter while entering the Schengen zone
Schengen Visa Fees
All applicants of Schengen visa will have to pay a fee to obtain the visa. The payment has to be made at the Embassy or Consulate where you are submitting your visa application. A standard amount of EUR 30 has to be paid as visa fee by every adult applicant. Visa applications for children between the ages of 6 years and 12 years would attract a visa fee of EUR 35. The visa fee should be paid mostly paid in cash or by card, if possible.
However, certain people may not require paying a fee to obtain a visa to enter the Schengen area. Take a look at the criteria under which your Schengen visa fees may be waived off:
- Children below the age of 6 years
- Students at school, graduate and post-graduate level who will be traveling for the purpose of educational training or study
- Representative of a non-profit organization under the age of 25 years who is traveling as participants in conferences, seminars and educational, sports or cultural events organized by other non-profit organization
- Applicants traveling to conduct scientific research
- People with diplomatic or service passports
Travel Insurance for Schengen Visa
Life is full of uncertainties and it makes it more prudent for everyone to stay prepared for an unforeseen emergency in the best possible way. The authorities of the European Union and the Schengen visa countries realize the unpredictability of life and thus have made it compulsory for every foreigner to possess a valid international travel insurance policy. A travel insurance policy takes care of emergency expenses of a traveler including medical expenses, loss of passport, personal liability, delay or loss of check-in baggage, personal accident and trip delays amongst others. It also acts as medical travel insurance if you suffer from a sudden illness or accident and have to be hospitalized.
Having a valid travel insurance policy is a prerequisite to applying for a Schengen visa. Whether you are traveling for business or for tourism, you need to have travel insurance in order to apply for the visa. Even students travelling to study in a Schengen university require student travel insurance. Moreover, every Schengen visa applicant must have a travel insurance policy with a minimum sum insured of EUR 30,000.
How to Read a Schengen Visa Sticker
After your visa application has been processed, you will receive a Schengen visa sticker on your passport. This sticker acts as legal document permission that permits you to enter the Schengen area. A lot of crucial information is mentioned on a visa sticker and it is important for you to understand it in order to avoid breaking any rule. Here is how you can read a visa sticker:
- All information on a Schengen visa sticker is written in English, German and French languages.
- The list of Schengen countries that you have permission to enter are written next to the term ‘Valid For’. If you have a Uniform Schengen Visa, ‘Schengen States’ or ‘Etats Schengen’ will be written. If ‘Schengen States (-acronym of the Schengen country)’ is mentioned then you will not be allowed that country. For example, if your visa has ‘Schengen States (-GR) mentioned, you can enter all Schengen countries except Greece.
- The start date of your visa is written next to ‘From’ label.
- The information on whether you have a single entry, double-entry or multiple-entries visa is mentioned next to ‘Number of Entries’.
- ‘Duration of Stay’ mentions the number of days for which your visa is valid. You need to exit the Schengen area before the completion of permitted duration to avoid overstaying that could result in a ban.
- The ‘Visa Type’ label mentions the type of visa you have been granted. Type ‘A’ stands for Airport Transit Visa, type ‘C’ denotes Short Stay Visa
- The information on the city where the concerned Embassy or Consulate issued the visa along with the date of the issue is also mentioned
- The Schengen visa holder’s name and any related remarks are mentioned at the bottom of the visa
Written By: PolicyBazaar - Updated: 04 December 2019