A European Schengen visa application

Are you planning to visit a European country that is part of the Schengen Area for a period of less than 3 months, either as a tourist, student or on business?

Are you required to hold a visa or do you believe you are subject to a visa requirement for the Schengen Area? In that case, you will need to file an application to obtain the required European Schengen visa.

On this site, we set out to give answers to the most frequently asked questions relating to the Schengen travel visa, as we provide an overview of the application formalities you will need to perform, and present a series of practical tips for applying for a European Schengen visa and the pertaining European Schengen travel insurance including medical health care coverage, travel assistance and repatriation which you are required to take out when applying for your Schengen visa.

You are looking to visit one or several European Schengen countries either as a tourist, a student or on business, for a period of no longer than 3 months. If you hold a nationality that involves a visa obligation, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa. Below, we briefly outline the requirements and practical terms and conditions on how to file your application and to obtain a European Schengen visa.

Where do you apply for a European Schengen visa? Which embassy or consulate do you apply to for a Schengen visa?

If you are intending to visit just one Schengen country, you will need to apply for a visa with the embassy or the consulate of that particular country.

If you are looking to visit several Schengen countries, you will need to apply for a visa with the embassy or the consulate of the country that is your main destination.

If you are intending to visit several Schengen countries, but do not have a main destination, you will need to apply for a visa with the embassy or the consulate of the country where you will be entering the Schengen territory. (This link provides the list of the various embassies or consulates of the Schengen countries inside Europe)

Presently, 25 EU countries are part of the European Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. Please note: the United Kingdom and Ireland are not Schengen countries.

What are the principal benefits of the European Schengen visa for non-EU residents?

The Schengen Treaty provides for the removal of the internal border controls between the Schengen member states. The Treaty provides for joint rules for controlling the external borders of the Schengen Area. The Schengen Treaty also provides for the same visa obligations and rules for obtaining a Schengen visa. The aim is to enable the free movement of persons within the European Schengen Area. The Schengen countries have established a set of joint rules that have resulted in:

  • The harmonisation of the visa obligation and rules for visits of less than three months
  • The disappearance of internal border controls within the Schengen Area, which means there are no longer any passport checks in place at the internal borders. Beware as each member state of the Schengen Area has its own rules as to whether or not travellers are to be in possession of travel documents and/or a passport
  • The segregation wherever possible at airports of persons travelling within the Schengen Area and persons coming from outside of the Schengen Area;

Please note: the Schengen Area is not identical to the European Community (EU). Even though the United Kingdom and Ireland are both EU member states, they have decided to opt out of the Schengen Area, preferring to maintain their own border controls. Which means that if you are intending to travel to either of these two countries, combined with a visit to any of the European Schengen countries, you will need to observe a separate procedure.

If you are intending to stay in any of the Schengen countries for a period longer than three months, the Schengen visa no longer applies. Instead, you are required to observe the specific rules of each separate country.

In 2001, the “Council of the European Union” adopted a list of residents of third countries that are subject to the Schengen visa obligation for short stays of less than three months.

In a practical sense: How to apply for a European Schengen visa?

The first thing to do is to check whether your nationality requires a Schengen visa. Click here for the nationalities that require a Schengen visa for a stay of less than three months.

Fill in an application form beforehand to obtain a valid travel visa for the European Schengen Area. Download and print off your Schengen visa application form here in different languages free of charge:

English version
French version
Spanish version
Chinese version

Before making your way to the embassy or the consulate of the European Schengen country you need, please make sure you are carrying:

  • A valid national passport
  • Evidence showing the purpose of your trip, such as hotel reservations, … as well as documents that prove your family connection, if you are intending to visit family
  • Documentary proof that shows you have sufficient financial means of support (*)
  • Proof that you have taken out a valid European Schengen travel insurance. At a minimum, this travel insurance is to provide cover for repatriation, hospital admission expenses, medical expenses and assistance in case of death. Take out a valid Schengen travel insurance online now, starting from €0.89 per day which will give you the required certificate to obtain your Schengen travel visa. This European Schengen travel insurance must be valid for the entire Schengen territory and be issued by an insurer from this area. AXA Schengen travel insurance fully complies with all requirements. Here you can take out this compulsory European Schengen insurance in just 2 minutes, whilst enabling you to print off the Schengen travel insurance coverage certificate online.
  • A round trip travel ticket (to be presented at the time the visa is awarded).

(*) Special arrangement for visiting family members who are residents in a Schengen country and whom you are intending to visit:

If you are unable to furnish proof that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself, this commitment may be assumed by a person who is free to live without constraints in the European country concerned within the Schengen Area. Over and above this commitment, the solvency of the guarantor needs to be corroborated (for example by providing copies of his or her last three pay slips, his or her last tax assessment, …)

What if you live in a Schengen country and you want to invite a family member or a friend who requires a European Schengen visa? 

When examining whether or not your visitor has sufficient financial resources to support him or herself, due account is taken of the fact that he/she will be staying with you.

If he or she is unable to prove he or she has sufficient resources, you can sign a document in which you confirm you will charge yourself of our visitor, using a form that differs from one country to the next. However, this additionally means you will be required in turn to furnish evidence that you have sufficient financial resources to support your visitor.

If this visitor calls on your hospitality and you are prepared to assume financial responsibility for him or her, we would advise you to take out a more comprehensive travel insurance than the basic coverage that needs to be provided as a minimum. Minimum coverage provides €30,000 for urgent medical expenses and repatriation cover to the state of residence. However, if you do not fancy the idea of finding yourself faced with a financial bombshell, your safest best is to take out the “Europe travel” insurance which offers up to €100,000 for urgent medical expenses, assistance and repatriation in the event of death. What is more, “Europe Travel” is valid in all EU countries, including the United Kingdom and Ireland, and additionally offers assistance in the event of theft of your travel documents.

Take out our Europe Travel insurance online and send your visitor the compulsory certificate, together with the other documentary evidence, enabling him or her to obtain his or her Schengen visa without any hassle.

What if you visit the Schengen Area several times a year, but only for a period of no more than three months on each occasion?

If you visit any of the Schengen countries several times in one year, rather than taking out a new Schengen travel insurance for each trip, the best thing to do is to go for a full-year insurance cover. Take out a “Multitrip” formula, which will cover you for all your trips and visits for a whole year, provided you never exceed a time span of three months on each visit.

Principal ramifications of the Schengen Area for non EU citizens.

You have finally been given your visa for the Schengen Area. You are now entitled to travel freely around the Schengen Area for the maximum three-month term of validity. However, please beware as you still need to comply with the requirements specified below at all times:

  • Be in possession of your visa
  • Be in possession of valid travel documents
  • Be able to furnish proof of the purpose of your visit
  • Have sufficient financial means to support yourself during your stay and your return
  • Not be included on a list of the Schengen information system of persons to be refused entry
  • Not be considered a risk to general safety or the national security of any of the Schengen countries

We trust this overview will help you to obtain your visa with due swiftness and ease.

Enjoy your stay in Europe (Schengen Area) and a safe trip home.

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