How do I apply for a Schengen visa for the Schengen area?


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The Schengen visa is an official document and enables citizens who require a visa to enter the 26 Schengen countries. If you want to apply for a Schengen visa, you will find that there are different types of Schengen visas that differ in their validity and conditions. 

In order to successfully apply for a Schengen visa, you need to meet certain conditions and submit the correct forms. In the checklist below, you will find what is important when applying for a Schengen visa!

apply for a Schengen visa

What types of visas are there for the Schengen area?

The Schengen area is an association of countries that have abolished border controls at internal borders. Free movement of people by land, air and sea is possible in this area. Of the 26 countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement, 22 EU countries and 4 EFTA countries are represented. 

A Schengen visa is therefore not automatically a visa for all of Europe. Of the currently 27 member states of the European Union, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus are not yet part of the Schengen area, but will soon join. 

The conditions for the Schengen visa are regulated by European law, more precisely the EU visa regulation. The different types of Schengen visas differ in the length of stay, the purpose of the trip and the number of entries.

A visa for the Schengen area can be roughly divided into two types:

  • Schengen visa: For short stays of up to 3 months within 6 months
  • National visa (D visa): For longer stays over 3 months and when starting work

The Schengen visa can in turn be divided into 3 further categories:

  • Schengen Visa Type A: Airport transit visa
  • Schengen visa type C: Visa for a stay of up to 3 months (typical visitor or tourist visa)
  • Schengen visa type C “’TRANSIT”: transit visa (formerly Schengen visa type B)

Furthermore, the visas are differentiated based on the frequency of entry:

  • Single-entry visa: single entry into a Schengen country
  • Double-entry visa: Visa with two entries in a Schengen country
  • Multi-Visa: the visa enables multiple entries into the Schengen area

Note: You must always clearly distinguish between the approved length of stay and the validity period for Schengen visas.

apply for a Schengen visa

Who has to apply for a Schengen visa?

Whether or not you need to apply for a Schengen visa depends on your nationality . Most nationals of non-European countries such as China, Russia and Turkey have to apply for a Schengen visa if they want to travel to the Schengen area. See the full list of countries to see which citizens need a visa for the Schengen area.

Currently around 60 non-EU countries are visa-free , which means that the citizens of these countries do not have to apply for a Schengen visa. These states have signed a visa liberalization agreement with the European Union. 

These include, for example, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. However, only under the condition that the stay in the Schengen area is not longer than 90 days. Anyone who exceeds the 90 days of the Schengen visa must expect a fine. Schengen visas C are usually not extended. 

You can only extend a Schengen visa in certain exceptional cases, such as for humanitarian reasons, serious illnesses or force majeure. With a national type D visa, you can apply for a residence permit before the visa expires.

Important to know: From 2022, third-country nationals who were previously able to enter the Schengen countries without a visa will have to fill out an online form. The so-called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is comparable to the US travel authorization ESTA and uses the data to check whether he or she is authorized to enter one of the countries in the Schengen area or not.

Where can I apply for the Schengen visa?

If you want to apply for a Schengen visa, contact the embassy of the country you want to enter. For example, if you are traveling to Germany, you will need to apply for the Schengen visa for Germany. In this case, you will receive the form for the visa application from the German embassy or a German consulate.

If you want to travel to several countries in the Schengen area, apply for your Schengen visa at the diplomatic mission of the country in which you will be staying the longest or where you will be entering first. 

There are Schengen countries that issue a Schengen visa more easily than others. Depending on which region of the Schengen area you want to travel to, we have listed the countries that issue easy Schengen visas.

What do I need for the Schengen visa application?

In addition to your application form, you will need to submit various documents for the Schengen visa. You are obliged to explain the reason for your trip and the conditions under which you are traveling in a credible manner.

Checklist for a Schengen visa application:

  • Completed and signed visa application
  • Valid passport
  • Two current biometric passport photos
  • A letter with your reason for entry
  • Travel data based on an entry and return ticket
  • Proof of on-site accommodation
  • if necessary, letter of invitation when visiting relatives or acquaintances
  • Proof of financial means
  • Take out Schengen visa travel insurance

Note: The requirements for the Schengen visa application may vary from country to country. In some cases additional information may be requested. You should therefore always inquire about the details at the embassies and consulates of the respective countries.

apply for a Schengen visa

How do I find travel health insurance for the visa application?

Schengen insurance policies provide you with the insurance conditions you need when applying for a Schengen visa. The Schengen travel insurance must cover the costs of a patient repatriation and medical emergencies to a value of at least € 30,000. 

When you take out a Schengen travel insurance, you will receive a personal insurance policy. When you apply for your Schengen visa, you can print out the insurance policy as proof and submit it to the embassy or consulate with the application.

How do I submit the Schengen Visa application?

You make an appointment with the visa section of the diplomatic mission abroad and submit your complete Schengen visa application with the required evidence. You have to appear in person at the consular department, where your visa application will be checked for completeness. If all documents are in place, your application will be forwarded. Finally, you pay the fee for the Schengen visa.

How long in advance do I apply for a Schengen visa?

So that you don’t get stressed out, we recommend that you apply for the Schengen visa on average around 6 weeks before your planned departure date. This gives you time to fill out your application stress-free, collect all the documents and make an appointment with the consular department.

Note: With the introduction of the new EU visa regulation in February 2020, you can apply for the Schengen visa 6 months before your departure date.

How do I know if my Schengen visa application has been accepted?

When you apply for your Schengen visa during your appointment at the embassy, ​​you will be given a number. You can use this number to track your visa application online. 

If your application is accepted, you will receive a message and you can collect your passport and Schengen visa. If your Schengen visa is rejected, you have the opportunity to lodge a written complaint within one month.

Frequently asked questions about the Schengen visa application 

Where do I apply for a Schengen visa?

You always apply for the Schengen visa at the consular department of the embassy of the Schengen country in which you spend most of your stay. If you are traveling to several countries, apply for the visa in the country where you spend most of your time or where you will be the first to enter.

How long does it take to get a Schengen visa?

If you apply for a Schengen visa for short stays of up to 90 days (Schengen visa C), the visa will usually be processed by the competent authority within 15 days. It can also take longer during the main travel season.

What does the Schengen visa cost?

The tariffs changed in February 2020. The Schengen visa for short stays of up to 90 days (C visa) costs 80 euros for adults and 40 euros for children aged 6 to 12. The application for a visa for longer stays (D visa) costs € 75 in Germany – € 37.50 for children under 18 years of age. The tariff of D-Visa can vary from country to country.

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