The Schengen area is comprised of 26 countries which allow free movement of their citizens within this area as a single country. 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. However, there are countries that are not part of the EU like Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein yet do belong in the Schengen area free movement policy.
Types of Schengen Visa
Depending on the purpose of travel and its duration, there are different Schengen visa types available: tourist, business, student, working, transit. Generally the visa issued allows you to visit any of the Schengen States during the same trip as long as visa is valid. A Schengen visa is not appropriate, if you wish to remain in the Schengen area for longer than 90 days, take up employment or establish a business, trade or profession.
Requirements For Schengen Visa Application
Application for a Schengen visa is usually made at the designated embassy of the country you wish to visit. If you are hoping to visit more than one Schengen State, apply for a visa at the consulate of your primary country destination (the longest stay) and if trips to Schengen countries will be of equal length, you must apply at the Consulate of the country whose external borders you will cross first when entering the Schengen area.
- The application form must be fully completed and signed
- One passport format photo recently taken, full face capture, and a light background
- The passport as well as all the copies of your previous visas (for example, the student visa for the UK) must be valid for at least 3 months prior to your departure and the passport must have at least two blank pages
- The reservation of the return ticket
- The travel medical insurance policy has to cover expenses up to 30,000 Euros, the sum depending on the residing days, and it has to be valid in all Schengen countries. The health insurance policy must be purchased before picking up the visa
How Long it Takes to Issue a Schengen Visa
Once a Schengen visa application is submitted to the Consulate, a decision is made within 15 calendar days on average. This period may be extended up to 30 days or even 60 days in some cases. Remember, applications can be lodged no more than three months before the start of the intended trip.