Schengen visa: Requirements and application procedure


The Schengen visa or a C-Type visa is only valid for short stays for up to 90 days. Schengen visas are typically valid for 90 days. But, frequent visitors to the Schengen area can obtain Schengen visas valid for one, two or five years.

The continent of Europe is comprised of 51 countries. Of which, 26 countries are part of the Schengen agreement. Schengen agreement abolished internal borders between these 26 countries.

A Schengen visa is a unified visa for short stays (up to 90 days) for these 26 countries in Europe. Therefore, a Schengen visa is the only visa you will need to travel to any of these 26 countries.

Schengen visa countries

The following are the 26 countries that you can travel using a Schengen visa.

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Denmark
  5. Estonia
  6. Finland
  7. France
  8. Germany
  9. Greece
  10. Hungary
  11. Iceland
  12. Italy
  13. Latvia
  14. Liechtenstein
  15. Lithuania
  16. Luxembourg
  17. Malta
  18. Netherlands
  19. Norway
  20. Poland
  21. Portugal
  22. Slovakia
  23. Slovenia
  24. Spain
  25. Sweden
  26. Switzerland


Minimum passport validity required to enter the Schengen area

Passport must be valid for at least 3 months from your planned departure from Schengen area.

Example: If your trip is from Mar 10 to Mar 20, your passport must be valid at least until Jun 20.

Visa EXEMPT nationalities

90-day entry

  1. Albania
  2. Andorra
  3. Antigua And Barbuda
  4. Argentina
  5. Austria
  6. Australia
  7. Bahamas
  8. Barbados
  9. Belgium
  10. Bosnia Herzegovina
  11. Brazil
  12. Brunei Darussalam
  13. Bulgaria
  14. Canada
  15. Chile
  16. Colombia
  17. Costa Rica
  18. Croatia
  19. Cyprus
  20. Czech Republic
  21. Denmark
  22. Dominica
  23. El Salvador
  24. Estonia
  25. Finland
  26. France
  27. Greece
  28. Granada
  29. Guatemala
  30. Honduras
  31. Hong Kong
  32. Hungary
  33. Iceland
  34. Ireland
  35. Israel
  36. Italy
  37. Japan
  38. Kiribati
  39. Latvia
  40. Liechtenstein
  41. Lithuania
  42. Luxembourg
  43. Macao
  44. Macedonia (FYROM)
  45. Malaysia
  46. Malta
  47. Marshall Islands
  48. Mauritius
  49. Mexico
  50. Micronesia
  51. Moldova
  52. Monaco
  53. Montenegro
  54. Netherlands
  55. New Zealand
  56. Nicaragua
  57. Norway
  58. Palau
  59. Panama
  60. Paraguay
  61. Peru
  62. Poland
  63. Portugal
  64. Romania
  65. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  66. Saint Lucia
  67. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  68. Samoa
  69. San Marino
  70. Serbia
  71. Seychelles
  72. Singapore
  73. Slovak Republic
  74. Slovenia
  75. Solomon Islands
  76. South Korea
  77. Spain
  78. Sweden
  79. Switzerland
  80. Taiwan
  81. Timor-Leste (East Timor)
  82. Tonga
  83. Trinidad And Tobago
  84. Tuvalu
  85. United Arab Emirates
  86. United Kingdom
  87. United States of America
  88. Uruguay
  89. Vanuatu
  90. Vatican City
  91. Venezuela

Visa REQUIRED nationalities

90-day entry

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Algeria
  3. Angola
  4. Armenia
  5. Azerbaijan
  6. Bahrain
  7. Bangladesh
  8. Belarus
  9. Belize
  10. Benin
  11. Bhutan
  12. Bolivia
  13. Botswana
  14. Burkina Faso
  15. Burundi
  16. Cambodia
  17. Cameroon
  18. Cape Verde
  19. Central African Republic
  20. Chad
  21. China
  22. Comoros
  23. Congo (Dem. Rep. of)
  24. Congo (Republic of)
  25. Côte d’Ivoire
  26. Cuba
  27. Djibouti
  28. Dominican Republic
  29. Ecuador
  30. Egypt
  31. Equatorial Guinea
  32. Eritrea
  33. Ethiopia
  34. Fiji
  35. Gabon
  36. Gambia
  37. Georgia
  38. Ghana
  39. Guinea
  40. Guinea-Bissau
  41. Guyana
  42. Haiti
  43. India
  44. Indonesia
  45. Iran
  46. Iraq
  47. Jamaica
  48. Jordan
  49. Kazakhstan
  50. Kenya
  51. Kyrgyzstan
  52. Kuwait
  53. Laos
  54. Lesotho
  55. Lebanon
  56. Liberia
  57. Libya
  58. Madagascar
  59. Malawi
  60. Maldives
  61. Mali
  62. Mauritania
  63. Mongolia
  64. Morocco
  65. Mozambique
  66. Myanmar
  67. Namibia
  68. Nauru
  69. Nepal
  70. Niger
  71. Nigeria
  72. North Korea
  73. Oman
  74. Pakistan
  75. Papua New Guinea
  76. Philippines
  77. Qatar
  78. Russia
  79. Rwanda
  80. Sao Tome And Principe
  81. Saudi Arabia
  82. Senegal
  83. Sierra Leone
  84. Somalia
  85. South Africa
  86. South Sudan
  87. Sri Lanka
  88. Sudan
  89. Suriname
  90. Swaziland
  91. Syria
  92. Tajikistan
  93. Tanzania
  94. Thailand
  95. Togo
  96. Tunisia
  97. Turkey
  98. Turkmenistan
  99. Uganda
  100. Ukraine
  101. Uzbekistan
  102. Vietnam
  103. Yemen
  104. Zambia
  105. Zimbabwe


Check if you need a tourist visa to travel to the Schengen area in the “Visa requirements by nationality” section above. Alternatively, you can check your visa eligibility and requirements at any of your nearest Schengen member state consulates.

Schengen visa applications can be submitted up to 180 days in advance. Visa application is a 4 step process

  1. Fill your Schengen visa application form 14076-02 (online or offline)
  2. Schedule an in-person appointment (at the consulate or visa agent such as VFS Global)
  3. Appear in person to submit your visa application and documents
  4. Pick up your original passport with approved visa

Validity of Schengen visa

The Schengen visa is usually valid for 90 days. But if you are applying for your Schengen visa for the first time, you may likely be issued the visa valid for exactly the number of days you have asked for.

Example: If your itinerary is 12 days, you may be issued the visa valid for exactly 12 days.

As a first-time visa applicant, I suggest adding a few extra days to your itinerary so you will get a few extra days on your visa validity. That way, you can have some flexibility in your travel plans.

If you are applying for your Schengen visa for the second or third time, you may likely get the visa valid for 90 days.

Rules for obtaining Schengen visa valid for 1, 2 or 5 years

  • To obtain a 1 year Schengen visa, you must have obtained and used 3 Schengen visas within the last 2 years
  • To obtain a 2 year Schengen visa, you must have obtained and used a 1 year Schengen visa within the last 2 years
  • To obtain a 5 year Schengen visa, you must have obtained and used a 2 year Schengen visa within the last 3 years

Where to apply for your Schengen visa?

Most tourists plan to travel to more than one country during their Europe trip. Since the Schengen visa is valid for 26 countries, you must first determine your Schengen country of application. This helps you greatly in avoiding visa delays and refusals.

Follow the below guidelines to determine your Schengen country of application.

  1. If you plan to visit only one Schengen country, you must apply for your Schengen visa at the consulate of that particular country.
  2. If you plan to visit several Schengen countries, you must apply for your Schengen visa at the consulate of the country of your main destination (the country where you will be spending most days).
  3. If you intend to visit several Schengen countries but do not have a main destination (same amount of days in each country) then you should apply for your Schengen visa at the consulate of the country of your first point of entry.

Documents required for Schengen visa

The following documents are required for your Schengen visa.

  1. Filled and signed Schengen visa application form (online or downloadable from the consulate page)
  2. Original passport
  3. Copy of the visa/residence permit if applying in a third country.
    • Example: If you hold an India passport and applying in the US, you must provide a copy of your US visa
  4. One recent passport size photo
  5. ROUnd trip flight reservation
  6. Hotel bookings for the entire duration of stay
  7. Proof of health insurance
  8. Last 3 months bank statement
  9. Last 3 months salary slips
  10. Original signed employment letter
  11. Cover letter with a detailed itinerary

Schengen visa photo requirements

The photo must be 4.5cm x 3.5cm. That is, 4.5cm high and 3.5 cm wide. The face must be 3.2 to 3.6cm or 70-80% of the photo.

Travel health insurance for Schengen visa

It’s MANDATORY to submit travel medical insurance for Schengen visa. You must attach a certificate of travel health insurance in the Schengen area or worldwide with 100% coverage with no deductibles or co-pays.

It must have a minimum coverage of €30,000 EUR for medical, hospitalization, emergencies and repatriation services.

You can purchase travel insurance from the below providers. You can cancel and get a refund if your visa is denied. Once you purchase the insurance for your desired dates, you can download the visa letter that you can submit with your visa application.

Here are a few insurance providers.

  • InsureMyTrip (Costs about $30 for a 30 day trip)
  • SafetyWing (Costs about $45 for a 30 day trip)

Schengen visa fee

The Schengen visa fee is approximately €80 EUR. This fee must be paid in the form of a bank money order. The visa fee is non-refundable and it will not be returned if the visa is not granted or withdrawn.

Schengen visa processing time

Schengen visa processing can take from 15 calendar days to 45 calendar days.

You must apply for your Schengen visa no later than 15 days prior to your travel. Otherwise, your application will not be accepted.

You can apply for your Schengen visa up to 6 months in advance. So, apply as soon as you can to avoid delays, refusals and disappointments.

Apply in person

There is a plan to implement online systems of Schengen visas. But as of now, the Schengen visa can only be applied in person.

Filling the application form can be online or offline depending on the Schengen country. After this, you must schedule an appointment via the consulate website to submit your visa application and documents.

Apply through visa/travel agency

You can apply for the Schengen visa through a visa/travel agency in some countries. Travel agencies that offer vacation packages to Europe usually are allowed to apply for the visa on your behalf.

Priority visa service

There is no priority visa service. In case of emergency travel, you can go straight to the consulate to check if they can accept your application without an appointment.

Customer service

There is no dedicated customer service. You can call/email the consulate where you applied for the visa if you need to know the status of your application.

Application withdrawal

There is no official procedure to withdraw an application. You can call/email the consulate if you intend to withdraw the application


Period of stay in Schengen area – the 90 days/180 days rule

Non-EU Passport holders who are visa EXEMPT or REQUIRED are authorized to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days. This “90 days in any 180 days” applies to all short-stay visitors to the Schengen area.

  • Stays in EU countries that are NOT part of the Schengen area (Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Romania, Cyprus and the United Kingdom) are not counted in assessing the period of stay.
  • Stays in non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) are counted in assessing the period of stay compliance with the 90 days / 180-day rule.
  • Both the day of entry and day of exit are counted in the calculation.
  • The 180 days period is referenced backwards from the day of checking.
  • A simple rule of thumb is, if you are out of the Schengen area for a continuous period of 90 days allows you for a new stay of 90 days.

You can use the Schengen calculator to determine the number of days you are allowed to stay in the Schengen area. Here is the manual on how to use the Schengen calculator.

Starting your trip

Most airlines do not let you check-in online if you need a visa to travel to the destination country. If you check-in online or at the airport, either way, make sure to arrive at the gate a bit early and see the airline staff. They sometimes have to go through the visa requirements again, verify the documents and put a “Docs Ok” stamp on your boarding pass.

Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the day of travel.

Entering the Schengen country

You do not need to fill any arrival/departure card on entering the Schengen area. Do not panic if your flight attendant did not give you an arrival/departure card on your flight in.

At the immigration, you will generally be asked about your final destination, places you will be visiting and the number of days you are planning on staying. You might also be asked if it is your first time in Europe.

The immigration officer will stamp your passport with arrival airport. The number of days you are allowed to stay will not be marked in your passport.

Exiting the Schengen country

You must go through passport control on exiting the Schengen area. You will not be asked any questions unless you have overstayed your visa. Passport control is fairly quick, about 10-15 minutes depending on the airport.

Europe is usually the first choice for most first time international travelers. It’s a dream for most people to visit Europe at least once in their lifetime. Europe has such an impeccable beauty, history, art, and cuisine.

Schengen visa requirements are clear and fairly easy to understand. An appointment can be made online but application submission must be done in person. Applications can be submitted up to 180 days in advance.