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Schengen Visa Requirements: Guide for International Travel
13 min read
Updated on Jan 23, 2024

There are many fantastic countries to visit in the European Union, but one of the first things when planning a trip is to learn about the visa requirements to enter. Most citizens must apply for a visa to enter the Schengen area. The list of Schengen member countries includes top destinations such as Italy, France, Spain, and Germany.

The good news is that once you have the Schengen Visa, you can visit any Schengen member state. We can guide you from start to end for a smooth Schengen application process. Keep reading to learn how we can help you with all the Schengen Visa requirements.

Paris Eiffel Tower Landscape

What is the Schengen Visa?

The Schengen Visa is a visa developed by the Schengen area countries to improve border controls and safety among these EU countries. This short-term visa is required for non-Schengen countries that are not part of the visa-free program. The visa allows travel for tourism and business purposes, for example.

The application process may seem overwhelming, but don't worry; we've got your back! Our concierge service is here to help make it easy for you. When you apply with us, you'll have your own iVisa expert to walk you through the process and answer any questions. We also have a simplified form and a step-by-step guide to make it all hassle-free.

So, no need to stress about anything. Choose your next destination country, and let us help you make your trip a reality!

What are the Schengen countries?

The Schengen countries are a group of European countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement, facilitating border controls, commerce, and people flow. The countries in the Schengen Area include:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

What are the different types of Schengen Visas?

There are different Schengen Visa types, varying according to your travel plan. It’s essential to apply for a visa that suits your trip purpose better. Check all the details below.

Uniform Schengen Visa (USV)

This is the standard Schengen Visa to visit Schengen area member countries. With a valid visa, you can transit or stay for a short period in the desired territory. The length of stay is up to 90 days every six-months, starting from the date of entry.

When applying for this visa, you must inform us in your application which of the following visa categories you need:

  • Tourism – The short-term tourism visa for those planning to visit any of the Schengen member countries for sightseeing and experiencing their culture, architecture, foods, and other attractions.

  • Visiting family or friends – This category allows you to visit family members or friends legally residing in the Schengen area.

  • Business – Many people travel to and from Schengen countries for business reasons. If you're one of them, you may want to consider applying for a Business Schengen Visa. This type of visa offers several benefits, including the ability to secure a faster appointment during peak visa application season when many people are applying.

  • Cultural – It’s the visa for you if you’re traveling to Europe to attend a cultural event. You should be part of the event, like a performer at a concert or a writer presenting their book at a book fair.

  • Sports – This visa is for travelers attending a sporting event. Like the cultural category, you should be part of the event, like an athlete traveling for a competition.

  • Medical reasons – If you are traveling to any of the member states of the Schengen territory for medical treatment, this visa is part of the entry requirements. You can get medical care at any clinic or hospital for three months within 180 days.

  • Study – You must apply for this visa category if you want to attend any educational institution, such as university courses and language courses, for a period shorter than three months.

  • Official visit – You must select “official visit” in your application form if traveling to the Schengen Area on official duty.

  • Airport Transit – You must apply for this category if you need to travel through the international zone of a Schengen Country Airport without entering the Schengen Country. For some countries and some nationalities, this visa is not required.

  • Transit – This is similar to the Airport Transit Visa. It’s for foreign seafarers, who only need to stop for very short periods by the seaport of one of the Schengen member states.

You can count on our Schengen Guided Visa application to get any of these categories stress-free! Our iVisa experts will help you in each step of the process.

Limited territorial validity visa (LTV)

When you get an LTV, you're only allowed to travel to the Schengen country that issued the visa or to other specific Schengen countries mentioned in your application. It’s usually granted only in exceptional circumstances, such as for humanitarian reasons or under international obligation, as an exception to the standard Uniform Schengen Visa system.

National Visa

If you plan to study, work, or permanently reside in one of the Schengen countries, you may be eligible for a national visa. There are two types: single-entry and multi-entry. Single-entry visas are for those who need to reside in the Schengen country for a specific period and purpose before returning home. Multi-entry visas, on the other hand, allow you to come and go from the Schengen country as you please and travel throughout the entire Schengen Area without needing additional visas.

Who needs a visa to travel within the Schengen zone?

If you aren’t from a visa-exempt country, you must apply for a Schengen Visa. For example, travelers from India need a Schengen Visa to enter the Schengen area. Use the Visa Checker Tool if you’re unsure which documents your nationality needs to visit Europe.

Can I apply for a Schengen Visa from a country where I am not a resident?

You should generally apply at the Consulate that covers the region where you legally reside. But there are exceptions; for example, if there's no Consulate of the Schengen State you plan to visit in your country. In this case, contact your country's central authorities like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Immigration Office. When applying with us, our iVisa experts will also help you to schedule a visa appointment and figure out these details.

Applying for a Schengen Visa with us

We’re here to simplify travel and help you with all the paperwork to get a Schengen Visa. With our guidance, you’ll have full support to get your travel document to visit all European countries hassle-free. Our job is to assist you in ensuring a flawless visa application and increase your chances of visa approval.

Here are the Schengen Visas we can help you get with our guided visa application:

Benefits of getting your Schengen Visa with us

  • 100% government-compliant: Our iVisa Experts will review your information and ensure you submit an application 100% government-compliant.

  • Unlimited access to your iVisa Expert: We assign you an exclusive iVisa Expert to guide you through the entire application process.

  • Simplified application form: We provide a visa application form with 50% fewer questions than the government one and with clearer questions.

  • Fill out at your own pace: Complete the form at your own pace, make changes anytime, and save your progress.

  • Manual PDF guide: Receive a PDF guide with all the tips to answer complex questions, a document checklist, and guidance to prepare for your visa appointment.

Spain Barcelona Sagrada Familia

What is the duration of stay allowed with a Schengen Visa?

You can spend up to 90 days Per Entry in the Schengen zone with a Schengen Visa. You can travel between all Schengen countries during that time if you stick to the 90-day limit.

Note that while we do offer the option to apply for a multiple-entry visa, the local authorities have the final say on whether you receive a single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry visa. If granted a multiple-entry visa, it could be valid from 180 days to five years.

Can I extend my Schengen Visa?

According to the regulation of the European Parliament and the Council, getting a short-stay Schengen visa extension is possible. However, it’s difficult unless you have a solid reason to support your application. So, while it's possible to extend your visa, make sure you have a compelling reason for doing so.

Here are some acceptable reasons to extend a Schengen short-stay visa stated by the Schengen visa policy:

  • Late entry

  • Humanitarian Reasons

  • Force majeure

  • Important personal reasons

Schengen Visa requirements

It’s essential to meet the visa requirements for a successful visa application. When applying with us, we provide a complete list of documents according to your situation, and you’ll receive a detailed manual guide to help you in this mission. Also, your personal iVisa expert will review all the information to avoid mistakes.

That said, check some of the general Schengen visa requirements below.

What are the required documents for a Schengen Visa application?

When applying for the Schengen Visa with us, you must submit a list of documents as part of your application. Here are some of the most common required documents:

Visa application form for a Schengen visa

We’ll provide a shorter and simpler application form. Once finished, sign it and bring it to your visa appointment.

Recent photographs for a Schengen visa

You must provide two photos taken within the last three months. Use our digital passport photo service if you need a more recent one easily and quickly.

Valid passport

Your passport should be valid for at least three months from your arrival date. It should also have at least two blank pages and have been issued within the last ten years.

Fingerprints (only if you are older than 12)

At the visa appointment, you must provide fingerprints unless you've been granted a biometric Schengen visa within the past 59 months.

Travel itinerary for a Schengen visa

You must provide as much information as possible about your travel itinerary, such as your return flight and tour schedules.

Proof of accommodation for a Schengen visa

You also must include proof of hotel accommodations. If you’re staying with a friend or family member in the Schengen zone, you should provide their details, including the complete address.

Proof of financial means for a Schengen visa

You must present bank statements, employment contracts, or salary slips demonstrating sufficient financial means to pay for your trip.

Travel insurance for a Schengen Visa

Travel insurance is mandatory to apply for a visa to visit the Schengen area. It must cover medical expenses, such as hospitalization, emergency treatment, and repatriation (in case of accident or death). You'll need a minimum coverage of €30,000.

Invitation letter (if applicable)

The invitation letter is required if you're planning on visiting your loved ones in the Schengen area. This document must include the following items:

  • Your relative or friend's details, such as complete name and phone number.

  • Their address, where you'll be staying.

  • The dates you plan on arriving and leaving.

  • If they support you financially, they should attach relevant documents to prove they can cover your expenses.

  • A copy of their ID or passport.

  • If your friend or relative isn't a Schengen country citizen, they can include their residency permit.

Traveling to a Schengen country with children

Planning a family trip to Europe? Remember that children need a Schengen Visa too! The good news is that if the child is under six years old, the visa is free of charge. For children between 6 and 12 years old, the government fee is €40 (US$42.43). Just keep in mind that there are specific Schengen visa requirements for children:

  • Completed visa application form, signed by both parents or legal guardians

  • Birth certificate

  • Notarized parental authorization signed by both parents or legal guardians if the child is traveling alone

  • Notary authorization signed by the other parent if the child is traveling with only one parent

  • Family court order may be required if one parent has full custody of the child

  • ID or passport copies of both parents

  • School certificate of enrollment/attendance/absence if the child is a student.

Ensure you have all these documents to avoid delays in your travel plans and create unforgettable memories with your family in Europe!

Schengen visa: Photo requirements

The visa requirements include a recent photo that must follow specific guidelines. The easiest way to get one is using our digital passport photo service, which will give you a photo that is 100% government-compliant in minutes. However, here are some handy tips for a perfect Schengen visa photo:

  • Use a plain, light-colored background: Your photo should have a plain, light-colored background without any patterns or designs.

  • Face the camera directly: Your head should be centered and facing the camera directly, with your eyes open and clearly visible.

  • Maintain a neutral expression: Your facial expression should be neutral, with your mouth closed and a relaxed expression.

  • Wear appropriate clothing: Avoid dressing too casually or revealing. A suit or a blouse with a high neckline are good options.

  • Remove accessories and headwear: Remove any accessories or headwear that may obscure your face, such as hats, sunglasses, or scarves.

  • Use the correct photo dimensions: Your photo should measure 35mm x 45mm and be taken within the last six months.

By following these Schengen visa photo requirements, you can increase your chances of having your application approved!

Schengen Visa applications: Step-by-step

Getting your Schengen Visa is easier than you think! Just follow these three simple steps:

  • Step 1: Complete the visa application form with personal and travel details. We'll provide a PDF guide to assist you throughout the process. And if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact your iVisa Expert for assistance.

  • Step 2: Review your information carefully and pay our service fee using your debit or credit card, PayPal, Venmo, or Amazon Pay. Remember that the government visa fee must be paid separately at the embassy, consulate, or Visa Application Centre (VAC).

  • Step 3: Attend a visa interview appointment with all the required documents. We'll send you a list of documents and step-by-step instructions beforehand to ensure you're fully prepared.

Once you've completed these three steps, you must wait for your visa to be processed and prepare to visit the European Countries of choice.

Charles Bridge Landscape

Schengen Visa appointment process

After completing the Schengen Visa application form, you must book an appointment at one of the visa application centers. Don't worry; your iVisa expert will provide all the necessary instructions. Here are some things to keep in mind before and during your appointment:

Before the Schengen Visa appointment

  • Collect all documents that show your eligibility, including those listed that we’ll send you via email.

  • Remember to print and sign your visa application before heading to the appointment.

  • Remember that the Visa Application Center will hold your passport and documents while processing your application.

  • Be prepared to travel to the nearest Visa Application Center, which may be located in another country.

    At the Schengen Visa appointment

  • The government will verify your application and enter your information into their online system, which typically takes 10 to 15 minutes.

  • If you're applying for a minor (under 18), ensure both parents have signed the necessary forms.

  • Keep in mind that you may need to pay the visa fee in cash on the day of your interview, so be prepared.

Schengen Visa interview questions

During a Schengen visa interview, the visa officer will typically ask questions to verify the information provided in the visa application and to ensure your eligibility for a Schengen Visa. Here are some common Schengen Visa interview questions:

  • What is the purpose of your trip to the Schengen Area?

  • Which countries do you plan to visit during your stay in the Schengen Area?

  • How long do you plan to stay in the Schengen Area?

  • Have you traveled to Europe before? If so, when and where?

  • What is your occupation and income source?

  • Have you ever been refused a visa for any country, including the Schengen Area?

  • Do you have any family or friends in the Schengen Area?

  • Have you booked your accommodation and transportation for your trip?

  • What ties do you have to your home country that will ensure your return after your trip?

  • Do you have any medical conditions or travel restrictions we should know of?

Answer these questions truthfully and confidently while providing all the required information. Doing so can increase your chances of obtaining a Schengen visa for your trip to the Schengen Area.

How much does the Schengen Visa cost?

There are two fees: our visa application fee and the Schengen Visa fee. The first one includes our concierge service benefits, to have access to an exclusive iVisa expert, the manual guide, and all our facilities:

  • Standard iVisa service fee: USD $150.99, excluding government fees.

The second is the government fee, which must be paid in cash at the VAC or consulate.

  • Schengen visa fee: €80 (US$84). (Half-price for minors between the ages of 6 and 12 and free for minors under six years old)

Schengen Visa processing time: How long does it take to obtain a Schengen visa?

Like the fee, there are also two processing times. The first is our visa processing time to get your application ready and error-free. This includes the documents review and booking your visa appointment.

  • iVisa processing time: 30 days

Then, you have the government processing time for your Schengen Visa application.

  • Schengen Visa processing time: 15 days

I still have questions. Who can I contact?

Our customer service team is always available to help with any questions. Contact our iVisa experts via online chat or email them at [email protected]. We’re here to make travel simple!

  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. For government source information, please visit our product pages.
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