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Schengen Visa Guide: What & Where to Apply

Travelling with Schengen Visa freely around Europe is one of life’s great pleasures

In this comprehensive Schengen visa guide, I’ll break down everything you need to know about the application process in a clear, step-by-step manner.

My goal is to empower you with the right information to easily obtain your Schengen visa and begin your European adventures.

What Is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen Visa is a short-stay visa that allows its holder to travel to any of the 26 Schengen Area member countries for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. 

The Schengen Area encompasses most European Union countries, except Ireland, as well as several non-EU countries.

Four Types of Visas

  1. Uniform Schengen Visas (USV):This is the most common type of Schengen Visa. The USV comes in three categories:
  • Single-entry visa: Grants one entry into the Schengen Area, meaning once you exit, you cannot return even if you have not used up the number of days allowed.
  • Double-entry visa: Similar to the single-entry, but allows you to enter the Schengen Area twice, which means you can exit and re-enter once more.
  • Multiple-entry visa: This allows multiple entries into the Schengen countries during its validity period. It’s ideal for travelers who need to visit several Schengen countries or make frequent visits.

2. Limited Territorial Validity Visas (LTV): These visas permit travel to the specific Schengen State(s) that issued it, or in some cases, certain specified Schengen States.  An LTV visa is usually issued for humanitarian reasons, international obligations, or important personal reasons.

3. National Visas: These are long-stay visas issued by one of the Schengen Member States for stays longer than 90 days. National Visas are mainly for single entry, which allows the holder to enter the Schengen country, get a residence permit, and then have the freedom of movement within the whole Schengen Area.

4. Airport Transit Visas (ATV): This visa is required for certain nationalities who are passing through the international transit area of airports situated in any of the Schengen States, without entering into the Schengen Area itself. It’s specifically for those who need to catch a connecting flight in a Schengen Area airport.

When & Where to Apply

When to Apply for the Visa

Earliest Application Time: You can apply up to six months before your intended travel date. However, for seafarers, this period extends to nine months.

Latest Application Time: Ideally, you should apply at least 15 days before your planned trip. This buffer allows sufficient time for the processing of your visa.

Recommended Application Time: Aim to apply about one month before your travel date. This timing helps avoid last-minute issues and provides enough leeway if additional documents are needed.

Where to Apply for the Visa

  1. The Embassy/Consulate of the Destination Country: Apply at the embassy or consulate of the specific country you intend to visit. 

Tips: If your trip includes multiple Schengen countries, apply at the embassy of the country where you will spend the most time;
But if you plan to spend an equal amount of time in multiple Schengen countries, apply at the embassy or consulate of the country you will enter first.

2. Visa Application Centers: Some Schengen countries outsource visa processing to external providers. These visa application centres (like VFS Global or TLScontact) handle the visa application process.

You will still need to choose the correct center based on your main or first destination within the Schengen Area.

3. Online Applications: Some countries may offer an online application process.

However, you will still need to appear in person for biometric data collection and to submit your documents.

4. Through a Travel Agent or Visa Facilitator: If you’re using the services of a travel agency, they might assist with the visa application process, but you will still need to provide all necessary documentation and appear in person as required.

Bonus: Key Considerations During Your Application

  • Travel Insurance: Obtain travel insurance covering at least €30,000 for medical emergencies.

In case you are a newcomer to the UK and cannot provide three months of bank statements, travellers’ cheques in euros are widely accepted by most Schengen countries. These cheques can be purchased at your UK bank or from reputable providers such as American Express.

  • Hotel Accommodation: Book your accommodation for Schengen Travels with trustworthy uhomes for short-term and long-term stays globally. 
  • Early Application: Apply at least 15 days before your intended trip, but no earlier than six months before your travel date.
  • Visa Duration: Be mindful of the 90/180 rule – you can only stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days within a 180-day period.
  • Multiple Entry Visa: If planning multiple trips, consider applying for a multiple-entry visa.

How to Apply: Process

1. Application Form

Fill out the Schengen Visa application form. Ensure all information is accurate and complete.

2. Documents

Gather necessary documents, including passport, photos, travel itinerary, accommodation proof, travel insurance, and financial statements.

3. Appointment

Schedule an appointment at the relevant embassy or consulate.

4. Attend the Interview

Go to the interview with all the required documents.

5. Visa Fee

Pay the visa fee, which varies depending on the visa type and applicant’s age.

6. Track Your Visa Application

Most embassies offer a tracking service to keep you updated on your application status.

Apply for Your Visa Easily

Whether this is your first time applying or you’re a seasoned traveler, this guide covers the core questions travelers continuously ask me – what is the Schengen area, which Schengen country should I apply through, what documents do I need to submit and more.

By the end, you’ll feel confident in your ability to complete the Schengen Visa application independently or with minimal help.

Explore to your heart’s content, knowing all the logistics are taken care of thanks to this one-stop Schengen visa resource.

FAQs of Schengen Visa

Q1: What are the 4 types of Schengen visas?

The Schengen Area offers four main types of visas to accommodate different travel needs: Uniform Schengen Visas (USV) for short stays, Limited Territorial Validity Visas (LTV) for travel in specific Schengen countries, National Visas for longer stays, and Airport Transit Visas (ATV) for transiting through Schengen airports.

Q2: Can I visit 2 Schengen countries with a single entry visa?

Yes, with a single entry visa, you can visit multiple countries within the Schengen Area. It allows you to travel freely across the member states without having to apply for separate visas for each country, as long as you don’t leave the Schengen Zone.

Q3:Which European countries are not under the Schengen visa?

Several European countries, including the UK, Ireland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus, are not part of the Schengen Agreement. Travellers visiting these nations may require separate visas, depending on their nationality and the countries’ specific entry requirements.

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