Schengen Visa Frequently Asked Questions
We have collected helpful information about the most commonly asked questions regarding the Schengen visa. The majority of this information comes from the European Union’s Schengen visa program website, which can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy/schengen_visa_en.
- What is a Schengen visa?
- What are the Schengen countries in 2018?
- Who needs to apply for a Schengen visa?
- How much is the Schengen visa application fee?
- What are the Schengen visa application requirements?
- What country should issue my Schengen visa?
- Can I enter the Schengen Area in a different Schengen country than the one that issued my visa?
- Where do I apply for a Schengen visa?
- How long does it take to get a Schengen visa?
- What are the Schengen visa insurance requirements?
- What are the different types of Schengen visas?
- What is the difference between a single-entry Schengen visa and a multiple-entry Schengen visa?
- Do I need a Schengen visa as a U.S. citizen?
- How long is a Schengen visa valid?
- Can I extend my Schengen visa?
- What are the Schengen visa photo requirements?
A Schengen visa allows you to travel throughout the 26 Schengen countries without having to get a visa for each individual country. You may travel in the Schengen Area for 90 days within a 180-day period.
There are 26 Schengen countries in 2018:
- Czech Republic
For more detailed information regarding each Schengen country, please visit the Schengen countries page.
Citizens of the following countries are required to hold a Schengen visa to travel within the Schengen Area:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Cote D'ivoire
- Democratic Republic Of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- North Korea
- Papua New Guinea
- Sao Tome And Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
Visit the Schengen visa hub page for detailed information pertaining to citizens of other countries, citizens of exempt countries, and special situations.
In general, the application fee for a Schengen visa is:
- EUR 60 (about USD $70) for Adults 13 years and older
- EUR 35 (about USD $41) for ages 6 to 12
- No fee for children younger than 5 years old
Visit the Schengen visa hub page for more detailed information about fees and exemptions.
In general, the application requirements are:
- completed application
- valid passport
- two color photographs
- fingerprints on file
- application fee
- travel medical insurance policy meeting Schengen visa insurance requirements
- documentation of financial means, accommodation, purpose of travel, and intentions to leave Schengen Area when trip ends
Your Schengen visa should be issued by the country that will be your longest duration stay. If you plan to spend equal amounts of time in each Schengen state you visit, then your visa should be issued by the Schengen country you plan to enter first.
There is no general requirement that you must enter the Schengen Area through the country that issued your visa. Your main destination may be different than your first destination. To prevent complications, stick to your itinerary as best you can.
You are required to apply for a Schengen visa at the consulate of your main Schengen country. You must apply at the consulate whose jurisdiction covers your permanent address. If you are living in a country other than your country of citizenship, your citizenship determines whether you need a Schengen visa, and your home address determines where you apply for a visa. Get more details here.
The general guidelines from the EU say it typically takes two weeks. Ideally, however, you should submit your application 30-60 days in advance. This will allow the consulate time to examine your application or request additional information. Note that you cannot submit an application any earlier than 3 months prior to the start date of your trip.
For the best chance of receiving Schengen visa approval in a timely manner, be sure that you schedule your Schengen visa application appointment at the appropriate embassy or consulate.
Also ensure you've gathered all required and supporting documents prior to your appointment. This way, the embassy or consulate won't need to request additional documentation - which could delay the process.
Required and supporting documents include:
- A completed and signed visa application form
- Valid passport
- Two recent color photographs that meet ICAO requirements
- One-page document stating the dates and scope of travel medical insurance that meets Schengen visa requirements
- The purpose of your travel
- Proof of accommodation
- Your intentions to return to your country of residence at the end of your trip
- How you will pay for your trip expenses
Your travel medical insurance plan for a Schengen visa must meet these requirements:
- Minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros (about USD $34,000)
- Coverage for repatriation for medical reasons
- Coverage for emergency medical treatment
- Coverage for expenses resulting from your death
- Coverage for the entire period of your intended stay
- Valid in all Schengen Area countries
There are 3 types of Schengen visas:
- Airport Transit Visa (Type A) – to pass through a Schengen country on an airline layover from one non-Schengen country to another. Does not permit you to leave the international area of the airport.
- Transit Visa (Type B) – to pass through a Schengen country during travel from one non-Schengen country to another by train, car, bus, or plane. Permits entry into the Schengen Area for up to five days.
- Short-stay or Travel Visa (Type C) – most common Schengen visa. Permits travel within any country in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.
Please see the Schengen visa hub page for details on each of these visa types.
According to the EU, a single-entry Schengen visa allows entry to the Schengen Area only once, meaning you are not permitted to re-enter the Schengen Area after leaving, while a multiple-entry Schengen visa allows multiple entries into the Schengen Area within the visa’s validity period (90 days total within 180-day period). See the Schengen visa page for more information.
No. You only need a valid passport with an expiration date three months beyond the latest date of your travel in the Schengen Area. You are afforded the same rights and restrictions as a Schengen visa holder without having to file any paperwork.
A Schengen visa is valid for a total of 90 days within a 180-day period. Multi-entry visas may be valid for 3 or 5 years.
You may not extend your Schengen visa simply to enjoy a longer travel period. Schengen visas can only be extended on a case-by-case basis for the following circumstances:
- Unforeseen and unavoidable circumstance (force majeure)
- Humanitarian reasons
- Serious personal reasons preventing exit from the Schengen Area before current visa expires
Additionally, a visa can only be extended if you’ve stayed less than 90 days within the 180-day period and your current visa has not expired.
The European Commission provides this document outlining photo requirements and providing illustrations. Generally, the photo requirements include:
- Photo is less than 6 months old
- 35-40mm in width
- Close up of head and shoulders looking directly at the camera
- Sharp focus with no ink marks or creases
- Natural colors, skin tones, and brightness
- Printed on high quality photo paper at a high resolution
- Eyes open and clearly visible (no hair across eyes)
- Plain light-colored background
- Uniform lighting with no shadows, flash reflections, or red eye
- If you wear glasses - show your eyes clearly with no flash reflection on the glasses, no tinted lenses or heavy frames
- Head coverings - Not permitted except for religious reasons. Must show facial features from bottom of chin to top of forehead.
- You alone with a neutral expression and closed mouth