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How to Apply for a Schengen Visa

The Schengen visa has made traveling within an area of 26 countries easier than ever before. When you travel under a Schengen visa, once you’ve arrived in the country you will be able to travel to member countries freely without a systematic process of custom controls, passport checks, etc. It is possible, however, that there are random checks that can apply during border crossings. This article will discuss who needs a Schengen visa, what the advantages are, and what steps you need to take to obtain a Schengen Visa.

Who is Eligible?

The Schengen visa is available to travelers coming to the Schengen area for the purpose of leisure, tourism, studying, visiting family or business for up to 90 days in a 6 month period. If you have a multiple-entry visa, you will be able to leave and return as many times as you’d like within the 6 month period, but the total duration of time in the Schengen area cannot exceed 90 days.

What Countries Accept the Schengen Visa?

There are 26 countries that use the Schengen visa, 22 countries are part of the European Union and the other 4 are non-EU members. While these countries are part of Europe, it’s important to note that not all European countries fall under this agreement.

Currently, these Schengen countries include:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • 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

Understanding the Process

When to Apply

To obtain a Schengen visa, you can apply no earlier than 3 months in advance of your arrival. It can take up to 15 days to process a visa application, and it can be delayed 60 days if further investigation is conducted. Be sure to leave yourself sufficient time so that you can commit to the dates of your planned journey.

Where to Apply

If you will be traveling to one country in particular, you will apply for the Schengen visa at that country. If you plan on traveling to multiple countries, then you will want to apply to your primary destination country. If there is no primary destination, then you should apply to the country you will enter into first.

Documentation Needed

You will need to complete the visa application form and attached a good quality passport photograph in the dimensions of 35x45 mm. The passport you submit should be valid at least 90 days after your visa expires and cannot be older than 10 years.

You will need to go in person to get your visa taken care of. Once issued the Schengen visa, you will receive a stamp on the first empty page in your passport that will include:

  • Visa Type
  • Date of Application
  • Country code of the country handling the application

The process can vary slightly depending on the country issuing the visa. Be sure to check with them directly and in advance of applying for the visa. When you arrive for your appointment, you will be evaluated as far as what danger you may present to national security, international affairs, and to the general public. Common documentation requested includes the following:

  • Proof of funds to cover travel and accommodations
  • Hotel reservations, invitation from individual or organization, guarantor’s declaration
  • Documentation showing intent to return to home country
  • Medical health insurance meeting their minimum requirements
  • Proof of reservations for travel

To learn more about Schengen insurance plans, please see the options below:

Europe Travel Atlas Travel Student Secure
Policy MaximumPolicy Max. €40,000 to €6 Million $50,000 to $2 Million $200,000 to $5,000,000 max$200k to $5M max
DeductibleDed. €0 up to €2,000 $0 up to $5,000 $25 up to $100
Currency € Euro priced $ USD priced $ USD priced
Premium Starting at €0.54/ day Starting at $0.79/ day Starting at $0.79/ day
Learn more Learn more Learn more
Learn more with our "Schengen Visa Insurance Requirements" article.