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Schengen Visa Information

The Schengen Visa has made traveling between its 26 member countries much easier and less bureaucratic. Traveling on a Schengen Visa means that the visa holder can travel to any (or all) member countries using one single visa, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of obtaining individual visas for each country. etats-schengen-visaThis is particularly beneficial for persons who wish to visit several European countries on the same trip. The Schengen visa is a “visitor visa”. It is issued to citizens of countries who are required to obtain a visa before entering Europe. The purpose of the visit must be leisure, tourism, or business. Upon the issuance of the visa, the visa holder is allowed to enter all member countries and travel freely throughout the Schengen area. It is strongly recommended to plan your journey within the timeframe of the Schengen Visa as extensions can be very difficult to obtain, thus forcing you to leave to stay in compliance with the Schengen rules and regulations. A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen countries for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a 6 month period.

Schengen area covers the majority of European countries, except for the United Kingdom and countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Ireland soon to be part of the agreement. However, there are countries that are not part of the EU like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein yet do belong in the Schengen area and cherish the free movement policy.

The Schengen Member States

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

All Schengen countries are in Europe. However, it should not be confused with the EU (European Union). Schengen and European Union are two different agreements between European countries. A total of 26 countries, including all European Union countries (except Ireland and United Kingdom) and three non-EU members (Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland) have signed the Schengen agreement. However, only 15 countries have implemented the common border control and visa provisions. Important: The Schengen Visa holders are not allowed to live permanently or work in Europe. Schengen Visa holder only have the right to travel as a temporary visitor to the member countries.

Passport and Border Control

You will most likely be asked to show your passport when you visit different Schengen countries, to verify that you are still within the visa period. In addition to the passport containing the Schengen visa, you should also bring original letters, sponsorship papers and other documents used to get the visa to make the border control procedure easier and avoid delays at the border. You should not be the person for whom an alert has been issued for the purpose of refusing entry.

The nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) must present a valid identity card or a valid or expired passport less than 5 years old. EEA consists of 25 Members of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

When a non-EEA traveler enters or transits into the Schengen area, a travel document (usually passport) will be stamped determining the starting point of the authorized stay. The same travel document is also stamped upon exiting the Schengen area. If the travel document of a third-country national does not have an entry stamp, authorities can presume that the holder does not fulfill or no longer fulfills the conditions of the duration of stay. However, if you can provide a credible evidence of your presence outside the territory of the Schengen countries, such presumption may be rebutted.

Visa types

An airport transit visa (A) allows you to transit through the international zone of a Schengen airport without entering the Schengen territory.

A transit visa (B) allows you to transit no more than 5 days through Schengen countries by car, coach or traveling through different airports on your way to another non-Schengen country.

A short stay visa (C) allows you to visit the Schengen countries for tourism, family or business visits, up to a maximum of 90 days in a given 180 days period.

A circulation visa (C) is a short stay visa valid at least a year: It is mainly issued for business visits that have an invitation letter from a Schengen country, to aircrew members, to people having a special interest in the Schengen territory.

A long stay visa (D) allows you to stay for more than 3 months, e.g., study, work, retire etc.

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