If you are planning to visit Europe’s glaciated mountains, boreal forests, baroque architecture, ornate castles, birthplace of Alexander the Great or you are scheduling a short-term business tour to financial markets of Amsterdam and Frankfurt for inking lucrative deals with European conglomerates, then you have presumably come across word Schengen Visa at some point of search in the digital universe. And you would have googled the word to decipher its meaning.
You would have also stumbled across similar worlds like “Schengen Area” and “Schengen Visa”. Along with the aforementioned terms, questions like can you visit all European countries on Schengen Visa might have poked or confused you.
But you need not to worry anymore because we have got you covered in this article.
What is the Schengen Area?
Schengen Area is a borderless, passport-free zone comprising 26 countries of Europe. Till date, the Schengen Area remains the world’s largest visa-free zone in the world.
What is Schengen Visa?
Schengen Visa is a short-stay visa that enables its holder to travel 26 European countries which are part of Schengen Area. Authorities concerned will not subject holder of Schengen Visa to border checks at internal borders of the Schengen countries.
Duration of Schengen Visa
A Schengen Visa holder can stay up to 90 days within a period of six months for business or tourist purpose in Schengen state/states.
However, if you want to live or work in any of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days, then you are required to apply for a national visa of that specific European country.
When to apply?
As per instructions and rules of the European Commission, an aspirant must file the Schengen Visa application at least 15 days prior to the start date of his/her trip.
Documents required for Schengen Visa
Below is the list of documents required for any short-term Schengen Visa application:
Visa application form: Carefully read all information and submit the completely filled form along with a signature.
Applicant must attach two latest photos of himself with Schengen Visa application form. The photos must not be older than three months, as per the requirements.
Valid passport: The passport should not be older than 10 years. It should also remain valid for three months beyond the date that you are planning to leave the Schengen Area.
Flight Itinerary/Round Trip Flight Reservation: It is a verifiable document issued by an airline, travel agency or an online service provider specifying your date of entry and exit from the Schengen Area.
Travel Health Insurance Policy: A health insurance covering minimum expenses worth 30,000 euros in case of any medical complication, accident or repatriation after death. The insurance policy should clearly mention insuree, its validity and the benefits offered. It is pertinent here to mention that availed insurance should cover emergency treatments of hospitals in case of medical complication and repatriation on medical grounds and even death.
Proof of accommodation or Hotel Booking: It is a document that specifies place/places of applicant’s stay during the course of his visit to Schengen state/states. It includes:
A hotel/hostel booking.
A rental agreement.
A letter of invitation from a host at whose house you will be staying.
Proof of Financial Sources: This document is required to confirm that applicant is financially able to sponsor his stay in the Schengen Area and it includes a bank statement, sponsorship letter or a combination of bank account statement and a letter of sponsorship.
Proof of paid visa fee: €60 for adults and €35 for children from 6 to 12 years old. These fees are not reimbursable in case visa application is rejected by the embassy or consulate.
Cover letter: An applicant—in his/her cover letter—mentions minute details of his/her travel plan and his intentions of visiting a Schengen state/states.
Requirements as per applicant’s employment status
There are specific requirements which depends on the nature of the job and that whether the applicant is employed or self-employed. They are as follow
- Employment contract.
- Bank statement of the latest 6 months.
- Leave permission from the employer.
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary.
For the self-employed
- A copy of your business license.
- Company bank statement for the last 6 months.
- Income Tax Return (ITR).
- For retirees.
- Pension statement of the latest 6 months.
If unemployed and married to an EU citizen
- Confirmation of Employment letter, no older than three months, from their spouse’s employer stating the position held within the company as well as the starting date.
- Spouse’s valid passport.
- An official marriage certificate.
Documents for minors
Parents or legal guardians of minors are required to submit some additional documents for minors/infants. These include:
- Birth certificate of the minor.
- An application signed by parents or legal guardians.
- Application form signed by both parents.
- Family court order – in cases where only one parent has full custody over the child.
- Certified copies of ID/passport of both parents.
- A notarized parental authorization signed by both parents/guardians if the minor will be traveling alone.
Other specific documents depending upon nature of visa
Apart from all the aforesaid documents, diplomatic officers at embassies or consulates of Schengen states can demand various other documents depending upon the type of visa application.
Additional documents for Schengen Airport Transit Visa
Following documents are required when an applicant wants to acquire Schengen Airport Transit Visa:
A valid visa (if needed) for the final country one is traveling to
The flight ticket for the final country you are traveling to
Additional documents for Schengen Visit Visa
Following additional documents are required when the applicant is intending to pay a visit to either his/her relatives or friends residing in the Schengen Area:
Affidavit of Support: This piece of paper is demanded by diplomatic officers if the applicant does not hold a bank account or lacks fund to support himself/herself during the course of his/her stay in Schengen Area. In such a scenario, the applicant is directed to request relatives or friends—residing in the Schengen state—to sign a document named as “Official Affidavit of Support”.
The applicant must carry with himself this document when he applies for a visa for a Schengen State.
Additional documents for Tourist Visa
Following are the additional documents required to obtain Schengen Visa for purpose of tourism:
Bank statement: A bank statement of the previous six months.
Affidavit of Support: This piece of paper is demanded by diplomatic officers if the applicant does not hold a bank account or lacks fund to support himself during the course of his stay in the Schengen Area. In such a scenario, the applicant is directed to request relatives or friends—residing in the Schengen state—to sign a document named as “Official Affidavit of Support”.
Additional documents for Business Visa
Below is the list of additional documents that diplomatic officers may demand when an applicant applies for a business visa for Schengen state/states:
A cover letter: An applicant—in the cover letter—mentions minute details of his/her travel plan and his intentions of visiting a Schengen state/states.
Invitation letter: It is issued by the partner company located in the Schengen Area. The letter should be in the format of the invitation inviting the applicant to attend meetings.
A letter from the company explaining the reasons for travel to Schengen state/states.
Additional documents for Medical Visa
Below is the list of additional documents that an applicant might require to acquire a medical visa in Schengen Area:
A letter issued by a doctor, clinic or hospital of applicant’s home country.
Confirmation letter regarding treatment by a medical institution located in Schengen Area.
Proof of financial means.
Verbal note from the Ministry of Health of applicant’s home country.