Schengen Tourist Visa Overview

Schengen is a town in southern Luxembourg, located at the point where that country, France and Germany meet. Schengen gives its name to the historic agreement signed in 1985 which led to the creation of a multi-country travel zone within Europe where internal borders were abolished. That travel zone is called the Schengen Area.

This post is a Schengen tourist visa overview, outlining the application process, who requires a Schengen Visa and a list of the countries in the Schengen Area.

WHAT IS A SCHENGEN TOURIST VISA?

A Schengen Tourist Visa is a short-stay visa that allows for free movement between Schengen Area member countries for non-EU citizens. A Schengen visa entitles its holder to travel between Schengen countries for a period of no more than 90 days in a 180 day period.

A Schengen Airport Transit Visa may be required if transiting through the international part of airports in EU countries.

WHO REQUIRES A SCHENGEN VISA?

That depends on your citizenship. Check your requirements and eligibility on the EU’s Who Must Apply for a Schengen Visa page.

A short-stay visa does not automatically entitle a holder to enter the Schengen area. Holders may have to provide extra information (e.g. reasons for visiting the Schengen area, length of stay) so it is advisable to have letters of invitation, accommodation and other pre-arrangements printed for inspection.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Applications must be made at the Embassy/Consulate of the country that you intend to visit.

If you intend to visit more than one Schengen country, apply at the Embassy/Consulate of the country where you will spend the longest period.

If you intend to visit several Schengen countries and the stays will be of equal length, you must apply at the Embassy/Consulate of the country whose external borders you will cross first when entering the Schengen area. For example, if you are arriving in France and plan to spend two weeks there followed by two weeks in Germany, make your visa application with the French Embassy/Consulate.

Check out the EU’s How to Apply page for further information.

COUNTRIES IN THE SCHENGEN AREA

The Schengen Area comprises 26 countries and is a combination of 22 EU countries and 4 non-EU countries. Not all EU countries are members of Schengen so require separate visa processes.  

Schengen Area EU Countries (22): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

Schengen Area Non-EU Countries (4): Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland.

EU countries not in the Schengen Area (5): Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Republic of Ireland, Romania. All of these countries have applied to join the Schengen Area apart from Ireland.

Countries within the Schengen Area have the right to temporarily close their borders for emergencies (e.g. pandemic, terrorist attack).

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