Who does NOT need a Schengen visa?
- All European Union Nationals
- Certain nationalities are exempt as long as they do not engage in non-tourist activity. These countries include Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore and the USA (Check the web site of the embassy of the destination country for the most up-to-date information available)
- Check with the destination country's embassy before travel to verify how long you are allowed to stay in each country without a visa.
- Exempt nationals may still need to have medical insurance for the trip.
- N.B. Ireland (or the UK) is not part of the Schengen region
Different Types of Schengen Visa
- Airport transit-through an international transit zone in an airport
- Transit - no more than 5 days (on land) through Schengen state to non-Schengen state.
- Short stay -single/multiple entry- up to 90 days (maximum 90 days within 180 day period) for tourism, business, family visits
How to Apply
- If visiting only 1 country, apply to the embassy/consulate (in UK) of that country.
- If visiting several countries within the Schengen space, you MUST apply to the main destination, i.e. the country in which you plan to spend the most time.
- Apply to the country of first port of entry ONLY if there is no main destination, i.e. equal time in various Schengen countries.
- If a non-EU national is married to an EU national they must apply to their spouse's national embassy in the UK (even if not travelling to spouse's country).
- Check the embassy web site to see if you need to apply and how to apply
- Make your application well in advance (4-6 weeks) of your proposed travel date and check you have at least 6 months left on your UK visa, otherwise it can be difficult to get a Schengen visa
- Book your appointment (usually online or by phone) at the appropriate embassy
- Download and complete the application form (Hints: Home address means UK address. If you are staying at more than one hotel then write details of first hotel and then ‘various')
- Prepare all appropriate documents including:
Recent passport photos (2)
- Proof of purpose of the visit (tour bookings airline reservations/flight details, hotel booking, letter of invitation if visiting friends/family)
- Evidence of sufficient funds to complete your trip (usually a UK bank statement)
- The visa fee (approximately £47. Most embassies stipulate that the fees should be paid in cash/by postal order-please note that the visa is free to non-EU spouses and dependents of EU nationals)
- Evidence of return to the UK/home country and proof of medical insurance to cover the trip
When to apply
Processing times vary between embassies and depending on your nationality. Try to apply at least 4-6 weeks before the planned travel date. Consider that there may be busy periods at embassies before major public holidays such as Easter and that embassies will be closed on public and (their own) national holidays. In most cases you will attend an appointment at the embassy where you will hand in your application and supporting documents. You will then be invited to collect your passport from the embassy either later in the day or (in some cases) after a few days.