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Schengen Visa – A Comprehensive Guide for Your Application Requirements

Schengen Visa – A Comprehensive Guide for Your Application Requirements

This is what you can expect:

• All you need to know about the Schengen Area ✔️

• The four Types of Schengen visa ✔️

• Who must submit an application for a Schengen visa ✔️

• Which documents are essential ✔️

• How much the Schengen visa costs you ✔️

Europe is by far the most distinguished leader in global travel. According to a study published by statista the continent makes up about 60 % of international tourist arrivals worldwide. No wonder, for Europe offers a diverse cultural spectrum, an astounding history and unmatched natural wonders.  

If you too plan to visit Europe, it's highly likely that you'll need to apply for a Schengen visa. Since the Schengen Area comprises 27 European countries, and obtaining one is typically a prerequisite for entry. The application process can be lengthy, and only one mistake during the procedure could jeopardise your long-awaited trip.

Which is why, in this article, we have assembled a comprehensive guide for all your Schengen visa application requirements. Among other things, you will find out: who has to apply for a Schengen visa, which types of Schengen visas exist and which essential documents cannot be overlooked.

1. What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is a zone comprising 27 European Nations (22 EU-Countries), which has abolished official passport and border control, enabling free movement at their mutual borders. No visa is thus needed between the member states.

It was established in 1985 by a coalition between the founding EU-States France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The Schengen Area includes the following states:

European Union member states

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

Non-European Union member states

  • Iceland 
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

Note: Although they are part of the EU, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania have not yet joined the Schengen Area. If you plan to visit any of those four states, you require a separate visa.

Non-Schengen European countries

There are also several countries located in Europe, that are neither part of the EU nor the Schengen Area. Those countries have their own admission criteria completely different from the Schengen domain. These include:

  • United Kingdom
  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Georgia
  • Kosovo
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Republic of North Macedonia
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

For further information on visa requirement, consult the high commission, embassy or consulate of the respective countries.

► statista study on tourism in the Schengen Area 

2. What are the 4 types of Schengen visa?

The Schengen visa is a short-stay visa, which grants you permission to visit any of the Schengen Area member states. In total, there are four types of Schengen visa. Which one you need depends on the purpose of your visit as well as the timeframe you chose for your journey. 

  • Airport transit visa (Type A): The Type A visa is required for passage through an international transit area situated inside a Schengen member state. The reason for the stay is usually a layover or a connecting flight to another destination. The Airport Transit visa is valid for a total of 24 hours.
  • Short-term visa (Type C): A Type C visa allows you to stay in the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 Days in each 180-day period. You can apply for the Short-term visa in single, double or even multiple entries. Typically, it is issued for the purposes of tourism, family visits, business travel or short-term study.
  • Limited territorial validity visas (LTV): Similarly to the Type C visa, LTV visas enable you to visit the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in a period of 180 days. The difference being that you are tied to one specific country you applied to previously. Under certain conditions, it is also possible to visit a couple of different countries inside the Schengen domain. Namely, if you list those countries in your visa application. This visa is granted only for particular purposes, such as in cases involving humanitarian considerations or national interest.  
  • National long-stay visa (Type D): The National long-stay visa is intended for visitors who plan to study, work or settle down in a Schengen country. It is granted for a maximum of one year. In possession of a Type D visa, you are also able to move freely through the Schengen Area. Outside the country that granted you the National long-stay visa, all regulations of the Type C visa apply. Which means that Type D privileges are granted only for the one Schengen state you have initially applied to. Moreover, applying for the National long-stay visa is the first step in attaining permanent residence in a Schengen country. Note that the admission rules may vary according to country.

3. Who is required to submit an application for a Schengen visa?

Who is required to apply for a Schengen visa depends on the citizenship of the traveller, the duration of the stay, the purpose of the visit and the regulations of the individual Schengen member state. 

Short-term stay

In the case of a short-term stay, the Schengen Area requires citizens from a handful of countries to apply for a Schengen visa, when crossing the border. You can find the list including all concerned countries here:

► List of countries whose nationals must possess a visa

Of course, there are also exceptions to the rule, which are listed in this document:

► Information on national derogations

Long-term stay

For stays exceeding 90 days, all visitors, regardless of citizenship or purpose, must obtain a National Long-term visa. The exception applies to trips for tourism and business.

Airport transit

If you are obliged to apply for an airport transit in the Schengen Area, is again contingent upon your nationality. Citizens of some countries must hand in their application for an airport transit, no matter the state. Others only need to apply to a few Schengen states. You’ll find the complete lists below:

► Countries which require visas in all Schengen states  ► Countries which require visas in some Schengen states

Possible exemptions for Airport transit visa requirements include:

  • Possession of a valid visa or residence permit issued by a Schengen state.
  • Possession of a visa valid for a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area, Canada, Japan or the United States.
  • Possession of a valid residence permit issued by a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area.
  • Possession of a residence permit issued by the Principality of Andorra, Canada, Japan, the Republic of San Marino or the United States, ensuring an unrestricted right of return.
  • Qualify as a family member of a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
  • Possession of a diplomatic passport.
  • Serve as a flight crew member and are a national of a contracting party to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

4. What are the essential documents for obtaining a Schengen visa?

You are required to hand in the following documents to obtain a Short-term Schengen visa of any sort:

  • Fully filled out and signed visa application form (further details)
  • Two photos meeting the visa photo requirements and taken in the past three months (further details).
  • A passport that is not older than ten years and is valid for at least three more months beyond the planned departure date of your trip to the Schengen area.
  • Older passports with previous visas (if available).
  • Round-trip reservation or itinerary labelled with dates and flight numbers that indicate arrival and departure from the Schengen Area.
  • Travel insurance, demonstrating coverage for the entire Schengen territory with a minimum of €30,000. The policy should address medical emergencies, such as illnesses, accidents and repatriation in the event of death.
  • A document that acts as proof of accommodation during your stay (e.g. hotel/hostel booking, rental agreement, letter of invitation)
  • Proof of financial means, that allow you to stay afloat during your visit (e.g. Bank account statement not exceeding a three-month period or sponsorship letter accompanied by a bank statement no older than three months)
  • Confirmation of the visa fee payment

Additionally, there are specific requirements tailored for distinct travel purposes:


  • Employment contract.
  • Bank statements of the last 6 months.
  • Letter of leave approval from the employer.
  • Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax.


  • Copy of business license.
  • Company bank of the last 6 months.
  • Income Tax Return (ITR).


  • Evidence of enrolment.
  • No objection letter signed by the School or University.


  • Pension statement of the last 6 months.

Unemployed and married to an EU citizen:

  • Confirmation of Employment letter from the spouse’s employer, not exceeding three months. The letter shall specify the position held within the company, as well as the starting date of the employment arrangement.
  • The spouse’s valid passport.
  • Official marriage certificate.

Note: Dependent on the visa type, there may also be needed additional documents for your application. Find further information here:

► Info on the Schengen visa

What documents are required for minors?

In the case of minors applying for a Schengen visa, parents or legal guardians have to submit a few additional documents for their underage child. This includes:

  • Birth certificate.
  • Application form signed by both parents / guardians.
  • Family court order (If the child is under the sole custody of one parent).
  • Certified copies of both parents / guardians’ passports.
  • Notarised parental consent authorised by both parents / guardians (In case the child shall be travelling alone).

Note: Pay close attention to ensure that all required criteria are met. If mistakes lead the embassy or consulate to suspect deception, your visa might be rejected.

Is it possible for the embassies or consulates to request additional documents from me?

In exceptional cases, it is also possible for embassies or consulates to request additional documents from you. This does, by the way, not mean, that your application has been rejected. All that is asked of you is to simply submit the additional paperwork.

Are there any other documents required at the Schengen external borders (except the visa)?

Despite the initial acceptance of your application, there might be other documents needed to cross the border into the Schengen Area except your visa and your passport. The authorities could for instance ask you to provide proof of financial means. For this reason, it is advisable to always carry copies of all the initially required documents for the visa application on hand.

5. How much does a Schengen visa cost?

Generally, adults have to pay €80 to acquire a Schengen visa. There are two deviating cases, however. Armenian, Azerbaijani and Kosovar citizens pay a discounted sum of €35, while Gambian nationals settle an elevated price of €120.

Children from six to 12 years old must pay a fee of €40 for the visa application. Children under the age of six can apply for free. By and large, those fees are constant and only change when all the Schengen member states agree on an adjustment. 

6. Q&A on Schengen visa requirements

Can I apply for a Schengen visa online?

The majority of Schengen countries offer the option of applying for a visa online.


Can I get a Schengen visa easily?

The process of applying for a Schengen visa can take up to a year. There are specialised services, however, which offer to streamline the visa application against an additional fee.


Is it necessary for me to provide my biometrics?

It is compulsory for all first-time applicants to provide a total of ten fingerprints at the visa interview inside the embassy, consulate and visa centre. They will then be retained in the VIS (Schengen Visa Information System) for the following five years. During this time frame, you are not required to provide additional biometrics data for subsequent travels.

  • Note: Children under the age of 12 won’t have to provide their biometrics data.


Is it necessary to resubmit my Biometrics Again in the event of rejection?

If your initial visa application is rejected, then you have to resubmit your biometrics once more the second time around. On the condition that you have successfully applied in a previous application process, you will not need to resubmit your biometrics for a period of at least five years.


Is it possible for another person to submit my documents on my behalf?

In principle, it is mandatory for applicants to hand in the necessary documents themselves. The reason being that applicants are required to submit their biometrics data during the visa appointment. Formularbeginn

It is nevertheless possible to delegate the application if you are not able to enter the visa centre in person and have already presented the embassy with your fingerprints at a prior application. You have to give your attorney approval in writing beforehand, however. Moreover, you might also need to notarise the visa application.


Is it necessary to provide the original documents?

Generally speaking, the greater part of embassies will require you to hand in authentic documents. Concerning your passport, the original travel document is needed as well as an additional copy. The same procedure may apply to several other documents, depending on the embassy.


How should I structure and arrange the documents required for my Schengen visa?

There is no unified structure predefined for the arrangement of your documents. Each embassy has its own rules. Some might require you to put the application form first and the passport second, without an explicit order for the rest of the documents.

Others call for the passport and photos first, whereas thereafter comes the application form.
Additionally, some embassies may not specify any particular order for document submission. Here, it's important to follow a systematic arrangement of your documents.


Is it necessary to translate my documents?

Documents in your native tongue must be translated either into English or another language spoken in the Schengen realm.

  • Note: Documents are only recognised by the Schengen embassies if certified with a so-called “Apostille Stamp”.


Could the omission of a single document result in the rejection of my Schengen visa application?

If major documents like the travel insurance policy is omitted from the application, your visa could be rejected instantly. This depends on the importance of the documents, though. Usually, the embassy will just ask you to re-apply with complete documentation.


Will the embassy return my submitted documents in the event of rejection?

At least your passport will be returned to you under any circumstances. The remaining documentation is at the discretion of each embassy. Certain embassies may return it, while different ones will not. In one way or another, you will need to gather all the necessary documents again, as once submitted, they become invalidated.


Is it possible to apply for a Schengen visa without a passport?

It is impossible to apply for a Schengen visa without a valid passport, regardless of whether your passport is lost, damaged or expired.


How can I apply for a Schengen visa from Australia?

As of now, Australians are exempt from Schengen visa requirements for short-term stays (up to 90 days), when travelling for the following reasons: 

  • business purposes
  • visiting friends and family
  • tourism
  • cultural and sports events
  • airport transit and transit for seafarers
  • official visits
  • medical reasons
  • short-term study and research purposes

As for long-term stay, Australians must apply for a National long-stay visa (Type D) at the embassy, high commission or consulate of the Schengen country they intend to visit first or the longest.

  • Note: Should your purpose for travel change while you are within the Schengen territory, then you must depart and apply for a different visa.


How long does it take to process a Schengen visa in Australia?

It takes the embassy, high commission or consulate an average of 15 days to decide upon each application. Beyond that, in rare cases, this period can be extended. Make sure to apply at least 6 months before your departure.

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