Schengen Visa – How to get it – Complete Guide

Only Once Today is a reader-supported website. We might earn a commission if you purchase something through one of our links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

What we talk about in this article

Schengen Area and Schengen Visa have improved traveling experiences to Europe. It is now a lot easier to visit multiple countries and there is less hassle when planning a trip to Europe.

The rules and restrictions are supposed to be simple, but they are not.

This is because the European Union and Schengen Area are not the same things.

Unlike for instance the United States, European countries are still separate countries with separate laws to make things complicated.

Visa application agencies will help you to take care of things, but you can also easily apply for a Schengen Visa on your own. Check your Schengen Visa validity and get a Schengen Visa extension.

When traveling to the Schengen area or Europe, things can get complicated and a lot of people have questions about it.

Are you traveling to multiple countries, overstaying your Schengen VISA validity, or working in Europe?

Do you need a Schengen Visa from the USA or a Schengen Visa from Canada?

Keep reading and find out how it all works!

Schengen Area

The Schengen area covers most of Europe and it’s an agreement between these 26 countries to allow free travel and movement in the entire territory as if it was one country.

Most of these countries are part of the EU, but not all. Still, free travel is allowed within these countries as well.

Schengen Visa Validity Countries

These 26 countries are part of the Schengen area:

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, and Liechtenstein.

These countries are not (yet) a part of the Schengen area:

United Kingdom, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia.

Schengen Visa?

The Schengen VISA is a visum for travelers who wish to enter the Schengen area for travel or tourism.

With the Schengen VISA, you only need to apply once to visit all of the countries that are part of the Schengen area. Within Schengen, there are no border checks nor customs. 

For who?

In theory, everyone who is resident of a country outside the Schengen area is obliged to apply for a Schengen VISA. But there are a few exceptions to this rule and you can find these exceptions here!

Schengen Visum types?

The A Visum is the Airport Transit Visum or the Schengen Transit Visa. This is a short stay visa and not everyone is required to get one for airport transit. If you normally would be required to apply for a Schengen Visum, you will also need one for airport transit. The A Visum is only valid as long as you don’t leave the International Transit Area of the airport and you don’t technically enter the Schengen Area.

The C Visum is the regular short stay Schengen visa, which will apply to most travelers. It’s also called the Uniform Tourist Visum for Schengen Area, which is described below. For this Visa, you can apply for a Schengen Visa extension and you are expected to get Schengen visa insurance as well.

The D Visum is a national visa for longer stays in one country. It applies to students, workers or permanent residents. The D visa is available as a single entry or multiple entry documents. Single entry means, you can’t travel to other Schengen countries and you will stay for one period before returning home. Multiple entry D visa allows the holder to travel to other Schengen countries.

The Uniform Tourist Visum for Schengen Area

The Uniform Tourist Schengen Visa or short stay C visa allows you to stay in the Schengen area or transit through for a period of 90 days every 6 months. These 6 months start at the date of your first entry.

The 90 days can be spread over the entire 6 months. You can leave and come back if you still have days left on your visa and if it states that you have a multiple entry visa.

Your C visa can be a single entry Schengen visa, double entry or multiple entry visas, depending on your needs. This is the regular Schengen Visa for visitors from the USA, Canada, Australia and the rest of the world.

Once your request is approved, you’ll get a sticker in your passport which states your identity, Schengen visa validity, and the number of entries.

Short video

Schengen Visa validity

90 days within a 180 days time frame. The 180 days or 6 month period starts upon the first arrival in Schengen. Resetting the visa by leaving for a period of time is not possible. If you want to extend your Schengen Visa validity or visit again, you”ll need to re-apply or apply for an extension.

What do I need to get the Schengen Visa?

  • You need to answer a few questions and fill in the Schengen Visa Application Form.
  • A recent picture.
  • In some countries, fingerprints might be required.
  • Proof of Schengen Visa insurance or travel insurance.
  • Proof of your onward travel.
  • Pay the fee for the Schengen VISA.
  • Your passport must be valid until 3 months after leaving the Schengen Area. 

Apply for Schengen Visum when and where?

If you only plan on traveling to one country, you must apply for your multiple entries or single entry Schengen Visa with the consulate of that country. If you plan on visiting multiple countries, apply in the country that you will stay longest or the country you will visit first.

Another possibility is to hire someone to take care of your Schengen visa. Travel agencies and visa agencies will gladly take care of everything for a fee.

You can apply for a Schengen Visa 3 months before traveling to Schengen Area and at least 15 days before travel.

It usually takes 15 days to process your Schengen Visa, but in some cases, it can take longer. If you have a criminal record or your file is incomplete, the process might take longer to collect additional documents or information.

Schengen Visum Fee – Price

Standard Schengen Visum fee is 60€ for a 90-day stay.

Children between 6 and 12 years old have to pay a fee of 35€.

Children younger than 6 years old don’t have to pay a fee.

Good to know

Even though you received permission to enter the Schengen Area, you could still get refused upon entry. When arriving in a Schengen country, there will be a border check and an official who can ask for your documents. You must be able to show a copy of the documents you applied with and your general documents like passport and insurance. These documents can be digital.

Schengen visa - How to get it
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Troubleshooting Schengen VISA

The basics of the Schengen Visa can be found on multiple websites. We notice that more questions pop up that require additional information. When travelers want to stay longer or get a job in Schengen Area, things tend to get difficult. We summed up the most common questions and answered them for you.

Passing through Schengen area?

If you’re passing through the Schengen area only to switch flights in the airport, you might not need a Schengen visa, but a Schengen transit visa. This entirely depends on your nationality / the country where your passport was issued. You don’t need a Schengen transit visa if:

  • you have a Schengen passport or are a Schengen resident
  • you are resident of a country that is part of the European Union or European Economic Area, Japan, the US or Canada
  • you are a diplomat
  • you are flight crew member

Extending visa?

Your Visa can only be extended when it is still valid. You should apply for a Schengen Visa extension before it expires. If you want to stay in Schengen Area for a longer period of time, you might need to apply for the type D Visa.

Overstaying your visa?

If you overstay your visa duration, you’ll get penalized. The penalty of overstaying your Schengen visa validity can result in a simple fine, but it can go as far as getting blacklisted and not being able to get a renewal. Schengen Visa stickers are carefully checked when you leave and it’s impossible to get away with overstaying or going unnoticed.

Staying much longer?

If you plan on staying much longer, a Schengen Visa extension might not be enough. Depending on your situation you might need to apply for a D visa or a legal residency for the country you will reside in. This must be done in the country you would like to become a resident of.

Multiple entry Schengen visa?

Even though you are entitled to use every day of your 90-day visa, you should apply for a multiple entry Schengen visa if you intend on leaving Schengen Area during your travel. The Schengen Visa sticker shows if your visa is a single entry Schengen visa, double entry or multiple entries.

Travel freely through all countries?

Unless you have a special visa for visiting just one country or a transit visa, your Schengen Visa allows you to travel freely through all Schengen countries for the duration of validity.

Work in Schengen area?

The regular tourist visa does not allow you to work in Schengen Area. If you want to get a job in Schengen area, the company that wants to hire you should apply for your work permit. Getting permission to work in Schengen Area can be difficult and it’s almost impossible if you don’t find a company to represent and hire you.

The most common way of getting a work permit is if your company has an office in Schengen Area and wants you to relocate there.

Once you get a working permit, your partner and children are allowed to reside with you in Schengen Area. You will need a proof of partnership and birth certificates for children.

Visiting family?

When visiting family or traveling with an EU member, you might be able to get your visa free of charge or with an accelerated procedure. You will need proof of this rule when applying for the Schengen visa.

Schengen visa refused?

If your Schengen Visa application is refused, you will not get a refund of your application fee. You are however allowed to re-apply. Take the reason for rejection in consideration and try to fix possible issues before re-applying. 

Conclusion: Getting a Schengen Visum

Planning your travel to Europe is exciting and applying for a visa is not.

It’s just an obligatory extra and it could be a real pain if you end up getting the wrong visa or if you’re unaware of the basic rules.

We hope to have informed you with this article, but there are so many possibilities and everything depends on your personal situation.

If your situation is complex, it’s probably a good idea to get help from a professional and pay a small fee to get things done hassle free.

For US travelers visiting Europe, check out this interesting guide to the Ins & Outs of Schengen Visa Rules for US citizen.

Need some inspiration to get you exited about travel to Europe? Check out these amazing Airbnb’s in Europe!

Happy travels!

You might also like

Pin it!

Schengen Visa - How to get it - Complete Guide
Start planning your trip

Plan your trip

Step-by-step guide to plan your trip

Find accommodation

Upgrade your trip & sleep comfortably

Get travel insurance

The best travel insurance for Europeans

Get a global travel card

Get cash & pay anywhere

"I need 6 months of holiday, twice a year"

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse on this website, you accept the use of cookies for the above purposes.