Schengen Visa – How to get it – Complete Guide

Schengen Visa – How to get it – Complete Guide

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 Viso from Canada? Keep reading and find out how it all works!

House Sitting - The Complete Guide

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 - Complete Guide - Only Once Today

Photo by Felipe Dolce on Unsplash

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!

Group Tours vs Independent Travel

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 visum and if it states that you have a multiple entry visum. 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.

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. 

Schengen Visa - Complete Guide - Only Once Today

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.

Schengen Visum - Complete Guide - Only Once Today

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.

Troubleshooting Schengen VISA

The basics of the Schengen Visum 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.

Airport Transit and Schengen transit Visa

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
Stay longer - Schengen Visa extension

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 Visum.

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.

Stay much longer - Schengen Visa extension

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 visum 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.

Double and single 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 Visum sticker shows if your visa is a single entry Schengen visa, double entry or multiple entries.

Schengen Visum - Complete Guide - Only Once Today

Photo by Fabio Mangione on Unsplash

Visit Multiple Schengen Countries

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

Work in Schengen area

The regular tourist visum 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.

Visit family in the Schengen Area

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 visum.

Schengen Visum Refused?

If your Schengen Visum 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. 

Getting a Schengen Visum

Planning your travel to Europe is exciting and applying for a visum is not. It’s just an obligatory extra and it could be a real pain if you end up getting the wrong visum or if you’re unaware of the basic visum 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.

Traveling to Europe and still looking for inspiration? Check our articles about traveling to Europe by train and finding a house sitting opportunity. For lesbian travelers, Europe has quite a few lesbian-friendly destinations and lesbian festivals. See all our posts about Europe.

Schengen Visum - Complete Guide - Only Once Today
Schengen Visa - How to get a Schengen Visa complete guide - Travel Europe - Only Once Today

About The Author

My name is Inge. I'm a traveler, writer and photographer. All those things I want to share with you. I've traveled a lot and wish to explore some more unknown territory.


  1. Nastja Novak

    This is super helpful to everyone that need to get the visum. It can be pain in the ass sometimes. I’m happy that I live in one of these countries so I don’t need it.

    • Inge

      We also live in a country where we don’t need to get it but so many people are asking about how to get it, so we decided to write an informative post about it. Mainly, questions are about the non-standard travel issues like double entry and working visa!

  2. Lynne Nieman

    This can get so confusing but this is a very good and useful post.

    • Inge

      Thanks! It is very confusing indeed.

  3. Jamie Atkinson

    This is confusing information. I just checked the official Portugal website for example, and it expressly says you DO NOT NEED A VISA. Here is the quote from the website –

    “This means that U.S. citizens may enter Portugal for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least six months.”

    Why do you think you need to apply for a Schengen Visa as a U.S. Citizen? Is it for another reason?

    • Inge

      Portugal itself does not require you to have a seperate visum. Schengen area requires you to have a Schengen visa. If you have a Schengen visa, you can travel within the entire Schengen area without getting seperate visa for each country.

      • Inge

        You can compare this to the Esta in the US. Washington won’t require me to have a seperate visa, the US requires to enter the US territory.

  4. Esha Iftikhar

    Hello, this post was extremely helpful but I have a few queries in mind;
    1) First of all, I travelled to Europe this July and came back this Monday.
    My short-stay visa (multple-entry) is expiring in October 2018, and I want to go back in December 2018. Will I be able to re-apply for my Schengen visa in November?


Share your thoughts!

About Only Once Today

About Only Once Today

Join Our Tribe

Affiliate Notice

Some of our posts contain affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through one of these links, we get a small commission on the sale. You will never pay extra for an affiliate product. Thanks for your support!

Claim your AirBnB Discount!

Earn 35€ AirBnB Travel Credit - Only Once Today

Pin It on Pinterest

Sharing is Caring!

Let your friends know about this!