• published on 2/29/2024
  • 4min

What is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen visa is a type of permit that enables you to travel or enter Europe's Schengen area freely and avoid border controls for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180 day timeframe.

What is a Schengen Visa?

Table of contents

1. Do I need a Schengen visa?

2. Different types of Schengen visa

3. How much does a Schengen visa cost?

4. How to apply for a Schengen visa

5. Checklist for a Schengen visa

6. How long does the Schengen visa application take?

7. Mistakes to avoid when applying for a Schengen visa

However, if you want to stay in a Schengen country for more than this length of time, then you might need to apply for a national visa, which is valid for a maximum of one year. With this authorisation, you can still travel and enter the other Schengen states for up to 90 days and no more than 180 days.

Check out our blog for an overview of all things related to the Schengen visa, including the application process, how much it costs, and what documents you'll need.

Do I need a Schengen visa?

The Schengen area consists of 27 countries, allowing for border and visa free travel between these different locations. If you’re not from one of these nations, then having a Schengen visa may be necessary to enter or travel here.

There are some countries that are exempt from requiring a short stay Schengen visa, but citizens of other nations must obtain a visa to gain entry to this area. Check out a full list here of which nationalities need visas to identify what regulations you should follow.

Different types of Schengen visa

There are several kinds of Schengen visa, and which one you should get depends on your circumstances, including the purpose and duration of your visit. Below is an overview of some of the different visas:

Airport Transit visa (Type A)

With this visa, the holder can transit through the international area of an airport in a Schengen country. However, it does not allow you to enter the Schengen area.

Short stay (Type C)

A short-stay Schengen visa permits the owner to travel and remain in the Schengen area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period, which could be for reasons such as tourism, transit, or studies. There are different entry levels for your journey, where you can choose between single entry, double entry and multiple entry.

If you’re thinking of travelling to Europe, then take a look at our blog for some tips on finding the right accommodation during your time here.

Long stay (Type D)

The national visa is necessary for people who wish to stay in the Schengen zone for more than 90 days, and is issued for up to 12 months.

Additionally, so long as it is only for 90 days within any 180 day timeframe, holders can freely visit other Schengen countries as part of this visa.

How much does a Schengen visa cost?

The fee for the Schengen visa can vary, depending on factors such as your age and nationality. Generally, the cost is €80 for people over the age of 12, €40 for children aged between 6 and 11, but no charge for minors aged 5 or younger. There are some exceptions to this general rule, so ensure you check these when applying.

How to apply for a Schengen visa

Before beginning the process, establish what type of visa it is you need, which can be done by doing some research online.

Once you’ve identified this, it’s time to start your application. First work out where you need to submit it to, then arrange all of the required documentation together. Ensure you keep your paperwork in a safe place so nothing gets lost.

It is also necessary to book an appointment at the relevant location, which will be either at a consulate or an embassy. It is important to do this well in advance of your travels so you avoid delays.

After you have been to the interview, the last thing to do is wait for the application to be reviewed.

Checklist for a Schengen visa

There is plenty of documentation to organise when applying for a Schengen visa. Below we have put together a comprehensive checklist to help you, though there may be some additional information that you must provide in certain circumstances:

  • Cover letter: some of the details you should provide in this include an outline of your reasons for travelling, as well as your itinerary and contact details.

  • Passport, biometric data and passport photos: you will need to submit your passport as part of the application (no older than 10 years old and authorised for a minimum of 3 months after the date you return from your trip), two passport photos (no older than 6 months), and your biometric data.

  • Application form: ensure that you have completed this correctly, filling in all the material requested and double checking for mistakes.

  • Flight information: this should cover details such as the dates of your flights both to and from your destination, as well as evidence of your reservation for the journeys.

  • Proof of finances: you have to be able to show you can financially support yourself during the trip, which can be evidenced by submitting documents like bank statements or payslips that meet specific criteria.

  • Health insurance: the plan must comply with certain requirements, which includes at least €30,000 cover for medical costs and authorisation within all of the Schengen countries. Our short term health insurance can help protect your needs for the duration of your travels – find out more here.

  • Evidence of payment fee: you need to give proof of payment for the visa as part of the application.

  • Proof of accommodation: this is to show the authorities where you will be staying, and can comprise of confirmation of the hotel booking or a rental contract.

At APRIL International, we offer international medical insurance solutions that can provide you with the freedom to choose where you are treated within your cover area and give you access to leading medical facilities across the globe. Discover more about how international health insurance works in our blog here.

How long does the Schengen visa application take?

The processing time for the Schengen visa is usually 15 days, though this may be extended up to a maximum period of 45 days in some circumstances.

Some factors that can influence how long this takes include if the embassy or consulate is experiencing a busy period, or if you have submitted incorrect information in your application.

Mistakes to avoid when applying for a Schengen visa

To avoid making mistakes, there are several actions you can take. For example, assign plenty of time to complete the application, as it may be time-consuming and require a lot of organisation that can make you feel stressed if you leave it to the last minute.

Also, check that you have provided the correct information and documents, and that you know the location where you need to submit the application. Processes can differ depending on where you’re applying, so be sure to follow these carefully.