With an increase in the number of Electronic visas and border free areas like the European Union, travelling has become much more convenient than before. But many parts of the world still require you to sort out the Visa in advance in order to keep your plans on the right track. Every country has their own set of visa requirements for each country and it is important that you know what value your passport holds when it comes to crossing the International borders.
One of the best visas available for those who dream of a ‘Euro trip’ in their lives is something called the Schengen Visa. Back when I needed the Schengen visa, I had searched for someone who knew how things worked, how to get the right visa and guide me in the right direction. I hadn’t been able to find anyone and had to learn it by myself. So I thought I should share my experience and the things which I learned from the procedures. Here are some highlights about the Schengen Visa. Most of this information can be found over the Internet, but I will try to keep it to-the-point and direct along with some bonus tricks that you might find useful.
Q. Which countries are covered by the Schengen Visa?
The countries you can travel to once you hold a Schengen Visa include: 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.
Q. Who needs it?
EU Citizens: No need for any visa to travel to the Schengen Countries. Identity card (Driving Licence, Passport etc) will do.
U.S. & Rest of the World: Everybody else needs to have a Schengen Visa to visit any of the member countries. The Visa is valid for 26 countries and allows you to stay for a maximum of 90 days within one country. U.S. citizens can find the requirements here. Schengen Visa can be applied from at any consulate of any Schengen Member country, anywhere in the world. The only condition is that the particular country should be your entry point to Europe.
Q. Which Schengen Visa should you get?
There are two (most common) types of Schengen Visa from the travelling point of view:
Single-entry Visa allows you to enter a Schengen country only once, for a certain period of time. Once you exit the particular Schengen country you entered through, the visa validity expires even if the time period of allowance in the country hasn’t expired yet.
Multiple-entry Visa allows you to go in and out of the Schengen country as you please. However, this visa allows its holder to stay in a Schengen Zone for a maximum of 90 days (within half the year), starting from the day one crosses the border between a Schengen member country and the non-Schengen member country.
Q. Which Type of Schengen visa do you need?
The biggest advantage of a Schengen visa is that the visa fee for the ‘Single’ Entry as well as the ‘Multiple’ entry visa is the same. The obvious question which arises is that why would you want a single entry visa when you can have a multiple entry within the same price? The catch is that it’s not you who gets to decide which visa you will be getting. All you can do is request a multiple entry visa on your application form and it’s up to the Consulate to take the decision. You might request for multiple in your form and get a single entry visa instead. Don’t be surprised, it’s just the way that it works.
I was told by a big immigration company that there was no way that I could get a multiple entry visa if it was my first time travelling in Europe since one of the major factors in the decision-making procedure on a visa is your travel history. The only thought which crossed my mind was, “Challenge accepted”.
The documents required for Schengen Visa:
Once you know everything there is to know about the Schengen visa, it’s time to take a look at the documents you would need along with the application. A simple Google search will give you same results but to save you trouble, I shall list them all here. Before you start working on getting these documents ready, I would recommend reading my post here. I have already listed the tips and tricks needed to get a multiple entry visa on your first attempt. It’s a tried and tested method with a guaranteed result.
- The Schengen Visa application.
- Two pictures (Please refer to the guild lines for the same.)
- If you are an immigrant in Europe, a copy of your European visa is required. (Make sure that your passport is valid for the next six months and has at least two blank pages.)
- Return ticket confirmation and accommodation booking confirmation. (Read my post here.)
- Travel insurance.
- If you are to work at a European country, a letter of employment from the company stating your salary and employment situation in the country.
- Bank statement for the last three months as a proof that you have sufficient funds.
This was all you needed to know about the Schengen visa if you are planning to travel to Europe. If you are concerned about how to manage to get a multiple entry visa, please refer to my post about the twists in the tale and personal recommendations to ensure that you receive a multiple entry Schengen visa.
Do feel free to leave comments and spread your knowledge & experiences if you know anything which could be helpful for the other readers.