With summer holidays just around the corner, some of us with the 'wrong' passport will require the dreaded Schengen visa in order to visit 26 countries currently in the Schengen Zone.
Obtaining the elusive Schengen visa has become a right of passage for many citizens who wish have a holiday in Europe. Although meant to make travelling to Europe easier, it can become a nightmare for some when submitting their documents to obtain the EU visa.
The Schengen visa allows you to travel to the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia,Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The requirements for a Schengen visa are:
Anyone that would normally need a visa to enter Europe can apply for one
The purpose of the visit must be for leisure, tourism or business
A maximum stay of 90 days can be granted, in any 6 month period
Schengen visa holders can not permanently live or work in Europe
To get your visa in time for your holiday it is advised to apply for your Schengen visa at least 6 weeks prior to travel, some nationalities require even more notice than this. Visa processing times vary throughout the year so it's important to plan ahead.
Applying for the EU visa is quite an easy process, and which embassy you apply at is dependent upon which country you will be visiting. For example, if you are only travelling to France then you should apply at the French embassy in your home country. If, however, you're travelling to more than one country, you'll need to apply at the embassy of the country where you're spending the most number of nights. If you're staying for an equal number of nights at various different destinations in the Schengen Zone then you should apply for your Schengen visa at the embassy of first country you'll visit.
The documents (not exhaustive) that you will require are: a completed and signed visa application form, two passport photographs, your passport and a photocopy of your passport, proof of money, and the visa application fee. Depending on the country you're from, you may also need other supporting documents, so be sure to read the application form carefully.
Most embassies you have recently outsourced their visa application services to a company called VFS Global. Unfortunately many people have been refused their visa because they don't fully understand what supporting documents are required and its sometimes difficult to get information from VFS Global or even from the embassy as they often don't take calls from the general public.
Find the latest schengen visa requirements.