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Schengen visa

The schengen visa allows travellers to enter, stay and travel freely within the Schengen Area, a group of 26 European countries which have agreed to remove border controls between them. This includes popular countries like France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. 


To obtain a schengen visa, you must apply to the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to spend the majority of your time in, or, if there is no specific country, you can apply at the embassy or consulate of the first or only country you plan to enter.

EU and EEA citizens residing in the UK with either pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme do not require a schengen visa. Similarly, British citizens do not need a schengen visa to travel to EU countries, regardless if those countries are in the Schengen Area or not. These exceptions only apply to those intending to travel for less than 90 days in a 180 day period. 

Applications are normally processed by a third-party visa service such as VFS Global or TLS Contact. These third-parties are also responsible for providing applicants with appointments and transferring applications to the relevant embassy or consulate.

The schengen visa application typically requires you to provide personal information, travel itinerary, proof of finances, and travel insurance. You must also provide details of previous schengen visas, if applicable. You must state your main purpose of travel, for example:

  • Tourism

  • Visiting family or friends

  • Busines

  • Study

  • Medical reasons

  • Cultural

  • Sports

  • Official visit

  • Airport transit

You can apply up to 6 months before your intended travel date, but your application will not be processed until you have secured an appointment with VFS Global or TLS Contact. It can be difficult to find a suitable appointment date due to the volume of applications, and so it is advisable to apply as soon as possible.

The application processing time is approximately 15 working days, but may be longer in some situations.

If your application for a schengen visa is granted, you will be permitted to travel within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This means that the total duration of stay in the Schengen Area cannot exceed 90 days in any 180-day period, even if the visa itself is valid for a longer period. It is important to note that not all countries in Europe are part of the Schengen Area, and some countries that are part of the Schengen Area may have additional entry requirements or immigration restrictions. It is recommended to check the specific entry requirements for each country before planning a trip.

If your application for a schengen visa is refused, you should be given a right of appeal by the country which issued the decision. The specific appeal process, timelines and fees for appealing will differ depending on the country. You should also note that appeals are generally a lengthy process and may not be a suitable avenue for applicants with time-sensitive plans.

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