Europe attracts over 10 million Indian visitors per year, especially millennial travellers thanks to its cluster of beautiful, exciting destinations such as Switzerland, Italy and Spain. And to travel to Europe is quite simple. All it takes is to apply for and acquire a Schengen Visa.
Here’s a guide we’ve put together to help answer any questions you may have on how to get started:
What is a Schengen Visa?
The Schengen agreement allows for passport-free travel between countries that fall within the European zone.
The Schengen visa is essentially a short-term entry permit into the European Union that allows Indian citizens to travel to any part of the Schengen zone. This visa allows a maximum stay of 90 days with any of the member countries in a half-year period. Indian nationals possessing the Schengen visa can move within the Schengen zone free as many times as required. With no border between the countries, the Schengen visa is allotted for various purposes including tourism, business, work, and study.
Remember that for a stay longer than 90 days, you have to apply for the National Visa of the particular country you will be staying in.
Schengen country list
The countries that took part in the Schengen agreement are known as the Schengen Countries. These countries allow Schengen visa holders to move freely through their borders without the need for a passport or border control. In total, 26 countries are part of the Schengen zone. Out of these 24 countries are also part of the European Union, while the rest are non-EU countries that are part of the European Free Trade Association.
- Czech Republic
Non-EU Schengen States:
The states of Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City, despite not being part of the Schengen maintain open-borders with the Schengen Zone.
Further, some countries allow entry for multiple-entry Schengen visa holders despite officially not being part of the Schengen zone. These countries include Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Gibraltar, Kosovo, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Romania, Sao Tome and, Principe, Serbia, and Turkey.
Schengen Visa Types
1) Uniform Schengen Visa (USV)
The Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) is a single visa that allows individuals to travel to all of the Schengen nations. There are two categories of USV:
‘A’ Category USV– Also called the Airport Transit Visa, it allows people to pass through the international zone of a Schengen zone airport without entering the zone.
‘C’ Category USV– The Short Term permit, this category of USV is issued for a 90 days stay in six months. However, embassies can increase the validity of this type of Uniform Schengen visa. It is further issued as:
1. Single-entry visa-This type of USV allows Indian citizens to enter the Schengen zone only once. If you exit the Schengen zone, you will not be able to enter again on the same Single-entry visa.
2. Double-entry Visa – This USV allows visa holders to enter the Schengen region from a non-Schengen country twice.
3. Multiple-entry Visa -This USV allows visitors to exit and enter the Schengen zone as many times as they require. However, the total stay duration can still not exceed a total of 90 days in six months.
‘D’ Category – Commonly known as the National Visa, the ‘D’ category USV is issued by the individual Schengen nations to people who wish to stay in the country for a duration longer than 90 days. This type of Uniform Schengen Visa is usually issued for work, study or permanent residency in the country.
2) Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) Visa
The LTV visa is a type of Uniform Schengen Visa that is issued in case of certain extreme humanitarian issues. This visa allows the holders to travel only to specific Schengen states that are mentioned in the visa sticker.
3) Schengen Visa Types According To The Purpose of Travel
Schengen visas can also be classified based on the purpose of the visit.
Airport Transit-This is issued to people who have to travel through the international zone of a Schengen nation airport without entering the Schengen region.
Transit-Similar to the Airport Transit Schengen, this visa is required for visitors who need to switch airports or pass through Schengen country seaport within the Schengen region.
Tourism-The most issued type of Schengen visa, this is allotted to individuals who are entering the Schengen region for leisure, sightseeing, and other tourism activities.
Visiting Family/Friends– People visiting family or friends in the Schengen region require this visa.
Business– For travel to the Schengen region for business activities such as meetings, conferences, summits and trade fairs, this category of Schengen visa is issued.
Official Visit– People travelling for official reasons are allotted this visa.
Medical reasons– This is a special category Schengen visa granted to patients only for medical treatment in a Schengen country.
Study Purposes– Students looking to pursue short term studies in the Schengen zone can apply for this visa.
Cultural, Sports and Film Crews– Individuals entering the Schengen region for attending sports or cultural event or are a part of the film crew, are granted this visa.
Other- In case your visit is not for the purposes mentioned above, you can apply for this type of visa mentioning your purpose in a simple sentence in the Schengen visa application form.
How To Apply For a Schengen Visa?
There are several steps in applying for the Schengen visa. The process can be different as it is dependent on the individual embassy too. However, generally speaking, this is how you can apply for a Schengen visa:
1) Decide what type of visa is most suitable for your requirements. Keep in mind the Schengen visa of any type will allow only a stay up to 90 days, for the long-term, you need to apply for a national visa and not the Schengen visa.
2) Depending on the country you are applying from and to for the Schengen visa, you may have to visit the embassy/consulate or visa application centers like VFS Global. You have to apply to a specific Schengen country depending on your port of entry and the destination.
3) You are required to apply for the Schengen visa at least 15 days before the intended travel date but not more than 3 months in advance from the date of travel.
4) The Schengen visa application is of the same format regardless of the country, so you will have no issue filling the form. However, some Schengen states allow you to apply online.
5) Depending on the country of visa application, you have to book a visa appointment at the respective center, it can be the embassy, consulate or the visa application center.
6) You will be required to attend the visa appointment along with the required documents and fees. In certain cases, you may be required to attend the visa interview. There is a mandatory requirement for all Schengen Visa applications to submit their biometrics.
7) If you have submitted your biometrics for a Schengen visa in the last 5 years, you do not have to submit that again.
8) After successful application processing, you can pick up your passport with the visa stamp directly from the embassy, consulate or the visa application center.
Schengen Visa Requirements
General documents required from Indian passport holders for a Schengen visa include:
- Correctly filled Schengen visa application
- Two passport size photographs of strictly 35mm x 45mm with white background and 80% face
- A passport with a validity for at least 90 days from the return date and two blank pages for visa stamp
- Travel Visa Insurance of at least 30,000 Euros
- A cover letter clearly stating the purpose of visit with a detailed itinerary
- Flight itinerary reservation and proof of accommodation
- Professional documents depending on the type of visa
How Much Is The Schengen Visa Processing Time?
Depending on the destination country, the Schengen visa processing time can vary. Usually, the Schengen visa is processed within 15 working days but in extreme circumstances, it can take up to 30 to 60 days.
Schengen Visa Travel Insurance
The Schengen visa travel insurance is mandatory, irrespective of the country, purpose, and duration of your travel. You will need travel insurance that is valid for the entire stay and throughout the Schengen region. It is required that insurance covers at least 30000 Euros for medical emergencies. Also, your Schengen visa travel insurance must be from an insurance company that is approved by the Schengen consular posts. Some of the approved Indian travel insurance companies are:
- ICICI Lombard General Insurance
- TATA AIG General Insurance
- Apollo Munich Health Insurance
- SBI General Insurance
- Bharti AXA General Insurance
- Reliance General Insurance
- Bajaj Allianz General Insurance
- Religare General Insurance
We hope to have answered all your questions related to the Schengen visa requirements for Indian citizens. If you have any more queries let us know.
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