What is the Schengen visa scheme?
The Schengen Visa Scheme is a scheme that allows non-European
Economic Area (EEA) nationals wishing to visit certain countries
within the EEA (and Switzerland) to travel between these
countries using only one visa. The UK and the Republic of Ireland
are not members of the Schengen Visa scheme, and Schengen Visas are
a non-UK Visa. If you wish to visit a non-Schengen visa area
country you will need to apply for a visitor visa via that
The Schengen visa scheme allows people wishing to visit the following countries to travel using only one visa for a trip that could last up to three months.
The 26 Schengen visa area members
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Do I need to apply for a Schengen visa?
Nationals from countries that are part of the Schengen agreement
area and nationals from Cyprus, Republic of Ireland and the United
Kingdom DO NOT NEED to apply for a Schengen visa
to travel within the Schengen area.
Nationals of other countries will usually require a visa to enter the Schengen area. However, it is important to check with the embassy or consulate of the country that you wish to visit before making travel arrangements. As a rule, people whose nationality does not appear in the following list do require a Schengen visa:
Types of Schengen visas
- The short stay or travel visa allows a visit of up to three months in any six-month period. This is the visa that most students will need to travel within Schengen areas as a tourist, on a field trip, or as conference attendees.
- The transit visa enables the traveller to pass though the territory of one or more Schengen member states on their way to another country outside the Schengen area.
- The airport transit visa allows the traveller to transit through an International transit area of an airport of a Schengen member state, but not exit this area before they fly to their next destination.
Where do I apply for a Schengen visa?
- If you are visiting only one country in the Schengen area, apply via the embassy of that country.
- If visiting more than one country in the Schengen area, apply via the embassy of the country that you intend to stay the longest time in - your main destination.
- If you intend to visit several countries in the Schengen area without having one main destination, apply via the embassy of the country you will visit first.
How do I apply?
Every Schengen member state has its own application procedures. Information on application procedures including visa fees, eligibility criteria, multi-entry visas and the documentation you will need to provide are available from the embassy websites. Application forms are usually available to download from the embassy websites.
How long will the application take?
Most embassies describe the process as taking around three weeks, although this can vary considerably. Most embassies do not issue Schengen visas on the same day. Apply for your Schengen visa at the earliest opportunity, as at peak times there could be considerable delays.
Important information to consider
- Check if you need medical insurance for your trip.
- Some embassies have a limit on the number of applications they will accept each day, or require you to make an appointment for an interview in person. Check the embassy website for terms and conditions.
- If you are making your application in person, you should aim to arrive at the embassy early in the morning and factor in your journey time.
- Visa information telephone lines can be very expensive, and only give pre-recorded basic information. It is better to use the embassy websites.
- Embassies close on public and national holidays of their own countries. These can be different to UK public holidays. Check the embassy website to confirm opening times and closures dates.
Important information for UK Tier 4 student visa
If you are planning to travel out of the UK after you have completed your final piece of academic work and intend to return to the UK before your existing Tier 4 visa expires, please come to a visa information session so we can advise you. It is important to do this before you make travel arrangements.
Schengen Visa letter
Students who are applying for a Schengen visa normally need to provide a letter from the University confirming their status.
Please complete the online form to request a Schengen Visa letter.
Please note: The turnaround time for producing letters is five working days. Therefore, it is important that you allow ample time before your visa appointment before requesting a letter. We may not be able to produce letters at short notice.