Schengen visa

Schengen Visa Countries: Free Movement in Europe


The Schengen Area now encompasses 29 countries. You can freely travel in the Schengen zone with a European residence permit or Schengen visa.

Schengen visa countries

Schengen Area

The Schengen area is one of the main achievements of the European project. It started in 1985 as an intergovernmental project between five EU countries – France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – and has gradually expanded to become the largest free travel area in the world.

Being part of an area without internal border controls means that countries:

  • do not carry out checks at their internal borders, except in cases of specific threats
  • carry out harmonised controls at their external borders based on clearly defined criteria.

Today, the Schengen zone covers over 4 million square kilometres with a population of almost 420 million people and includes 29 countries (displayed in blue on the map):

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Norway, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romenia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Source: European Commission

Visa Schengen

Schengen Visa

Schengen visa countries have set up a common visa policy for short stays (namely for stays up to three months), which is applied through the ‘Schengen visas’. Citizens of some non-EU countries are required to hold a visa or a European residence permit to travel to the Schengen area. A short-stay visa issued by one of the member states of the Schengen area entitles the holder to travel throughout the whole Schengen area for up to three months within a six-month period. However, visas for visits exceeding that three-month period remain subject to national procedures.

What are the different types of Schengen visas?

Type A Schengen visa - Airport Transit Visa 

The type A visa (Airport Transit Visa) permits citizens of non-Schengen states to transit through or wait for their connecting flight in the international zone of an airport located in a Schengen country. Travellers from a non-Schengen country connecting through a Schengen Visa country to another non-Schengen country with a type A visa are not permitted to enter the Schengen country. 

 Type B Schengen visa 

 The previous type B visa, which was for trips lasting fewer than five days, has been replaced by type 'C' with the condition of 'transit'. 

 Type C Schengen visa 

 The short stay Schengen visa is the most common one and is issued by the visa services (embassies, consulates, appointed external providers) of a country belonging to the Schengen area. It allows the holder to stay or travel freely in the Schengen area for less than 90 days within a 180-day period. Depending on the purpose of the trip, the short-stay category 'C' Schengen visa can be a single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry. 

 Type D Schengen visa 

 The national visa, also known as the type D long-stay Schengen visa, is mandatory for any foreigner wishing to study, work, or live in a Schengen country for longer than 90 days (up to 1 year). You get D-type visa to visit the country and pick up your residence cards.   

What documents are required for the Schengen visa application? 

To book an appointment with the embassy or consular service, you must prepare an application file containing the following mandatory documents:

  • A duly completed and signed Schengen visa application form 
  • Two identical and recent photos
  • A copy of your passport and your passport (issued less than 10 years ago and valid for at least 3 months beyond the expiration date of the requested visa)
  • A letter explaining the reasons for your trip (this is very important if you cannot state a good reason, you will be rejected)
  • The reservation confirmation of your return ticket (it must be a valid ticket; a simple free booking is not accepted)
  • Proof of your accommodation plans with hotel bookings
  • Proof of your means of subsistence (this is very important if you do not have enough money, you will be rejected)
  • A mandatory travel insurance certificate.

With a complete application file, you will be able to attend your consular services appointment in the best conditions.

How much does a Schengen Visa cost? 

The fees for a type C Schengen visa have increased since February 3rd 2020 : 

  • A Schengen visa now costs €80 (≃$90). 
  • For children aged 6 to 12: €40 (≃$45). 
  • For children under age 6: free 

When should you apply for your visa?

Since the implementation of the new Visa Code (February 2020) you can now apply for your Schengen visa at the earliest 3 to 6 months prior to the date of your trip and at the latest 15 calendar days before your departure date.

Why is a European residence permit better than a Schengen visa? 

RCP offers several temporary and permanent residence permits in Schengen visa countries. A residence permit, often referred to as a Golden Visa, provides not only the ability to live and work in the country but also allows for free travel within the Schengen zone. In simple terms, a European residence permit allows you to obtain a renewable 5-year Schengen visa and residency rights in the country.

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