What is a Schengen visa?
A Schengen visa is a short stay visa allowing its holder to circulate in the Schengen area. The Schengen area covers 26 European countries ("Schengen States") without border controls between them. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, the 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.
Travel to the Schengen area is relatively easy. Generally speaking, with a Schengen visa you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen region during the validity of the visa. Internal border controls are limited with no or few stops and checks.
Please note that the UK and Ireland are not a part of the Schengen agreement.
Do I need Schengen visa?
If you intend to travel to Europe on a Canada, US, Japan, South Korea or UK/EU passport, you do not need a Schengen visa. If you intend to travel to Europe on a China, Nigeria, India, or Turkey passport will require a visa. Please note these are not exhaustive lists - check to see if you need a Schengen visa.
The need for a Schengen visa will particularly apply to students in the Winter and Summer terms. Currently the Art/Sci Winter program, the Art/Sci Summer program and the Summer Schools (Law, ISGHD) have trips to Europe. The EU has a common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement.
Where do I apply for a Schengen visa?
You apply for a Schengen visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the Schengen country which is your port of entry in the Schengen area, or the country where you will be spending the most nights on your trip to the Schengen Space. If you are only visiting one country on your trip then you apply for your visa at the Consulate of this Schengen country.
You can find the forms for the application on the Embassy website of the country that you are applying to.
The visa fees, the eligibility criteria and the documentation required vary according to which type of Schengen visa you need and the country you are applying to. You should check the website of the relevant embassy before making your application. You should make your application as early as possible, in case there are any unexpected delays in processing the application.
The European Commission has a useful website that you are strongly encouraged to visit. Go to European Commission website
What documents are required for the application?
- Student status letter (available from the ASC) confirming your course dates and details of your course of study.
- Itinerary (hotel booking or invitation letter) at least for the first few days.
- Proof of medical insurance and repatriation certificate.
- Relevant fee.
- Proof of funding for the trip.
Please note this list is not exhaustive - check the documentation details.
Please note that, if you have to apply for a Schengen visa due to academic requirements, you need to contact the Experiential Learning Office so they can provide you with the documentation (support letter, copies of hotel and transport bookings and proof of medical insurance and repatriation certificate) relevant to the application. If you are travelling independently all the documentation will need to be provided by you.
When do I apply for a Schengen visa?
The window to apply for a Schengen visa is between 90 days and 15 days prior to your trip. You are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. As a general rule, a decision on your application is taken by the Consulate within 15 days, although sometimes this period might be extended to 30 or 60 days.
How long is the Schengen visa valid for?
The multiple entry visa is valid for up to 90 days, while the single entry visa is valid for the duration of your trip. The holder of a Schengen visa will be allowed to transit through or stay in the territory of a Schengen State during no more than 90 days in any 180 days period.
Multiple Schengen visa
A multiple entry Schengen visa will allow the holder several entries into the Schengen area, allowing you to return to the UK and then re-enter the Schengen area at a later date. You will need to have an itinerary, including accommodation bookings for each trip that you are planning to make.
Not all embassies issue multiple entry visas some prefer to issue only a single entry visa to cover you for the specific trip you are going on.
Do I have to have travel insurance?
You must have travel insurance (including medical cover and repatriation) when you apply for your Schengen visa (the actual repatriation clause needs to be presented to the Consulate). The insurance must cover the duration of the requested visa - annual insurance may be required if you are requesting a multiple entry visa. Please be aware that if you purchase your travel insurance from a UK provider you will be repatriated to the UK unless you make a special arrangement with the insurer.
How long does my UK visa need to be valid for?
Generally you need to have at least three months left on your UK immigration visa at the time you return from your trip.
How long does my passport need to be valid for?
Your passport will need to be valid for at least six months when making a Schengen Visa application.