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Schengen visas

In theory, a Schengen visa allows you to travel freely within those countries that are party to the Schengen agreement.

There is therefore a common misunderstanding by many applicants who mistakenly believe that they can apply for a visa at the embassy of any Schengen country to travel to or through that country or any of the other Schengen countries.

If a visa is needed, it is most important that you apply at the correct embassy.
It is virtually certain that your application will not be considered if you apply at any embassy other than the one relevant to your intended visit.

There are fifteen countries who are party to the Schengen agreement and the embassy you should apply at depends on Schengen regulations which can be easily misinterpreted.

The fifteen countries are
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg,
Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden.

Our understanding of where to apply is as follows:

~~ If you are visiting only one Schengen state you must apply to the embassy of that country.
~~ If you are visiting several Schengen states on the same trip and spending an equal period of time in each country, you should apply to the embassy of the country which will be your first port of call; e.g. first stop is two days in France followed by two days in Belgium and then two days in The Netherlands: you should apply at the visa section of the French embassy. The visa officer’s ‘fine line’ interpretation of your itinerary and therefore which country should consider your application and issue your visa may differ from our and your understanding.
~~ If you are visiting several Schengen States on the same trip and not spending an equal period of time in each, you should apply to the embassy of the country in which you will be spending the longest time. That will not necessarily be the first Schengen country you enter on that trip; e.g. two days in France, four days in Germany, one day in Belgium, one day in France: regulations say you should apply at the visa section of the German embassy. The visa officer’s ‘fine line’ interpretation of your itinerary and therefore which country should consider your application and issue your visa may differ from our and your understanding.
~~ If there is a main purpose to your trip, you should apply to the embassy of the country where that purpose will be fulfilled; e.g. if you are travelling through several Schengen states with the overall intention of attending a conference or a wedding in Spain: regulations say you should apply at the visa section of the Spanish embassy. The visa officer’s ‘fine line’ interpretation of your itinerary and therefore which country should consider your application and issue your visa may differ from our and your understanding.

Although the Schengen visa is a blanket visa for the member countries, there are no standard application requirements. Each Schengen state has its own specific forms and requirements for visa applications. Applicants need to check carefully with these facts in mind.

Applications have to meet the requirements of the individual country as well as the additional regulations that the countries have agreed to as part of the Schengen agreement. Visa officers are therefore very thorough in their examination of documents and most exacting and precise when considering whether or not they are satisfied that requirements and regulations have been met.

For spouses of EU citizens, on production of the spouse’s valid Passport and original marriage certificate, the relevant embassy or consulate will, in most cases, issue the visa free of charge.

Foreign nationals who have entered the U.K. on a six month visitor visa or less will, apart from very rare exceptions, not be able to obtain a visa to visit any Schengen state. The exceptions occur sometimes if the applicant applies in person and sometimes if the applicant is going to be on route to return to their country of nationality.


updated 8th February 2007



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