Schengen Visa for Indians - Europe Visa Guide
Europe, the second smallest continent in the world is also the world’s most visited region. The Schengen visa has certainly aided in the growth of the number of visitors to Europe. In simple terms, this is an endorsement issued by Schengen countries to allow people to enter the Schengen region via air, land, or water and reside for a duration of up to 90 days in a 180-day period.
Ever since its establishment, there is a myth that this can be used as a “Europe visa”. Make no mistake, the Schengen visa does allow people to enter the European continent, however, you cannot enter 26 out of the 44 of these European nations. The entry is limited to only the European countries that are a part of the Schengen agreement.
Although, not everyone requires the visa to enter the region. EU nationals and citizens of other countries with visa-free arrangements are eligible to travel through the Schengen freely. Since India is not among either of these exceptionals, a Schengen visa for Indians is mandatory to enter the Schengen zone. This detailed Schengen visa application guide will not only explain the visa but also has detailed information on the Schengen itself.
What is Schengen?
The Schengen (Schengen pronunciation - Shen-ghen) is the world’s largest free travel area. Covering most of Europe, the Schengen allows passport-free travel between all countries that are within the zone thanks to the Schengen agreement. Located in the country of Luxembourg, the Schengen agreement was signed on a houseboat in a river near the town of Schengen. And hence, the Schengen meaning is just from the name of the town.
What is a Schengen Visa?
The Schengen visa is a short term entry permit that allows people to travel to any of the members of the Schengen zone and stay there for a maximum of 90 days in a half-year period. The visa allows you to move within the Schengen zone as many times as required, as there are no border restrictions between the countries. The visa allows you to enter the Schengen states for various purposes such as tourism, business, study, etc.
Note that if you have to stay for longer than 90 days, you must apply for a National visa of the particular country instead of the Schengen visa.
What are the Schengen Countries?
The Schengen countries are a list of nations that take part in the Schengen agreement and allow people to move freely without having to go through passport or border control. There are 26 countries that are a part of the Schengen. The Schengen visa countries include 22 countries that are a part of the EU (European Union) and 4 non-EU countries that are a part of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association). The Schengen visa countries list is as follows -
- EU Schengen States -
- The Non-EU Schengen States -
Note that the states of Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City, despite not being officially a part of the Schengen, have open-borders with the Schengen zone.
Also, note that the following countries, despite not being a part of the Schengen zone, will allow entry with a multiple-entry Schengen visa -
Things to Know Before Applying for Schengen Visa
- The visiting countries - The first thing you will have to decide before applying is your Schengen visa first port of entry and your main destination in the Schengen region. Based on this, you will have to apply to the respective country’s embassy or representative.
- The duration of stay - You should determine the total duration you intend on staying in the state(s). Based on this, you must apply to the Schengen visa or the National visa. The Schengen allows a stay of up to 90 days in a 180-day period. However, the national visa allows stays of more than 90 days. As per the Schengen visa validity rules, you cannot stay back in the region after expiry. As a result, you must decide this carefully
- The purpose of the visit - You must know the exact purpose of your visit. Based on the exact purpose, there are different categories of the Schengen visa. As per the Schengen visa rules, you are supposed to carry out your activities that are permitted under the particular visa category.
- The number of entries - One of the biggest Schengen visa benefits is the number of times you can enter the area depending on the type of entry allowed. As a result, you can choose the Schengen visa number of entries from a single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry types.
Schengen Visa Types
The Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) allows individuals to travel to all of the Schengen nations with a single visa. However, you will still be allowed to spend only a maximum of 90 days in a period of 180-days in any of the member countries. The main two categories of the USV are as follows -
Uniform Schengen Visa
- ‘A’ Category - Also known as the Airport Transit Visa, this permit lets people pass through the international zone of a Schengen airport without entering the Schengen zone.
‘C’ Category - Known as the Short Term permit, this is issued for a stay duration of 90 days in a 180-day period. However, validity can vary based on the embassy’s decision. These can further be issued as the following types -
- Single-entry Visa - This particular type of USV allows people to enter the Schengen area ‘only once’ from a non-Schengen country. In other words, once the individual has exited the Schengen region, he will not be able to enter it again with the same visa.
- Double-entry Visa - This is a type of USV that allows the traveller to enter the Schengen area ‘twice’. In simpler words, if the individual has exited the Schengen region to a non-Schengen country, he can re-enter it one more time.
- Multiple-entry Visa - This category allows individuals to enter and exit the Schengen zone as many times as they require. However, note that the total stay duration still cannot exceed more than 90 days in a 180-day period.
- 'D' Category - The ‘D’ category, or more commonly known as a National Visa is a country-specific permit issued by the individual Schengen nations for people wishing to stay in the country for a duration of longer than 90 days. They are issued for work, study, or permanently residing in the country. Even though this is technically not a ‘Schengen visa’, this permit also allows people to travel to other Schengen countries (other than the issuing nation) and stay there for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period.
LTV (Limited Territorial Validity) Visa
The Limited Territorial Visa is a type of the USV which is issued in certain extreme cases of humanitarian issues and allows the holder to travel to only the specific Schengen state(s) as mentioned in the visa sticker.
Schengen Visa types according to the purpose of travel
The Schengen visas can be classified into the following types based on the purpose of the visit -
- Airport Transit – this category is for people who have to travel through the international zone of a Schengen country’s airport without entering the Schengen region. Note that even if you need a Schengen to enter a particular country, you may not have to get a transit visa. Check the list of countries that will require an airport transit visa to enter a Schengen country.
- Transit – Similar to the airport transit visa, this category is required in cases the traveller has to pass through a Schengen country seaport or switch airports as a part of travel to another nation.
- Tourism – The most issued type of the Schengen, this is granted in cases where the individual has to enter the region for the purpose of sightseeing, leisure, and other tourism activities.
- Visiting Family or Friends – This is granted for people travelling to the Schengen region to visit their family or friends residing there.
- Business – This category is issued for travellers entering the Schengen region to take part in business meetings, conferences, trade fairs, and other business activities.
- Official Visit - This type of permit is issued for people travelling for official reasons.
- Medical reasons – This special category is granted for patients who are travelling to a Schengen country seeking medical treatment.
- Study Purposes – The student category is issued to people who are entering the Schengen country to take part in short term studies.
- Cultural, Sports and Film Crews – This is granted for individuals travelling for the purpose of attending cultural or sporting events, and also as a part of a film crew.
- Other – In case the reason for the visit is other than the above-mentioned, you will have to mention this in a simple sentence in the Schengen application form.
Who Needs a Visa to Enter Europe?
Due to the fact that the Schengen area is the world’s largest visa-free zone, a large number of nationalities are free to enter the Schengen without the requirement of a Schengen visa. Apart from the nationals of the Schengen visa countries, the visa-exempt countries for the Schengen area include the EU nationals, the UK citizens, and other countries that have visa-exemption agreements. Even though there is no Schengen visa for UK citizens as the country is among the two opt-outs of the Schengen, UK nationals are free to enter the Schengen region. All other nationalities apart from these will require a visa to enter the zone. However, note that official delegates from certain nations are also free to enter the Schengen without a visa.
Schengen Visa for Indians
Europe is one of the most visited travel destinations with over 10 million Indians visiting per year. In fact, the Schengen countries of Switzerland, Italy, and Spain are among the most visited places by Indians. However, India not being among the visa-exempt countries has no visa-free arrangement with any of the Schengen nations. As a result, people travelling from India will require a Schengen visa from India.
Most of the Schengen countries have an Embassy in India. As a result, these diplomatic missions are the ones responsible for issuing a Schengen visa for Indians. In the case that a particular nation doesn’t have its embassy in India, the Schengen visa can be issued by the embassy of the nation which has undertaken the visa processing of the other nation. For example, due to the absence of Liechtenstinian embassy in India, the Schengen visa application to Liechtenstein has to be made at a Switzerland embassy.
How to apply for Schengen Visa?
The process of applying for a Schengen visa involves several steps. In fact, it also depends on the particular embassy as well. However, the general steps involved in the Schengen visa application are as follows -
- Decide the exact type of visa you require. Based on the purpose and duration, you must choose the one apt for you. If you require a long term visa, you must apply for the National visa and not a Schengen.
- Find out where you will have to submit the application. Depending on the country you are applying from and to, you may be able to submit the application at the embassy/consulate or one of the visa application centres. Also, depending on your port of entry and the main destination, you must apply to the specific Schengen country.
- Proceed to make your application on time. You must apply at least 15 days before your intended travel date, but not more than 3 months before the expected date of travel.
- Fill in the Schengen application form. Regardless of the country, the application form is of the same format. However, certain Schengen countries may have online application forms available.
- Proceed to book a visa appointment at the respective centre. The appointment can be at an embassy/consulate or a visa application centre depending upon the regulations.
- Attend the visa appointment along with the documents and the fees. You must submit the application and pay the fees here. You may be required to attend a visa interview in certain special cases. However, as a mandatory requirement, all applicants for the Schengen visa must submit their biometrics.
Note that you do not have to submit your biometrics in the case that you have already submitted them for a Schengen visa in the past 5 years.
After your successful application, you may pick up the passport with the visa stamp directly from the embassy/consulate/VAC, or have the VAC deliver it to you for an additional charge.
Schengen Visa Requirements
As per the Schengen visa requirements, to be able to obtain a Schengen visa, the following are the general Schengen visa documents required for an Indian passport holder. However, based on the exact country applying to, as well as the purpose of the visit, there are additional specific documents.
Document Requirements for Indian Passport Holders
- Schengen visa form correctly filled and signed.
- Two passport photos must be attached taken against white background of size (35mm x 45mm) with 80% face size.
- Passport valid for at least 3 months beyond return date with at least two blank pages.
- Travel Visa Insurance covering expenses up to 30,000 Euros within entire schengen area.
- A cover letter stating the purpose of visit and itinerary.
- Flight itinerary reservation with proof of accomodation for whole intended stay.
- Professional documents are required.
Schengen Visa Fee
The total Schengen visa cost can vary depending upon the embassy you are applying to. Since the fees for the Schengen visas are mentioned as Euros, Koruna, krone, etc, It can also depend on the foreign exchange rates of the respective currency. Apart from the actual visa fees, there may be additional charges as well. You must check the exact amount before starting your application.
Age: 0 - 6 Years
Stay Duration: 3 Months
Processing Time: 15 Days
- Visa Fees
Age: 6 - 12 Years
Stay Duration: 3 Months
Processing Time: 15 Days
- Visa Fees
Age: Above 12 Years
Stay Duration: 3 Months
Processing Time: 15 Days
- Visa Fees
Schengen Visa Processing Time
The Schengen visa processing time can vary slightly depending on the destination country, the number of entries, the validity, stay duration, the volume of applications at the respective embassy, as well as the previous travel history of the traveller. Usually, the Schengen visa time to process is within 15 working days. However, this may take up to 30 or 60 days in certain extreme circumstances.
Schengen Visa Travel Insurance
Regardless of the country, purpose, or the duration of the visa, you will require a Schengen visa travel insurance. The Schengen travel insurance must be valid for the entire duration and throughout the entire region. The insurance must have at least 30000 Euros for medical emergencies. However, note that the travel insurance for Schengen visa must be from an insurance company that is approved by the consular posts of the Schengen. The Schengen visa insurance will cover your expenses in cases of any medical situations such as an injury, accident, or other sudden events.
Here are some of the approved list of Indian travel insurance companies of the consular posts of schengen states:
- Apollo Munich Health Insurance
- Bajaj Allianz General Insurance
- Bharti AXA General Insurance
- ICICI Lombard General Insurance
- TATA AIG General Insurance
- Reliance General Insurance
- SBI General Insurance
- Religare General Insurance
Buy your Schengen Travel Insurance with us. We advise visa applicants only travel medical insurance issued by Indian insurance companies that are accepted for Schengen visa procedure.