The renowned Schengen countries consist of 22 EU members and 4 non-EU countries making it the world’s biggest visa-free zone. Apart from visa-free travel, the Schengen visa countries also participate in information exchange between them through the Schengen Information System (SIS) and also engage in full judicial cooperation between the member states.
The Schengen states as of 2019 consists of the EU nations of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden, and the non-EU countries of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.
The Schengen area is known as the world’s largest visa-free zone and includes 26 European countries that have abolished their internal borders and have free movement of people, along with common visa, and fighting crime together by implementing a common judicial system and police cooperation. As a result, the entire region covering the member states is considered as one single state known as the Schengen zone. Currently, the entire area of the Schengen zone is over 4,300,000 sq km and holds a population of over 400 million.
Established in the year 1995 owing to the Schengen agreement signed in 1985 and the Schengen convention in 1990, the Schengen Area was taken up as a part of the EU legal framework in the year 1997. Despite this, only 22 of the EU nations are a part of the Schengen area countries. However, the rest of the EU nations, except for the UK and Ireland are soon to be marked on the Schengen area map in the near future.
Schengen Area Countries
Officially, as of the year 2019, there are 26 Schengen countries. Even though the are entirely comprises of Europe, only 22 of these are a part of the European Union (EU). The other 4 are non-EU countries that are members of EFTA (European Free Trade Association). The list of Schengen countries are as follows -
Signing the Schengen agreement and joining the Schengen and EU in the year 1995, Austria started implementing the Schengen rules in 1997. Located in central Europe, the country has played an important history throughout the history of Europe. Being one of the richest countries in terms of GDP per capita, Austria has an area of around 83000 sq km and has a population of roughly 9 million people. Located within the Alps, the country is landlocked and surrounded by the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Being one of the Schengen visa countries, Austria issues Schengen visas in the name of Austria visa.
One of the smallest countries in Europe at only around 30000 sq km of area, and a population of about 11 million, Belgium is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Being one of the founding members of the Schengen having signed the agreement in 1985, the country abolished its international borders in the year 1995. Surrounded by France, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands, Belgium sees a large number of visitors from all around the world. The capital city of Belgium - Brussels holds the administrative head of the EU (European Union) and is called the capital city of the EU. As a Schengen member, the country issues the Belgium visa.
- Czech Republic
Landlocked by Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Poland, this central European country has an area of about 79000 sq km and a population of almost 11 million. Formed in 1993 as a product of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic joined the Schengen in the year 2003 and subsequently, joined the EU in 2004. Voted among the safest and most peaceful countries, Czechia is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. The capital city of Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe, rivalling the likes of Paris, Rome, etc. The Schengen visa issued by the country is known as the Czech Republic visa.
The Kingdom of Denmark consists of a peninsula and an archipelago of islands. Surrounded by Sweden, Norway, and Germany, the country signed the Schengen agreement in the year 1996. Including its autonomous countries of the Faroe Islands and Greenland (not a part of the Schengen), the Kingdom covers an area of over 2,210,000 sq km and has a population of only around 6 million. Known for its natural beauty, this Scandinavian country has seen more than a whopping 28 million tourists in the year 2017. The country issues the Denmark visa for anyone looking to enter the country.
However, note that even though they have open borders, if you are looking to visit the Faroe Islands or Greenland, you would have to get a Danish visa that is specifically valid for these regions. This is due to the fact that due to the geographical location, to enter these countries, you would have to go through a Schengen country first.
Consisting of mainland and archipelago of over 2000 islands, the Republic of Estonia covers an area of around 45000 sq km, but only has a population of a mere 1.3 million people: making it one of the least populated European countries. Having joined the Schengen agreement in 2003, the country is also a part of the EU, OECD, NATO, etc. Known as one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, Estonia is the first European state to conduct their elections over the internet, and also the first to provide e-residence. The Schengen visa issued by the country is known as the Estonia visa.
Located between Norway, Sweden, and Russia, the Nordic country of Finland has a total area of over 330,000 sq km and a population of only around 5.5 million; making it one of the countries with the lowest population density in Europe. Having joined the Schengen in 1996, the country issues the Schengen Finland visa. With the northern lights and the beautiful climate, Finland is a top preferred tourist destination. It is also ranked among the top countries in the World Happiness Report.
Bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Andorra, and Spain, France covers an area of about 555000 sq km and has a population of approximately 65 million (excluding overseas territories). Known for its fashion industry, architectural beauty, and business opportunities, France is one of the most visited countries in the world with over 89 million visitors in the year 2018. Being one of the 5 founding countries to sign the Schengen agreement in 1985, France started implementing it in 1995.
Despite being a Schengen nation, the overseas territories of France such as Guadeloupe, Martinique, Caledonia, Saint, Wallis and Futuna, etc are not a part of the Schengen zone and have their own visas. As a result, the Schengen France visa cannot provide you entry into these territories.
With an area of 357000 sq km and a population of nearly 82 million, Germany is one of the most populous countries in Europe. It is also the Schengen state that borders the most number of countries by bordering Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, and even the Netherlands. West Germany was one of the founding members of the Schengen, signing the agreement in 1985. In 1990, East Germany also joined the Schengen being a part of the Federal Republic of Germany. The rich culture and history, along with the technological advancements have made Germany among the top destinations in the world with around 38 million visitors annually. The German passport is also among the strongest in the world. The Schengen visa issued by the country is termed as the Schengen Germany visa.
Having influenced a large number of areas in the western world, Greece is known for its ancient culture. Also known as the first democracy in the world, the country accepts over 30 million visitors every year. Greece joined the Schengen agreement in 1992 and implemented it in 2000. Being surrounded by Albania, North Macedonia, Turkey, and Bulgaria, it has an area of around 131,000 sq km and a population of approximately 11 million. Regardless of the fact that Greece is one of the earliest countries to sign the Schengen agreement, the countries that share the border with it are all non-Schengen as of 2019. The Greek government issues the Schengen Greece visa.
Covering over 93000 sq km of land, Hungary is bordered by Slovakia, Ukraine, Austria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Serbia. Being one of the countries that joined the Schengen in 2003, Hungary implemented it in 2007. Thanks to its natural grasslands, lakes, and hot water springs, Hungary attracts over 15 million tourists every year. Being a Schengen nation, the Republic of Hungary issues the Schengen Hungary visa.
One of the 4 non-EU countries which are a part of the Schengen, Iceland signed the Schengen agreement in 1996. However, they had to sign an additional once due to the inclusion of Schengen in the EU framework at the treaty of Amsterdam. Spanning an area of 103000 sq km and a population of around just 36,000, it has one of the lowest population densities in Europe. With its glaciers and the hot lava-spewing volcanoes, the country is in sharp contrast. The mountains, hot springs, and the northern light make the country extremely beautiful and is a must-visit on any traveller’s list. The Iceland visa is the Schengen permit issued by the Nordic country.
Signing the Schengen agreement in 1990, Italy finally implemented it in the year 1997. Situated between France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino, and Vatican City, Italy covers an area of around 301,000 sq km and has a population of about 59 million. Being the heart of the mighty Roman empire, the country has been left behind with a rich culture, arts, and history. The architectural wonders, along with the cultural festivities and the gastronomical aspects make the country among the world’s most visited countries. Italy hosts around 60 million tourists every year. Being a Schengen, this EU country issues the Schengen Italy visa.
Surrounded by Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia, Latvia is a Baltic country covering around 65,000 sq km and inhabiting a population of about 2 million. Having found complete independence in 1991, the country joined the Schengen in the year 2003. Known for its gothic architecture, stunning waterfalls, lakes, Latvia is a good tourist spot. The country issues the Latvia visa.
One of the smallest European countries at a mere 160 sq km in area, Liechtenstein holds a population of around 38000 people. With its mountain top castles, the principality of Liechtenstein attracts quite the number of tourists. It is one of the last members to join the Schengen in the year 2008. This doubly landlocked country is also one of the Schengen countries that are not a part of the EU. Being surrounded by Switzerland and Austria, and due to the lack of airports, entry to this country has to be through either Switzerland or Austria. The county issues the Liechtenstein visa for people looking to enter the nation.
Spanning an area of about 65000 sq km, and inhabiting a population of around 2.9 million, Lithuania joined the EU in the year 2004, and after signing the Schengen agreement in 2003, it started implementing it in 2007. Located between Latvia, Belarus, Poland, and Kaliningrad, the country is also host to one of the oldest languages - Lithuanian. The coastlines lined with sand dunes and washed up amber attract a large number of tourists every year. The nation issues the Schengen in the form of a Lithuania visa.
Covering an area of only about 2500 sq km, and a population of over 600,000, Luxembourg hold quite a reputation in the history of Schengen. Being one of the first 5 countries to become a part of the Schengen, the Schengen agreement itself was signed in the village of Schengen situated in Luxembourg. Bordered by Belgium, Germany, and France, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is one of the richest nations in the world, and also possess one of the most powerful passports.
The position of Luxembourg in Europe is so strong that the capital of Luxembourg city is one of the official capitals of the EU, and the country also holds the seat of the European court of justice. Nicknamed as the ‘most beautiful balcony of the world’, the country is also known for its beauty. People looking to enter the country are issued with a Luxembourg visa.
The island country of Malta is among the smallest countries in the world with an area spanning only slightly over 300 sq km. However, with a high population of over 475,000 people, the population density is considered quite high. The country signed the Schengen agreement in 2003 and has been a part of the European Union since 2004. Being ruled by the Romans, Greek, Arabs, Normans, French, British, and so on, Malta has been left behind with a rich heritage which can be seen from the architecture and culture in the country. The Maltese passport is also one of the most powerful ones in the world. Be it tourism, business, work, or any other purpose, the Maltese government issues the Schengen Malta visa.
With a population of over 17 million and covering a total area of around 41,500 sq km, the Netherlands is a founding member of the Schengen, as well as the EU, NATO, OECD, WTO, and so on. With its tulip fields, windmills, canals, and museums, the Netherlands is quite a popular destination for tourists. In fact, the capital city of Amsterdam alone is among the top-visited cities.
Despite the country signing the Schengen agreement in 1985, its territories such as Aruba, Sint Maarten, Curacao, and the BES Islands are not part of Schengen. In fact, these overseas territories have their own visa regime. The Netherlands issued Schengen Netherlands visa will allow you to visit the mainland of Holland.
Spanning over an area of 385,000 sq km and inhabiting a population of over 5.3 million, Norway aka the land of the midnight sun is quite breathtaking in its beauty. The stunning glaciers and the glorious northern lights make the country stand out. Having joined the Schengen in the year 1996, Norway is one of the 4 Schengen nations that are not a part of the EU (European Union). However, due to the implementation of the Schengen in the EU legal framework, this Viking nation had to sign another Schengen agreement in the year 1999. The country issues the Norway visa.
Svalbard, however, is a part of the Kingdom of Norway which has been given a special status under international law and is neither a part of the Schengen nor a part of the EEA (European Economic Association). Despite having open borders, the position of the territory is such that to enter the area, you would almost always have to pass through a Schengen region. As a result, you would need a multiple-entry Schengen to enter and exit this part of Norway.
Located in central Europe, and sharing land borders with Germany, Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Belarus, the Republic of Poland spans over an area of more than 312,600 sq km and has a population of more than 38 million making it one of the most populated Schengen states. Having joined the Schengen only in 2003, Poland is a popular tourist destination thanks to its history and culture. Despite being caught in the middle of the tragic WWII, Poland has heroically survived and reborn to become a highly developed country. The government issues the Schengen Poland visa for those who are looking to visit the nation.
Located on the extreme west of Europe, Portugal shares its border with Spain. Spread over an area of about 92,000 sq km and having a population of more than 10 million, the country is famous for its explorers, coastline, football, and the historic sites. Having signed the Schengen agreement in 1991, Portugal implemented it in 1995. Since the introduction of the Schengen visa, Portugal issues the Schengen Portugal visa.
Despite being outside the European continent, the Portuguese territories of Azores and Madeira are among the only 3 regions that are outside Europe, yet a part of both the EU and Schengen.
Sharing its borders with Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria, the landlocked country of Slovakia covers a total area of around 49,000 sq km and a population of more than 5.4 million people. Being formed as a result of the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Slovakia joined the Schengen in 2003 and started implementing it in 2007. Apart from its beauty thanks to the vast number of castles, the Slovak Republic is also known as one of the world’s largest car manufacturers. The Schengen Slovakia visa lets people enter the country for a wide range of purposes.
With its stunning castles, ski resorts, and lakes, Slovenia has a unique beauty. For a country spanning only just over 20,00 sq km, this is quite a feat. The country also boasts a population of over 2 million. Having joined the Schengen in the year 2003, Slovenia has seen a rise in its visitors ever since. The nation borders the likes of Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia and issues the Schengen Slovenia visa.
Also known as the Kingdom of Spain, the country covers an area of about 510,000 sq km, making it the second-largest country in the EU. The country also has a population of over 46 million people. The Football fever in the country along with its bullfighting, La Tomatina festival, the Spanish cuisine, and the Ibiza parties are some of the reasons why the country is among the topmost visited places in the world with over 80 million visitors every year. Being surrounded by Portugal, France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay, Spain signed the Schengen agreement in 1991. The country issues the Schengen Spain visa.
The Canary Islands are a part of the Kingdom of Spain and is one of the only 3 countries that are a part of the EU and the Schengen despite not being on the European continent.
As one of the largest European countries with an area of around 449,000 sq km, Sweden inhabits a population of roughly over 10 million. Located between Norway, Denmark, and Finland, Sweden is a Scandinavian country that joined the Schengen in the year 1996. Apart from all its beauty coming from the northern lights, the Ice hotel, the museums, and so on, the country is also famous for its musicians and actors. The Swedish ministry issues the Schengen Sweden visa for travellers.
One of the top richest countries in the world, Switzerland is also among the countries with the highest standard of living. Located between Liechtenstein, France, Germany, and Austria, the Swiss confederate covers a total area of about 41,000 sq km and has a population of over 8.5 million. It is one of the Schengen countries that are neither a part of the EU, EEA or even the Eurozone. Switzerland joined the Schengen agreement in 2004, and after the implementation in 2008, the country has kept open borders with the rest of the Schengen. The county issues the Switzerland visa, which is also a Schengen.
The above-mentioned Schengen visa countries list includes the official members. However, despite the fact that Schengen visa countries covered only less than half of Europe, there are several nations that allow entry with a Schengen as well as countries that will soon be a part of the Schengen.
Visa Information for Schengen Countries
Apart from the EU nationals and citizens of countries with a visa-free agreement with the individual countries, for all other nationals, there are visa requirements for Schengen area called the Schengen visa to enter the region. All the Schengen countries issue this type of an entry permit, and as a result, the visa for the Schengen area can be used throughout the entire area regardless of the country.
Normally, this visa is issued for a stay duration of up to 90 days in a 180-day period and can be issued as single-entry, double-entry, or even multiple-entries. However, staying for a period of longer than 90 days would need you to possess a national visa and not a Schengen visa. Regardless of what the name suggests, the national visa will also allow you to visit other Schengen countries and stay there for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period.
In most cases, the Schengen countries issue a Uniform Schengen Visa which is valid for all Schengen states, Although, in certain special circumstances, they issue something called a Limited Territory Visa (LTV) which is valid for entry only into the state (s) that are specifically mentioned on the sticker.
Even though the application for the Schengen visa for different countries differ, most of the countries follow a similar pattern. In fact, they also have common documentation required as well. Let us have a look at the details on the visa requirements -
Schengen Visa Documents
The primary criteria for applying for a Schengen Visa is the possession of a certain set of documents. Although there are different documents as per the specific country and the purpose of the visit, the following are the list of general documents you would need for almost all the Schengen visas.
- A passport that is valid for a duration of at least 6 months from the expected date of travel.
- 2 passport-sized photographs that meet the regulations.
- A travel medical insurance covering 30000 Euros.
- A covering letter addressed to the respective embassy/visa authority.
- A detailed travel itinerary.
- Round trip flight ticket bookings.
- Proof of accommodation
- Proof of occupation
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover the entire duration of the stay.
Schengen Visa Procedure
The application procedure for all the types of Schengen visa is quite similar. In general, the procedure can be mentioned as follows -
- Obtain all the relevant documents.
- Fill out the application form.
- Book an appointment at a VAC (Visa Application Centre) or a Diplomatic Mission of the destination country in your own country.
- Visit the respective centre for a Schengen visa appointment.
As per the rules of the Schengen visa, all applicants will have to submit their biometrics at the appointment centre. This data will be stored in the Schengen VIS (Visa Information System) which is a common information exchange system between all the Schengen countries.