Getting a Schengen visa is easy; so is travelling to multiple countries with the same visa. However, there are several Schengen visa rules that come with the permit. An individual planning to travel to any of the countries must be clear about it and should follow these throughout the visit.
Apart from the general rules, there are Schengen visa new rules updated after meetings and conventions of the member states. As a result, you must check the latest news on the Schengen before applying.
Schengen Travel Rules
As per the Schengen visa rules and regulations, the primary thing you can do is to travel to any of the Schengen member states as long as you are issued with a Uniform Schengen Visa. This means you can travel via air, land, or water between the member states without the need for an additional permit. Apart from this, some of the key points to keep in mind are mentioned as follows -
- While travelling to the Schengen country, you will have to carry your passport as well as a copy of your documents used to prove your purpose of visit. You will have to show these to the border control officers at the port of entry.
- You must travel to the Schengen area within your validity period.
- You must carry a copy of your passport and visa while you are travelling within the Schengen country. This is to ensure that you have the legitimate documents to show any officials inquiring about your permit to stay.
- Your travelling period must not be longer than 90 days in a 180-day period or as granted by the embassy. This is regardless of your validity.
- If you are travelling between multiple Schengen countries, you will have to carry your passport with the stamped Schengen visa. This is applicable even if you are travelling via road or water.
- While you are in a particular country, you must respect their culture and traditions, as well as abide by the laws.
- If you have been issued with an LTV (Limited Territorial Validity) visa, you can only travel to the Schengen state(s) that is mentioned on your sticker.
Apart from the rules mentioned above, there are certain rules regarding the entry type, duration of stay and so on that will discussed in the sections below -
Schengen Visa Rules for first port of entry
The port of entry is a major parameter in the Schengen visa. It is the country that is your first destination in the region. More often than not, you will have to apply to the country which is your port of entry. As per the Schengen visa rules first port of entry is usually the country that issues your visa. For example, if your port of entry is a place in Germany, you must apply to the German embassy/consulate (unless you are spending more time in another country than Germany).
However, something to note is that if you have been issued with the visa of a specific country, it is essential that the country is your port of entry or at least the state where you will be spending the majority of the travelling period. If you do not abide by this Schengen rules of entry, you will face difficulties in applying for a Schengen visa in the future.
Schengen Visa Rules for Multiple Entry
The number of entries is simply defined as the number of times you can enter a Schengen country from a non-Schengen country. Normally, Schengen visas are issued as single, double, or multiple-entry as per the decision of the consular officer processing your application.
In the case of single-entry, it is straightforward - you can enter the Schengen region once. If you exit the region, you will not be able to re-enter regardless of the validity. Similarly, the entry is twice for the double-entry. However, as per the Schengen visa rules multiple entry visas allow you to exit and enter the region as many times as required, provided that it is according to the 90/180 rule.
To explain this, take the case where you visit Spain from India. You can exit Spain and come back to India (non-Schengen), and then re-enter Spain or any other Schengen country. This can be repeated ‘n’ number of times with a multiple-entry visa.
Schengen Visa Rules for 90 days
There are a lot of confusion regarding the 90/180 rule for Schengen visas. In simple terms, the rule states that any individual travelling to the Schengen region cannot stay for more than a duration of 90 days in every 180-day period. This is regardless of the validity. As a result, even if you have a visa valid for 5 years, you cannot stay in the region for more than 90 days in a half-year. I.e - not more than 180 days in an entire year.
To explain this further, you must know the difference between a stay duration and validity -
- Stay duration - The stay duration is the number of days you are permitted to stay within the Schengen zone. This can be any number of days up to a maximum of 90 days in 180 days.
The date (stamped on the passport at border control) you enter the region is considered as your entry date regardless of the time of entry. And the date where you leave the Schengen zone is considered as your exit date, regardless of the time of exit. The number of days between your entry date and exit date (both included) is the stay duration, and cannot be more than 90 days.
- Validity - Validity is defined as the duration for which your visa is valid or functioning. The validity can be ‘n’ number of days according to the decision of the consular officer. In some cases, you may even get validities of as long as 1 year, 3 years, or even 5 years. You may travel to the region at any time before the validity date.
Eg: - Suppose you have received a visa on 1st Jan 2020 that will expire on 1st Jun 2020. In this case, your validity is 6 months. As a result, you may travel to the Schengen area at any point in time during this period. Let us assume that you enter the Schengen on 2nd January. Now, according to the 90/180 rule, you must leave the area before 30th March (90 days stay) even though your visa is valid till June.
Similarly, let us assume that you enter the region on 1st May. In this case, you will have to leave the country/region before 1st June even though you have stayed only for a month.
Schengen Tourist Visa Rules
The Schengen tourist visa is one of the most sought after permits among the different types, thereby making it one of the most important. However, there are a few rules for Schengen tourist visa that one must follow while visiting.
- Your sole purpose of the visit must be strictly to take part in tourism-related activities such as sightseeing, leisure activities, visiting friends, etc. If you require to do business, participate in cultural events, etc, you must apply for the relevant category.
- You must not take part in any unpaid work. You may be allowed to perform volunteer or charity work.
- You must not try to extend your tourist visa under normal conditions. You may apply to extend it in cases that include Force Majeure, Late entry, Humanitarian reasons, or important personal reasons. Although the chances of getting the visa extended are extremely slim.
Schengen Visa Biometric Rules
A large number of third world nationals entering the Schengen area has made it difficult to monitor the entries and exits with mere passport stamps. As a result, as per the Schengen visa new rules, all the applications after 2015 has to be accompanied by a biometric submission.
Every individual applying for any type of the Schengen visa must submit their biometrics at the embassy/consulate or at a Visa Application Center (VAC) for the respective country. The biometrics involves providing your fingerprints and a digital photo. These will be taken at the respective appointment centre. The biometrics will allow the Schengen members to keep track of the entries, exits, as well as other related information of the visa holders.
Once you have submitted your biometrics, the data will be stored in the Schengen VIS (Visa Information System). This database is accessible to all the members and once stored, the same data can be used again. As a result, once you have provided your biometrics for a Schengen visa, you do not have to submit them again in the next 5 years.
Schengen Visa Exit Rules
Once you have completed your stay, you must exit the region. You should not stay back in the country beyond the permitted stay duration or validity. These can affect your future application and may even get you deported.
- Your exit from the Schengen area must be on or before the validity date or on completion of your permitted stay duration.
- If you are exiting the zone with a multiple entry visa, you will be able to re-enter as long as your visa is still valid and that you do not break the 90/180 rule.
- You must possess the valid entry permit for the country you are exiting to. These include passports, visas, residence permits, etc.
- Upon your exit, the exit date will be stamped in your passport. This will let the officials record your stay, and measure if you have exceeded your stay duration or not.
- If you are only exiting from one Schengen country to go to another, you must carry your passport with you.