Schengen Visa Types

The Schengen visa lets individuals enter the Schengen countries for various purposes and stay there for a duration of 90 days in a 180-day period. With the permit, the holder is also free to move throughout the Schengen region. However, the embassies issue different Schengen visa types that can suit the visitor accordingly. 

The following sections will explain in detail the different types of Schengen visas that are issued for the visitors.

Uniform Schengen Visas(USV)

The Uniform Schengen visa is the most common type issued. As the name suggests, this category is uniform throughout the entire Schengen region. As a result, the visa allows the holder to visit all of the Schengen countries. However, the total duration of the stay in the Schengen region must not be more than 90 days in a 180-day period.

Further, based on the purpose of the visit, the USV can be classified into the following -

  • 'A' Category

The ‘A’ category Schengen is also known as the Airport Transit visa. This type of Uniform Schengen Visa lets people travel through the international zone of a Schengen country’s airport without the visitor having to enter the Schengen region. This is mandatory for people who are travelling from a non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen country via a Schengen state. Or in other words, the transit visa is required when the traveller will have to board a connecting flight in a Schengen country.

However, not everyone requires an Airport transit visa. Most nationalities are free to pass through the international zone of a Schengen airport without the need for an ‘A’ category visa. Apart from this, certain Schengen countries have their own regulations regarding who will need to possess a transit visa to enter the country.

  • 'C' Category

The ‘C’ category is also known as a Short Term visa. This is issued for visitors who are entering the Schengen states for a short stay as per the validity. The permitted stay duration can, however, be a maximum of only 90 days in a 6 month period. They can be divided into different types based on the purpose of the visit as well as the number of entries. Based on the number of entries, these can be classified into the following -

    • Single Entry Visa

The single-entry visa, as the name suggests, allows the holder to enter the Schengen area only once in the validity period as mentioned in the visa sticker. As a result of this, once the visa holder exits the Schengen region, they will not be able to re-enter, even if they have a lot of days left on the permitted stay duration and validity. 

One thing to make sure is that you must not confuse this with the permit allowing entry into only a single country. The single-entry visa lets the holder visit any of the Schengen states. As in, the permit allows you to move within the Schengen zone as many numbers of times as required. The only limitation is in re-entering the Schengen region from a non-Schengen country.

    • Double Entry Visa

Similar to how the single-entry type works, the double-entry visa lets the holder enter the Schengen area twice within the permitted validity mentioned on the visa. With this, even if the holder has exited the Schengen region once, they can enter back once more with the same visa as long as they do not exceed the allowed stay duration and that the entry is made before the visa expires visa. However, if the visa holder exits the region again, they cannot re-enter.

Just like the single-entry, this allows you to visit as many countries as required, that is within the Schengen region.

    • Multiple Entry Visa

The multiple-entry visas, as the name suggests, allows you to enter and exit the Schengen area multiple times within the validity provided on the Schengen visa. In simpler terms, even if you exit the Schengen region to a non-Schengen country, you can re-enter and exit again as many times as you want, provided that your visa is still valid and that you do not stay for more than a total of 90 days in a half-year. 

Essentially, the multiple-entry permits are provided on fewer occasions than the other two. In order to obtain a multiple-entry, you would have to possess strong reasons to visit the region multiple times, and also, you must be a frequent traveller. 

Normally, the multiple-entry visas can be issued with varying validity depending on the applicant and the application. In cases where there is a strong reason for the applicant to visit the Schengen area multiple times, and if the applicant is a frequent traveller, they may be issued with visas that have a validity of 1 year, 3 years, and even up to 5 years depending on how strong your reasons for travel are. However, in spite of this, the maximum duration the holder can stay in the Schengen region cannot exceed more than 90 days in a 180-day period, a.k.a the 90/180 rule.

Limited Territorial Validity Visas (LTV)

Even though most people applying for a Schengen visa are issued with the USV, in certain circumstances, the embassy will only issue the Limited Territorial Visa. The LTV is a type of the Schengen in which the holder is allowed to visit only the specific Schengen state or states as mentioned in the visa sticker.

Normally, this is issued in cases where there is a humanitarian issue preventing the embassy from issuing a USV. For example, this is issued in cases where the applicant has an emergency to travel to the Schengen state, but they do not possess a valid travel document. Note that this permit strictly prohibits you from entering any of the states other than the ones mentioned specifically.

National Visas

Officially known as the ‘D’ category visa, the National Visa is a permit issued by the Schengen nations that allow the visa holder to stay in the country for a duration that exceeds 90 days. Even though the issuing country is a Schengen, these are not technically a ‘Schengen visa’. In fact, in most cases, they even have different application forms from the Schengen. Although, there is still a silver lining to this - Even with this permit, the visa holder is free to travel to any of the other Schengen nations without any additional visa requirements. However, the permitted stay duration in those countries must be according to the 90/180 rule.

The national visas can be issued as a single entry or even multiple entries, and usually are issued for purposes such as employment, studies, family reunion, medical treatments, etc.

Schengen Visa Types according to the purpose of travel

One can have a wide range of purpose to visit a country. As a result, embassies of the Schengen nations usually issue various types of visas according to the applicant’s motive of the visit. Let us take a look at the various Schengen visa types issued according to the purpose of the travel.

  • Schengen Airport Transit Visa

The Schengen airport transit visa is granted to individuals who have to pass through an airport in a Schengen country for a connecting flight or layover. Since flight layovers require that the person only pass through the international zone of the airport and not technically enter the Schengen area, you will not require a ‘C’ category visa.

Though most nationals are exempt from this, there are a few countries whose citizens will need an airport transit to pass through a Schengen airport. Apart from this, a few Schengen nations have their own list of people requiring a transit visa. For example, Indian nationals generally do not require a Schengen airport transit to transit in countries like Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, etc. However, they would need one if the transit is made in Germany, Czech Republic, etc.

  • Schengen Transit Visa

Significantly similar to the Airport Transit Visa, the Schengen Transit visa is a permit issued for seafarers who have to enter the Schengen region through a seaport. The visa allows them to disembark a vessel at the port and stay in the country until they have obtained the necessary transport for their onward travel. 

The visa can be issued where a seafarer has to join a vessel at a Schengen seaport, to change vessels at a Schengen seaport, or even to sign off from a vessel at the end of the contract, holiday, etc.

  • Schengen Tourist Visa

The most common type of Schengen visa issued is the Schengen tourist visa. This category allows people to enter the Schengen area for the purpose of tourism. These include sightseeing, taking part in adventure sports, enjoying the culture, heritage, food, climate, and so on.

You must also ensure that you meet all the Schengen tourist visa requirements while applying for it. Along with the general documents, you may also have to submit certain supporting Schengen tourist visa documents along with it.

  • Schengen Visit Visa

In a lot of cases, people travel to the Schengen to visit their family members and friends living in a Schengen country. If this is the purpose of your visit, you will have to mention on the application form that ‘visiting friends/family’ is your purpose of visit. In this scenario, you will be issued with the Schengen visit visa. Along with meeting your kin, the permit also allows you to engage in tourism.

Along with the general documents, you will also have to submit certain additional documentation such as an invitation letter as per the Schengen visit visa requirements.

  • Schengen Business Visa

The Schengen business visa is a type of the ‘C’ category is issued for people entering the Schengen zone for the purpose of taking part in business-related activities such as business meetings, conferences, trade fairs, and so on. For this, you would have to mention your purpose of visit as ‘business’ in the Schengen application form. 

As per the Schengen business visa requirements, along with the general documents, you will have to show proof of purpose such as an invitation letter from the Schengen company, entry tickets to trade fairs, etc. Due to the lower volume of applications for this category, the processing times are faster.

  • Schengen Medical Visa

The Schengen medical visa permits people to travel to any of the Schengen countries for the purpose of getting medical treatment from a medical clinic or hospital in a Schengen nation for a duration of 90 days. For this, you would have to mention the purpose as ‘medical reasons’ on the application form. If they stay has to be longer, you can apply for the national visa.

  • Schengen Study Visa

Travelling to the European countries for studies is a common purpose of visit. In this case, you’d have to apply for the Schengen study visa. The permit allows you to take part in academic courses for a maximum duration of 90 days. These can include technical courses, university courses, language courses, etc. If the course exceeds a duration of 90 days, you must instead apply for the national visa.

As per the Schengen study visa requirements, along with the general set of documents, you will have to provide a letter of acceptance and may have may also have to submit proof of language proficiency.

  • Schengen Sports Visa

Officially known as the Cultural/Religious/Sports visa, this permit is for people looking to enter the Schengen area for taking part in cultural, religious, or sporting events. However, this is not valid if you are travelling as an audience. You must be a performer at the event. In this case, you should mention the purpose of the visit as ‘cultural/sports/religious’ in the Schengen application form.

  • Other Schengen Visas

If the reason for your visit is not among the ones listed on the application form, you must tick the ‘other’ option and specifically mention the purpose in a short sentence. While making the application, you must submit documents that would prove your purpose of the visit.