What is Schengen?
Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most of the European countries. It’s the largest free travel area in the world.
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.
However, if you are planning to study, work, or live in one of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days, then you must apply for a national visa of that European country and not a Schengen Visa.
Over 15 million people used their Schengen visa in 2019 to travel around Europe.
Who Needs a Visa to Enter Europe?
All nationals of third countries, which have yet not reached a visa-liberalization agreement with the Schengen member states, need to obtain a visa prior of their arrival in Europe.
To check whether you need a Schengen Visa to travel to one of the Schengen member countries, here is the list of countries, citizens of which must apply for a Schengen Visa prior to their travel to the EU.
Travel Documents and Entry Requirements for non-EU Nationals
You will have to present several documents at the Schengen port of entry, in order to be permitted to enter, if you are a non-EU/Schengen country national, regardless if you are a visa-exempt or not.
The documents you need to provide when entering the Schengen Area are as follows:
- Valid Passport. Issued within the previous 10 years and valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the EU.
- Schengen Visa. If you are a national of one of the third countries in need of a visa.
EU/Schengen border officials may also ask for other information and documents such as sufficient funds, proof of accommodation, how long you intend to stay, round-trip airline ticket, purpose of your entry, travel insurance, invitation letter, etc.
Please, make sure that the border officer gives you an entry stamp in your passport when you enter the Schengen area. Without a stamp, you could be fined or detained.