The Eurozone has an alliance with all countries plus some extra countries to create a border-free zone, called ‘Schengen’. That means that within the Schengen zone you can travel free with no border checks and you only need to apply for a visa once to visit multiple countries.
A Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe.
It enables you 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
You enter the Schengen zone ones, and after that, you are free to travel on the same visa through all the countries in the alliance.
If you are planning to study, work, or live in one of the Schengen countries then you must apply for a national visa in the country of your choice. Any stay beyond 90 days is also approved by the country you are in at that moment. So a Schengen visa has a validity of 90 days only.
Who Needs a Visa to Enter Europe?
Not everybody needs a visa to enter Europe. But in general, all nationals of so-called third-world countries or countries that have yet not reached a visa-liberalization agreement with the Schengen member states, need to apply for a visa prior to their arrival in Europe.
Everybody travelling to Europe, the Eurozone or a Schengen country will need to provide a valid passport, issued within the previous 10 years and valid for at least 3 months after the day you intend to LEAVE the EU and depending on your nationality a Schengen visa obtained from a Schengen Consulate in your home country.
On top of that, Schengen border officials may also ask for other information and documents such as:
proof of accommodation,
how long you intend to stay,
round-trip airline ticket,
purpose of your entry,
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 even detained.
There are another 19 other countries that are not part of the Schengen Zone (CLICK) that will allow foreign citizens of other non-Schengen countries to enter and stay in their territories on a Schengen visa, but in those countries, you need a valid multiple-entry Schengen Visa. So if you have a valid multiple entry Schengen visa you do not need a national visa to enter, transit or stay in those countries temporarily.
Different types of Schengen Visa
Your stay to one or multiple Schengen countries needs to fit into a category that needs to be specified on your visa, so for every kind of stay there is a different visa application:
Events (Cultural or sports)
Transit between airports or seafarers
Study and research (to be finished within 90 days)
a single entry visa
double entry visa
multiple entry visa
depending on the purpose of your stay the Schengen Consulate will issue you a visa that will fit your stay best.
For frequent travellers, there is a 5 years valid Schengen Visa, but you cannot stay longer in the Schengen zone for 90 days in 180 days period.
How do you apply for a Schengen Visa?
If you need a visa, depending on your nationality and purpose of your stay, you have to document your travel plan:
How many days
Which countries will you visit
Where will you enter the Schengen zone
Where will you exit the Schengen zone
After that, you need to make sure you have all the requirements and documents you need and set up an appointment with the Schengen Consulate in your country.
Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.