Schengen visas

You can travel to several countries within the European Economic Area by using a Schengen visa. Find out where you can go and how to apply.

What is a Schengen visa?

A Schengen visa is a visitor visa issued to citizens of countries who are required to obtain a visa before entering Europe.  Purpose of visit must be leisure, tourism or business.  You are able to travel freely throughout the Schengen area for a maximum 90 days in a 6 month period.

At present, 26 countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) have signed up to the Schengen scheme: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands (Holland), Norway, Poland. Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Do I need a Schengen visa?

If you wish to enter a Schengen country, you'll need to check whether you need a visa.

If you’re from one of the following countries or territories, you are NOT required to apply for a Schengen Visa:

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela

What type of Schengen visa is right for me?

There are three types of visa:

  • The airport transit visa allows you to pass through the international transit zone of an airport of a Schengen member state, but you can't exit this zone before you fly to your next destination.
  • The transit visa enables you to pass through the territory of one or more Schengen member states on your way to another country outside of the Schengen area.
  • The short stay or travel visa allows a visit of up to three months in any six-month period. This is the visa that most students wanting to travel within the Schengen area as tourists or conference attendees will require.

You can apply for a multiple entry visa if you wish to travel more than once into the Schengen space during a three-month period. However, you may be required to show evidence of all the travel arrangements and bookings with your application. Please contact the relevant embassy concerning this situation.

How to apply for a Schengen visa

Visa fees, eligibility criteria and documentation required vary according to which type of visa you need and the country you are applying to. You should check the website of the relevant embassy, or contact them to check what needs to be submitted with your application. Find full details of all foreign embassies in the UK.

You will have to fill in an application form, which can be completed online or downloaded from the relevant Embassy website.

Book an appointment to provide your biometrics and submit your application and supporting documents. An appointment is booked by telephone or as part of the online application process.  Some embassies use agencies to operate the online application process eg VFS and TLS

Where to apply for a Schengen visa

If you are only visiting one country in the Schengen area then you MUST apply to the Embassy of that particular country.

If you are visiting more than one country in the Schengen area and you have a main destination (i.e. one country where you will spend most of your time) then you MUST apply to the Embassy of your main destination country.

If you are visiting more than one country in the Schengen area but you do not have a main destination (i.e. you will be spending the same number of days in several countries) then you MUST apply to the Embassy of the first country that you will be visiting.

When to apply for a Schengen visa?

Processing times vary between Embassies’ and certain nationalities. We recommend you apply within 4-6 weeks of your intended travel.

What documents do you need to apply for a Schengen visa?

Each Embassy website will list the specific documents they need to see before issuing you with a Schengen visa. Therefore, it is important that you check the rules for the particular Embassy on their website very carefully.

Certain embassies will require you to have a specific amount of time left on your passport and UK visa when you return to the UK. This will usually be between three and six months. You will need to check individual embassy websites for further details.

The following documents are recommended:

  • A completed application form
  • An original passport/travel document containing your visa; or your original passport AND your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), if you have one
  • 2 x passport size photographs (must be taken within the last 1 month)
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover your trip, this varies between each Embassy and is approximately £40-£60 per day of your visit. Please see here for a list of financial requirements for each country in the Schengen area.
  • Evidence of Student Status: You can apply online for a Student Registration Status Certificate 
  • Proof of purpose of the visit, eg invitation letter from friend or family member/tour booking/hotel booking/conference invitation.
  • Confirmation of all of your flight/rail bookings
  • A written itinerary of your travel plans;
  • Medical insurance to cover your entire trip
  • The visa fee for the application, approximately £50 (please check with the Embassy in advance whether you can pay by credit or debit card or whether you will need to take cash with you);
  • A photocopy of your application form and all of your supporting documents.

Can the Student Visa Advice team help me with my Schengen visa application?

The Student Visa Advice Team has specialist knowledge of the UK immigration system and is able to answer questions about visas for the UK. We don’t have specialist knowledge of the immigration processes for other countries and we can’t send Schengen applications for you. The UKCISA web page also has more information to assist you.

You can also view our Schengen visa presentation for further information.

Travel Advice

You should keep your passport and Biometric Residence Permit safe while you're travelling outside of the UK. These important documents can be inconvenient and expensive to replace.

Travel advice - before you leave the UK

  • Find out the contact details of your national embassy before you travel in case you need to access them in an emergency.

  • Take photocopies of your current passport and visa, leave one copy of each in your accommodation room in Leeds and take one copy of each with you when you travel.

  • Take a photograph of your current passport and visa with your mobile phone and keep the record stored.

  • Send the photograph of your current passport and visa to your email address so you have an electronic record.

  • Tell your friends and family members where you will be travelling to and where you will be staying outside of the UK.

  • Take few valuable possessions with you.

  • Take out comprehensive travel insurance before your vacation.

  • Contact your bank before you leave to let them know of your travel plans to reduce any problem of using your debit/credit card outside the UK.

  • Put your contact details inside your luggage.

  • Read the UK Border Force travel checklist before you leave the UK.

Travel advice - whist you are outside the UK

  • Stay with your friends whilst you are travelling.

  • Never leave your bags unattended.

  • If your current visa is in the form of a BRP card, leave your BRP in a safe at your accommodation.

  • If you need to carry your passport, keep it safe at all times.

  • Be vigilant at all times about your belongings, especially when you arrive at your first destination.

  • We recommend that you read the UKCISA travel advice which gives useful tips and advice to stay safe when travelling.