How to Get a Schengen Visa
Posted by September 16, 2016in Travelon
Before visiting the Schengen Area, a region comprised of 26 European nations, many travelers must apply for visas.
The Schengen Area consists of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Each has relaxed its internal border checks, as per the Schengen Agreement, to provide greater freedom of movement.
According to Wikipedia, travelers who don't reside in the Schengen Area, the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland must obtain a visa or be residents of a visa-exempt country to be able to travel more freely throughout this zone.
A full list of countries whose residents must obtain visas is available on the European Commission website.
Understand the requirements
Most nations in North and South America are visa-exempt. According to the U.S. Department of State, if you're a resident of the U.S. with a valid passport and you're traveling for tourism or business, you can visit the Schengen area without a visa and remain for up to three months.
Travelers who wish to work, study, or participate in internships should contact their host countries to find out if they will need a visa.
Determine your destination country or countries
The European Commission says short-stay visas can be issued by any Schengen Area country. These visas enable recipients to travel within the area for up to three months during any six-month period.
You must file an application for a Schengen visa at the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit. If you plan to travel to more than one Schengen country, you must apply with the country where you'll be spending the most time.
If you plan to visit several countries for equal amounts of time, you must apply at the embassy consulate of the country whose border you will cross first when entering the Schengen Area.
Find Schengen visa insurance
Travelers who are subject to visa requirements are required to have travel insurance that covers them for the duration of their stay. According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, insurance "must be valid throughout the territory of the Member States" and must offer a minimum coverage amount of EUR 30,000.
In many cases, the domestic insurance you buy at home won't provide the protection you need while traveling abroad.
An Atlas Travel insurance policy from Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group offers the Schengen visa insurance you need and up to $1 million in medical coverage. Policyholders are provided with letters specifying their covered countries, medical benefits, and duration of coverage.
With Atlas Travel, you have the ability to enroll online. There is guaranteed issuance and the plan will pay 100% of eligible expenses (after the deductible and up to the maximum coverage limit) for claims incurred outside the United States.
The policy offers coverage for medical emergencies, such as emergency medical evacuation, local ambulance, and hospital room and board. It also provides benefits for terrorism, political evacuation, crisis response, accidental death and dismemberment, and personal liability.
If you experience a mishap like a trip interruption or travel delay or your checked luggage is lost by your airline, you will be covered for these eligible expenses, as well.
Individuals interested in an elite package with higher coverage limits can purchase Atlas Premium travel insurance.
Gather the proper documentation
The European Commission says that, when applying for a Schengen Area visa, you'll need to provide several documents. A complete list can usually be found on the website of the embassy or consulate where you apply. The list will likely include:
A passport that will be valid for at least three months beyond the date on which you plan to return home
Paperwork that explains the purpose of your trip and provides evidence that you can support yourself
Proof of travel medical insurance that meets requirements
A recent photo of yourself that conforms to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards
Complete and submit a visa application
As mentioned above, you must apply for your visa at the nearest embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit. Each Schengen nation has its own procedures, however. Be sure to check with your host country to make sure you're following its guidelines.
Applications can be submitted no sooner than three months prior to the start of your planned visit. They should be filed at least 15 calendar days before your planned arrival.
Typically, once a visa application is submitted to the consulate, a decision is made within 15 days.
Pay the application fee
According to the European Commission, a general visa fee of 60 euros must be paid when you submit an application. That's equal to about $67 U.S. dollars. The visa fee for children ages 6 through 11 is 35 euros, or about $39 U.S. dollars.
Residents of non-EU countries with which the EU has concluded visa facilitation agreements pay a fee of 35 euros.