The Schengen Zone

One of the best ways to travel through Europe is to take advantage of the Schengen Visa Agreement. Through this agreement, 26 countries in Europe allow travelers—both business travelers and tourists alike—to travel from country to country without needing a visa.

The Schengen Zone comprises 26 different countries in Europe, and the agreement allows those traveling for tourism and business purposes to travel freely between those 26 Schengen countries.

  • The Schengen Agreement allows travelers to only remain in Zone countries for up to 90 days within a six-month period. For travelers, this means if you stay for the full 90 days, you must stay outside of the Schengen Zone for 90 days before returning unless you are traveling on a specific visa type that allows you to do otherwise.

  • Only certain countries require you to have an actual visa to enter the Schengen Zone—see the list here. However, you must have a valid passport issued by your home country to enter all countries in the Zone. The passport must also be good for at least three months after your intended stay is over. For travelers, this means that if you plan on being in the Zone for two months, your passport must be valid for a total of at least five months.

  • If you are not traveling for business or tourism, you may need to apply for and obtain the appropriate visa for your reasons of travel. For instance, if you are traveling for employment, study, or an internship, you may need to apply for a visa. The best way to know if you need a visa is to contact the embassy or consulate of the Schengen Zone country you will be entering.

  • The European Union requires every non-EU traveler to obtain a stamp on their passport no matter what country they are entering. If you do not have the stamp in your passport when you try to leave the Zone, you may be questioned and required to prove how long you have been in Europe.

When Do I Need a Schengen Visa?

In some cases, traveling in the Schengen Zone will not require you to apply for a visa. However, if you aren’t a citizen of any of the countries in the Schengen Zone, or if your travel plans include working or staying for longer than 90 days, you will most certainly need to apply for a Schengen Visa.

Of course, you also need to make sure you have proper documentation everywhere you go. There will be a designated person at every port of entry who can provide you with the stamp you need for your passport or visa, but they are not always readily available—you may have to seek them out. Having proper documentation on your passport is extremely important and will allow you to enjoy a much safer and hassle-free experience.

Steps for Getting a Schengen Visa

  1. Find Schengen visa insurance. In order for your visa application to be processed and approved, you will need to be able to prove that you have insurance that will keep you covered as you travel.

  2. Determine your travel plans. Before you can actually apply for your visa, you will need to determine which country you plan to visit. If you are going to travel to several countries within the Schengen Zone, you will need to decide which country you will arrive to first. Once you know your first destination or your only destination country, you can then begin the application process for your visa.

  3. Complete and submit the Schengen visa application form. You must first determine the closest embassy or consulate for a Schengen country in relation to where you are. Once you determine that, you will be able to fill out a Schengen visa application and submit it to that embassy or consulate. Each Schengen country processes application forms differently, so be sure to check with the embassy to see how to properly submit your application.

  4. Provide the proper documentation for your visa requirements to the embassy. You must have a valid passport that will remain in effect until at least three months after the end of your trip. In order to have your application accepted, you must be able to show proof of financial support for your trip. This could be personal funding or funding that you are receiving from someone else.

    As previously mentioned, you will also have to prove that you have purchased some type of Schengen visa insurance to cover you in the event of illness or injury for the duration of your trip. Individuals who purchase Atlas International insurance are provided with a visa letter specifying covered countries, medical benefits, and the insurance coverage period.

Travel Medical Insurance for Schengen Visa

When most people travel for business or for vacation/holiday, they tend not to consider what could happen to themselves or to their family members while outside their home country. No one likes to think about the possibility of being injured or becoming sick, but the truth is that it can happen anytime, including while you are traveling abroad.

Between trying new foods, exploring new cities, and being surrounded by unfamiliar settings, you really have no idea what to expect when it comes to international travel. The best way to prepare for the unexpected, at least while traveling, is to make sure you purchase a Schengen travel health insurance plan. It is important to understand that most domestic medical insurance policies do not keep you protected as you travel abroad.

HCC Medical Insurance Services (HCCMIS) provides those traveling through and in the Schengen Zone with an insurance plan that is designed to keep them protected and help them avoid high medical costs. An Atlas Travel® plan will provide you with all of the coverage you need as you travel, including policyholders with great benefits and the travel medical insurance you need for the Schengen Zone.

Some key benefits include:

  • Guaranteed issuance
  • No coinsurance outside the U.S.
  • Online enrollment capabilities
  • Coverage for sports
  • Emergency medical and political evacuations
  • Crisis response coverage
  • Personal liability coverage

If you plan to tour Europe with a group, HCCMIS also offers Atlas Group®. As long as you are traveling outside your home country with a group of five or more, Atlas Group can provide you with a 10% discount on the Atlas Travel plan.

Other key benefits of HCCMIS include:

  • Worldwide customer service
  • Tracking for lost luggage
  • Assistance replacing passports, visas, and other travel documents
  • Access to an online account management tool that allows you to download information, change personal information, and pre-certify for certain procedures
  • Travel alerts and warnings
  • Embassy and consulate referrals
  • Translation and interpretation referrals

The 26 Schengen Visa Countries

Before you start planning your trip, it is important to know which countries are included in the Schengen Zone so you know where you can travel without needing a visa, or if you will need a visa to initially enter a country. Travel between European countries in the Schengen Zone is fairly easy. In order to best plan your trip, decide which Schengen countries you are interested in visiting and which ones are close together. This will help you map out your itinerary.

  • Austria
  • Estonia
  • Greece
  • Latvia
  • Netherlands
  • Slovakia
  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Lithuania
  • Norway
  • Liechtenstein
  • Slovenia
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Iceland
  • Luxembourg
  • Poland
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • Switzerland
  • Spain
  • Sweden

>The Northern Countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. While these countries may not be frequently visited, they do provide travelers with unique experiences and plenty of culture to be explored. These countries tend to be a little colder than the rest of Europe, so prepare to pack appropriately.

>Baltic Countries: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These countries are former Soviet Bloc Countries, which are full of adventure and which provide less crowded areas for travel and beautiful cities rarely visited by tourists. While these countries are less frequently visited, that certainly does not mean they have nothing to offer. They simply require a little more research when planning your trip.

>Central Countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and Switzerland. These countries comprise a region in Europe with a lot of history and many cities on frequent travelers’ ‘must-see lists.’ If you travel throughout this region, you can expect large cities and rural areas, both of which allow for incredible cultural experiences.

>Mediterranean Countries: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Malta, and Italy. The countries that border on and are located in the Mediterranean all offer very diverse cultures. Each of these countries, while sharing one large geographical similarity, is extremely different. However, you can be sure to find amazing seafood and beautiful beaches throughout.

>Western Countries: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and France. Slightly more popular amongst travelers, these countries are home to some famous cities, such as Paris and Amsterdam, which means you can expect more tourists. These are also numerous smaller cities that have a very quaint feel to them.

Taking advantage of the Schengen Visa as a means of traveling through Europe is a great way to see multiple countries, explore a variety of cultures, and meet new people. Because of the agreement, travelers are able to get around more freely and travel without the hassles of applying for and obtaining multiple visas.

However, do not leave home without your Schengen Visa travel medical insurance. The best way to prepare for those unexpected situations is to purchase an insurance plan that will keep you covered as you travel abroad.


HCC Medical Insurance Services, LLC (HCCMIS) is a service company that is a subsidiary of HCC Insurance Holdings Inc. HCCMIS is regulated by the State of Indiana in our capacity as Third Party Administrator. HCCMIS has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency Ltd.