Schengen visa

A Schengen Visa is permission issued by the appropriate authorities to an individual for travelling to and within the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is comprised of 26 countries which have agreed to allow free movement of citizens in this area as a single country.

Many non-EU nationals need to apply for a Schengen visa before they can travel to Europe. However there are some nationals depending on the individual arrangement between their home country and the country they wish to travel to who can travel WITHOUT applying for a Schengen visa.


  1. Do I need to apply?

    Many non-EU nationals need to apply for a Schengen visa before they can travel to Europe. However there are some nationals that, depending on the individual arrangement between their home country and the country they wish to travel to, who can travel without applying for a Schengen visa.

    The first step is to check on the official website of the country you wish to visit to see if you need to apply.

  2. Which type of visa do I need?

    There are three types of Schengen visa:

    The short stay or travel visa allows visits of up to 90 days in any six-month period. This is the type that most students visiting the Schengen space as tourists or attending conferences will require.

    The transit visa enables passage through a Schengen country on the way to a country outside the Schengen space and can be issued for a maximum of 5 days.

    The airport transit visa allows entry to an airport of a Schengen member state, but not to exit the airport; just to connect to another flight.

  3. Do I need Single or Multiple entry?

    Single entry does not necessarily mean entering just one country – it is still a single entry if you travel around all 26 countries in the Schengen space one after the other. However, if you visit France, return to the UK, and then visit France again, this requires multiple entries. This is because when you return to the UK you are exiting the Schengen area.

    Single entry is issued as standard unless you select multiple entries and show the required documentation for both visits.

  4. Can I travel?

    Your passport must be valid for at least 90 days after your expected date of return.

    The passport must have 2 blank adjacent pages.

    Passports must be less than 10 years old.

    You must have permission to return to the UK. For example, children born in the UK who do not have a UK visa will need one to re-enter the UK if they leave.

    Your UK Visa must have at least 90 days remaining (after the end of your trip).

  5. Where do I apply?

    If visiting only one country in the Schengen space, you should apply to that country's embassy.

    If visiting several countries, you should apply to the embassy of your 'main destination' which will be the country in which you will spend the most days.

    If your time will be evenly spread and there is no main destination, you should submit your application to the embassy of the Schengen country that you will enter first.

  6. When should I apply?

    The visa is valid for use from the date of issue and will only be valid for a maximum of 90 days.

    Aim to apply with sufficient time for processing (see the applicable website for estimated processing times – usually between 5 days and 5 weeks) but not too early otherwise the visa may expire before your trip.

    Certain nationalities may expect longer processing times – ensure you've checked the visa website.

  7. Common reasons for Schengen visa refusals

    • Omitting evidence of intention to return to the UK or home after the trip
    • Insufficient evidence of the purpose of the trip and where you plan to stay
    • Insufficient evidence of how you will cover the cost of the trip, or lack of explanation about unusual deposits of money or irregular transactions
    • Forgetting to check your Student Route visa expiry date
    • Inadequate insurance
  8. Additional points to consider

    • Read the information on the visa application website carefully
    • Don’t assume that documents used for one country will be acceptable for another
    • Some countries require additional documentation – check carefully

Documents that may need to be included (original and photocopies):

  1. Passport

    • Must have two blank pages
    • Where applicable, it must be signed
    • Must be valid for at least 90 days beyond the return date of the trip to the Schengen Area.
    • The passport must have been issued (not extended) during the past 10 years.  If your passport was issued longer than 10 years ago (as of the return date of your proposed trip), you will need to obtain a new passport
  2. Photographs

    • Each country has a document called Photo Specifications explaining the exact requirements – Make sure you adhere to this as requirements vary
    • Usually 1 photo is required attached to the form, but up to 2 additional copies may also be required
    • White or cream (sometimes grey) background
    • Taken in the last 6 months (some say 3 months)
  3. UK Visa (BRP card)

    Must be valid for at least 90 days beyond the return date of the trip to the Schengen area

  4. Itinerary

    A list of where you are staying and on which dates. Must cover the entire visit (or visits if multiple)

  5. Accommodation

    Every night in the Schengen region should be accounted for by either:

    • Confirmed hotel booking in the applicant’s name.
    • If staying with a friend/relative a signed invitation letter is required giving their contact details (name, address, phone number/email) and should confirm the address and exact dates of your intended stay.
    • If taking overnight transportation, provide seat reservations, in the applicant’s name, showing departure and arrival times and locations
  6. Transport bookings

    • Must be in the applicant’s name
    • Must match the itinerary
    • Must cover the entire visit (or visits if multiple) including entry into the Schengen area, travel between countries within the Schengen area, and return to the UK
  7. Travel insurance

    • Check the requirements as this may vary between countries and depending upon proposed activities
    • Usually travel insurance must be from a UK provider
    • Valid for ALL Schengen states
    • For the full duration of the trip
    • With a minimum of 30,000 Euros medical cover (more if partaking in winter sports)
  8. Bank statements

    • Check the requirements of the country you are applying to as these do vary between countries
    • Must show sufficient funds for the proposed trip(s)
    • Some countries specify around £50 per day in addition to accommodation and transport.  (For Spain the minimum balance is £500 plus an extra £55 a day per person if the trip exceeds 8 day, starting from the 9th day)
    • 3 months of bank statements (6-12 for Slovenia)
    • Some states need a closing balance within 7 days
    • Travellers cheques are accepted but cash is not
    • You may need additional evidence (a letter) if you are sponsored or rely on funds from your parents
  9. DMU student status letter

    You will need a DMU student status letter which you can request from Student Gateway

    • Dated within 1 month of applying (sometimes 10 days)
    • Confirming course title and duration
    • Term dates and/or attendance record may also be required (not included in the standard enrolment letter available from Gateway House)



More information about this is available through the following UKCISA webpage.