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Do I need a Schengen Visa to travel to Europe?

Now most COVID restrictions have been lifted, most people can't wait to jump on a plane and travel to their favourite destination. But before you do, we suggest you check how long you are allowed to stay and whether apply for a visa or show a negative PCR test result to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Are you travelling to a EU country? As the UK is no longer part of the European Union, travelling rules to the continent have changed. If you are living in the UK and need to visit a EU country, you may need to apply for a Schengen visa depending on whether you are a British citizen, and the purpose and length of your stay. Keep reading to learn if you need to apply for a Schengen visa and how to obtain yours.

How to apply for a Schengen visa?


A Schengen visa is a short-stay permit that allows you to visit countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. The Schengen area includes most countries in the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Every time you visit a country that is part of it, the days you spend there are added and counted towards the 90 day limit.

Some countries like Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania have their own separate 90-day visa-free limits. This means that if you visit these countries, the days you spend there won’t be added towards the 90 days.

Who needs to apply?

Fortunately, as a British citizen you won't need to apply. You are covered by what is known as a Schengen Visa Waiver. This permit exempts you from needing to apply for a visa if the purpose of your stay is one of the following:

  • • Tourism
  • • Business related activities (like attending a meeting). Check what is considered as part of the exemption or visa waiver in the country you intend to visit.
  • • Studying for less than three months
Who needs to apply for a Schengen Visa

If the purpose or length of your stay doesn’t follow within the rules of the automatic Schengen Visa Waiver exemption, you will need to apply for a Schengen Visa. In short, you must apply for a Schengen Visa if you are a British citizen but you intend to stay longer than 90 days in a 180-day period; to work (check what your destination country considers work as different rules may apply); to study for more than 3 months; or to do some business. If you live in the UK but you are not a British citizen, you can check whether you need a visa here.


If you need to apply, you can't apply online. You must make an appointment and complete the Schengen Visa Application Form at the consulate of the country you wish to visit. The form can be obtained in person or downloaded for free from each consulate’s website.

You can only apply for a Schengen visa from your country of origin or a country you legally reside in no earlier than 6 months, and at least 15 days, before you intend to travel. If you are visiting more than one country in the Schengen area, apply to the country you’ll spend most of your stay in.

Please note: if the length of your stay will be the same in all the countries you need to visit, you must apply in the consulate of the first country whose border you are going to cross.


When you attend your appointment, you will be asked to provide:

  • • A valid passport (it can’t expire for at least three months after your planned departure) with two available blank pages
  • • A recent passport photo
  • • Travel insurance covering the entire Schengen area. It must have a minimum coverage of 30.000 €
  • • Documentation that proves you don’t intend to stay longer than you are allowed (hotel reservations, bank statements that show you have sufficient funds, return plane tickets, etc.)

The documentation required may change depending on the country you intend to visit. For more detailed information on what documentation you will be asked to submit, find your country of destination in this list.

What happens if my application is refused?

If your application is refused, you will be notified about the reasons why and be given information on deadlines and how to submit your appeal in case you don’t agree with the decision.


In general, this is what you may expect to pay for your Schengen Visa:

Cost and processing time

Additional fees may apply. You can check this with the consulate you will be making the application from.


As a British citizen, you are entitled to a free Schengen Visa Waiver which allows you to stay for up to 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen area. However, if you intend to stay longer than that (due to work, study, or other reasons not contemplated in the waiver) or you are not a British citizen, you may have to apply for a Schengen visa.

To learn more about foreign travel advice, visit the webpage. You’ll find updated information on Coronavirus, safety, security, and entry requirements for the country you wish to visit.

The Schengen Visa
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