Information about Schengen visas


The common 'Schengen' visa is for short stay (tourism, visit or business purpose) within the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.


As of 26 March 1995, foreigners travelling to one of the aforementioned countries may receive a visa for a short stay of 1 to 90 days (maximum), which is valid for all these countries.


There is no legal right to a visa.


The visa application has to be presented to the Schengen mission of main destination (determined by the purpose of the journey and the length of stay). If you wish to visit several countries and therefore cannot ascertain a main destination, please apply with the Schengen country of first entry.


Depending on the purpose of travel, different documents are required. Additional documents or information may be requested at any time.


Furthermore, you must hold a valid Residence Permit for the UK.


Processing time for a visa is usually 2-4 working days in London and 5-10 working days in Edinburgh. For certain nationalities it may take up to 14 days.


Other types of visa (airport-transit, medical treatment, special visa, visa for longer stay and visa for taking up employment) are still subject to the national legislation of the country of destination.

Visa Information System

Since the introduction of the Visa Information System VIS, every applicant aged 12 years and over must apply in person in order to have fingerprints taken. Please book an appointment each in advance.


VIS The Visa Information System

The Visa Information System VIS is an IT system that allows Schengen States to exchange visa data. The main purpose of VIS is to simplify visa issuance processes, facilitate checks at border control and enhance security for everyone involved, including applicants.

The Schengen States’ Visa Information System has been operational since 11 October 2011. Separate rollout phases have been implemented gradually connecting more and more member states’ to VIS. In the UK this will commence on 20 November 2015.

VIS works by linking Schengen member state missions and border control units to VIS central database.

The introduction of VIS has necessitated various changes to Schengen visa application processes.

  • First time applicants must apply in person in order to have biometric data taken, e.g. ten fingerprints and a digital photograph
  • Finger scans stored in VIS can be reused for future applications within the following five year
  • When entering Schengen territory border control will be able to verify each travellers identity by accessing VIS database

Click here for further information on the European Commission Website

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