The Schengen Area includes most European countries, and allows for free movement of citizens of these countries within one another. Citizens of countries that are not a part of the European Union, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are also allowed to move freely within the Schengen zone.
However, any traveller from a non-Schengen member country who wishes to travel or make a trip to any of the Schengen member states is required to obtain a Schengen Visa in order to gain entry. Acquiring a Schengen Visa is absolutely mandatory for citizens of non-Schengen countries before travelling to the Schengen Area. The sole exceptions are the United Kingdom as well as countries that will soon come under the Schengen zone such as Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Croatia.
Who Can Apply for Schengen Visa
Citizens of most countries around the world can apply for a Schengen Visa. These include countries from South America, Asia, Africa, The Middle East and Central America. However, citizens of countries that do not require a Schengen Visa (Eg: U.S.A, U.K etc.) to travel to the Schengen area, cannot take up residence within any of the Schengen member states beyond the time stipulated without acquiring the required permission from the relevant authorities. The time stipulated is 90 days for every 6 months in a year, and cannot be exceeded.
There are also citizens of certain countries that require a Schengen airport transit visa in order to catch connecting flights from airports within a Schengen member state. Citizens of the following countries are required to acquire this type of visa before travelling to their final destination:
- Sri Lanka
In order to obtain a Schengen Visa, there are certain requirements that the applicant or traveller is required to fulfill. While most Schengen countries outline similar requirements, the most important and common ones are as follows:
- The applicant will be required to make an appointment and apply for a Schengen Visa at the consulate or embassy of the Schengen country where he or she will be residing the most during his or her stay
- The applicant is required to set up the appointment with the consulate at least 2-3 weeks prior to his or her intended date of departure.
- The applicant will have to be physically present at the consulate in order to hand over the required documents
- The following documents are also mandatorily required to be submitted at the consulate:
- A completed application form bearing the signature of the applicant
- A passport photograph attached to the form, taken as per the required specifications and format
- The applicant’s passport with a minimum of two blank pages along with any copies of visas acquired previously
- A copy of the airline return ticket reservation
- Proof of acquisition of a travel medical insurance policy, which provides coverage of up to a maximum of 30,000 Euros.
- Minors are required to submit their birth certificate, the completed application form bearing the signature of their parents or legal guardians, as well as an authorization letter signed by either party should the minor be travelling unaccompanied.