Read on to discover a list of countries you, dear traveller, can visit on holding a valid Schengen visa issued by any of the Schengen Area member states.
This includes the not-so-obvious Non-Schengen countries that have implemented such agreements in place.
And other related frequently asked questions I often hear in connection with the Schengen visa application.
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Related reading: Show me your passport
What is a Schengen visa?
A Schengen visa obtained from any of the Schengen Area member countries allows travel throughout these 26 countries to its holder without having to get a separate entry permission for each individual country, up to its validity and period limitations.
By definition, the 26 European nations agreed to the abolishment of internal borders for free and unrestricted movement of people, goods, services, and capital.
The idea and practicality of having one visa and being able to travel through most of Europe made my travels throughout the region that much easier and hassle-free. It also meant that once I was in the Schengen area, apart from random checks on buses or trains, there was never the need to take out my passport until it was time to depart the zone.
What country should issue my Schengen visa?
You are visiting only one Schengen country?
Then logically you should apply for your Schengen visa via the embassy of that country.
You are travelling to more than one Schengen country?
You should apply for your Schengen visa at the embassy of the country that you’ll be staying in the longest.
You are spending an equal amount of time in each Schengen state you visit?
Apply at the embassy of the Schengen country you plan on entering first
What are the validity and period limitations of the Schengen visa?
You may travel in the Schengen Area for a period of 90 days within a 180-day period.
I always keep a count of the approximate number of days I’ve spent on the continent and plan accordingly so as not to exceed the 90-day rule. I don’t know what the consequences of exceeding this rule would be and frankly, I do not want to find out firsthand.
What are the different types of Schengen visas?
The “C” category stands for a short-term visa.
This means that once you’ve obtained this type of visa you are able to reside in the Schengen Area for a certain period of time depending on the visa validity. This particular category, according to the purpose of the travel can be obtained in a form of:
- Single-entry visa
So you can enter the Schengen Area only once for the certain period of time stated on the visa. Once you leave the Schengen Area the visa validity expires, even if the time period allowed to stay in the Schengen Area is not over yet.
- Double-entry visa
Same as above except that you are allowed to enter the Schengen Area twice. So for the period of time permitted by your visa you can enter the Schengen Zone, leave and enter again. Once you depart the Schengen area for the second time the visa expires.
- Multiple-entry visa
With this you may enter and exit the Schengen Area a multiple number of times. However, the maximum 90 days within half the year rule applies, starting from the day you cross the border between a Schengen member country and the non-Schengen member country.
What are the Schengen countries in 2018?
There are 26 Schengen countries in 2018:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
What other countries can you visit on a Schengen visa?
I’ve listed the obvious Schengen area countries above. What’s not so apparent are the other non- Schengen countries one can visit having a valid Schengen visa.
I was curious enough to do some research for my travels and this info may come in handy for you too.
A Schengen Visa can be used as a substitute visa to their national visas in the following countries. Such travellers, do not need a national visa issued from these countries to enter, transit and stay in their territory temporarily.
Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City
These three European micro-states are not members of the Schengen Area, but operate an open border, effectively operating as part of the Zone
The Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands
These territories are special members of the European Union and part of the Schengen Area, even though they are located outside of the European continent.
There aren’t many border checks in place and you may enter Andorra through Spain or France for up to 90 days. Visitors need to follow the relevant visa regulations for France or Spain. Upon re-entry into the Schengen zone, your passport should have at least 90 days validity.
Travellers are exempted from having a Cypriot Visa if they possess a valid type C, double or multiple-entry Schengen Visa if they want to enter, transit and stay in the territory of Cyprus. The allowed period of stay for this category of travel is maximum 90 days within any 180-day period.
Travellers with a multiple-entry Schengen visa can enter and stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a maximum stay of 30 days upon every entry per 180-day period. This is not applicable to holders of Kosovan passport
Foreigners holding a valid Schengen Visa can enter, transit and stay in the territory of the Republic of Montenegro without needing to show a Montenegro visa. The allowed period of stay to this category is maximum 30 days but no longer than the expiry of the visa upon every entry per period of 180 days.
Since the 30th of the October 2014 the Republic of Serbia made the decision to allow travellers to enter, transit and stay in its territory without holding a Serbian visa if they have a valid Schengen Visa. The allowed period of stay should not exceed 90 days within a 180-day period.
Travellers in possession of a short-stay Schengen Visa (Type C) can enter, transit and stay in the Republic of Macedonia without a national entry visa. The allowed period of stay in this case is 15 days upon every entry per period of 180 days. The visa must be valid for at least 5 days beyond the period of stay and must be valid for re-entry to any of the Schengen Area member states.
Travellers to the territories of Albania can enter, transit and stay without an Albanian visa if they have a valid, multiple-entry short-say Schengen visa, previously used at least once in one of the Schengen states. The maximum allowed period of stay of this category of foreigners is 90 days in any 180-day period. Visitors of Albanian ethnicity do not require visa to enter Albania for a maximum stay of 90 days within 180 days
Travellers with a valid multi-entry Schengen Visa are exempt from having a separate Kosovo Visa to enter, transit or stay in the Territory of the Republic of Kosovo for up to 15 days within a 6-month period.
Since the 31st of the January 2012 the Republic of Bulgaria made the decision for a visa-free system to enter, transit and stay, for the holders of valid double or multiple entry C type Schengen Visas. The allowed period of stay in this category of foreigners is up to 90 days in any 6-month period.
Travellers with a valid Schengen Visa (type C, double or multiple entry) can enter, transit and have short-stays in Romania, without the need to have a national Romanian Visa. The allowed period of stay must not exceed the period of 90 days within a 6-month period and the visa must be used in the territory of the Schengen area first.
Since the 22nd of the July 2014, the Republic of Croatia agreed to allow all travellers holding valid Schengen Visas (type C, double or multiple entry) to enter, transit and stay in its territory without needing to provide an additional Croatian visa. The allowed period of stay is 90 days within any 6-month period.
Antigua and Barbuda
Holders of a valid Schengen visa can enter, transit and perform short-stays in the territory of Antigua and Barbuda. A a single entry tourist visa will be granted on arrival at the border, for a stay of up to 30 days. A fee of US$100.00 or the equivalent Eastern Caribbean Currency per passenger (including children) will be charged per passenger on arrival for passengers requiring visas to enter Antigua and Barbuda.
Holders of passports issued by the following countries can enter, transit and perform short-stays in the territory of the Republic of Belarus without needing a Belarus Visa, in case they possess a valid Schengen Visa:
China, Gambia, El Salvador Haiti, Honduras, India, Lebanon, Namibia, Samoa and Vietnam only,
Holders of passports issued by the following countries are granted visa-free access for a maximum of 90 days if they hold visas or residence permits issued by a Schengen Area country:
- China. India. Myanmar. Thailand. Vietnam
- Macau (180 days)
Schengen visas holders must ensure their visa is valid for at least 180 days from their arrival date in Colombia.
Travellers are exempted from having a Georgian Visa to enter, transit and stay in Georgia who holds a visa from a Schengen countries. The allowed period of stay for such category is 90 days in any 180-day period.
Nationals of Morocco, China, Mongolia, India or Russia holding a valid multiple-entry Schengen Visa, can enter, transit and stay in the territory of Gibraltar for a period of 21 days without needing an additional Gibraltar Visa.
Sao Tome and Principe
Travellers can enter, transit and stay in the territory of Sao Tome and Principe without the need to have a Sap Tome and Principe Visa, provided they hold a valid Schengen Visa. The allowed period of stay in this category is up to 15 days within a 180-day period.
Turkey provides some concessions to those that normally need visas. This is obtained by a single-entry Turkish e-Visa which has a 1 month validity.
Nationals of Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe holding a valid Schengen Visa are allowed to enter, transit and perform short-stays in Turkey.
Non-visa-free nationals can obtain an electronic travel authorization for 30 days if holding a valid Schengen visa.
7 days for nationals of China; 14 days for nationals of India.
Certain nationalities can obtain an electronic Omani visa if holding a valid Schengen visa.
Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua
90 days; not applicable to all nationalities.
Under certain conditions some visa requiring nationals are visa exempt for tourist visits up to 30 days unless otherwise stated.
With the purpose of facilitating and promoting travel to Mexico, effective May 2016 all those foreign nationals, regardless of their nationality, visiting Mexico for tourism, business or transit are NOT required to obtain a Mexican visa IF they hold a valid (non-expired) Visa or permanent residence of any of this countries: USA, Canada, Japan, UK or Schengen area (European Union)
Citizens of China, Kuwait, and Qatar may visit Moldova without a Moldovan visa if they hold a valid residence permit or a valid visa (excluding transit visas) issued by a Schengen member state for 90 days within any 180-day period.
Related reading: How to apply for a visa to visit Sri Lanka
How much is the Schengen visa fee?
The fee for Schengen visa for an adult is 60 Euro. Once you pay the visa fee, it is not refundable. This fee becomes 35 Euro for a child between 06 – 12 years of age.
Who needs to apply for a Schengen visa?
Citizens of the following countries are required to hold a Schengen visa to be allowed travel within the Schengen Area:
I feel your pain. I belong in this group too :/
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Cote D’ivoire
- Democratic Republic Of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- North Korea
- Papua New Guinea
- Sao Tome And Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
All information provided here is for general informative purposes and is in no way absolute. Please do your own research before applying for your Schengen visa and contact the embassy in your country for the most accurate up-to-date information.