What is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen Visa is basically a short-stay 'European Visa'. It is required by many nationalities if they wish to travel in the Schengen Area - an area that consists of 26 countries in the European Union.

Some nationalities  DO NOT REQUIRE a visa to visit the Schengen Area and their citizens will get 90 days on arrival.

Below is a list of nationalities currently exempt from requiring a Schengen Visa:

usa USA

argentina Argentina

austrailia Australia

bermuda Bermuda

brazil Brazil

brunei Brunei

canada Canada

chile Chile

colombia Colombia

costa rica Costa Rica

guatamala Guatemala

Honduras Honduras

japan Japan

macau Macau

malasia Malaysia

mexico Mexico

moldova Moldova

montenegro Montenegro

New Zealand New Zealand

Nicaragua Nicaragua

Panama Panama

Paraguay Paraguay

Puerto Rico Puerto Rico

San Marino San Marino

Serbia Serbia

Singapore Singapore

South Korea South Korea

Taiwan Taiwan

Uruguay Uruguay

Venezuela Venezuela


If you have a different nationality, then you will need to apply for a Schengen Visa in your country of residence.

If you are currently working or studying full-time in the UK, then you may apply from the UK.


Map of the Schengen Area

Map of Schengen Area
Bright Blue: EU and Schengen members state, Dark Blue: Schengen members not not EU member, Red: Non-Schengen member but EU member, Yellow: EU member but future Schengen member

Can I get a Schengen Visa while I'm in the UK?

If you require a Schengen Visa and are currently in the UK, then you must check if you're still able to apply for one.


There are some basic rules:

  1. You must either be a student attending a college or in full time employment
  2. You cannot travel in the Schengen Area during the last 3 months of your UK Visa. You will need to reserve 2-4 weeks for the processing of your visa and then the time spent traveling in the Schengen Area. You must return to the UK before the last 3 months of your UK Visa.
  3. If you have a 6 month/180 days 'C' type UK Visa or Electron Visa Waiver (EVW) - then you can only apply with the Dutch Embassy and Holland must be your main country of visit.

Not sure?  Click Here to find out!

How to get a Schengen Visa in the UK?

  1. Ensure that you require a Schengen Visa to travel in Europe and if so, you are able to get one.
    • Schengen Visas are only issued in the UK if you are a full-time student or in full-time work here.
    • If you are on holiday and do not work or study in the UK then you must apply for a Schengen Visa in your country of normal residence.
  2. Make an itinerary and detail all your planned activities during your time in Europe.
    • This would involve investigating hotels and flights and explaining what you will be doing each day, i.e. “sunbathing on the beach” or “sight-seeing and shopping”. Plan this for at least 3 weeks in advance to allow time to get the visa.
    • Calculate which European country you will be spending the longest duration inside. Use that country’s embassy/consulate/visa centre in the next step.
  3. Find out when the next available appointment is to submit your application and make an appointment.
    • Click Here to see all embassy/visa centers that process Schengen Visas in the UK.
    • You will be required to register on their site before seeing appointment availability.
    • Ensure that the appointment is early enough to give enough time for your visa to be processed before going on holiday (normally 1-3 weeks) – you may need to redo your itinerary.
    • Download an application form and take note of the required documents needed by the specific visa center / embassy / consulate.
  4. Gather the required documents to support your application. Every embassy/consulate varies slightly, so do check them. But generally they are:
    • A Valid Passport with your signature that has more than 6 months left before expiring.
    • Your UK Visa document, this can either be found in your passport or separately on a plastic card.
      • Some nationalities have an electronic visa, a printed copy of it should be used.
    • A UK Bank account with sufficient funds, ideally the last 3 months printed statements.
      • Calculate the number of days you will spend in Europe, multiply it by €40 and ensure you have this amount in your account of the equivalent in pounds (£).
      • If it is completely impossible to open an account, sometimes copies of travellers checks can be used instead, however they are not always accepted as proof of sufficient funds.
    • Your travel and accommodation details in the Schengen Area or letters of invitation stating that you will be a guest.
      • First time visa applicants are expected to show proof of payment (i.e. receipts) for all travel and accommodation during their time in Europe. This does not apply to people being invited as a guest or those who have held a previous Schengen Visa.
      • If you are travelling on a tour, then a letter from the tour company detailing the accommodation, transport and itinerary.
    • A Letter from your place of study or your place of work
      • Templates for these letters are here
      • It is very important that the letter is:
        • Addressed and directed to the relevant Embassy/Consulate
        • Stamped and signed by the person writing it (no ‘pp’ ‘c/o’)
        • Contains all the information found in our templates.
    • TWO Passport photos (35 mm x 45 mm)
      • These must meet the criteria for a Schengen Visa – it is advised to have them taken professionally.
      • Have photos already? Check them HERE
    • Travel Insurance policy and proof of payment.
      • Ensure that your travel Insurance is valid for your time in the Schengen Area. It should cover ‘Emergency Health’ of at least €150,000 and the policy must be in English.
    • A Completed Application form
      • This can be filled by hand, in black pen as neat as possible.
      • Click HERE for an example Application Form
    • A self-addressed registered mail envelope.
      • This is for your passport to be returned to you after you have submitted it.
      • Keep a copy of the tracking number, its found on the front or on the receipt
      • Some embassy's provide this envelope and others may charge you more money if you forget to bring one.
    • An Itinerary describing what you will be doing each day
      • Write it in letter format, addressed to Consulate or Embassy and with your details and passport number referenced. Recommend to contact you if they need more information. Sign it.
  5. Prepare your application and go to your appointment
    • Present your application neatly, with clear labeling and/or highlighting of relevant information.
    • If you are worried about any ambiguity in your itinerary or application form, write a short cover letter explaining clearly the reasons and include it in your application.
    • Make sure you do not arrive late to your appointment and bring the visa payment in cash (approx £85)
  6. Wait 1 - 3 Weeks for your passport and Visa to return. Travel!

Visa Application Centers in London

Frequently asked questions about visas:

How much time will it take to get my Schengen Visa?

This can be between 2 – 6 weeks - depending on your nationality and the visa center you use.

How much does a Schengen Visa cost?

Schengen visas cost approximately £70-£80. You will need to pay this in cash during your appointment at the consulate/embassy/visa centre.

Can I get a long Schengen visa so I can travel a lot?

This depends on many things and normally you will only be given the minimum amount of days you require as stated in your application. It also depends on the type of UK Visa you have, your financial position, the embassy, good travel insurance and of course, a clear and easy to understand application with good supporting documents is essential.

What things will I need for my application?

This depends on your circumstances, typically you will need:

  1. A complete Application form with no mistakes
  2. A UK Bank statement or Travellers Cheques showing an adequate balance to cover your expenses during your time abroad (we recommend €40/day)
  3. A Letter from your School/Employer/Accountant confirming your right to be in the UK, along with information they have about you (Eg: Your UK address, confirmation of enrollment, work position, etc)
  4. Travel Insurance that will cover you in the Schengen area (We recommend World Nomads)
  5. Passport Photos (35mm x 45mm white background professionally developed)
  6. Original receipts of all Travel and Accommodation while you are abroad (Eg: Flights and Hotels)
  7. A Detailed Itinerary of what you will be doing during your time in the Schengen Area

Every country has slightly different requirements so we recommend that you check their corresponding websites for more information.

I am under 18 – can I apply by myself?

You can get a Schengen Visa, but you will also need the following in your application:

  1. An original signed letter in English from both your parents stating that you are allowed to apply for this visa and travel (not scanned and emailed)
  2. An original of your Birth-Certificate (not scanned and emailed)
  3. A copy of both your parents Passports and ID's (this can be scanned and emailed)

You may be required to travel with a guardian who is over 18 on tours or flights and staying at hotels.

Original documents that are not in English may need to be officially translated and notorised by your own Embassy as to prove them being genuine.

What happens if my visa is declined?

n the unfortunate event of your visa being declined, you will not receive a refund for your Schengen Visa (£70). If you have purchased other things like flights, hotels and tour packages, then this will depend on their cancellation policies. If you travel with Indigo Travel and applying for a Schengen Visa - we may be able to give you almost a full refund if your visa is declined. Please contact us for more information.

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