What is a Schengen Visa?

Whilst studying in the UK, if you are not a European Economic Area (EEA) national and want to travel to Europe, you may be required to apply for a Schengen Visa before you travel. 25 European countries have signed the Schengen Agreement. This visa allows you to travel for a period of no more than 90 days within a 6 month period.

These countries are:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

The Schengen Visa Scheme allows visitors to obtain one visa to visit a designated number of these countries.

Please note that the UK is not a Schengen state so you cannot re-enter the UK on a Schengen Visa. You must make sure you have a valid visa for re-entry into the UK. Please also make sure you have a minimum of two to six months remaining on your visa at the end of your travel time.

What type of Schengen Visa do I need?

There are 3 types of Schengen Visa:

1. The short stay or travel visa allows a visit of up to three months in any six-month period. This is the visa that most students wanting to travel within the Schengen Space as tourists or to attend conferences will require.

2. The airport transit visa allows the traveller to transit through the international transit zone/area of an airport of a Schengen member state, but not to exit this zone/area before they fly on to their next destination.

3. The transit visa enables a traveller to pass through the territory of one or more Schengen countries on their way to another country outside the Schengen Space and can be issued for a maximum of five days.

How do I apply?

Each Embassy/Consulate produces its own application form and charges will vary. You will normally need to attend an appointment in person as part of the process. This will take place at the Embassy/Consulate or at a Visa Application Centre.

  • If you are visiting only one country in the Schengen Space, you should apply to the Embassy/Consulate of that country.
  • If you are visiting several member countries, then you should apply to the Embassy/Consulate of whichever country is your 'main destination' – the country in which you plan to spend the most time.
  • If you are visiting several member countries without having a 'main destination', you should submit an application to the Embassy/Consulate of the country where you will first enter the Schengen Space.
How long will my application take?

The length of processing time can vary from country to country so you will need to check with the relevant Embassy/Consulate for the most up-to-date information.

Application form and supporting documents

Generally, you will require the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Application fee
  • Passport
  • Recent passport photographs
  • Proof of purpose of visit
  • Travel bookings - should be evidenced by actual tickers rather than travel agent booking summary
  • Accommodation arrangements - should be booked for each day of the trip
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to complete your trip, for example, bank statements
  • Evidence of student status – this will be your Student Certification Letter
  • Travel and medical insurance for the entire duration of the trip. There are a number of insurance providers in the UK that you may wish to research, however two companies that we have found to be cost effective are Endsleigh and the Post Office.
  • Evidence that your current student visa will allow you to return to the UK
What about countries outside of the Schengen space?

If you wish to visit a country that is outside of the Schengen Space, you will need to check the visa requirements for that country. Each country has their own visa requirements and these requirements can change so it is important that you check the relevant country's Embassy/Consulate on the UK website for up-to-date information.

Embassies and consulates in the UK
  • You will need to have at least one or two blank pages in your passport.
  • You will usually require to have a specific amount of time left on your passport and UK visa – check with the relevant Embassy/Consulate.
  • If you have to telephone for an appointment, have your passport with you and a pen and paper handy.
  • Application processing times will vary, so make sure you make your application two to three months before you plan to travel.
  • When posting your application, never post cash.
  • If you have to post any documents to the Embassy/Consulate, you should send them by Special Delivery – ask at the Post Office at the time of posting. This is the safest and quickest way.
  • Always buy travel and health insurance whether or not it is a requirement of your visa application.
  • If you are booking accommodation and travel with a travel agent, take your passport with you to ensure that the names entered in the booking are identical – always check spelling.
  • Take copies of your passport and other documents before submitting to the Embassy/Consulate.
  • If a Schengen visa is in a passport that is lost or stolen, there is no process for that visa to be extended abroad - please take care of your belongings when travelling.
Embassies and consulates in the UK

For those who wish to apply for this type of visa, further helpful information can be found on the UKCISA website.

For a list of foreign embassies and consulates in the UK go to the gov.uk website.

Please see our list of Visa Application Centres and Consulates in Edinburgh.