What is Schengen Visa and Different Types of Schengen Visa Available in 2024

If you are planning to visit Schengen Area soon, then you need to know more about the different types of Schengen Visa available.

A Schengen Visa allows you entry to 27 countries that are under the Schengen Region agreement on a single visa. Earlier, there were 26 countries but this year, Croatia also joined the Schengen Region.

Many people are confused about the Schengen Visa type that they should apply for and all the rules around this powerful visa.

If you are also planning to get a Schengen Visa soon, then this article can help you. From explaining what is a Schengen Visa to Schengen Visa Validity, Types, and more is covered here.

Read on to know more about the different types of Schengen Visa and which one you should apply for.

What is Schengen Visa?

Schengen Visa is a common Visa for 27 countries in the Schengen Zone that are a part of the European continent.

Earlier, an agreement was signed between 5 countries to make traveling between countries easier which later expanded and includes 27 countries presently.

The benefit of a Uniform Schengen Visa is that you can travel to all these 27 countries on a single visit.

Schengen Zone is the largest free-visa zone in the world that allows both locals and guests to take advantage of the no-border system.

However, Indian passport holders need to obtain a valid Schengen Visa to access this zone and travel to multiple countries on a visit.

Schengen Visa is not the easiest visa to get in the world and a lot of factors contribute to your approval chances. But it is important to remember that sometimes, you could provide everything and still get your visa rejected.

But if you have provided all the documents, you can appeal the decision and possibly get a visa.

This is why I cannot stress enough that always make sure you provide the embassy with detailed and thorough documents.

List of Schengen Countries

The list of Schengen countries that one can visit with a valid Schengen visa:

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Croatia
  4. Czech Republic
  5. Denmark
  6. Estonia
  7. Finland
  8. France
  9. Germany
  10. Greece
  11. Hungary
  12. Iceland
  13. Italy
  14. Latvia
  15. Liechtenstein
  16. Lithuania
  17. Luxembourg
  18. Malta
  19. Netherlands
  20. Norway
  21. Poland
  22. Portugal
  23. Slovakia
  24. Slovenia
  25. Spain
  26. Sweden
  27. Switzerland

With a Uniform Schengen Visa, you can visit all the countries and do not need to apply for separate visas.

Types of Schengen Visa

One important thing to note when applying for a Schengen Visa is that there are different types of visa options available. These visa options are segregated on the basis of the number of entries allowed, type of entry, travel itinerary, and more.

Depending upon the number of countries you wish to visit on a trip, you can get two types of Schengen visas.

Uniform Schengen Visas

This type of Schengen Visa allows you to transit or visit Schengen Area Member countries for a short period of time. The stay cannot exceed 90 days in a 180-day period, starting from the date of first entry.

With this type of visa, you can visit multiple countries in the Schengen Area without needing separate visas for each country you visit.

To date, I have applied for two Schengen Visas and have always received a Uniform Schengen Visa.

Note: To ensure that you receive a Uniform Schengen Visa, make sure you mention all the countries that you are likely to visit on your trip.

Limited Territorial Validity Visas

A Limited Territorial Validity Visa allows you to visit only the Schengen state that has issued the visa.

In a few cases, you can visit a few Schengen states that you mentioned upon submitting your visa application. However, you cannot enter or exit from any Schengen country that is not mentioned on your visa.

This kind of visa is generally not issued to tourists and is provided mainly for humanitarian reasons. Furthermore, you can choose how to apply for different types of Schengen visas based on the purpose of your visit.

Transit Visa (Category A Schengen Visa)

For those who are traveling from a non-Schengen country to a non-Schengen country with a layover in Schengen Area, a transit visa is compulsory.

The transit visa allows you to transit through the airport but doesn’t allow you to depart the airport and enter the Schengen Country.

Schengen Visa Type C (Short-Term)

A Schengen Visa Type C allows visitors to stay for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

This type of visa is applicable for tourism, visiting friends and family members, business, short-term students, and so on. If you need to stay longer than 90 days, then you need to apply for D-Category Schengen Visa.

Schengen Visa Type D (Long-Term)

The Schengen Visa Type D allows you to stay for longer than 90 days.

This type of visa is generally used by those who wish to live, study, or work in the Schengen Area. For this visa, you need a lot more supporting documents and the processing time can be slightly longer than a short-term C-category tourist visa.

Finally, based on the number of times you are planning to enter the Schengen Area, there are three types of Schengen visas.

Single-Entry Visa

A Single-Entry Schengen Tourist Visa will allow you to enter the Schengen Area only once, within the Schengen Visa validity period.

The validity is mentioned on the sticker visa that is stamped on your passport. Once you exit the Schengen territory, you cannot re-enter even if you have a few days remaining on your visa.

This type of visa is only related to the number of times you can enter a Schengen region. It doesn’t mean that you can visit only 1 Schengen country using it. The area that you can visit is mentioned in the ‘Valid For’ section of the sticker visa.

Double-Entry Visa

Similar to the Single-Entry Visa, a Double-Entry Visa allows you to enter the Schengen Region and visit as many countries as allowed on your visa.

You can stay as per your visa validity and duration but it shouldn’t exceed 90 days in a 180-day period.

The only difference is that you can enter the Schengen Area twice with this visa. Once you exit the area the second time, you cannot re-enter regardless of the number of days left on your visa.

Multiple-Entry Visa

Personally, I always choose the Multiple-Entry Visa as the cost is the same as the other visa and you have more flexibility in traveling the Schengen Region.

With a Multiple-Entry Visa, you can visit the Schengen Area multiple times within the Visa Validity period.

The main thing to remember is to not violate the Duration of the Stay allowed to you as per the Visa and not break the 90/180 Stay Rule.

Types of Multiple-Entry Visas

Depending on how frequently you visit the Schengen Area, there are different types of Multiple-Entry Visas offered.

Limited Duration Visa

The first time you apply for Schengen Tourist Visa and choose a multiple-entry option, chances are that you will be provided with a visa for your travel dates.

This means that if you are traveling for 15 days or 30 days, then the allowed Duration of the Stay mentioned on your Visa would be for the same number of days, approximately.

Also, the Visa Validity would be as per your travel dates.

Example: In 2022, I applied for a Schengen Visa for 30 April to 10 June via Switzerland. I was allowed a Visa Duration of 50 days and the Validity was from 20 April to 15 June.

Within this Validity period, I could enter the Schengen Area multiple times and stay for not longer than 50 days in total.

6-Month Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa

Generally, a 6-Month Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa is only provided if you have been to Schengen Region once and followed the Visa rules during your stay.

However, you can be lucky enough to get it on the first try as well.

As per this visa, you can stay a total of 90 days within a 180-day period. This 180-day period starts as per the Validity Date mentioned on your Sticker Visa.

You can enter and exit Schengen Region multiple times during these 6 months as long as you don’t exceed the Duration of Stay mentioned on your visa.

1-Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa

For visitors who have traveled to Schengen Area thrice within a 2-year span, it is possible to get a 1-year Multiple-Entry visa.

However, this is at the discretion of the Embassy. All you can do is show proof of your previous visas and visits.

With this 1-Year Multiple-Entry Visa, you can visit Schengen Region as many times as you want as long as you don’t break the 90/180 Schengen Visa Stay Rule.

3-Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa

If you have used a 1-Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa in the previous 2 years, you can apply for a 3-Year Multiple-Entry Visa.

Again, it is at the discretion of the Embassy and you have to follow the 90/180 Stay Rule.

5-Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa

Finally, if you have been previously granted a 2-Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa in the past 3 years, then you can apply for a 5-Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa.

The Visa Validity is at the discretion of the Embassy and you have to follow the 90/180 Schengen Rule.

Note: There is no guarantee that you will get a longer-duration visa but the more you visit Schengen Area, the higher your chances of getting a 1-year or a 5-year Schengen Visa.

Difference between Schengen Visa Validity and Duration of Stay

Now, a lot of people get confused between Visa Validity and Visa Duration (I made a similar mistake in 2022). This is why I am writing separately about this so that you don’t make the same mistake as me. 🙂

Duration of Stay

Duration of Stay on your visa is the maximum number of days you are permitted to stay in the Schengen Area.

The day you enter the region is counted as Day 1, regardless of you reaching at 11.55 PM. The Last Day is counted as the day you leave Schengen Region.

This duration can be anywhere between 2 weeks to 90 days, as per the discretion of the Visa Officer.

The main thing to remember is that you can never exceed the duration of stay allowed as per your visa else you can face a fine and ban from the Schengen Region.

Example: I have applied for Schengen Tourist Visa twice to date. The first time, the Duration of Stay allowed to me was 50 days whereas the second time, I was allowed to stay for 90 days.

Visa Validity

Visa Validity refers to the time period during which you can enter and exit the Schengen Region.

Example: If your Visa Validity is from 10 April to 10 June, then you can enter Schengen Area anytime during this 2-month period. However, the duration of stay allowed is different.

So, if you have a Duration of Stay on your Visa of 15 days, then you can stay for 15 days anytime between 10 April and 10 June.

You cannot enter Schengen Countries before 10 April though. Also, you have to leave on or before 10 June, even if your 15 days haven’t been used up.

90/180 Schengen Visa Rule

One of the most common confusion points for most Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa holders is the 90/180 Schengen Rule.

According to this rule, you can stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days within a 180-day period. So, when does the count of 180 days start?

Well, it starts the day you enter the Schengen Area for the first time. It is not the valid start date of your visa, but the day you enter.

Example: Your Schengen Visa validity is from 10 April to 10 October. You can stay a maximum of 90 days. So, the 180-day countdown doesn’t begin from 10 April. It will start from the day you enter.

If you reach Schengen Area on 10 May, then the 180-day period starts from 10 May. Now, you can stay a total of 90 days between 10 May and 10 November.

After 10th November, you can visit Schengen Area again with a valid visa.

Do Indians Need a Schengen Visa?

Yes, Indians need to apply for Schengen Visa for work, transit, travel, and other things. For this, you need a valid passport with two blank pages that won’t expire for 6 months from the date of your intended travel.

Indians can get a Schengen Visa for up to 90 days of stay, valid for 6 months.

They can also apply for 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa if they travel to Schengen Area frequently.

Which Country Embassy Should You Apply To?

If you are planning to cover multiple Schengen countries on your trip, you need to apply for the visa through one country only. There are two ways to decide which Schengen Country embassy you will need to apply through for the visa.

Main Destination

If you are planning to spend more time in a certain Schengen country, then that would act as your main destination and you will be applying for Schengen Visa via this country’s embassy.

Example: You plan to visit Italy for 5 days, Switzerland for 7 days, and Germany for 3 days. In this case, since you would be spending the majority of your time in Switzerland, that will be your main destination.

So, you should apply for Schengen Visa via Switzerland.

First Port of Entry

For visitors that are planning to spend an equal number of days in the Schengen Countries on their trip, the first port of entry matters.

You will be applying for the Schengen Visa from the country that you will reach first to enter the Schengen Area.

Example: You are planning a visit to Italy, Switzerland, and Germany and will be spending 5 days in each country. Your flight will land in Germany so, the first port of entry will be Germany for you.

In this case, you will apply for a Schengen Visa via Germany.

I hope this article helped you understand the different types of Schengen Visa available and which might be the right fit for you. If you have any questions about Schengen Tourist Visa, then let me know in the comments below!

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