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If you are currently on a UK visa, you may be interested in travelling around Europe during your vacation periods. For students outside of the EU and EEA, the first thing that you need to check is if you need a visa to travel or not. 

The Schengen visa, which is valid for 90 days within a six-month period, allows you to visit certain countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.  

Most embassies require that you will have a certain period of time (usually between three to six months) remaining on your UK visa and passport after you return from your trip.

If you are applying for a Schengen visa, you should contact the International Advising Team to request a letter confirming your student status. Please confirm the dates and countries you are planning to visit. 

Schengen visa essentials

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Schengen area countries

Twenty-six countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) have signed the Schengen Visa Scheme:

  • 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.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are members of the EU but have not yet joined the Schengen area. 

The UK is not a Schengen territory and the visa cannot be used to enter this country.

How to apply for a Schengen visa

The application process varies from country to country so we cannot list the individual countries requirements. However, details on the application process for individual countries are available from the respective embassy or consular office in the UK.

Every person who wishes to apply for a visa in order to visit a Schengen member country is obliged to apply in person, gather all the mandatory documents and book an appointment.

Some countries have adopted an online visa form, while others require you to print and complete a paper visa application form. Therefore, it is very important that you check the requirements carefully.

Where to apply

If you want to visit only one Schengen country, you need to apply to the embassy or consulate of that country.

If you want to visit more than one Schengen country, you need to apply to the embassy or consulate of the country where you will spend the most time, referred to as the main destination.

If you intend to spend equal amounts of time in several countries, you can apply to the embassy or consulate of the first country you will visit.

When to apply

You cannot apply more than three months before the intended journey. 

Types of Schengen visas

The three types of Schengen visa are:

1. Short stay or travel visa

This visa allows you to visit the Schengen countries for tourism, family or business visits, up to a maximum of 90 days in a six-month period. This is the visa that most students will require. If you apply for ‘multiple entry’, you may leave and return any numbers of times within the six-month period, but the combined stay must not total more than 90 days. You may be required to show evidence of all the travel arrangements and bookings with your application.

2. Airport transit visa

This visa allows you to transit through the international zone of a Schengen airport without entering the Schengen territory.

3. Transit visa
This visa allows you to transit no more than five days through Schengen countries (by car, coach or through different airports) on your way to another non-Schengen country. 
Processing time
Applications should be processed in 15 days. This can be extended to 30 days, and exceptionally to 60 days if the consulate you are applying from needs to carry out a more detailed examination of your circumstances or requires further documentation.
Support evidence

The documentation required varies according to which type of Schengen visa you need and the country you are applying to. You should check the website of the relevant embassy (PDF) but generally you will need to submit the following.

  • A completed application form (available from embassy website of the country you are applying to). Each country produces its own application form although the same questions are asked.

  • Passport – you need to have at least two blank pages in your passport. You also need to have at least three months left on your passport, as well as 90 days left on your UK visa (some Schengen countries require 180 days) on the day you plan to travel back to the UK. Please check with the embassy of the relevant country.

  • Passport-sized photograph(s) – the exact number varies between countries.

  • Proof of student status – contact the International Advising Team.

  • Evidence of purpose of visit – eg official letter of invitation from conference, confirmed return airline ticket, or a confirmed hotel booking or reservation.

  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover visit – eg bank statements, travellers’ cheques or credit cards.

Evidence of travel insurance to cover medical costs for the entire trip. Most countries state a minimum of 30,000 euros.

Passport and border controls

You will most likely be asked to show your passport when you visit different Schengen countries, to verify that you are still within the visa period. In addition to the passport containing the Schengen visa, you should also bring the documents you used to get the visa to make the border control procedure easier and avoid delays at the border.

When you enter the Schengen area, your passport will be stamped to show the starting point of your stay. Your passport should also be stamped upon existing the Schengen area. 

More information

If you require further advice or information on applying for a Schengen visa you can book an appointment with the International Advising Team by contacting us.

More information is also available from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).


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