A Schengen visa is an official document necessary for some non-European citizens to visit the Schengen area.
Here are a few guidelines to help you understand who needs a Schengen visa and how to obtain it.
Who needs a Schengen visa?
Most citizens of non-European countries -including Russia, Africa, India and China- need a Schengen visa to visit the area.
However, some countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Japan have signed visa waiver agreements with the European Union. Their citizens do not require a visa to visit Europe if their stay doesn’t exceed 90 days. Starting 2021, they will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver to travel.
Residents of these countries who are not yet citizens need to apply for a Schengen visa to enter the area if they are originally from countries which haven’t signed a visa waiver agreement. Your need for a Schengen visa depends on your nationality not your place of residence.
What is the Schengen area?
The Schengen area is composed of 26 countries which have agreed to abolish their common border controls.
These countries - 22 are part of the EU and 4 are members of the EFTA (the European Free Trade Association)- are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.