Download Article Download Article

The Schengen Agreement, originally created in 1985, abolished internal borders in certain European countries. In other words, it allowed citizens of those countries to move more freely; it also allowed a traveler to get a visa to one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen area. Today, it includes much of Western Europe, minus the United Kingdom and Ireland, and parts of Eastern Europe.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Planning Your Trip

Download Article
  1. 1
    Check the visa requirements before booking your trip. Though you book your trip before you apply for a visa, you should check with that country's consulate before booking. You should make sure you will be able to satisfy all the requirements prior to booking.
  2. 2
    Plan and book your trip before you apply for a visa. You will need to submit information about your trip when you apply. Therefore, go ahead and plan your trip, booking flights and hotels.
  3. 3
    Keep documentation. As you plan your trip, keep documentation of your trip. You will need to submit that documentation as proof of where and why you're traveling to a country in the Schengen area.
  4. 4
    Check the length of your trip. With this visa, you are allowed to be in the Schengen area for up to 3 months, spread out over a 6 month period. Make sure your trip does not exceed this time period.
  5. 5
    Wait to apply. In most countries, you cannot apply earlier than 3 months in advance of your trip. Even if you plan far ahead, you have to wait for the visa application. It's a good idea to buy travel insurance, just in case your visa does not get approved, and you must cancel your trip.
  6. Advertisement
Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Taking Initial Steps

Download Article
  1. 1
    Understand how a Schengen Visa works. You apply for a travel visa as you normally would. However, you do not have to apply for visas for each country, as long as you stay in the Schengen area.
  2. 2
    Find out if you need a Schengen Visa. You only need a Schengen Visa if you are not one of the approved countries. You can use an inquiry tool, such as the one The Netherlands has on their visa website, to see if you need one.
    • For instance, United States citizens do not need a visa to enter this area, as long as they have a blue passport. They can stay up to 3 months. Nonetheless, you should still check the passport requirements for the country you are visiting. For instance, your passport may need to be valid for 6 months out from your date of entry.
    • However, a whole list of countries do not have this benefit, such as Russia, Bahrain, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Turkey, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
  3. 3
    Choose the country where you will apply for your visa. The first method you should use is to choose the country where you will spend the most time. So if you're planning to spend 10 days in Germany and 5 days in France, you'd apply with Germany. If you are staying an equal amount of time in every country, choose the one you're going to first.
  4. 4
    Check whether your whole trip is in the Schengen area. Though you can leave and come back within the 6 month period, you should check to see if your whole trip falls within the boundaries of the Schengen area. If it does not, you may need to apply for a visa in the other countries you're visiting.
  5. Advertisement
Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Applying for the Visa

Download Article
  1. 1
    Download the application. The Schengen Visa application form is the same in every country. However, you should be able to download it from the government website of the country you are applying for the visa in. Therefore, if you plan to apply in France, you can download it from France's government website.[1]
  2. 2
    Fill in the application. You will need basic biographical information, such as your name, your date of birth, your country of birth, and your current nationality. You will also need passport information, such as the type of passport, the passport number, and the date it was issued.
    • Next, you will provide information about your trip, such as how long you will be in each country, the type of visa you're applying for, and the reason you are going.
    • You also must give information about where you're staying, as well as information about how you're supporting yourself while there. Finally, you must identify your spouse and children, as well as identify any family members that you are visiting and are dependent on.
  3. 3
    Gather your documents. You will need documents such as your passport, proof of residency, and a passport photo. You'll also need documents about your trip, such as a copy of your flight schedule and proof that your health insurance will cover you throughout the Schengen area, as well as documents that show why you're visiting. You also need to verify your employment and provide pay stubs from the last 3 months.
    • For a business trip, you'll need to get the company that's hosting you to provide a letter, as well as your own company. Both should state why you're visiting on business, and at least one should say who's paying for your trip and provide the place you're staying.
    • For a fun trip, you need information such as your hotel reservations, which includes the proper contact information for that hotel. You should also provide info if you're going on a tour.
    • If you're visiting people, you may need a special form to verify that. For instance, in The Netherlands, the form is called the Proof of Private Accommodation and/or Sponsorship, which the host needs to have certified by the Dutch City Hall. The country will also need a copy of that person's passport or residence permit.
  4. 4
    Submit the application. Most countries require that you apply at their embassy or consulate in person in your host country. Most of the time, you will need to make an appointment before visiting. You can use either the foreign country's government website or your own country's government website to find the consulate nearest you.
  5. 5
    Give your fingerprints. You will be fingerprinted at the consulate's office if you haven't before for a Schengen Visa. If you have before, the consulate should be able to look it up.[2]
  6. 6
    Pay the fee. The fee will vary both by the country you're from and the country you're applying to. The foreign country's website should have the current fees, or you can call the consulate before you arrive to find out the fee.
  7. Advertisement

Expert Q&A

Ask a Question
200 characters left
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.


  • Allow enough time for getting your visa. It's best to apply as soon as you're able within the 3-month window you have.
  • Ensure you have at least one blank page in your passport for the visa. (Some embassies require two to four blank pages.)

You Might Also Like


About This Article

Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD
Co-authored by:
Doctor of Law, University of Wisconsin-Madison
This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD. Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013. This article has been viewed 261,279 times.
37 votes - 95%
Co-authors: 72
Updated: September 8, 2022
Views: 261,279
Categories: Travel
Article SummaryX

Before applying for a Schengen visa, plan and book your trip, since you’ll need to submit this information when you apply for the visa. Then, download the visa application from the government website of the country you’re applying in. After filling out the application, make an appointment to submit the application in person at the appropriate embassy or consulate. Make sure to bring along the required fee to your appointment, and be prepared to be fingerprinted if this is your first Schengen visa application. For more advice, including detailed instructions on how to fill out your visa application, keep reading.

Did this summary help you?

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 261,279 times.

Reader Success Stories

  • Arshad Mehmood

    Arshad Mehmood

    Jun 10, 2018

    "We are the members of Pakistan national rose society and we are invited in 18th world Rose Convention which will..." more
Share your story

Did this article help you?