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Travel to Europe

Planning a trip to Europe? How to apply for a Schengen Visa

What is the Schengen Visa Scheme?

This is a scheme which allows people wishing to visit certain countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) to travel using only one visa. At present 26 countries within the EEA have signed up to the Schengen Agreement and together they make up the Schengen space. They are:


Austria France Latvia Norway Sweden
Belgium Germany Liechtenstein Poland Switzerland
Czech Republic Greece Lithuania Portugal  
Denmark Hungary Luxembourg Slovakia  
Estonia Iceland Malta Slovenia  
Finland Italy Netherlands*Spain  

You can access detailed information on how to apply for a visa for all of the counties participating in the Schengen agreement  by clicking on the links above. 

*The Embassy for the Netherlands has a Consulate based near Cardiff, where you can submit your visa application in person. However, you will need to make an appointment in advance. The contact details are:

Sam Smith Travel, 55 High Street, Cowbridge, CF71 6TZ

Tel: (+44) 844 387 1378

Fax: (+44) 1446 773 695


Please note that the UK and Ireland have not joined the Schengen Visa Scheme and are not part of the Schengen space.

Who needs to apply for a Schengen Visa?

Nationals of most countries outside the European Economic Area will probably require a visa to enter the Schengen space. However, it is wise to check this with the embassy of the country you wish to visit before making travel arrangements.

Types of Schengen Visa

  • Airport Transit Visa: Allows you to transit through the international transit area of an airport of the Schengen member state, but not to exit this area before flying on to your next destination.
  • Transit Visa: Allows you to pass through the territory of one or more Schengen member states on your way to another country outside the Schengen space.
  • Short Stay or Travel Visa: Allows you to visit the Schengen space for up to 3 months in any 6 month period. This is the visa that most students will need if they wan to travel within the Schengen space as tourists or to attend conferences.

Where to apply for a Schengen Visa

  • If you plan to visit only one country in the Schengen space, you should apply to the embassy or consulate of that country.
  • If you will be visiting several countries in the Schengen space, you should apply to the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to spend most time in as this will be seen as your main destination.
  • If you plan to visit several countries within the Schengen space without having a main destination, then you should apply to the embassy or consulate of the country you will visit first.

How to make your application

Each of the Schengen member states have different application procedures, they may also ask for a variety of documents and have different visa fees. More information is available from the relevant embassy web sites, which you can access by clicking on the country links at the top of this page.

What documents will you need to provide?

As mentioned above, each member state may ask for a variety of documents. However, the following list includes the main documents you are likely to need to provide:

  • A completed application form
  • Passport photographs
  • Original passport or travel document
  • Proof of purpose of visit e.g. invitation letter from your host or hotel reservation
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to complete your trip
  • Evidence of student status (request this through SIMS Online)
  • Medical insurance to cover the duration of your trip

Please note that:

  • Most Schengen states require that you have a number of months remaining on your UK student visa beyond the end of your trip. The length of time required varies, but can be as long as 6 months.
  • Visa fees can usually be paid in cash or by postal order. Cheques or credit cards are not usually accepted.
  • The fee will not be refunded even if your application is unsuccessful.

How long will the application take?

You should plan any trips to the Schengen states well in advance. Most embassies say that applications should take approximately 3 weeks, but for certain nationals and depending on demand it could take up to 8 weeks. Most embassies do not issue Schengen visas on the same day.

Is there any way of speeding up the process?

It may be possible to pay an agent to submit an application to the relevant embassy on your behalf. This usually means that the process will be quicker. Below are some links to some agencies that may be able to assist you but they will charge a fee.

The Schengen Office

Visa HQ

Visa Express

Please note that Cardiff University cannot recommend these agencies. These details are given for information purposes only.

Further Advice

If you need any further information or advice please contact International Student Support