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Travelling to Europe

Schengen visa

If you are from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) national and want to travel to Europe, you may be required to apply for a Schengen visa before you travel, unless you are a visa-free national. Nationals of the following countries are normally considered to be visa-free.


Costa Rica


South Korea





Antigua and Barbuda

Holy See

New Zealand

United States of America






Hong Kong s.a.r**



Bahamas, The





Saint Kitts and Nevis

Bosnia and Herzegovina*

Macau s.a.r***



Macedonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of*

San Marino

Brunei Darussalam










*if you have a biometric passport only

**if you have a ‘Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’ passport only

***if you have a ‘Região Administrativa Especial de Macau’ passport only

****your passport must include an identity card number

British nationals overseas can also visit the Schengen area for up to 90 days without first applying for a visa


The Schengen Visa Scheme allows visitors to obtain one visa to visit a number of designated countries within the European Economic Area (EEA).

Please note that the UK is not a Schengen state so you can not re-enter the UK on a Schengen visa, you must make sure you have a valid visa for re-entry into the UK.

You will be required to prove that you have adequate travel and medical insurance to cover you whilst you are in the Schengen area. Most visa application centres have travel insurance that you can buy via their website.

There are currently 26 countries which have signed the Schengen agreement and which make up the Schengen space. These countries are:

  • Austria Europe
  • 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, Switzerland

How do I apply?

Each embassy or consulate produces its own application form and charges vary. Applications are normally submitted via a visa application centre in person, for which you usually require an appointment. Most visa application centres operate a premium rate telephone information service if you cannot find the information you require on their website.

In order to check if you need a visa and/or to apply for a Schengen visa you should contact the relevant visa application centre for either:

  • The country you plan to spend all or most of your time in; or
  • The country you plan to go to first if there is no main destination; or
  • If you are the spouse of an EU national you should apply to your spouses' national embassy in the UK.

How long is a short-stay Schengen valid for?

The validity of a short-stay Schengen visa (which would allow you to visit any number of the 26 participating states during the course of one trip) is three months.

How much does it cost to apply?

Charges will vary depending on which of the Schengen countries issues the visa.

More frequently asked questions are answered by UKCISA, available on their website:

UKCISA - Schengen Visa

When should I apply?

You should plan any trips to the Schengen states well in advance. Processing times vary from embassy to embassy and national holidays and busy periods will result in a longer wait. We recommend that you apply within three months of your travel date and not less than six weeks before.


You will need between three and six months left on your passport and UK visa, depending on the country you are applying to:

  • You will need your UK biometric residence permit showing that you have valid leave for the UK that extends beyond your trip, and a blank page in your current passport.
  • You can not apply using a travel document unless you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK.
  • You must not already have a Schengen visa.

Application form and documents

Complete all sections of the form before you attend your appointment.

  • When asked for your 'home' address this means your UK address
  • If you are staying at more than one hotel write in the details of the first hotel and include a separate sheet with any further addresses.
  • Documents you will need:
    • A completed application form.
    • Passport photographs.
    • Original passport and biometric residence permit (BRP).
    • Proof of purpose of visit eg invitation letter from your host or hotel reservation.
    • Proof of Accommodation.
    • Return flight reservation details.
    • Evidence of sufficient funds to complete your trip.
    • Evidence of student status (a letter from the student hub) which includes university vacation dates, or, if in term time, the purpose of the visit.
    • Evidence that you will return to UK/home country.
    • Medical insurance to cover the duration of your trip.

Please note: 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 six months.

Visa fees can usually be paid by credit/debit card via the visa application centre website. Alternatively you may be able to pay in person when you attend your appointment.

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 to coincide with university vacations. You should allow approximately three weeks, but for certain nationals and depending on demand it could take up to eight weeks.

Some points to remember

Some visa application centres have a limit on the number of applications they will accept each day. You should aim to arrive promptly for an interview as if you are late you may miss your slot. Please note that embassies close on days which are national holidays in their own country, which can delay the visa application process.

Further advice

If you need any further information or advice please contact the international advice service via email at call into the Student Hub (RM050).

Page last updated on Wednesday 27 June 2018 at 2.49pm.


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