Which countries are the easiest to obtain a Schengen visa from?

NAME: Axel Strauss 
DATE: 05/03/2024

When it comes to applying for (and, more importantly, getting) a Schengen Visa, the process can be a bit tedious. Moreover, depending on where exactly you’re coming from and where exactly you’re going, your chances of being approved for one can actually vary greatly. 

That’s why AXA has compiled the following lists of countries — along with some general practical info — to try and help make your Schengen visa application process less than mere luck of the draw. 

Do I need to apply for a Schengen visa?

First off, you’ll want to be sure whether or not you even need a Schengen visa in the first place. And if you’re traveling to one (or more) of the 27 countries in the Schengen zone — and especially if you’re reading this — then there’s a good chance that you do. But here’s how you know for sure.

Which travelers don’t need a Schengen visa (for stays of less than 90 days)?

You don’t need a Schengen Visa if you: 

  1.  Are already a national of the Schengen area and/or one (or more) of the 27 European Union member countries
  2. Have already had a visa issued by one of the member countries of the Schengen area (under the condition that your stay in the Schengen area does not exceed 90 days per period of 180 days). 
  3. Are a national of non-EU countries and territories that have signed visa exemption agreements with the EU . These include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Mexico, Taiwan, the U.K., the U.S., and roughly 50 more. 

If you’re a passport holder* of one (or more) of the countries above, you can travel to the Schengen zone visa-free for short stays (again, for 90 days within six months). In this case, all you’ll need is to present your ticket/itinerary and a biometric passport* (issued no more than 10 years before and valid for at least 90 days after the planned date of your departure from the Schengen zone). 

*IMPORTANT HEADS-UP: As of “mid-2025,” however, the European Union does plan to introduce a new system of requirements for the countless visa-free travelers hoping to enter its borders too. And AXA has all you need to know about this system — aka ETIAS — too.

Which travelers are required to apply for a Schengen visa?

You will, however, need a Schengen visa to come to the Schengen zone if you are a citizen of one or more countries that don’t have a visa waiver agreement with the EU. 

This includes nearly a hundred nations around the world — i.e., all of Africa, most of Asia and the Middle East, China, India, Russia, and so on. 

Fortunately — if you do need a Schengen visa, that is — we have all you need to know about what’s required and how to apply. And once you’ve applied — how to track your Schengen visa application too. 

PRO-TIP 1: The EU also has a few key changes planned for travelers as of 2024, and AXA has all you need to know about these as well. 

PRO-TIP 2: You can see the full lists of both countries that are exempt and those that need a visa courtesy of the European Commission

PRO-TIP 3: And if getting the visa seems like too much hassle (and you’re flexible with your destination, of course), AXA can also tell you which European countries you don’t need a Schengen visa for.

Countries with the highest/lowest Schengen visa rejection rates

And now for the nitty gritty. That is — which Schengen and EU countries are most in demand, which nationalities have applied for and received the most Schengen visas in recent years, and — ultimately — what (and where) is your best chance of being approved for one. While, of course, there’s no one clear answer, AXA probed the internet for Schengen visa statistics from 2022, compared them with previous years, and — with some official help from the European Commission — came up with the following.

A Quick Overview of EU Schengen Visa Statistics

Let’s start with the overall numbers at a glance. In 2022, there were: 

  • 7.5 million Schengen visa applications in total 
  • 5.9 million visa applications were issued by the consulates (plus 80,336 visas issued at the borders) 
  • 1.3 million applications were rejected (17.9%) 
  • 3.4 million applications were issued for multiple entry (58.1%) 
  • 140,000 visas were only issued with limited territorial validity (LTV)* 

*NOTE: A short-term visa with limited territorial validity ("LTV") is not valid for the entire Schengen area and only entitles the holder to stay in the Member State(s) for which the visa is valid. 

In general, Schengen visa applications seem to have decreased in recent years. That is, while a total of 7.5 million Schengen visa applications were submitted in 2022, this is still less than half the average of applications in pre-COVID years. For example, in 2019, the number of Schengen visas applied for by third-country nationals was roughly 17 million. 

Meanwhile, the number of rejected Schengen visa applications seems to be increasing. For example, in 2022, 17.9% of all Schengen visas worldwide were rejected, while in 2021 that number was 13.4%. 

And there were also fewer multiple-entry visas issued to the Schengen area in 2022 (58.1% compared to 70.5% in 2021). I

MPORTANT: The figures above refer exclusively to the Type C (aka “short-stay” or “tourist”) Schengen visa. The European Commission’s statistics above did not take national visas into account. 

PRO-TIP: Just in case, AXA can familiarize you with the different types of Schengen visas. But keep in mind that choosing a different type of visa doesn’t necessarily increase your chances of getting one.

Countries that received the most Schengen Visa applications

The countries that received the most short-term Schengen visa applications in 2022 were France, Germany, and Spain.

Countries that rejected the most Schengen Visa applications

Malta had the highest rejection rate in 2022 — with a staggering average of 36.4% of applications rejected. Sweden came in second with 29%, and France — with 22% — third. 

But, on average, the rejection rate for most European countries ranges between 10 and 20 percent. 

So, for example, the three countries above were followed closely by Spain (19.8%), Portugal (18.1%), the Netherlands (17.4%), Germany (16.2%), and Austria (15.9%). 

Greece, Italy, and Switzerland averaged roughly 12% each. 

In short, this makes the 11 countries above the most difficult to be approved for a Schengen Visa to in 2022.

Countries that rejected the least Schengen Visa applications

Meanwhile, the European Commission found that the top five countries that approved the most Schengen visas (i.e., had the lowest rejection rates) in 2022 were: Iceland (with an average 1.9% rejection rate), Lithuania (7.8%), Latvia (9.5%), and Finland and Slovakia (both with 9.7%, respectively). I

IMPORTANT NOTE: However, AXA also observed that the average rejection rates have increased in most of these countries in recent years. For example, back in 2019 (i.e., pre-COVID), Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania— like Iceland — still had an average rejection rate of between 1 and 2 percent (compared to nearly 10% each just three years later).

Map of the easiest countries to obtain a Schengen visa

To Summarize

We know — that’s a lot of math already. And if you’d like even more numbers, you can consult the official European Commission website above and download specific statistical files for each year from 2009 to 2022. In the meantime, here’s a simple breakdown: 

  • Iceland is your best bet of being approved for a Schengen visa, while for Malta you’re going to need the most luck (which, in our humble opinion, might have something to do with the weather). 
  • With some of the northern and/or Eastern European Schengen states — i.e., Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia, etc. — your chances are better than the average. 
  • Greece, Italy, and Switzerland are slightly tougher.
  • And Scandinavia — along with top tourist destinations like France, Germany, Portugal, and Spain — tend to be the toughest to get approved for a Schengen visa to.

Easiest / Most Difficult Countries to Apply for a Schengen Visa IN / FROM

Now that you have an idea of which countries are more likely to let you in, here’s a general overview of which countries to apply in/from to increase your chances (if you have the option*, of course). 

*IMPORTANT HEADS-UP 2: A short-stay Schengen visa allows you to travel to all 27 Schengen countries (for up to 90 days within a 180-day period). However, you must spend most of your trip in the country where you applied (and vice versa — i.e., apply with the country where you plan to spend most of your trip). That is, if you have several countries in the Schengen area that you want to visit, you will need to apply for your visa with the country of your primary purpose of travel.

Top Schengen countries where obtaining a Schengen visa is easier

According to the European Commission’s (and general internet) statistics, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania have traditionally been the best places to get a Schengen visa approved quickly (within the Schengen itself, that is). 

And ever since the European Commission started publicizing statistics in 2009, Baltic and Nordic Schengen states have generally tended to approve the vast majority of Schengen visa applications. In addition, these countries have to process much fewer requests when compared to popular destinations like France, Germany, Portugal, etc. And this can also sometimes mean less hassle in getting your visa approved.

In which countries were the most Schengen visas applied for?

If we’re talking outside of the Schengen zone, the top 10 countries that issued the most Schengen visas — via the consulates of the EU and Schengen-associated states — in 2022 were: 

  1. Turkey (778,409 visa applications)
  2. Russia (687,239 visa applications) 
  3. India (671,928 Visa applications) 
  4. Morocco (423,201 Visa applications)
  5. Algeria (392,053 visa applications)
  6. Saudi Arabia (357,764 visa applications)
  7. Great Britain (282,109 visa applications) 
  8. Thailand (208,356 Visa applications) 
  9. United Arab Emirates (187,196 visa applications) 
  10. Tunisia (168,346 visa applications)

Which countries have received the most visa rejections?

Meanwhile, the following 10 passport holders had the least luck in 2022: 

  1. Algeria (48.2% of visa applications were rejected) 
  2. Nigeria (45.6% of visa applications were rejected) 
  3. Guinea-Bissau (45.6% of visa applications were rejected) 
  4. Ghana (44.2% of visa applications were rejected) 
  5. Sri Lanka (44.2% of visa applications were rejected) 
  6. Senegal (43.8% of visa applications were rejected) 
  7. Haiti (43.2% of visa applications were rejected) 
  8. Pakistan (43.0% of visa applications were rejected) 
  9. Guinea (42.7% of visa applications were rejected) 
  10. Mali (41.6% of visa applications were rejected) 

NOTE: AXA also found that, compared to the previous year, the number of rejections from the following five countries particularly increased: 

  • Russia (3.2% in 2021 vs. 10.2% in 2022) 
  • Egypt (17% in 2021 vs. 18.8% in 2022) 
  • Ivory Coast (24.5% vs. 2021 to 29.8% in 2022) 
  • Angola (20.5% in 2021 vs. 26.3% in 2022) 
  • Belarus (1.1% in 2021 vs. 1.9% in 2022)

Which countries have the lowest rejection rates for Schengen visas?

And, finally, here are the top 10 passport holders who seem to be getting approved the most: 

  1. Liberia (1% of visa applications rejected)
  2. Guatemala (1.5% of visa applications rejected) 
  3. Belarus (1.9% of visa applications rejected) 
  4. New Zealand (2.4% of visa applications rejected) 
  5. Paraguay (2.4% of visa applications rejected) 
  6. Ukraine (2.7% of visa applications rejected) 
  7. Bosnia (2.8% of visa applications rejected) 
  8. Costa Rica (2.8% of visa applications rejected) 
  9. Botswana (3.2% of visa applications rejected) 
  10. Australia (3.5% of visa applications rejected) 

So that’s a general breakdown of what to expect when applying for your Schengen visa based on your country of origin and your destination country. And now here are some more basic, universal numbers that should help too (and that don’t depend on the specific country).

Some more helpful/practical info about getting your Schengen Visa

How much does a Schengen visa cost?

Schengen Visa costs are universal. 

  • The standard fee for one adult is €80. 
  • Children between the ages of six and twelve can get one for €40. 
  • And for children under the age of six the Schengen visa is free*. 

*If you’re coming to the Schengen for research and/or study purposes, are under 25 years old and traveling with charitable organizations, and/or are taking part in certain sporting or cultural events — your visa fee may be waived in some circumstances too. 

PRO-TIP: While AXA strives to bring you the latest regarding any and all Schengen Visa requirements for travelers near and far, it’s always a good call to double-check with the European Commission’s official visa website

IMPORTANT HEADS-UP: In addition, in early 2024, the European Commission announced that it had “assessed the need to revise the visa fee amounts and concluded that they should be increased.” The proposed increase would mean that Schengen visas cost 90€ (a 10€ increase) for adults and 45€ (a 5€ increase) for children. So we recommend you stay tuned to the official sources above.

How long does it take to get a Schengen visa?

The wait times don’t necessarily depend on the country either, and the average wait time for your Schengen Visa to be processed is generally 15 days across the board. 

That said, the actual processing time will depend on your particular case (as well as a number of other factors). While it’s not statistically common, some embassies have been known to take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to process a visa. 

So — again, while Iceland or Latvia might be a little quicker to get to than Malta or France — expect a 2-week wait time at the very least no matter where you’re going or coming from.

Can I get a Schengen visa online?

Not as of early 2024. That is, traditionally, you still need to be physically present for your Schengen visa application process at some point (for biometric data collection, and usually with a bunch of paperwork to boot). 

However, the EU does plan to bring the whole Schengen Visa application process online eventually — with the exact date the change will take place yet to be announced. AXA can tell you all about it in the meantime (and — like you probably — we’re keeping our fingers tightly crossed).

How AXA can help

But while there is no guarantee that your Schengen visa will be approved, one thing AXA can guarantee is to provide you with affordable, top-quality Schengen Travel insurance to bring you one big step closer to the Schengen Zone. 

First off, to be approved for a Schengen visa — travel insurance is mandatory. Not only that, but your plan must also meet the following criteria: 

  • Guarantee minimum coverage for at least €30,000 in medical expenses 
  • Cover any expenses that might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons 
  • Cover you in all member states of the Schengen Area (not just Spain) 
  • Cover you during the entire duration of your trip and stay in the Schengen Zone. 

Fortunately, all three AXA plans (Low-Cost, Europe Travel, and Multi-Trip) meet the necessary requirements above. 

Moreover, if your Schengen visa is denied, AXA’s plans are refundable in most cases. We’ll only ask that you provide the appropriate documentation (i.e., an official explanation as to why your visa was refused by the relevant embassy, consulate, or visa application center). 

Our plans also cover you in all 27 Schengen territories (and beyond).  Plus getting an AXA travel insurance plan is quick and easy — and doesn’t depend on either where you’re going or where you’re coming from! In fact, unlike the Schengen visa itself, our plans can be purchased online in just a few minutes, from anywhere in the world. 

The AXA travel insurance certificate — accepted by all Schengen embassies and consulates worldwide — can then be downloaded (and printed) online instantly too. 

So learn more about and compare our 3 comprehensive plans today. Because an AXA plan will not only greatly improve your overall chances of being granted a Schengen visa. It will also ensure that your eventual journey to Europe is that much smoother, safer, and more worry-free — from beginning to end.

How to apply for a Schengen visa for each of the 27 Schengen countries

to begin your Schengen visa application process now that you know your chances of being approved? Fear not and remember — AXA has your back. And not just with all the info above and some top-quality affordable Schengen travel insurance. We’ve also compiled 27 concise, easy-to-follow step-by-step guides — for each of the 27 Schengen countries, in alphabetical order — below: 

Schengen countries
Austria visaBelgium visaCroatia visaCzech Republic visa
Denmark visaEstonia visaFinland visaFrance visa
Germany visaGreece visaHungary visaIceland visa
Italy VisaLatvia visaLiechtenstein visaLithuania visa
Luxembourg visaMalta visaNetherlands visaNorway visa
Poland visaPortugal visaSlovakia visaSlovenia visa
Spain VisaSweden visaSwitzerland visa 

So good luck! We’re rooting for you. 


Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how to obtain the easiest Schengen Visa

What should I do if my Schengen visa is refused?

If your visa is rejected, you usually have two options — apply again, or write a letter of appeal. You can learn more in the EU’s Article 32(3) of the Visa Code of the Schengen Agreement. The outcome of your appeal will ultimately depend on the authorities of the Schengen country for which you applied.

Can I work or study with a tourist visa?

No. While the tourist (or Type C) allows visitors to enter the Schengen zone for a short business trip, a holiday, and/or to visit family members, it cannot be converted into a work or study permit. AXA can tell you more about that.

What happens if I overstay my Schengen visa?

The consequences of overstaying your visa range from paying a fine, deportation, jail time, or even being banned from the country. And AXA is happy to help you avoid all of them.

Can I extend my Schengen visa?

You can, but only in exceptional circumstances. AXA can tell you more about that too.

Are there any COVID restrictions for entering the Schengen Zone?

No. As of 2022, all travel restrictions implemented to control the spread of COVID-19 have been lifted in the EU (and the Schengen).