If you’re traveling to Europe and entering the Schengen Area from a country without a visa-free travel arrangement, you’ll need to apply for a Schengen visa. These come in four main Schengen Visa categories or Schengen Visa types - A, B, C, and D.
The most common Schengen Visa type, a Uniform Schengen Visa, covers categories A, B and C, providing you with your airport transit visa and allowing you to stay in any country in the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days in a six-month period. This will be the visa you need if traveling to Europe for a short vacation.
There are three types of Uniform Schengen Visas
1. Type A Schengen visa or Airport Transit Visa
The type A visa allows citizens of non-Schengen states to transit through or wait for their connecting flight in the international zone of an airport located in a Schengen country. It is compulsory for those travelling from a non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen country and who have to connect flights in the airport of a Schengen country. The holder of a type A visa is not allowed to enter the said Schengen country.
2. Type B Schengen visa
THe type B visa relates to journeys lasting fewer than five days has been replaced by type “C” with the condition “transit"
3. Type C Schengen visa
The short stay Schengen visa is the most common one. It is issued by the visa services (embassies, consulates, appointed external providers) of a country belonging to the Schengen area. It allows the holder to stay or travel freely in the Schengen area for less than 90 days over a 180 day period.
It is mandatory for citizens of some countries. Check if you need a category C Schengen visa by reading the Schengen visa entry requirements.
According to the purpose of your trip, the short-stay category C Schengen visa can be:
- A single-entry visa (“1” on the visa sticker): allows its holder to enter the Schengen area once. If you leave the area, the validity of your visa expires even if the validity period isn’t over yet. In a nutshell: any exit is final !
- A double-entry visa (“2” on the visa sticker): allows its holder to enter the Schengen area twice during the validity period of the visa. You can thus leave the Schengen area and re-enter it during that period of time. The second time you leave the area, your visa expires.
- A multiple-entry visa (« MULT » on the visa sticker): allows its holder to enter and leave as many times as they want. This authorization is valid for a maximum of 90 days over a 180 day period.
4. Type D Schengen visa or national long-stay visa
The national visa is the type D long-stay Schengen visa. It is mandatory for any foreigner wishing to study, work or live in a Schengen country for longer than 90 days (up to 1 year). It allows its holder to travel and stay in the Schengen area outside of the originally chosen Schengen country for periods of 90 days maximum over 180 days and during the entire validity period of their visa.
The travel purposes which can justify applying for a category D visa are:
- tourism or private visits
- professional activities
- to study, to take part in a training program or complete an internship
- family reasons
The national visa or type D visa is issued by the consular authorities of the intended Schengen country in accordance with national legislation. Therefore it is necessary to contact the services of the country to know the different conditions and formalities that need to be met. Under certain conditions it can be granted as either a single or a multiple-entry Long-stay visa.
The types of multiple-entry visas are:
One-year multiple-entry Schengen Visa
You can apply for this Schengen Visa type provided that you have used three visas within the previous two years. When you apply for this Schengen Visa type, you will need to show proof of your previous visas and the trips you made to the Schengen Area. You may enter for 90 days over each 180-day period.
Three-year multiple-entry Schengen Visa
The three-year multiple-entry visa is granted to applicants who have obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for one year within the previous two years. The 90/180 rule applies.
Five-year multiple-entry Schengen Visa
You can apply for a five-year multiple-entry visa if you have obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for at least two years over the past three years.
90/180 Schengen Visa Rule
One important thing for multiple-entry visa holders to remember is the nature of the 90/180 rule. Most think the 180-day period starts when your visa becomes valid, but it keeps rolling - meaning you need to count back from the date you plan to re-enter the Schengen Area to check you haven’t spent more than 90 days there in the past 180 days.
Limited Territorial Visa
Another type of visa is a Limited Territorial Visa that only allows you to travel through one country. These are generally only issued in peculiar or emergency cases when a standard visa to visit Europe is unobtainable.
How can AXA help?
You can buy your medical and travel insurance online with AXA from as little as €0.99 per day. A certificate proving you are insured will be available immediately, meaning you can get on with your visa application. AXA travel insurance policies are accepted in all the Embassies and Consulates of Schengen Area Countries.
For more information on Schengen visa :
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about different types of Schengen Visas
How do I know what Schengen Visa type is right for me?
If your trip is lasting fewer than 90 days then you need to apply for a short-stay Schengen Visa - if any longer, then you should look into whether you need a D-type long stay visa
Can I change my Schengen Visa type after I have applied?
If your circumstances change after applying for your Schengen Visa, you will need to submit a new application.
What happens if I need to extend my visa?
Extension on short-stay visas are only granted in rare circumstances. Work visas can be extended if your employment status is unchanged.