Which countries are the easiest to apply for a Schengen visa?

NAME: Axel Strauss 
DATE: June 2024

The process of applying for a Schengen Visa is usually a somewhat tedious, anxiety-ridden, and time-consuming one. In fact, more often than not, it’s even a bit of a gamble. Because depending on where exactly you’re coming from — and where exactly you’re going — your chances of being approved for a Schengen Visa can actually vary greatly. 

So to save you some time and nerves (let alone endless, dreary clicking around and Googling for numbers and statistics), AXA has gone ahead and compiled the following lists of Schengen ​​​​countries’ visa-granting rates in 2023 — from the most to the least — along with some general practical info. All in the hopes of making your Schengen visa application process less than mere luck of the draw. And to, hopefully, thereby bring you one big step closer to Europe.

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 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. 

So, again, we went ahead and did the heavy lifting and probed the internet for Schengen visa statistics from 2023. We then compared them with previous years, and — with some much-needed official help from the European Commission — we came up with the following.

A Quick Overview of the EU’s 2023 Schengen Visa Statistics

Let’s start with the overall numbers at a glance. In 2023, there were: 

  • 10,327,572 Schengen visa applications in total (roughly 2.5 million more than the year before)
  • Roughly 8.5 million visa applications were issued by Schengen consulates (plus 85,200 visas issued at the borders) 
  • 1.6 million applications were rejected (or roughly 16%) 
  • 4.6 million visas were issued for multiple entry (54.2%), i.e. MEVs 
  • And 102,785 visas were only issued with limited territorial validity (i.e., LTVs*) 

*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 had been decreasing until 2022. That is, the 7.5 million Schengen visa applications submitted in 2022 were 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). 

However, in 2023, it seems that a million more new applicants were looking to travel to the Schengen zone. And, of course, the more applications there were, the more rejections there were. 

But, again, that’s only by the numbers — not by percentage. For example, in 2021, 13.4% of all Schengen visas worldwide were rejected. In 2022, that number rose to 17.9%. And then in 2023, it went back down to 16%. In other words, there’s hope! 

Meanwhile, despite the growing number of overall visa applications, fewer multiple entry visas were issued in the Schengen area (i.e., 54% in 2023 compared to 58% the year before).

IMPORTANT: 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 in 2023

The countries that received the most short-term Schengen visa applications in 2023 were France (over 2.5 million), Germany (nearly 1.5 million), and Spain (just a few thousand less than Germany). 

These countries were followed — respectively — by ​​Italy (1.1 million), and then not too closely by the Netherlands, Greece, and Switzerland (each with a little over 600 thousand applications).

Countries that rejected the most Schengen Visa applications

Malta had the highest rejection rate in 2023 — with a staggering average of 37.6% of applications rejected. Strangely, Estonia came in second with 33.1%, and Belgium — third, with 26.5%.

These three very different destinations were followed closely by Sweden (23.1%), Denmark (21.2%), and Croatia (new to the Schengen list but already with a 20% rejection rate). 

Spain and Finland, meanwhile, tied at 18.5% of Schengen visas rejected each. And then the Netherlands and the Czech Republic (with 17.4% and 17.3%, respectively). 

In other words, this made the 10 countries above the most difficult to be approved for a Schengen Visa to in 2023.* 

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Which, mind you, is a slightly different list than the previous year, and —therefore — will likely be a slightly different one for 2024 too.

Countries that rejected the least Schengen Visa applications in 2023

Meanwhile, the European Commission found that the easiest country to be approved for a Schengen visa to in 2023 was Iceland. With an average of 2.2% rejection rate (and similar to most years in recent memory), it still had the lowest rejection rate in 2023 by far. 

After that came Switzerland (with ​10.7% of visas rejected), Latvia (11.7%), Italy (12%), and Luxembourg (12.7%,). And as the rejection rates increased, Lithuania and Slovakia were the only two other nations to stay under 13%.

Meanwhile, Germany and Austria rejected 14,3% of applicants each, while Greece and Poland rejected 14.7% and 14.8%, respectively. 

So, in theory, those were the 11 easiest countries to apply to in 2023.

Map of the easiest countries to obtain a Schengen visa


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).  
  • If you’re headed to Switzerland, Italy, and/or Luxembourg — your chances are better than the average too. And Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia were still fairly accepting in 2023 as well. 
  • Meanwhile, Scandinavia — along with top tourist destinations like France, Germany, Portugal, Greece, and Spain — continue to be the toughest for a Schengen visa in 2023, with Estonia and Belgium approving the least visas (again, after Malta). 

NOTE: AXA also observed the average rejection rates increasing in most of these countries in recent years —however, in some much more than others. For example, back in 2019 — i.e., pre-COVID (and before the increasingly unstable political situation in Eastern Europe) — Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland, like Iceland, still had an average rejection rate of between 1 and 2 percent. 

However, in 2023, Latvia and Lithuania both averaged around 12% — which is 2.2% and 5% more (respectively) than the previous year. While Finland’s Schengen visa rejection rate nearly doubled since 2022 — going from 9.7% to 18.5%. 

IMPORTANT HEADS-UP: And keep in mind that while a short-stay Schengen visa allows you to travel to/ between all the Schengen countries (for up to 90 days within a 180-day period), you must spend the majority of your trip in the country for which you applied. And vice versa — i.e., apply for the country where you plan to spend most of your trip.

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 (or from) to increase your chances. That is, if you happen to have that option*, of course.

In which countries were the most Schengen visas applied for?

The top 10 non-Schengen countries that issued the most Schengen visas in 2023 (that is, via the consulates of the EU and/or Schengen-associated states) were:

  1. Russia (4,133,100 visa applications) 
  2. China (2,971,032 visa applications) 
  3. India (1,141,705 visa applications) 
  4. Turkey (906,862 visa applications) 
  5. Morocco (705,293 visa applications) 
  6. Algeria (668,386 visa applications) 
  7. Belarus (645,722 visa applications) 
  8. Saudi Arabia (337,607 visa applications) 
  9. Thailand (187,196 visa applications) 
  10. Great Britain (277,743 visa applications)

Which countries have received the most visa rejections?

Meanwhile, the following 10 passport holders had the least luck in 2023: 

  1. Guinea (51.1% of visa applications were rejected) 
  2. Nigeria (48.5% of visa applications were rejected) 
  3. Senegal (44.5% of visa applications were rejected) 
  4. Algeria (43.0% of visa applications were rejected) 
  5. Ghana (42.5% of visa applications were rejected) 
  6. Comoros (42.0% of visa applications were rejected) 
  7. Iraq (38.6% of visa applications were rejected) 
  8. Burundi (37.3% of visa applications were rejected) 
  9. Sudan (37.2% of visa applications were rejected) 
  10. Bangladesh (36.9% of visa applications were rejected)

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 (0% of visa applications were rejected) 
  2. El Salvador(0% of visa applications were rejected) 
  3. Honduras (0% of visa applications were rejected) 
  4. Nicaragua (0% of visa applications were rejected) 
  5. Belarus (0.3% of visa applications were rejected)
  6. Guatemala (0.6% of visa applications were rejected) 
  7. Vanuatu (1.1% of visa applications were rejected) 
  8. Russia (1.5% of visa applications were rejected) 
  9. Botswana (2.3% of visa applications were rejected) 
  10. Indonesia (2.4% of visa applications were rejected)

So there you have it — a general breakdown of what to expect when applying for a 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 (and have been upped as of mid-2024, by the way). 

The standard fee for one adult is now €90

Children between the ages of six and twelve can get one for €45

And for children under the age of six the Schengen visa is still 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?

This doesn’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 two-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

As evidenced by all the numbers above, Schengen visa statistics can be quite overwhelming — and at times somewhat unpredictable. And while there is no sure way of knowing whether your Schengen visa will be approved, one thing AXA can guarantee is that your trip to the Schengen Zone is one big step closer — and a safe one at that.
How? By providing you with affordable, top-quality Schengen Travel insurance

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 throughout all the Schengen territories (and beyond).  

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. 

Ultimately, the right AXA plan can both ensure your overall chances of being granted a Schengen visa and help make your eventual journey to Europe that much smoother, safer, and more worry-free. 

So learn more about and compare our 3 comprehensive plans today. After all (and in the words of Schengen native Louis Pasteur) — when it comes to getting a visa, “luck favors the prepared.”

How to apply for a Schengen visa for each of the Schengen countries (in alphabetical order)

And last but not least — to help begin (and speed up) your Schengen visa application process, we’ve also compiled the following easy-to-follow step-by-step guides — one for each Schengen country:

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 best of luck. And no matter where you are in the world, know that AXA is rooting for you!



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.

Do I need EES/ ETIAS for Europe in 2024?

Not as of mid-2024. The European Union’s new travel authorization systems — EES and ETIAS — are only set to go into effect in late 2024 and mid-2025, respectively (and in theory). AXA can tell you more about them too (via the two links above).

Are the Schengen Zone and the European Union the same thing?

No, these two entities are not the same thing. AXA can explain the difference between the Schengen area and the EU.