How to apply for a Schengen Visa from the U.K. ?
Do I need a visa to travel to the Schengen Area from the U.K.?
If you are a U.K. citizen, you do not currently need a visa to travel to the Schengen Area if you plan on staying for fewer than 90 days, despite the U.K. leaving the European Union at the end of 2020, because there is a short-term visa-free travel arrangement between the EU and the U.K. From the end of 2023 U.K. citizens will need to apply via the ETIAS system facilitating visa-free travel.
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How do I apply for ETIAS ?
ETIAS is an electronic system that will keep track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. It resembles the U.S Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). You can apply for ETIAS approval for use for business, tourist, medical and travel purposes. Plans are in place to allow nationals from at least 62 countries to use the ETIAS system including those from Australia, America, Brazil, and Canada - so if you are living in the U.K. and hold citizenship there you will be able to use this system.
You will need to fill out an ETIAS application form, which is expected to take about 10 minutes to complete online, with you answering various questions and providing personal details. The only document you will need is your valid biometric passport - preferably with an electronic chip. Your ETIAS approval will be valid for three years or until the end of the validity of the travel document registered during the application, whichever comes first.
However, if you are a citizen of a country without a visa-free travel arrangement with the Schengen Zone, living in the U.K., you will need to apply for a Schengen Visa.
If I need a Schengen Visa, how and where do I apply from the U.K?
You will need to apply at the embassy or consulate of the country where you plan to spend most of your visit, or, if spending an equal amount of time in two countries, the one which you will visit first. However, for many countries, you will not apply to the embassy but via a third-party visa application center that acts on its behalf for the initial stages of visa processing, such as checking supporting documents and the collection of biometric data. For example, the firm VFS Global handles visa applications on behalf of Italy and many other countries, while France is represented by the firm TLScontact. You can fill in your visa application form via their websites.
Applying for your Schengen Visa from the U.K.
Once you have established where you need to pay a processing fee of €80 (€40 for minors), you will need to book an appointment at your nearest visa center, embassy, or consulate - these are located in London or a major city in each region. For example, VFS has centers in Edinburgh and Manchester.
What documents will I need for my appointment?
You will need a valid passport or travel document issued within the last 10 years that is valid for at least three months after the date you exit the Schengen Area. You will also require a valid U.K. residency permit or another form of identity card, one passport-style photo, travel and medical insurance which is valid in the whole Schengen Area and covers you up to costs of €30,000, a cover letter stating the purpose of the visit and your itinerary, including travel tickets and proof of accommodation, such as rental agreements, hotel bookings, or an invitation from friends and family, as well as proof of civil status, like a marriage or birth certificate, and proof of financial subsistence, such as bank statements. The amount of subsistence required varies from state to state.
Work and student visas
If you require a Schengen Visa to travel for a short business or study trip, you also need an invitation letter from the firm or institution inviting you to a Schengen state for work or educational reasons. A no objection letter from your employer or university in your home state will also be extremely useful in gaining your visa.
Before the U.K. left the EU, its citizens were free to live and work across the EU, including Schengen states, without gaining a work visa or residency permit for stays longer than 90 days. This changed from 1 January 2021 - meaning that like citizens of all countries outside the EU, U.K. nationals will need to apply for visas if they wish to study, work or live in the Schengen Area. This is dealt with at the national level, so you should check with the authorities in the country you are applying to. Generally, in addition to your passport, you will need to provide proof of employment, a work permit obtained by your employer, proof of self-employed status, or an invitation to study. You will also need documents like your employment contract, residence permits, and insurance documents proving you are covered.
What do I need from my travel and health insurance?
To obtain a visa, your travel and medical insurance must cover the whole 26 countries in the Schengen Area (even those you have no plans to visit) and cover accidents and illnesses for costs up to a minimum of €30,000 ($26,855).
Why choose AXA Insurance?
AXA offers several Schengen Visa-compliant insurance policies for travel in Europe, from a low-cost option, priced at as little as 22€ (24$) per week of your trip. We also offer a more extensive policy, as well as multi-trip insurance that will cover you for ongoing visits. None of these policies will require you to pay an excess fee on medical costs.
We also offer comprehensive products, like our international health insurance, for those planning a longer stay.
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Frequently asked questions about applying for a Schengen Visa in the U.K.
If I’m a resident of the U.K. but not a citizen - do I have visa-free travel to the Schengen Area?
It depends on the country where you hold citizenship - the U.S. Brazil and Mexico all have visa-free arrangements but India and China do not - meaning you will need to apply for a visa.
What if I want to travel to the Schengen Area - return to the U.K. and then go back to the Schengen Area?
You will need to apply for a multiple-entry Schengen Visa. These can come in double or triple-entry visas or longer-term ones that allow you to make multiple trips over a period of one or three or five years.
Do I have to attend my visa interview in person?
Yes - except in exceptional circumstances - as officials will need to check your documents and collect biometric data.