How do I read a Schengen Visa sticker and number?

How do I read a Schengen Visa sticker?

If you have been granted a Schengen Visa, you will obtain a visa sticker to be put into your passport. The visa sticker information is provided in three languages: English, French, and German.

You need to know how to read your visa carefully, as it will allow you to keep track of important information such as the countries you are able to enter, your dates of validity, and the visa types.

Your Schengen Visa number

This is found in the top right corner of your visa sticker.

Countries the Schengen Visa Holder is permitted to enter

A visa sticker always contains information on the countries you are permitted to enter. The phrases «VALID FOR», «VALABLE POUR» and «GULTIG FUR» are set before the name of the countries your visa allows you to visit.

If the words next to this are «ETATS SCHENGEN» or «SCHENGEN STATES», then it means that the visa is valid in all Schengen countries, and you can travel throughout the Schengen Area.

If restricted to certain countries, the letters A, B, CH, CZE, D, DK, E, EST, F, FIN, GR, H, I, IS, LI, L, LT, LVA, M, N, NL, P, PL, S, SK, SVN, stand for the Schengen states you can visit:

The list of initials is as follows:

  • A – Austria
  • B – Belgium
  • CH – Switzerland
  • CZE – Czech Republic
  • D – Germany
  • DK – Denmark
  • E – Spain
  • EST – Estonia
  • F – France
  • FIN – Finland
  • GR – Greece
  • H – Hungary
  • I – Italy
  • IS – Iceland
  • L – Luxembourg
  • LT – Lithuania
  • LVA – Latvia
  • M – Malta
  • N – Norway
  • NL – Netherlands
  • P – Portugal
  • PL – Poland
  • S – Sweden
  • SK – Slovakia
  • SVN – Slovenia

If there are listed just some of the acronyms of the names of these countries i.e. «S, M, N, NL, SK, PL» then this means you are permitted to enter only Sweden, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Slovakia and Poland.

Alternatively, a visa may contain the following label: «ETATS SCHENGEN (-country initial)» – meaning the visa is valid for all Schengen countries, except for that country after the dash. For example, if the label is «ETATS SCHENGEN (-SK)». You will be able to enter each Schengen country except Slovakia.

A label that just has, «name of country», means the visa is valid only for the respective territory listed - and you will not be able to enter any other states other than the one listed.

Schengen Visa sticker validity  

You will also see the labels «FROM», «DU» and «VOM» followed by the first day you are permitted to enter the Schengen Area, and the labels «UNTIL», «AU», and «BIS», stipulating the date by which you must leave the Schengen Area.

Number of entries label

The labels «NUMBER OF ENTRIES», «NOMBRE D’ENTREES» and «ANZAHL DER EINREISEN» tell you the number of times you are allowed to enter the Schengen Area on that particular visa.

The label «MULT» –means that the holder is authorized to enter the Schengen Area as often as they wish, during the period for which the visa is valid.

The label «1» means that the holder is authorized to enter the Schengen Area once.

The label «2» – means that the holder is authorized to enter twice.

Duration of stay label

The label «DURATION OF STAY» «DUREE DE SEJOUR» and «DAUER DES AUFENTHALTS» and the one immediately next to it with the words «DAYS», «JOURS» and «TAGE» tell you the number of days you can remain in the Schengen Zone on each visit while your visa is valid.

Visa Type

The labels «TYPE OF VISA», «TYPE DE VISA» and «VISA TYP» stand to tell the type of visa you have obtained which may be:

Label «A» stands for the A type visa, an Airport Visa, that does not permit the holder to travel past the international airport zone.

Label «C» – stands for the C type visa, or the standard short-stay visa, allowing you to stay up to three months in the Schengen Area.

Label «D» – stands for the D type visa, or long-term visa, which permits your to stay for longer than three months

Details about the issue of the visa

The label «ISSUED IN», «DELIVRE A» and «SUGESTELLT IN» is followed by the name of the city where the embassy or consulate that issued the visa is based.

The label «ON», «LE» and «AM» – is followed by the date when the visa was issued.

Details about the Visa Holder

The labels «NUMBER OF PASSPORT», «NUMERO DE PASSEPORT» and «NUMMER DES PASSES» are followed by your passport number.

The labels «SURNAME, NAME», «NOM, PRENOM» and «NAME, VORNAME» are followed by your first and your family name.

The labels «REMARKS», «REMARQUES» and «BEMERKUNGEN» state the purpose of your travel to the Schengen Area, such as work, tourism, or medical reasons.

What will happen if I overstay the number of days listed on my visa sticker?

You could face deportation and sanctions- including a ban from the Schengen Area or a fine. It will also mean future applications take longer to process.

What will happen if I try and enter a country I am not permitted to enter?

You may be refused entry or deported from the country if you are not permitted to enter.

Do I have to stick to the purpose of visit stated on my visa sticker?

Generally speaking - yes. Although in practice you will not be pulled up for visiting family if traveling as a tourist - there are penalties for working on a tourist visa - so it is best to be truthful on your application.